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U.S. Zoos Feel Pain of Budget Cuts

Zoos across America are reeling from funding shortfalls caused by the economic downturn, the Associated Press reports.

From California to Florida and many states between, zoos are seeing not only a decline in giving by corporations and individuals but also a pruning and even elimination of funding from city and state governments.

In New York, Governor David Paterson has proposed cutting funding for the state’s Zoo, Botanical Garden and Aquarium Program by 55 percent in 2009 and eliminating the budget for the program in 2010. Some 76 zoos, aquariums, arboreta, and nature centers are affected.

If the cuts go through, many zoos are saying, they may have to lay off staff, eliminate educational and outreach programs, and mothball exhibits. There is also talk of “laying off” animals.

The Wildlife Conservation Society runs New York City’s zoos and aquarium and stands to lose a big chunk of its annual revenue if it no longer gets funding from the State of New York.

To rally public support it is encouraging a letter-writing campaign to Governor Paterson. And it has distributed this bitter-sweet video on the Internet. It’s a dramatization of layoffs at the Bronx Zoo, starring some of the zoo’s animals.