Sunday, March 29, 2009

Cut in Federal and State Funding for Zoos

In a comical video created by the New York Environmental Society, an appointed public official announces that there will be a cut in funding and in response a need to create necessary layoffs to stay “afloat.” However as the personal conversation between the elected official and the “individual being laid off” continues, it becomes clear that the cut will be handed to a porcupine and subsequently the amphibians. Although meant to be humorous, the message clearly portrays that the lack of funding granted to these zoos are not necessarily affecting the population in a majority, but rather the attempt to provide adequate habitations for the wildlife within them.
One of the largest struggles in the contemporary “green” society is that of protecting the world’s wildlife from harm and extinction. Although there is internal debate among the environmental groups over the “morality” of zoos, the position stands that in a society where natural habitats are disappearing due to population growth, there needs to be a safe haven to protect the endangered species. Zoological efforts have time and time again proven to be extremely beneficial in preventing the extinction of species. For example, the rehabilitation of the bald eagle, which is the symbol of freedom in the United States, or the timberland wolf that was recently successfully repopulated into the Yellowstone National Park.
Between the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium, there will be a cut in funding during 2009 that will total over 3 million dollars. This lack of funding translates into a cut in over 30 staff positions at both locations. According to John Calvelli, director of external affairs at the Bronx Zoo, "We thought they'd use a scalpel to cut, not an ax…Where exactly are we supposed to go?" Additionally, according to Time Magazine in 2009, over 80% of the United States population currently lives in urbanized areas. These zoos provide a prime opportunity to allow for children and adults alike to visit an animal sanctuary to find a glimpse of the worlds plethora of wildlife that they would otherwise not have the chance to see. As Calvelli states, "This is where you go to learn about the natural world…We're living museums." “"You can't cut back on the food an elephant eats," says Jane Ballentine, the director of marketing at the Maryland Zoo, which has been forced to close for four additional weeks this winter. "If something needs to be fed, it's going to be fed."”

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