Holiday season not so jolly for SF Zoo workers

It’s been a rough year for employees relying on wages from the San Francisco Zoo.

Non-union workers were asked to take one furlough day a month for the winter months – October through March – to help compensate for accrued debt, a budget that shrank from $20.2 to $17 million and lower attendance rates.

The furloughs are in addition to closing its doors on rainy days, trimming its daily operating hours and canceling its annual Reindeer Romp.

“It’s kind of like we cut a little bit here and little there,’’ said zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca.

Zoo officials have said this year’s admissions started on a high note, but have since been tapering.

In October they expected to see 56,000 visitors and only saw 44,040, which zoo documents attributed to Bay Bridge closures and the Presidents Cup golf tournament.

“I wouldn’t say it’s been well-received,’’ said LaMarca. “But we have received e-mails from employees saying they understand everyone has to do their part.’’

She did say for the holiday rush between Christmas and the New Year, the zoo will keep its doors open until 5 p.m. instead of closing at 4 p.m.

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