Zoo & Aquarium Are Vital Engines of Commerce for Local Neighborhoods

Visit www.wcs.org to Sign the Petition

NEW YORK – June 4, 2010 – Business leaders in the Bronx and Brooklyn are speaking out about City Hall’s proposed cuts to cultural institutions, including the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, both of which are vital economic engines which sparks hundreds of millions of dollars for local economies every year.

The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium annually generate nearly $290 million in economic impact for both the Belmont section of the Bronx and the ocean-side community of Brooklyn’s Coney Island.  In the Fiscal Year 2010 adopted budget, the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium received a total of $9.3 million. If the proposed cut is accepted, the zoo and aquarium face a $3.9 million cut, bringing down city support by 42 percent to $5.4 million – a decrease that business leaders say will have a significant impact on stores, vendors, and restaurants adjacent to these world-class institutions.

Specifically, business leaders assert that the proposed cuts to the zoo and aquarium—which draw an estimated 2.7 million visitors to the Bronx and Brooklyn annually—will ultimately mean fewer dollars for neighborhood merchants.

What business leaders are saying:

“Funding for the world-famous Bronx Zoo is not just a subsidy,” said Frank Franz, chairman of the Belmont Business Improvement District.  “It’s an important business decision that brings abundant returns on the investment.  Millions in revenue come to the neighborhood and the City from Bronx Zoo visitors.”

Said Lenny Caro, president and CEO of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce: “Even as our nation and state continue to experience an economic crisis, the Bronx Zoo continues to generate a substantial amount of business from visitors to our borough. Proposed budget cuts to the zoo would result in fewer customers for the neighborhood’s shops and restaurants.”

Said Carol Albert, operator of the Cyclone Roller Coaster: “At a time when New York City needs tourist dollars more than ever, the New York Aquarium remains a vital attraction and cornerstone in the renewal of Coney Island.  This source of both family entertainment and education needs more public support, not less.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society has initiated a petition campaign to save the Bronx Zoo, the New York Aquarium and the other NYC cultural institutions from the draconian cuts to its city funding.  The campaign is aimed to build massive community support behind efforts to convince City Hall to restore funding to the city’s cultural institutions which employ New Yorkers and help bolster the local economies in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

Mary Dixon – 347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org
Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182; mpulsinelli@wcs.org
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189; sfairchild@wcs.org

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.