Zoos operate without making a profit by trading animals between themselves instead of purchasing or selling them outright.

Zoo finances differ considerably from those of an average corporation, as most zoos rely on public funding as their main source. This article delves deeper into GLAZA’s finances by using data gleaned from federal tax filings and other publicly available documents.


Zoos generate revenue in much the same way that museums do: visitors pay to enter and view exhibits; some zoos also charge additional fees for items like food and ropes courses.

Zoos differ from most businesses by adhering to one fundamental rule: no buying or selling animals. This can make a substantial impactful difference on how zoos manage their collection and allocate resources – for instance it would be nearly impossible to close an exhibit dedicated to tigers without giving some away as well as closing down exhibits that featured them altogether.

Simmons notes that zoos are focused on improving visitor experiences by creating new multi-species habitats, which create the impression of being on safari rather than inside an exhibit cage. To achieve this goal, they employ more staff members to increase interactions between animals and visitors.

Born Free’s report shows that some zoos claim to be progressive forces in conservation; yet only 4.2% of income generated by CCZ member zoos was dedicated towards field conservation during COVID-19 lockdowns.


Zoos generate revenue through ticket sales, membership fees, donations and concessions; the exact amount they generate depends on the size and number of visitors to their park. Operating expenses associated with running a zoo include salaries for staff as well as animal maintenance expenses and other operating expenses.

Zoos may purchase animals through either market purchases or barter systems. Acquiring new species can be extremely expensive and requires extensive planning; most species cannot easily be relocated elsewhere; for instance, pandas are highly sought after yet the only legal route is through China for one – not simply buying one from another zoo.

Successful zoos at fundraising keep donors involved throughout their projects’ fundraising processes, keeping donors updated about progress made towards building an animal exhibit for instance, so they can witness first-hand the effect of their donations.


Zoos are businesses that thrive off satisfying society’s desire for entertainment. At the same time, zoos play an essential part of an international conservation system which mirrors America’s colonial and racist past. Therefore, it is vital for them to be upfront about their role in supporting wildlife preservation.

According to its nonprofit IRS filings, the zoo recently gave away $440,000 in grants intended to save endangered animals from extinction. While some of this money reached communities directly where endangered species resided, more often it found its way between professional wildlife traders and governments that forcefully enforced their will over local people.

Passing a continuing levy will remove Franklin County voters from having any ability to hold the zoo accountable for how taxpayer funds are managed, so voters should carefully consider if it is fair for residents to contribute property taxes to support institutions like zoos and museums that serve their community at large – perhaps using revenue generated to hire more police officers, repair streets or provide discounted admission for low-income families and students.


Zoos cannot easily dispose of their animals as many other businesses can. If there are too many tigers, for instance, they cannot simply put them up for sale to raise funds.

Zoos must maintain balance in their collections even during times of economic difficulty, which is one of the reasons they report animal assets like other business property, plant, and equipment (PPE), depreciating them over their useful life (which usually ranges from 1-50 years).

Zoos must consider both historical costs as well as new births and deaths when reporting financial results, so we conducted a descriptive survey of existing financial reporting practices at existing zoos to learn how they measure assets by reviewing annual reports published by them.

By Rob