The Phoenix Zoo, struggling like others worldwide during coronavirus closures, has found an unlikely saviour in a sloth.
While Fernando may be a slow mover offline, the 4-year-old Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth has risen rapidly on the internet. Since Fernando joined Cameo, a video-sharing platform where people pay for celebrity shoutouts, the zoo has received 150 requests for a personalised clip. His popularity let the zoo boost his fee from $25 to $50.
“I think we’ve gotten more creative, kind of thinking a little bit outside the box. We’re trying things we never have before,” said Bert Castro, Phoenix Zoo’s president and CEO.
Social media is one way zoos worldwide are engaging with people who can no longer visit — their main source of income — and raise some much-needed cash. Zoos and aquariums have brought adorable distraction by posting photos and videos of animals, but the closures mean they’re still in jeopardy. While a smattering of zoos, from Utah to Germany, have started reopening with social distancing rules, there’s no telling when they will reach their usual levels of visitors and revenue.
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