Diaz emphasizes that cultural institutions, like the Bronx Zoo, mean jobs for Bronx residents

Bronx, NY. June 9, 2009 -- Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. joined thousands of New Yorkers who have signed petitions asking City Hall to restore funds to NYC’s cultural institutions, including the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium.

In a May 28 letter sent to City Hall, Diaz wrote, “I am writing to ask for the restoration of funding proposed to be cut to our Cultural Institutions Groups (CIGs) in the Fiscal Year 2010 Executive Budget. CIGs provide an unquestionable service to the City, as well as visitors, through educational and recreational programs that enrich young and adult minds alike. In 2008, the Bronx CIGs (Bronx Zoo, The New York Botanical Garden, Wave Hill, Bronx Museum of the Arts, and The Bronx Historical Society) served 455,000 public schoolchildren as part of school, camp, and youth groups visiting Bronx cultural institutions.

“They are also a significant economic engine for the city. Over 3 million people visit the five Bronx CIGs annually, and the numbers continue to rise.”

He added, “Currently, the Bronx CIGs employ approximately 1,330 full-time employees with almost 500 being Bronx residents.”

This important support from Diaz comes as City Hall is deciding this week on its fiscal year 2010 budget. Currently, the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium face losing $2.3 million from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2010.

“We send a big thank you to Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. for his great support for the Bronx Zoo and all the cultural organizations in the Bronx,” said John Calvelli, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, Wildlife Conservation Society. “The Bronx could not have a stronger advocate for what is good for the Bronx and its residents.”

The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium have joined 32 other cultural institutions asking City Hall to restore their funding, emphasizing that they are important to the economy of NYC.

More than 27,000 messages have been sent to City Hall asking specifically that funding be restored to the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium; 6,983 of those requests were emails.

Wildlife Conservation Society Economic Impact Facts

A breakdown of the $414.6 million economic impact on NYC by WCS:

  • $285,800,000, due to operational expenditures
  • $76,200,000, due to capital expenditures
  • $52,560,000, due to expenditures by visitors.

The institutions managed by WCS in New York City are the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo, and Queens Zoo, as well as the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn.

Below are the specifics of the enormously positive economic impact generated by the Bronx Zoo and the New York Aquarium.

  • More than 4 million visitors come to our facilities each year. The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium are both located in underserved areas.
  • WCS offers free Wednesday admission to all at the Bronx Zoo and free Friday afternoons at the New York Aquarium.
  • We are one of the largest youth employers in the Bronx. (400 at Bronx Zoo; 100 at New York Aquarium).
  • In FY 08, we hired 800 seasonal employees at the Bronx Zoo, including students, retirees, and people on public assistance.
  • The New York Aquarium welcomes more visitors each year than any other cultural institution in Brooklyn.
  • WCS is the only cultural institution located in four of New York’s five boroughs.

Additional added value from WCS to the City, beyond the parks:

  • WCS provides advice and services for public health and animal control in the City and throughout the region.
  • WCS is the principal repository in the region for snake anti-venin.
  • And in this world city, where global health issues can become local ones very quickly, WCS chairs the New York City interagency task force on wildlife diseases and human public health.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world's largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit: www.wcs.org

Special note to reporters: If you would like to interview any business people or community groups supporting this funding, please call us and we can put you in touch with these individuals.

Mary Dixon (1-347-840-1242; mdixon@wcs.org)
Steve Fairchild (1-718-220-5189; fairchild@wcs.org)