Rotterdam Zoo launched the ‘Together we are strong’ initiative on 10 April. For every ticket that you buy online between now and 10 May, the zoo will give a ticket to healthcare staff and vulnerable children. Director Erik Zevenbergen: ‘The people in healthcare are working extremely hard. With this action, we want to support them and give them something fun to look forward to.’ The tickets will go to Erasmus MC, Maasstad Hospital, Ikazia Hospital, Franciscus Gasthuis & Vlietland, Het Vergeten Kind Foundation, Giovanni van Bronckhorst Foundation, Humanitas Foundation, Laurens and Aafje.

How did you come up with the idea?

‘We’ve been thinking about it since the applause initiative for healthcare workers on 17 March. We discussed it internally the next day and everyone said: Wouldn’t it be great if we could do something for this group? The budget for care has been cut so much that these people are all having to work very hard. How cool would it be if we could offer them a relaxing day out to enjoy nature and look at the animals?’

Did you participate in the applause initiative?

‘For sure! I have a strong affinity for healthcare. Physically, because I live five minutes from Sint Franciscus. And personally, because my sister is a nurse at Erasmus MC. Nursing is a profession whereby you give a lot and get little in return. Corona is changing the image of healthcare and appreciation for it is growing. On 17 March, my neighbours and I stood outside our front doors and clapped. It was an emotional moment. Later, I heard from my sister that she was beaming with pride.’

The idea for Together we are Strong was put on hold for a few weeks.

‘In mid-March, we were just getting used to the idea of staying indoors and taking care. It wasn’t the time to think about opening again or the time to offer the hardworking care staff an outing. Now there is a bit more perspective. The daytime attraction sector has started thinking of how we can reopen intelligently if the measures are eased. We are thinking of first opening outside and only opening inside later, for example.’


Curious about how the action is going? Check out the platform #ROTTERDAMZETDOOR. #ROTTERDAMZETDOOR showcases the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of Rotterdammers during the COVID-19 crisis. Text: Esther Wienese Photo: Diergaarde Blijdorp
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