The directors of two Wildlife Conservation Society living institutions, Jeff Sailer of Central Park Zoo and Denise McClean of Prospect Park Zoo, met with the offices of New York U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and the White House Council on Environmental Quality last week to fight for more jobs for New Yorkers.

The directors urged lawmakers to prevent the potential exclusion of zoos and aquariums from the jobs bill currently under consideration in the U.S. Congress.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (H.R. 1) already prohibits zoos and aquariums from partnering with federal, state and local government entities on sustaining and creating new jobs.

WCS is working to ensure that the pending jobs bill and any future economic development proposals do not bar its institutions, including the world-renowned Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Queens Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and the New York Aquarium, from competing for these federal dollars.  

“WCS employs more than 990 full-time professionals in New York in addition to nearly 600 part-time and seasonal workers,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “Including zoos in the jobs bill could potentially help WCS to hire even more New Yorkers during this time of extreme high unemployment for the state. It makes no sense to exclude zoos and aquariums from federal jobs and stimulus bills.”

While visiting lawmakers, McClean cited economic impact study data indicating that non-profit cultural institutions in New York are vital economic drivers. WCS has an annual economic impact in New York of more than $400 million.

In addition, the directors noted that these institutions play a vital role in education, leading conservation efforts and community-based initiatives, employing youth from underprivileged backgrounds, and in generating revenue for the local and state government through tourism and essential services.