ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – The Roswell Zoo is trying to become self-sufficient financially to help offset the budget deficit caused by the COVID- 19 shutdown and the crash in oil prices and are working on new ideas.

“The animals miss the people and I guess the people miss the animals,” said City of Roswell Special Services Director Jim Burress.

The city of Roswell is facing a $31 million budget deficit because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally free, the Spring River Zoo was given the direction to become a moneymaker for the city. Right now, zoo officials are offering private tours to children and adults, allowing them to get extra close to the animals.

“We will have walk around with you for like an hour, and teach you about all of the animals. Bring some animals for the kids or the adults to see, and just a one-on-one experience that you don’t normally get” said Burress.

Right now the tours and the area for birthday parties are being offered to guests with a request for a donation. But in the new city budget awaiting approval by city council, The zoo will be able to charge for the tours and private parties. The money generated from tours, parties, and admission fees will help pay for the upkeep of the zoo.

“Hopefully that will work out so we can build more exhibits. Anything, trees, water, animals, new exhibits. You know all kinds of things that we would love to do,” said Burress.

The city says if the tours and parties are popular they will be offered all year-round instead of just the summer months. To learn more about the tours being offered at the Spring River Zoo visit the Spring River Zoo Facebook page.