A recent article in VN Express, one of Vietnam’s largest English language news sites, stated that the Saigon Zoo is requesting US$1.3 million in financial support to stay open beyond this year.
The director of the zoo said that although it has been shut since May this year due to Covid-19 in Ho Chi Minh City, it continues to cost VND3-4 billion (approx.US$130,000) per month to maintain it.
The private company that manages the zoo – Saigon Zoo-Botanical Company Ltd – has also called upon the public to donate and has shared the zoo’s bank account details on its social media channels.
Last year, the zoo, built by the French in 1864 and one of the oldest in the world, lost a reported VND6.8 billion (almost US$300,000) because of closures to domestic and international tourism and social distancing measures.
Home to 1,300 species of animals and 2,500 trees in the centre of Ho Chi Minh City, the zoo is self-funded by ticket sales.
In the poll, followers were asked if they think the zoo should remain open or closed and whether or not the site should be converted solely into a public park or redeveloped for a different purpose.
The results indicated that approximately two-thirds of respondents thought it was a good idea to close the zoo and turn it into a public park, while the other third were in favour of keeping the zoo open and refurbishing it.
The article accompanying the poll attracted a variety of comments from The Bureau Asia followers ranging from suggestions of keeping local animal species only as a way of showcasing Vietnam’s animal and plant biodiversity, to turning the grounds into a mixed-use space for sports such as lawn bowling and golf.
To find out how The Bureau Podcast crew voted and what they thought about the situation, listen to the full episode below.