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 CommitteeSenator Jose Serrano, Chairman of Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks & RecreationAssembly Member Robert Sweeney, Chairman of Environmental Conservation CommitteeAssembly Member Steven Englebright, Chairman of Environmental Conservation CommitteeAssembly Speaker Sheldon SilverSenate Majority Leader Malcolm SmithAssembly Member Aurelia GreeneAssembly Member Joseph LentolAssembly and Senate Bronx DelegationAssembly 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 SquareAstella Development Corp.Belmont Business Improvement District (BID)Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York CityBrighton Neighborhood AssociationBronx Chamber of Commerce
Bronx Community Boards 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, & 12
Bronx River AllianceBronx River Art CenterBronx YMCA: Howard & Minerva Munch CenterBrooklyn Aquarium Society
Brooklyn Community Boards 7, 8, 9, 13, & 15
Castle Hill Merchants Association, Inc.Community MayorsConey Island Cyclone RollercoasterConey Island Development Corp.Coney Island History ProjectConey Island Polar Bear ClubConey Island USACool CultureCouncil of Jewish Organizations of FlatbushCouncil on the Environment New York CityDanbury Area Aquarium SocietyDaNu Spot Advertising, Inc.Deno’s Wonder Wheel Amusement ParkDr. Joseph Rachlin, Professor of Biological Sciences, Lehman CollegeFamily Support Systems Unlimited, Inc.Fordham Road Business Improvement DistrictFordham UniversityFriends of Brook ParkFriends of the WoodsFriends of Van Cortlandt ParkGirl Scouts Council of Greater New YorkGirl Scouts Heart of the HudsonGreater City Aquarium SocietyGreen DrinksGroundswell Mural ProjectHeart of BrooklynHudson Valley Blood Services: A Division of the New York Blood CenterHunts Point Economic Development CorporationHutchinson Metro CenterInterwest United Insurance Brokerage, Inc.Jackson Avenue Block AssociationKingston Block & Masonry SupplyKips Bay Boys and GirlsLiteracy Inc.Living and Learning by the ArtsManhattan Beach Community GroupMary Mitchell Family & Youth Center, Inc.Monroe CollegeMount HopeMunicipal Art Society of New YorkNew York City AudubonNew York League of Conservation VotersNew York Restoration ProjectNew York State Institute on DisabilityNorth East Council of Aquarium SocietiesNorth Jersey Aquarium SocietyNortheast Bronx Senior Citizens CenterNos Quedamos / We StayP.S. 205 (Bronx)P.S. 3 (Brooklyn)Parkside Senior CenterPelham Bay Merchants Association, Inc.Pen & Rose Children’s Book Writers’ GroupPhipps Community Development Corp.Point CDCPreston High SchoolRAIN Boston Road Senior CenterRiver Watch Inc.Riverdale Community CenterRiverdale Senior ServicesRocking the BoatShulamith SchoolSouth Brooklyn Youth ConsortiumSports Foundation, Inc.Sustainable South BronxThe Gerritsen Beach SchoolThe Heart Gallery, NYCThe Nature ConservancyUrban Neighborhood ServicesVan Cortlandt Jewish CenterWe The PeopleWestchester 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