Bronx Zoo Lays Off Hundreds of Animals

By isak, April 28, 2009

NEW YORK — Residents at the Bronx Zoo are now looking elsewhere for a permanent home — New York City’s oldest zoo has announced a round of lay-offs, which will kick hundreds of animals to the curb.

The economy’s weight has proved too much for the 114-year-old institution to handle, as zoo officials reportedly told a New York City Council committee on Thursday. Deer, bats, fox and antelopes are among the animals getting the boot.

“We had decisions that needed to be made about old exhibits, and at the same time we needed to deal with the fiscal reality which is upon us,” John Cavalli, of the Wildlife Conservation Society, told ScienceBlogs.com.

In total, the zoo plans on closing four exhibits — the World of Darkness, Rare Animal Range and displays of the Arabian oryx and blesbok. The World of Darkness displays bats, porcupines and nocturnal primates, among other animals. The Rare Animal Range houses deer and guanaco, a South American relative of the llama.

Those two exhibits were reportedly targeted because of high maintenance costs and relatively low levels of public interest.

In total, the cuts will cause the zoo to relocate hundreds of animals to other zoos and aquariums across the country. Porcupines and lemurs are also among the unlucky critters that have been handed pink slips.

“We plan to close four exhibits, four areas of the zoo … and we will have to reduce our collections in order to handle the cuts that we already know about,” Bob Cook told the New York Post. Cook is the executive vice president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which oversees the zoo.

More than two million people reportedly visited the zoo last year, but admittance revenue — it costs $11 for a child’s ticket, $15 for an adult’s admittance — apparently did not suffice.

The zoo was also hit hard by NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s budget cuts, which will slash the city’s contribution by $1.7 million. The zoo also lost an additional $13.3 million from decreased donations and cuts from other levels of government.

Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Brooklyn) reportedly said that he was surprised at the extent to which the economy had affected the zoo. He said he thought the removal of animals would a temporary, not permanent, solution.

“It’s much, much more serious than what I ever thought it was going to be,” Recchia said. “When I heard that the animals were going to be impacted and that we are going to have to ship our animals off to other zoos, I’m devastated by this. We are losing our zoos and wildlife.

“I think the Bloomberg administration has to wake up and say it’s time that we saved the animals. Corporate donations are down. This is going to be devastating to the institutions of New York City.”

The New York Post, ScienceBlogs.com and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
reprinted from Zootoo website

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