Monday, February 20, 2006
Make time to see the zoo, while you still can.
Just when you get excited about everything Detroit is doing right, they come along and show you how badly they can screw things up. The Detroit Zoo, which has been open and operating in its current location since 1928, may be slated for closing.
Detroit is in serious financial trouble; this is nothing new, but it keeps getting worse. One of the latest revelations is the fact that they city can no longer afford to pay the $4-5 million required to operate the zoo each year. This is not surprising for Detroit; the city also allowed the nation's oldest aquarium to quietly cease operations last year.
The Detroit Zoological Society, a nonprofit organization, approached the City of Detroit with what sounded like an excellent solution: they would take over the daily operation of the zoo. The City of Detroit would retain ownership of the land, animals and facilities, while transferring all operating costs to the society.
In what can only be viewed as a vulgar display of egotism, the Detroit City Council rejected the proposition. Additionally, because they were unable to reach a decision by the state-mandated deadline of Saturday at midnight, they forfeited $4 million in state aid for the zoo as well.
So in the end, it looks like Detroit gets to keep its zoo. A zoo it can't afford to run and will have to close. In fact, in the only instance where the city has ever moved quickly or decisively, they laid off 150 zoo employees today. I'm guessing the rest will only be around long enough to lock the gates.
Anybody have room for a homeless polar bear?
Link to Story
Link to Detroit Zoo's Site