Gulf World works through challenges during pandemic

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — As businesses reopen around the area, some still cannot; places like Gulf World continue daily operations without their revenue stream.

“This is a new challenge for us,” said Gulf World’s park director, Pamela George. “We’ve never been closed this long.”

George said it’s been a difficult time since no guests through the doors means less money to support normal operations. 

“We unfortunately did have to furlough some of our staff members,” she said. 

For the staff that remains, every day is spent caring for the animals and their habitats.

“We’re always working on something new with them, again to make sure that their lives have changed as little as possible even though ours have changed quite a bit,” said Ayana Longa, the Asst. Manager of Animal Care and Training at Gulf World.

Longa said the animals remain their number one priority, and cross-training staff in the past has helped make the transition to a more limited staff a smoother experience. 

“We’re all helping out each other,” said Longa. “So for example, some of our bird staff and dolphin staff has been helping out with the feeding of our sharks and turtles.”

George said they hope to reopen as soon as the governor gives the go-ahead.

“We are looking forward to getting back to business and bringing the smiles to faces that we’ve all enjoyed doing over the years,” said George.

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