The People of New York Take Action to Save Zoos, Botanical Gardens, and Aquariums

  • More than 34,000 messages sent to Albany
  • Businesses and community groups ask Albany to reject Governor Paterson’s proposed cut and save local economy

New York, NY –– April 14, 2010 –– Today, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the organization that operates the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium, announced the results of the petition drive asking Albany reject Governor Paterson’s proposed cut to ZBGA – the name of the state budget line funding 80 New York State zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums.

Since mid-February, more than 34,000 emails and petition signatures have been sent to Governor Paterson and the New York State Legislature letting them know that the Governor’s proposed cuts would have a devastating effect on the community, jobs, and education.

“The people of New York State have spoken – zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums are a worthy investment and are proven economic drivers for the surrounding communities,” said John Calvelli, Wildlife Conservation Society’s Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of support that we have received and are proud to be an integral part of the community.”

In a letter to Governor Paterson, Lenny Caro, President and CEO of the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, wrote: “Now is not the time to cut institutions that give jobs to New Yorkers, drive local economies stateside, and educate our children.”

Carl Hum, President and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce agreed in another letter to Albany. “The Wildlife Conservation Society alone pumps more than $416 million into the New York State economy. More than four million people visit WCS facilities each year, buying from local merchants in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and across New York City.”

While the New York State Senate and Assembly have both passed one-house resolutions restoring the ZBGA budget line to $9 million, the fight to save ZBGA is not over.

“We sincerely thank our legislative champions for their hard work and support,” added Calvelli. “As they enter the difficult process of negotiating a final budget, we are confident that they will continue their support and will continue to work in the best interest of New Yorkers and New York State.”

“On behalf of WCS and living institutions across New York State, it is important that we identify those who continue to work to ensure the voice of New Yorkers is heard in Albany – specifically: Assembly Member Robert K. Sweeney, Chair, Committee on Environmental Conservation; Senator Jose Serrano, Chair, Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation; Senator Antoine Thompson, Chair, Environmental Conservation; and Assembly Member Steven Englebright, Chair, Committee on Tourism, Parks, Arts, and Sports. We appreciate the efforts of the entire Brooklyn and Bronx Senate and Assembly delegations as well as Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson.”

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 used for other non-environmental programs.

Today New York State is struggling to honor its existing obligations based on nearly half a billion dollars that have 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.

Contact:

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.

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