Cultural organizations, including The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, are economic engines for NYC

Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium face a cut of 58% in city funding

Video: “A Bronx Zoo Monkey Gets an iPad” features a tiny monkey urging people to support restoration of funding

View the full video at:

Visit to sign the petition

New York – June 1, 2012 – The Wildlife Conservation Society released a homemade video called “A Bronx Zoo Monkey Gets an iPad” was created to inspire New Yorkers to send a message to City Hall to restore the budget cuts to New York City’s cultural organizations, including the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium.

City Hall has proposed a cut of almost 58 percent to operating support for WCS’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium. The video uses humor to bring attention to the seriousness of the proposed cuts and encourage viewers to take action by visiting to sign the petition and send a message to City Hall.

The video shows a Bronx Zoo mammal curator and zookeeper who had just given the zoo’s pygmy marmosets – a species of monkey –an iPad, thinking they might use the paint function as part of their daily enrichment. Instead they are shocked to see the monkey writing “Save Our Funding” on the iPad screen and setting up a web link where people could sign a petition to send a message to City Hall.

“The message to City Hall is simple: don’t monkey around with New York’s cultural organizations,” said John F. Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “We need New Yorkers to send a message to City Hall that culture is an important investment for the future of our city. Cultural organizations in all five boroughs are vital to the education of our children, and they are key economic drivers for New York City neighborhoods, communities, and families.”

In the fiscal year 2012 adopted budget, the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium received a total of $8.2 million from the city for operations. Next year’s 58 percent cut to the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium translates to a loss of $4.7 million reducing city support for the zoo and aquarium to $3.4 million.

The Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium are part of a larger group of 33 private cultural organizations operating on city-owned property that are facing proposed budget cuts. If the budget is adopted as currently proposed, the zoo and aquarium will lose nearly 58 percent of their city operating support. The budget proposal also impacts hundreds of other cultural organizations throughout New York City.

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium are vital to the science education of millions of students each year. More than 206,000 children were granted free admission thanks to a WCS policies that allows all public, private, and parochial schools from the five boroughs free access on weekdays. An additional 18,000 school children attend formal programming with the WCS Education Department.

WCS trained more than 1,000 teachers at WCS facilities during fiscal year 2011 including participation in training teachers through the Urban Advantage program.

Calvelli said: “New York City’s cultural organizations were built on a strong public-private partnership with the City more than 130 years ago. Because of that early investment, New York City is now a cultural Mecca – boasting more than 50 million tourists last year alone. This is a partnership that has proven its worth and can continue to benefit the communities and economy of New York.”

The Wildlife Conservation Society alone, which runs the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo, pumps $429 million into the economy annually. More than 4 million guests visit WCS facilities each year – buying from local merchants in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and across New York City. These cuts will potentially impact businesses, communities, and families in the neighborhoods they serve.

As New York City lawmakers negotiate the executive budget proposal, WCS is asking New Yorkers to go to to sign a petition urging officials to restore funding for the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, and all our city’s cultural organizations. New Yorkers, families, businesses, and community and political leaders can collectively make a difference for culture in New York City by sending a message to City Hall that if this cut of nearly 58 percent is implemented, the impact will be immediately felt in communities across all five boroughs.

More than 150,000 messages have been delivered to City Hall since 2008 in support of culture.

Go to to sign the petition and save New York City’s cultural organizations.

Max Pulsinelli – 718-220-5182;
Steve Fairchild – 718-220-5189;

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.