SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- There was an urgent appeal Friday for donations from a community institution that is now closed for good.     

The Cherry Brook Zoo in Saint John, N.B., says the doors will never re-open, but the animals still need to be fed while zoo workers scramble to find them new homes.

Martha McDevitt is looking for a new home for the zebras and about 60 other exotic animals. The first step has already been taken.

"Put out the word to all the accredited facilities and institutions across Canada," McDevitt said.

Finding other zoos to take the animals from the Cherry Brook Zoo will be difficult, because other zoos have been closed during the pandemic.

"They may not even be able to take these animals because of their own struggles financially that they're having," McDevitt said.

The zoo has experienced years of financial trouble and declining support from the city of Saint John.

"When I heard the news, I was very sad but not really surprised," said Coun. Gary Sullivan. He says the zoo was especially susceptible to a pandemic.

"It's not like another business where you can just close up and then re-open," Sullivan said. "The expenses don't change at all."

The zoo's board of directors says it had no choice but to close the facility, though fully aware of the loss to the community.

"We have 25,000 people that come there on a yearly basis," said board member Norm McFarlane. "And we have busloads of school kids that come in and disabled people that come in and this is all going to stop."

Some animals that are not adopted by other zoos, or are already well beyond their life expectancy, may have to be euthanized, an option that McDevitt doesn't like to think about.

"Why are we not good enough to have something for us, for our community, for our children, for education," McDevitt said. "To me, it's devastating. I just can't believe we're in this situation."

The zoo is closing, but at the same time, it's issuing an appeal for public support.

It costs about $25,000 a month to feed the animals and the process of finding new homes for the animals is expected to take months.