Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium provide jobs, tax revenue, and pump millions of dollars into the local economy

NEW YORK (May 28, 2009) – John Calvelli, Executive Vice President for Public Affairs of the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), testified today before the New York City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs about the tremendous economic importance of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium to the City, and the other NYC cultural organizations that are a part of the Cultural Institutions Group working together to restore their city funding.

The testimony was in response to a proposed cut to the city’s 34 cultural institutions by $18 million over a one-year period, from FY09 to FY10. The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium face a reduction of $2.3 million – that’s 24 percent less than FY 2009 support. This is on top of the $1.3 million cut imposed in the current fiscal year (2009).

“Our cultural institutions, including the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium, make New York the greatest city in the world,” said Calvelli. “We employ New Yorkers and pump dollars into the cash registers of our businesses while educating and inspiring millions of children. New York is a city that lives and grows thanks to people with big dreams. Many of those dreams were born and nurtured thanks to our cultural institutions. We are part of the DNA of this City.”

A break down of a $414.6 million economic impact on NYC by WCS looks like this:

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

All 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.

Specific positive economic impacts of the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium include:

  • 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 Zoo; 100 at AQ)
  • 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 in no time, WCS chairs the New York City interagency task force on wildlife diseases and human public health.

“The quantitative impact on NYC by WCS is impressive,” said John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs. “Add to that what can’t be quantified and WCS is a great investment to the city. Much of WCS’ impact upon our local area cannot be measured by these quantitative measures alone. WCS enhances and benefits the local community through its provision of education and teacher training, its entertainment and recreation facilities and its community outreach programs. These work to improve the quality of life and attractiveness of New York City to visitors and residents, particularly among under-served groups. WCS and all the city’s cultural institutions are what make New York City great. For every dollar invested in WCS, alone, by the city, we raise another $9 that helps bring all these services to the city. ”

The Wildlife Conservations Society, a member of the city’s Cultural Institutions Group, is working with NYC’s other cultural institutions asking City Hall to fully restore their funding in FY 2010. The CIG is 34 NYC cultural institutions that include botanical gardens, museums, performance arts centers, zoos and aquariums. They and the city are linked through formal partnership agreements which have guaranteed a measure of public funding to the institutions. In return, the cultural organizations have produced a diverse array of public services and amassed world-famous collections ranging from rare art and specimens to endangered plants and animals.

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 the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to: www.wcs.org/donation

Stephen Sautner: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner@wcs.org)
Jogn Delaney: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney@wcs.org)