New York state’s botanical gardens, aquariums, and zoos — including the renowned Bronx Zoo — are facing “devastating” budget cuts unless the public takes immediate action to voice support for the institutions, reports a coalition of the state’s “living museums”.
Facing a deteriorating economy, New York state governor David Paterson has proposed a 55 percent budget cut across 76 zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums. Paterson says he aims to cut all state funding for the institutions in 2010.
The Coalition of Living Museums say the cuts pose a “dire” threat to the state’s zoos and nature preserves.
“Living Museums, like The New York Botanical Garden, provide educational services to hundreds of thousands of area children and families, all inspiring future generations of environmentalists who will care for the fragile plants and wildlife of the Earth,” said Karl Lauby of the New York Botanical Garden.
Dr. Paul Calle, Wildlife Conservation Society Director of Zoological Health, assisted by Pam Manning Torres, veterinarian technician supervisor, checks the teeth of a female red panda from WCS’s Central Park Zoo.
Twin marmosets were born at the Bronx Zoo on November 11, 2008. Photos taken by Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
“In these challenging times, families both need and deserve these refuges across the State to experience and learn about nature,” added Sharon Myrie of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. “Imagine if these sanctuaries were no longer as accessible to millions of New York residents.”
Coalition members say the cuts imperil both education and the local economy that arises from these facilities.
“These severe cuts to the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquariums (ZBGA) budget line not only put New York’s zoological and botanical resources at risk, but seriously compromise the financial health of the living museums that host 12 million visitors annually, and attract millions of tourism dollars to New York,” said the Wildlife Conservation Society in a statement. “The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, alone, generated more than $289.6 million in economic activity in fiscal year 2008.”
Coalition members have launched a campaign calling on New York state residents to write the governor’s office to urge continued funding for zoos, aquariums, and gardens. The effort includes a video.
“We hope to engage viewers with one of our best ‘spokespersons,’ an animal ambassador representing all of the zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums across the state,” said John Calvelli, Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, which operates the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium. “In the video, visitors are then encouraged to send letters of support asking Governor Paterson to restore this critical funding source.”
Watch the video
The COALITION OF LIVING MUSEUMS includes: Adirondack Park Interpretive Centers; Alley Pond Environmental Center; Aquarium of Niagara Falls; Audubon New York; Baltimore Woods; Bank Street College of Education; Bard College Ecological Field Station; Bayard Cutting Arboretum; Bayberry Environmental Education Center; Beaver Meadow Audubon Center; Berkshire Bird Paradise; Black Rock Forest Consortium; Bronx Zoo (Wildlife Conservation Society); Brooklyn Botanic Garden; Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment; Buffalo & Erie Co. Botanical Gardens; Buffalo Museum of Science; Buffalo Zoo; Cayuga Nature Center; The Children’s Museum of Science & Technology; Clark Botanic Garden; Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery & Aquarium; Constitution Marsh Audubon Center & Sanctuary; Cornell Cooperative Extension of Oneida County; Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Cornell Plantations; Cornell Raptor Program; Council of Park Friends; Crystal Run Environmental Education Center; Cumming Nature Center; Cutler Botanic Garden; Dyken Pond Environmental Ed Center; Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve; Finch Hollow Nature Center; Five Rivers Ltd. Environmental Center; The Garden Conservancy; Gateway Environmental Study Center; Genesee Country Village Museum & Nature Center; Genesee County Park & Forest Interpretive Center; George Landis Arboretum; Glass Garden at Rusk Institute; Green Chimneys Farm & Wildlife Center; Greenburgh Nature Center; Greenkill Outdoor Environmental Education Center; Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden; High Rock in the Greenbelt; Highland Botanical Park & Arboretum; Hofstra University Arboretum; Holtsville Ecology Center (Town of Brookhaven); Hoyt Farm Nature Center; Hudson Valley Raptor Center, Wildcare; Hudsonia; Innisfree Foundation; Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Jamestown Audubon Society; Lasdon Park & Arboretum (Westchester County); Lime Hollow Nature Center; Madden Outdoor Education Center; Manitoga/Russell Wright Design Center; Minna Anthony Common Nature Center; Mohonk Preserve, Inc.; Mountain Top Arboretum; Museum of Long Island Natural Sciences; Museum of the Hudson Highlands; Nannen Arboretum; Nassau County Bailey Arboretum; The Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Chapter; The Nature Conservancy, Central/Western NY Chapter; The Nature Conservancy, Eastern NY Chapter; The Nature Conservancy, Long Island Chapter; The Nature Conservancy, Lower Hudson Chapter; The Nature Conservancy, Mashomack Preserve; The Nature Conservancy, South Fork/Shelter Island Chapter; New York Aquarium (Wildlife Conservation Society); New York Botanical Garden; Old Westbury Gardens ; Pember Museum of Natural History; Pfeiffer Nature Center; Queen Catherine Marsh; Queens Botanical Garden; Rice Creek Field Station; Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation; The River Project; Rochester Museum & Science Center; Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park; Ross Park Zoo; Rye Nature Center; Science Museum of Long Island; Seneca Park Zoo; Sonnenberg Gardens; Spencer Crest Nature Center; Staten Island Botanical Garden; Staten Island Institute of Arts & Sciences; Staten Island Zoo; Sterling Nature Center; Sweet Briar Nature Center; Tanglewood Nature Center & Museum; Teatown Lake Reservation; Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary; Thompson Park Zoo; Tifft Nature Preserve/Buffalo Museum of Science; Town of Webster Arboretum; Town of Brookhaven Ecology Site; Trevor Zoo; Uplands Farm; Utica Zoological Society; Volunteers for Wildlife; Ward Melville Heritage Organization; Waterman Conservation Education Center; Wave Hill; Wild Wings; and the Wolf Conservation Center.