Businesses and Community Groups Flood City Hall with Concerns for the funding For Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo And New York Aquarium

The Business Generated by Cultural Groups Means Business for Local Merchants And Jobs for New Yorkers

NEW YORK (June 1, 2009)— More than 20,000 petitions are being sent to City Hall, including 3,200 emails and 40 community/business support letters, asking that funding of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium gets restored for fiscal year 2010.

City Hall is currently in its last week for finalizing the fiscal year 2010 budget. The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium face a $2.3 million reduction from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2010. This cut would further threaten frontline jobs at these facilities. The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium are a part of the city’s Cultural Institutions Group (34 groups in all), which overall face an $18 million cut from fiscal year 2009 to fiscal year 2010.

“We appreciate each and every petition, letter and email sent to City Hall on behalf of all the cultural organizations and the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium,” said WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs John Calvelli. “We are hearing from local businesses their concerns that when we are affected, their bottom lines are affected, too. WCS alone pumps more than $400 million into the city’s economy.”

In a letter to the media, one local Bronx business owner, Ferdinando Fusco, of Antonio’s Trattoria wrote: As the owner of a restaurant near the Bronx Zoo, I worry about the proposed reductions in city funding for the zoo. I’m concerned that fewer people will be visiting our businesses. We need to keep investing in what makes this city unique and special.”

In testimony at City Hall recently, Frank Franz with the Belmont Business Improvement District said, “Having been born and raised in the Belmont section of the Bronx, also known as Little Italy in the Bronx, the Bronx Zoo and the Botanical Garden have been my lifelong neighbors and places of enjoyment for me and my entire family.

“Having been president of the local merchant association for the past twelve years and now as chairman of the Belmont Business Improvement District, I have realized the enormous economic impact these institutions have on our community.”

Community Groups Sending City Hall Letters of Support for the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium Funding:

Cyclone Roller Coaster; New York League of Conservation Voters; Living and Learning by the Arts; Literacy, Inc.; New York State Institute on Disability; American Media Concepts Inc.; Interwest United Insurance Brokerage, Inc.; South Brooklyn Youth Consortium Inc.; Friends of Van Cortlandt Park; Parkside Senior Center; Riverdale Senor Services, Inc.; Van Cortlandt Jewish Center; Jackson Avenue Block Association; Phipps Community Development Corp.; Bronx Chamber of Commerce; Fort Schuyler House: Hutchinson Metro Center; Morris Park Community Association; North East Bronx Senior Citizens Center; Our Lady of the Assumption School; Preston High School; RAIN Boston Road Senior Center; St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf; Throggs Neck Merchant Association; Waterbury LaSalle Community Association; Bronx River Art Center; Fordham Road Business Improvement District; Brooklyn Community Board 8; Heart of Brooklyn; Bronx Community Board 1; H.O.G.A.R. Senior Case Assistance; South Bronx Action Group; Sustainable South Bronx; Brighton Neighborhood Association; Broken Ankle Productions, Inc.; Girl Scouts Heart of the Hudson; Westchester Community Opportunity Program; Community Mayors; Heart Gallery NYC; TSUNAMI Hospital Foundation; Bronx Community Board 11; Hunt’s Pt. Economic Development Corp.

Wildlife Conservation Society Economic Impact Facts

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 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 in no time, 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:

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;
Stephen Fairchild (1-718-220-5189;