ARIZONA NEWS

Here’s how Phoenix Zoo’s Fernando the sloth became star fundraiser

May 5, 2020, 4:15 AM

PHOENIX – In a world turned upside-down, perhaps it’s only appropriate that the Phoenix Zoo’s newest star fundraiser is a sloth.

Fernando may be slow, but he’s become a top earner for the zoo while it’s closed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Since the two-toed sloth joined Cameo, a video-sharing platform where people pay for celebrity shoutouts, the zoo has received 150 requests for a personalized clip. His popularity let the zoo boost his fee from $25 to $50.

“I think we’ve gotten more creative, kind of thinking a little bit outside the box. We’re trying things we never have before,” said Bert Castro, the Phoenix Zoo’s president and CEO.

Despite 4-year-old Fernando’s best efforts, the zoo has been losing $80,000 a day since shuttering March 18, Castro said.

The facility has been approved for $2.7 million in loans under the federal program and has raised hundreds of thousands online for its 3,000 animals.

Castro believes behind-the-scenes Facebook Live videos make people feel more connected to the zoo. In the past month, viewership has spiked 350%, and its Instagram following is growing.

Fernando’s Cameo appearances may be a tiny boost, but “it’s so popular we’ll continue it for as long as we can,” Castro said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Car crashes into power pole in Phoenix, 2 critically injured...

Serena O'Sullivan

2 men in critical condition after car crashes into power pole in Phoenix

Two men are in critical condition after a car crash involving a power pole in Phoenix on Monday, officials said.

2 minutes ago

An image from Google Street View shows the third-party post office between a Jimmy John's and a Dun...

KTAR.com

Southeast Valley shopping center temporarily evacuated after bomb threat

Multiple businesses at a southeast Valley shopping center were temporarily evacuated Monday because of a bomb threat, authorities said.

1 hour ago

A DUI suspect drove down a 200-foot embankment in Cottonwood before a second DUI suspect was arrest...

KTAR.com

Arizona DUI suspect’s car careens down 200-foot embankment before 2nd DUI suspect arrested

A DUI suspect drove down a 200-foot embankment in Arizona on Saturday morning before another DUI suspect attempted to evade police at the crash area, authorities said.

2 hours ago

Split panel image of the front of an Albertsons grocery store on the left and a Kroger plastic bag ...

Kevin Stone

Arizona joins federal lawsuit to block merger of grocery giants Kroger and Albertsons

Arizona is part of a federal lawsuit filed Monday to block the controversial merger of Kroger and Albertsons, two of the nation’s largest grocers.

3 hours ago

The eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain freeway was closed in Phoenix on Feb. 26, 2024, for a fatal c...

KTAR.com

Eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain Freeway reopens in Phoenix after fatal wrong-way crash

The eastbound Loop 202 South Mountain freeway reopened in Phoenix after a fatal wrong-way crash shut down traffic on Monday, officials said.

4 hours ago

...

KTAR Video

Video: Congress says border issue is a crisis, but what took so long for both sides of the aisle to agree?

Biden’s border bill has yet to pass through the Senate to even reach the House of Representatives, yet both sides of the aisle agree that the immigration issue at the U.S.-Mexico border is now a crisis. Arizona Rep. Debbie Lasko joined The Mike Broomhead show to weigh in. Video: Jeremy Schnell and Felisa Cárdenas/KTAR News

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Here’s how Phoenix Zoo’s Fernando the sloth became star fundraiser