Gladys Porter Zoo launches social media campaign with the help of YouTubers

A Western Lowland Gorilla enjoys a snack Tuesday in their exhibit at Gladys Porter Zoo. The Zoo’s new GoFundMe campaign is intended to help staff to continue to provide the enrichment, food and medical care the animals need during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Denise Cathey/ The Brownsville Herald)

With zoos all over the world struggling to make ends meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gladys Porter Zoo launched a social media campaign with YouTubers and celebrities all over Texas to join forces and help keep the zoo alive by having community members donate to their new GoFundMe page.

“It is time for us to take a stand and fight together to keep Gladys Porter Zoo alive! Businesses all over the world have struggled during the pandemic, and while Gladys Porter Zoo is doing its best to stay afloat, its goal has always been taking care of animals over bringing in big profits,” the GoFundMe reads.

“Animals are hungry and demanding! While many businesses can cut back on employee expenses by cutting hours, all of the animals who require constant care and attention aren’t as flexible. The Zoo has food, medical care, and enrichment to provide, day or night, rain or shine, pandemic or otherwise.”

Colette Adams, deputy director at the zoo, said they are extremely grateful to Parker Coppins and Creative Conquest as well as all of the other talent that has come here and helped put the Gladys Porter Zoo on the map. The zoo created a previous GoFundMe page a few weeks after they closed their doors back in March and exceeded their goal within four days by raising approximately $37,000. This time, their goal is to raise $100,000.

“Especially now, when we lost out on Spring Break, Easter and all of the Summer which is our biggest time of the year normally and the money from that is what we survive on for the rest of the year,” she said.

“Anything that comes in now is very much appreciated and we really could use it.”

Mark Echevarria, associate curator of gorillas and carnivores, spreads out fresh produce on a rock for the Western Lowland Gorillas Tuesday in their exhibit at Gladys Porter Zoo. The funds raised through the Zoo’s new GoFundMe page are intended to help the Zoo remain operational as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep attendance low. (Denise Cathey/ The Brownsville Herald)

Adams said ever since COVID-19 arrived in this area and from the time the gates closed on March. 17 and through to now, visitors have been significantly fewer than the ones that normally would come to the zoo at this time of the year. She added this time of the year is especially lower because schools are back in session and the weather will soon start to be cool and rainy.

“Any money that comes in is above and beyond what we normally expect at this time of the year would help us move on to the next year,” she said.

Parker Coppins, a Youtuber creator and CEO of Creative Conquest, who has almost 600,000 followers on ParkerGames, said the Gladys Porter Zoo holds a special place in his heart because he grew up in South Texas and has memories of being a kid and attending the zoo.

Coppins said during the pandemic he started to think of ways he could give back to the community by using his online presence. He did a fundraiser earlier this year for the Food Bank RGV and helped raise $5,000 to feed those who need it the most.

“We came to the zoo and talked to them about their struggles with COVID and trying to keep everything safe by keeping the doors shut but because of that they’re having trouble with finding enough money to make sure everything can stay working as it needs to,” he said.

Parker Coppins, Youtuber and CEO of Creative Conquest, stands with Colette Adams, deputy director of the Zoo, stand together Tuesday at Gladys Porter Zoo. Coppins has partnered with the Zoo to help use his online audience to highlight and support the Zoo’s fundraising efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Denise Cathey/ The Brownsville Herald)

“We were like ‘let’s use that online presence in social media and let’s do a fundraiser’ and so that’s kind of what we are in the midst of now, trying to be able to give the animals the food and the care they need, because feeding a family of three is tough, so feeding a family of lions is I’m sure even tougher.”

To donate via GoFundMe, visit charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/save-the-zoo.

The zoo is open to the public on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

For more information, visit gpz.org or call the zoo at (956) 546-7187.

nreyna@brownsvilleherald.com