Hinterland Green

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Boston's Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo May be Forced to Close its Doors Due to Budget Shortfall, Some Animals may be Euthanized

Boston's Franklin Park Zoo might be forced to close its doors and possibly euthanize some of its animals due to deep budget cuts imposed by Governor Deval Patrick. Zoo officials have said that they will run out of money by October and have to close both the Franklin Park Zoo and its smaller counterpart the Stone Zoo. They would lay off most of their 165 employees and attempt to find new homes for more than 1,000 animals. They said they would be unlikely to find homes for at least 20 percent of these animals, which would lead to euthanization or the care of the animals in perpetuity. According to media reports, the Legislature had originally provided $6.5 million to the zoos, which accounts for more than half of their budget, but Governor Patrick, using a line-item veto, cut the state funding to $2.5 million.

The zoos, which are run by Zoo New England and reportedly attracted nearly 570,000 visitors over the past year, are operated through a public-private partnership that is funded by taxpayers and revenues from visitors. If the partnership dissolves, as it would in October if it runs out of money, the custody of the zoos would be turned over to state officials, according to state law. Zoo officials estimate that it would take three years and cost at least $9 million to completely shut down the zoos, and they said the state would be in charge of that process.

The Franklin Park Zoo, which was founded in 1913, has faced closure numerous times in the past because of a lack of funding, most recently in 2002 when House lawmakers cut its funding from $6 million to $3.5 million. The total operations budget for the zoos last year was $11 million, about 60 percent of which came from state funding. The remainder came through admissions, food and gift shop sales, memberships, and fund-raising.

It would be a real shame if these zoos were closed. What's sad is that these animals were taken out of the wild and brought to zoos all across the world and it's just not fair to euthanize them when the going gets tough.
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