• Albany’s Proposed State Budget Cuts of Almost 50 PercentCould Severely Impact New York State’s Jobs, Merchants, Communities and Students
  • ZBGA Institutions Bring Jobs and a Tremendous Amount of Stimulus to New York State’s Economy with 12 Million Visitors Annually
  • Go to www.wcs.org to Sign the Petition!

New York, NY – February 9, 2010 – Today, the Wildlife Conservation Society announced the launch of a petition drive and letter-writing campaign against the devastating cuts to the state budget line that funds 80 zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums across New York State, including the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.  

The campaign is aimed to garner messages from thousands of New Yorkers demanding Albany to reject a proposed cut to ZBGA – the name of the state budget line funding New York’s zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums. Governor Paterson has proposed to cut this budget line of $9 million by $4 million.

“When you cut zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums – important economic drivers in communities across our state – 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. “All of the 80 institutions which make up our state’s Coalition of Living Museums are in communities where families rely on them for jobs and where merchants rely on them to drive tourism and business.”

The WCS zoos and aquarium alone pump more than $400 million into the state’s economy annually.  In addition, these institutions provide a much needed educational resource for children.

As Albany lawmakers and the governor negotiate the state budget proposal, the Coalition asks New Yorkers to go to www.wcs.org to sign a petition telling Albany to fully restore ZBGA. Petition signatures are also being taken on-site at WCS’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium. 

 “We are asking all New Yorkers, families, businesses, community and political leaders to join us as we stand up for jobs in New York State,” said Calvelli. “We all need to send a message to Albany asking lawmakers to fully restore ZBGA funding. If this nearly 50 percent cut is implemented, this action would be felt across the state as jobs could be cut.”

For more than 30 years, ZBGA has proven its economic benefits to the entire state.  Living museums generate millions of dollars each year for the state in tourism and economic development.  Businesses depend on the money spent by ZBGA funded institutions and they depend on the income generated by tourists patronizing them.  Money spent supporting the 80 living museums across New York State is money spent building and stabilizing the economy through jobs, education, and support for industries that depend on their existence.

ZBGA institutions are an integral part of the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and are critical to the goals of the EPF.  During the last seven years, more than $500 million of dedicated environmental funding has been transferred from the EPF and spent on other non-environmental programs.

Today New York State is struggling to honor its existing obligations based on the nearly half billion dollars that has been transferred from the EPF for general budget relief. Without properly addressing repayment of previously diverted EPF funds, the State runs the risk of exhausting future appropriations on previous commitments, risking progress on new projects. 

Calvelli said:  “Slashing funds to these institutions is shortsighted. It will have a snowball effect on employment, commerce, and education in communities across the entire state.”

Living museums educate the next generation of conservation stewards and create an informed electorate about the values of the preservation of clean water, air, and land.  The educational value of all living museums spans, not only across the community and the state, but represents the building blocks of developing the young minds that will lead the next generation of conservation-minded global citizens.


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