Cultural institutions provide unique social support and educational opportunities to NYC neighborhoods

Go to to sign the petition

NEW YORK – June 14, 2010 – Community groups around the City are speaking up in support of the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium as these institutions face a proposed 42 percent cut in city funding. If allowed to pass, City Hall’s devastating cuts will be felt by neighborhoods across the five boroughs as the Wildlife Conservation Society – which runs the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium – could be forced to eliminate jobs and reduce services which would directly impact businesses and families throughout the adjacent communities.

The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium draw approximately 2.8 million visitors annually.  WCS provides free access to community groups in the Bronx and Brooklyn that would otherwise not be able to attend the zoo. In Fiscal Year 2009, more than 228,000 New York City school children attended the Bronx Zoo through its program allowing all public, private and parochial schools from the five boroughs free access Monday through Friday.

For the same year, some 464,000 New Yorkers attended the Bronx Zoo on Wednesdays when guests are admitted for free, while close to 38,000 guests visited the New York Aquarium for free on Friday afternoons.

What community leaders are saying:

“The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium are true treasures,” said Donna Rodriguez, Program Director for the Kipps Bay Boys & Girls Club, based in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx. “Without them our children would never experience seeing wildlife first hand. Where else can a child be present and witness an animal or fish giving birth? My children have had that experience at the Bronx Zoo.”

“The Bronx has the greatest concentration of children living in poverty in New York State,” said Michael Rustin, Associate Executive Director for Youth and Family Services at the Southeast Bronx Neighborhood Centers. “For the past three years, WCS has provided our campers with 40 Community Access passes, allowing them a brief respite from the many social problems and the rippling effects associated with poverty, crime and unemployment that plague our community.”

“The students of Mark Twain I.S. 239 have been deeply impacted on an intimate emotional and intellectual level by our numerous visits to the aquarium through the years,” said Carol Moore, principal of the Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented in Coney Island, Brooklyn. “Countless students have been inspired to continue their research into marine life and our planet’s environment.”

Added Joseph Montebello, principal of P.S. 225 in Brooklyn, “As part of the Brighton Beach community, we are fortunate to have this extraordinary institution close to us and have encouraged our teachers and parents to avail themselves of its resources. The education of New York City children does not only take place in the classroom, but in off-site experiences that enhance their learning and allow teachers to create appropriate supplemental lessons in school.”

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. Visit to sign the petition.

Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182;
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189;
Mary Dixon – 347-840-1242 (cell);

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 toward 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.