WCS Commends the New York State Legislature and Governor for Investing in Conservation, the Environment, Education, and Economic Development

NEW YORK – April 3, 2009 – The following statement was released by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, John Calvelli:

We applaud the New York State Legislature and Governor Paterson for having the vision during these economically difficult days to invest in zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums through the Environmental Protection Fund, which included the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums budget line.

With this one decision, which ensures $9 million in FY 2010 for 76 ZBGA organizations, the state has made a commitment to investing in conservation, the environment, education, and economic development.

We want to thank all New Yorkers who sent more than 83,000 messages to Albany asking that the ZBGA budget not be eliminated. Since November, New Yorkers have rallied to ensure that the 76 living museums in New York State funded by the ZBGA budget line would be treated fairly and seen as a very worthwhile investment for our state. Petitions were sent to Albany, some from schoolchildren, in the form of letters, e-mails, and drawings.

Many of the petitions were sparked by two special appeals from a Bronx Zoo porcupine, named Wednesday, featured in homemade, viral videos that highlighted the devastating impact of disproportionately cutting the ZBGA budget line. The videos, which were placed on You Tube, generated thousands of views and a great deal of media attention.

The Wildlife Conservation Society alone, which runs the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo, pumps more than $400 million into the New York State economy. More than four million guests visit WCS facilities each year, buying from local merchants in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and across New York.

In addition, WCS is vital to the science education of millions of people each year – including two million students who attend its classroom programs and another 2,000 teachers who receive professional training.

The role of government support is crucial during this period of economic uncertainty. We need the assistance of our city and state government partners now more than ever to continue serving millions of New Yorkers while remaining an engine of economic activity.

WCS thanks the following government leaders for helping protect the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, and the state’s 74 other living museums that are funded by the ZBGA budget line:

Senator Antoine Thompson, Chairman of Environmental Conservation Committee
Senator Jose Serrano, Chairman of Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & Recreation
Assembly Member Robert Sweeney, Chairman of Environmental Conservation Committee
Assembly Member Steven Englebright, Chairman of Environmental Conservation Committee
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith
Assembly Member Aurelia Greene
Assembly Member Joseph Lentol
Assembly and Senate Bronx Delegation
Assembly and Senate Brooklyn Delegation

WCS thanks the following community groups for helping protect the ZBGA funding:
ABRUD (American Brotherhood for the Russian Disabled)
Association of Merchants & Business Professionals of Westchester Square
Astella Development Corp.
Belmont Business Improvement District (BID)
Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City
Brighton Neighborhood Association
Bronx Chamber of Commerce

Bronx Community Boards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12

Bronx River Alliance
Bronx River Art Center
Bronx YMCA: Howard & Minerva Munch Center
Brooklyn Aquarium Society

Brooklyn Community Boards 7, 8, 9, 13, & 15

Castle Hill Merchants Association, Inc.
Community Mayors
Coney Island Cyclone Rollercoaster
Coney Island Development Corp.
Coney Island History Project
Coney Island Polar Bear Club
Coney Island USA
Cool Culture
Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush
Council on the Environment New York City
Danbury Area Aquarium Society
DaNu Spot Advertising, Inc.
Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement Park
Dr. Joseph Rachlin, Professor of Biological Sciences, Lehman College
Family Support Systems Unlimited, Inc.
Fordham Road Business Improvement District
Fordham University
Friends of Brook Park
Friends of the Woods
Friends of Van Cortlandt Park
Girl Scouts Council of Greater New York
Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson
Greater City Aquarium Society
Green Drinks
Groundswell Mural Project
Heart of Brooklyn
Hudson Valley Blood Services: A Division of the New York Blood Center
Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation
Hutchinson Metro Center
Interwest United Insurance Brokerage, Inc.
Jackson Avenue Block Association
Kingston Block & Masonry Supply
Kips Bay Boys and Girls
Literacy Inc.
Living and Learning by the Arts
Manhattan Beach Community Group
Mary Mitchell Family & Youth Center, Inc.
Monroe College
Mount Hope
Municipal Art Society of New York
New York City Audubon
New York League of Conservation Voters
New York Restoration Project
New York State Institute on Disability
North East Council of Aquarium Societies
North Jersey Aquarium Society
Northeast Bronx Senior Citizens Center
Nos Quedamos / We Stay
P.S. 205 (Bronx)
P.S. 3 (Brooklyn)
Parkside Senior Center
Pelham Bay Merchants Association, Inc.
Pen & Rose Children’s Book Writers’ Group
Phipps Community Development Corp.
Point CDC
Preston High School
RAIN Boston Road Senior Center
River Watch Inc.
Riverdale Community Center
Riverdale Senior Services
Rocking the Boat
Shulamith School
South Brooklyn Youth Consortium
Sports Foundation, Inc.
Sustainable South Bronx
The Gerritsen Beach School
The Heart Gallery, NYC
The Nature Conservancy
Urban Neighborhood Services
Van Cortlandt Jewish Center
We The People
Westchester Community Opportunity Program, Inc.
Yeshiva of Flatbush Elementary School

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. Visit www.wcs.org.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation