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.

(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Zoo) Fernando, the two-toed sloth, reaches for a yellow rose to eat inside his habitat at the Phoenix Zoo Monday, April 27, 2020, in Phoenix.  The pandemic has jeopardized zoos around the world that have been forced to close but rely on ticket sales. The struggle has some zoos turning to social media to engage with people who can no longer visit and raise some much-needed cash. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fernando, the two-toed sloth, reaches out for a red rose to eat inside his habitat at the Phoenix Zoo Monday, April 27, 2020, in Phoenix.  The pandemic has jeopardized zoos around the world that have been forced to close but rely on ticket sales. The struggle has some zoos turning to social media to engage with people who can no longer visit and raise some much-needed cash.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fernando, the two-toed sloth, eats inside his habitat at the Phoenix Zoo Monday, April 27, 2020, in Phoenix.  The pandemic has jeopardized zoos around the world that have been forced to close but rely on ticket sales. The struggle has some zoos turning to social media to engage with people who can no longer visit and raise some much-needed cash.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fernando, the two-toed sloth, sleeps inside his habitat at the Phoenix Zoo Monday, April 27, 2020, in Phoenix.  The pandemic has jeopardized zoos around the world that have been forced to close but rely on ticket sales. The struggle has some zoos turning to social media to engage with people who can no longer visit and raise some much-needed cash. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fernando, the two-toed sloth, hangs upside-down inside his habitat at the Phoenix Zoo Monday, April 27, 2020, in Phoenix. The pandemic has jeopardized zoos around the world that have been forced to close but rely on ticket sales. The struggle has some zoos turning to social media to engage with people who can no longer visit and raise some much-needed cash.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fernando, the two-toed sloth, falls asleep inside his habitat at the Phoenix Zoo Monday, April 27, 2020, in Phoenix. The pandemic has jeopardized zoos around the world that have been forced to close but rely on ticket sales. The struggle has some zoos turning to social media to engage with people who can no longer visit and raise some much-needed cash.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) Fernando, the two-toed sloth, eats inside his habitat at the Phoenix Zoo Monday, April 27, 2020, in Phoenix. The pandemic has jeopardized zoos around the world that have been forced to close but rely on ticket sales. The struggle has some zoos turning to social media to engage with people who can no longer visit and raise some much-needed cash.  (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Arizona News

Facebook Photo/Jeff DeWitt)...
KTAR.com

Arizona Republicans elect Jeff DeWitt as new party chair

Former Arizona treasurer Jeff DeWit was elected chair of the state Republican party on Saturday by the GOP state committee.
16 hours ago
A migrant from Michoacan, Mexico, uses the CBPOne app Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Tijuana, Mexico. A...
Associated Press

Online system to seek asylum in US is quickly overwhelmed

A mobile app for migrants to seek asylum in the United States has been overwhelmed since it was introduced this month.
16 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Phoenix police seek suspects in fatal shooting of 33-year-old man

The Phoenix Police Department is seeking two men in the fatal shooting of a 33-year-old man on Friday afternoon.
16 hours ago
(Flickr Photo/Sebastiaan ter Burg)...
KTAR.com

Country music, dancing event at Glendale arena to raise funds for autism support

People can help set a world record while dancing to country music and support the local autism community at the same time during an event in March at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale.
16 hours ago
(Facebook File Photo/Phoenix Police Department)...
KTAR.com

Human skull found at South Mountain Park being investigated as a homicide

Phoenix police said Saturday the case of a human skull being found at South Mountain Park is now being investigated as a homicide. 
16 hours ago
Bradley Holmes (MCSO Photo)...
KTAR.com

Scottsdale police make arrest in Molotov cocktail incidents

Scottsdale police said Saturday an arrest has been made for the recent Molotov cocktail incidents after multiple cars were targeted this month.
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Pexels Photo)...

Sports gambling can be fun for adults, but it’s a dangerous game for children

While adults may find that sports gambling is a way to enhance the experience with more than just fandom on the line, it can be a dangerous proposition if children get involved in the activity.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Here’s how Phoenix Zoo’s Fernando the sloth became star fundraiser