Like other businesses in Ottawa, Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo is feeling the pinch from the COVID-19 pandemic — and it’s not just jobs on the line that are being affected, it’s the lives of animals.
Ottawa’s go-to reptile zoo for 25 years and Canada’s largest animal rescue zoo in Canada has started a GoFundMe campaign to help recover some of the costs that they are losing from cancelling programs, visits and events due to COVID-19 restrictions.
According to owner Paul Goulet, 70 per cent of the zoo’s revenue is generated through seasonal business — all of which has been cut off because of the restrictions.
“The operating expenses for our zoo — the rent — certainly our landlords are helping and we own our building in Ottawa and rent a building in Hamilton, we have interest-only payments on our building right now and we’re super thankful for that but they’re still super high,” owner Paul Goulet explained. “Our utilities bills do not change, and the staff that come in to take care of the animals — our vet staff and food bill.”
Some of those costs aside from feed include rent, the cost of keeping heating lamps on and veterinarian services.
The zoo’s goal is to raise $50,000. So far they’ve reached $31,376 — or slightly over 62 per cent — of that goal thanks to 499 donors as of Saturday.
“The only thing that has changed for us when they said we couldn’t allow people to visit or do programs was (having) one person a day (come in),” he said. “So that is 33 per cent of our workforce that cannot come in.”
Little Ray’s is also the primary resource when animals that are seized in Ontario in various circumstances. They also help in the care and safe transport of thousands of animals that would have otherwise faced euthanasia, Goulet said.
The money raised will be used for both the Hamilton and Ottawa facilities.
“A huge thank you to everyone whose has donated. Every single dollar really goes some place. Ten dollars — that’s 500 crickets. It really makes a huge difference.”