(Birmingham, Alabama) As the Coronavirus continues to keep the country in a virtual lockdown state, many US businesses have had to shutter and weather the storm. For some, it can be a simple closing of a small shop or hair salon, but for others, it is vastly more complicated. The Birmingham Zoo in Alabama has been scrambling to cover operational expenses since the pandemic hit. With the loss of revenue from a lack of visitors, there are dozens of animals to support. They simply cannot shut down.
We caught up with Steven Perkins, the park's managing director. “We were really struggling to figure out how to make ends meet for our facility. The animals have daily care and feeding that must continue, regardless of the lack of cash flow,” he reflected. That was until last week, when Steven was inspired by watching a movie on Netflix one night. “I was catching the 80s classic Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, when it occurred to me that our zoo had the capacity to offer the same type of entertainment live streamed over the Internet,” he excitedly recalled.
And thus the Zoo’s new web series, Animal Gladiator Club, was born.
“I will admit, it took a little convincing with senior management and the supporting staff to consider the idea,” Steven explained. “But once I pitched that we could partner with Hard Rock Casino for the online sports-book and get a percentage of the betting pool, everybody came around. After all, how could you NOT love the concept? Have you ever seen a lion fight a tiger? How about a chimpanzee fighting an elephant? We even have an upcoming bout planned where a polar bear will go mano a mano with a kangaroo! Think about that! These animals don’t live anywhere near each other in their natural habitats, and we’re going to stick them together in our massive tropical bird cage and see what happens. This could be the future for all zoos even when the pandemic clears! I mean, it’s not like we were seeing a lot of visitors over the last few years, thanks to sensitive busybodies who think animal captivity is cruel.”
After catching his breath, he continued, “We could expand the market to a champion from one zoo fighting another in special pay-per-view events like Wrestlemania! And the best part? Zoo operational costs get lower after every fight because there can be only one living victor to emerge from the cage.”
Steven winked, chuckled, and brought Ronald McAdams, the park’s catering manager into the conversation. Ronald added, “There is another revenue stream we are considering in this. We will begin shipping exotic animal meat products weekly, based on who doesn’t do so well in the fight. Think of it like Jack Link’s Jaguar Jerky, or Hillshire Farms Fabulous Falcon Fritters. Bats will be excluded from these offerings for obvious reasons, of course.”
Licking his lips in anticipation, Ronald continued, “We are excited to see how their popularity grows; especially with the VERY limited edition flavors from the smaller fighters like marmosets, sloths, and koalas. But then again, maybe those animals will fight dirty and we’ll never get to get a taste.” He laughed and went back to cleaning his industrial sausage grinder.
While the Coronavirus may have stopped many businesses in their tracks from being able to operate, some have become innovative in keeping their wheels spinning. This kind of 'out of the box' thinking at the Birmingham Zoo is what makes America great. Look for the new series soon on the Internet and enjoy a delectable Birmingham savory sloth sausage!