• Wildlife Conservation Society Launches Petition Campaign to Restore City Funding to the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium
  • Biggest Cut in 10 Years
  • Sign the Petition

BRONX, NY – May 7, 2010 – Today, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced the launch of a petition campaign to save the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium from 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, including the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, which employ New Yorkers and help bolster the local economies in the Bronx and Brooklyn.

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. This major cut in support comes after a more than 100-year public private partnership between the city and the zoo and aquarium.

“When you cut culture in New York City – you are hurting New Yorkers and New York, especially during a time of high unemployment in our state,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “Our zoo and aquarium and all of our city’s cultural institutions, including our museums, gardens and performing arts groups, are in communities where families rely on them for jobs and where merchants rely on them to drive tourism and business. The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium and all our city’s cultural organizations are what make New York City great. Everything is in on the table if these cuts are ultimately approved. We need to let our elected officials know that these institutions are important to us for the jobs they provide to our communities and for all their services, including their education programs for our children.”

Economic Drivers
WCS’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium – along with all New York City cultural institutions – are important economic drivers for the city and their surrounding communities. 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 $416 million into our 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, these institutions provide a much needed educational resource for children.

Major Education Program for NYC Children
WCS’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium are vital to the science education of millions of students each year. In FY 2009, 350,948 children visited the Bronx Zoo via school or camps - of which 228,900 were granted free admission due to programs allowing all public, private, and parochial schools from the five boroughs free access on weekdays. An additional 26,000 school children attend formal programming with the WCS Education Department. At the New York Aquarium, 127,423 children visited via school or camps, and an additional 15,000 school children attended formal programming with the WCS Education Department.

WCS has trained more than 2,700 teachers at the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium including participation in training teachers through the Urban Advantage program.

As New York City lawmakers negotiate the executive budget proposal, WCS and the Cultural Institutions Group are asking New Yorkers to sign a petition urging officials to restore funding for the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium and all our city’s culturals. Petition signatures are being taken on-site at WCS’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium.

The Petition Campaign
WCS is asking all New Yorkers, families, businesses, community and political leaders to join us as we stand up for a strong New York City economy. We all need to send a message to City Hall that if this cut of 43 percent is implemented, the devastation will be immediately felt in communities across all five boroughs. Go here to sign the petition and save New York City’s Cultural Institutions.

Mary Dixon – 347-840-1242 mdixon@wcs.org (Avail. 24/7)
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.