The Saipan Zoo is looking to borrow $200,000 from the State Small Business Credit Initiative to finally upgrade its facilities and bring in new animals, according to owner Frank Aldan.
He said they are currently in the process of completing all the requirements and documents for the loan application, which will have to be coursed through a local bank.
Aldan said the $200,000 loan would be enough to repair the Saipan Zoo’s cages and improve other animal enclosures. Money left over from the loan would be used to purchase new attractions for the island’s only zoo, he added.
Among the animals the Saipan Zoo is planning to bring in are birds like pigeons, pheasants, and exotic doves. Aldan also wants to acquire some crocodiles and alligators as well as small mammals for their petting zoo.
The Saipan Zoo owner said they are turning to the SSBCI as a last resort after they were turned down for a farm grant as they are considered a commercial business.
The U.S. Treasury allocated for the CNMI in March last year $13.1 million in SSBCI funds, primarily to stimulate the islands’ economy.
The potential borrower has to first apply for the loan with participating banks. The banks will make the initial assessment of the financial prospects of the potential borrower.
Aside from the SSBCI, Aldan is also looking to apply for grants in the alternative energy field.
He said one of Saipan Zoo’s biggest expense is utilities, as they pay $600 to $700 for water and incur around $1,000 a month for electricity.
Aldan said that applying for a grant that would take advantage of solar energy and other green energies would help the zoo’s bottom line.
Aldan, who also owns Tropical Gardens, said the zoo is currently doing all right in terms of visitors. He said they sometimes earn $300 a day but there are also a few days when they only get $50. “It all evens out but they’re only enough to cover the food expenses and not enough for utilities, salary, and upkeep and maintenance.”
Aldan founded the Saipan Zoo in 1995 when local residents started dropping off and donating animals of all shapes and sizes to the landscaping company. It now has over 60 animals at its As Mahetog facility.
The Saipan Zoo is open everyday including Sunday from 9am to 5pm. Local rates are $10 for adult and $5 for children. School excursion rate is $3.75 per student and $5 per chaperone.
For more information about the Saipan Zoo, call 322-5711 or email email@example.com.