Contec Inc., a Spartanburg-based manufacturer of contamination control products, has pledged $150,000 to keep operations rolling and the gates open at troubled Hollywild Animal Park.
That’s about how much the unorthodox, nonprofit zoo in Wellford fell short of revenue projections over the course of a tragic 2015 that began with the smoke-inhalation deaths of 27 animals during an electrical fire in a primate barn.
Earlier this year executive director Kim Atchley and Hollywild officials announced a campaign to raise $500,000 by the end of this year while securing $250,000 annually for several more years – beyond what’s collected in admission charges – in hopes that the park can avoid closure.
Atchley said the money is needed to establish firm financial footing and make improvements that would enable the park to remain open for years to come.
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About 500 animals and dozens of exotic species including lions, tigers and bears call the 100-acre tract in northern Spartanburg County home.
It’s been the site of a number of federal violations in years past. Atchley said those issues have been resolved, but animal-rights groups have continued to call for the park to close.
Conservationist Dave Johnson, whose first job in animal care after college came at Hollywild, is among those who’ve called for the park to remain open.
He led a presentation at the park last month and coaxed Contec’s pledge after a private meeting with community leaders that afternoon.
Contec chief executive officer Jack McBride was among local leaders who called for support of Hollywild, touting value to families and students, during a public meeting held in February at the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Hollywild is an incredible resource to this community,” said Johnson, who discussed perspectives on world conservation issues and connections to Hollywild’s commitment to building awareness.
Contec’s gift is being made in honor of Johnson and will be distributed in $30,000 annual installments over five years.
“Hollywild Animal Park is a true gem of the Upstate, and Contec is very proud to be supporting its future,” said McBride. “The park is a place where families can spend quality time together relaxing and enjoying amazing animals from around the world and around the Upstate. Equally as important, Hollywild is a place to see animals in their most natural setting and helps teach children the importance of efforts to conserve not only those animals but also the environments in which they live.”
McBride, community member Valerie Barnet and Hollywild board members Jack Spoon and Tiffany Hughes have formed the “Roaring For Hollywild” fundraising task force in response to the park’s financial needs. The group formed in late April and announced a goal of raising at least $250,000 in 2016.
“This dynamic group that formed just 30 days ago is working hard to meet this year’s part of our five-year fiscal plan and build awareness in the community,” said Atchley. “That the Contec gift is committed over a five-year period shows a real understanding of where we are and where we are headed, plus gives us a great foundation to build upon.”
Park admission is $10 for students and $12 for adults, with hours running from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekends through the summer, when day camps are available, too.