When it's done, zoo visitors will see cows, chickens, three breeds of goats,
Sponsorships have become an important source of revenue for the zoo, which is owned by the city but run by the nonprofit
According to its 2012 financial statement, sponsorships and special exhibits brought in
While the city will spend about
Trend to privatize
Over the past decade or so, more and more cities and counties across the country, confronting dwindling resources, have turned over their zoos -- and the costs of running them -- to nonprofits like the
"Today, approximately 70 percent of all
Walsh said such arrangements can benefit both sides. Municipalities get a sometimes expensive operation off their books and the societies get more flexibility to run the zoos. But it comes at a price, he noted, because with greater control comes more financial responsibility for the primary managers of the zoos.
That's been the case in
Goodman said the agreement between the city and the society has guaranteed the zoo a core of employees and the flexibility to respond faster to its needs.
City Parks Supt.
"We had to buy beetles. And squid, for the penguins," McMahon said. "They were better at that."
The city's support
According to the society's 2012 financial statements, it cost the society
Also, for the last several years, the city has given the zoological society
It's a trend the Taveras administration wants to see continue.
The city and the society are negotiating a new management contract to replace the 10-year deal, which expires in
Goodman said the society isn't opposed to taking on more of the zoo's costs, but he cautioned that there would have to be a transition period: "
"There is no state subsidy for that," he said. He said the city was paying
The zoo has benefited from statewide taxpayer support, particularly on bond issues. In 2006, an
Voters may get another chance to help out. In the final weeks of the
If the state
What is today the state's second most popular tourist attraction, behind the
Within 20 years it had tigers; by the 1930s, elephants; in the 1960s, it added bison, deer and bears. The zoo covers about 40 acres with exhibits featuring about 100 species, from tiny insects to giraffes.
The zoological society began in 1962 as a nonprofit organization to support the zoo's programs. It now runs one of the largest zoos in the Northeast. Under its administration, attendance has been increasing, from 570,442 in 2009 to 646,752 in 2013, according to zoo statistics.
The zoo and the society have also been cited for their work in keeping members of endangered species alive at the zoo and for helping preserve habitats around the globe.
McMahon said he's noted that success and is trying to organize a
One way the society has filled the gap is with sponsorships. Besides the
Goodman said fundraising relationships and events have to be carefully vetted; zoos can't slap sponsorships decals on animals as if they were
An example is the annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, when the zoo's trails are decorated with thousands of carved and painted pumpkins. It has attracted more than 100,000 visitors some years, making it one of the society's top fundraising successes.
But Goodman said zoo leadership grappled with the decision of whether to do the first one. The big concern was that it was pumpkins, not animals, he said, and some said they didn't see a clear connection to the zoo's mission.
In the end, the society's board decided to try it, figuring it would bring people into and through the zoo, and the ones who would come would be families with kids, exactly the audience the zoo wanted to reach.
McMahon said he recalled a similar back-and-forth over the 1992 exhibition of robotic but real-looking dinosaurs. McMahon recalled how
"Then they made
The exhibit returned a half dozen times over the next 14 years.
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