I am a Belmont resident and animal lover. I don’t see the point of having two ailing zoos that get by on minimal funding. I have never been to the Franklin or Stone Zoo, but I have read about the funding controversy in the Globe. I have also read a comment posted by another of your constituents asking why the funding of zoos should take priority over aid to senior citizens. If we look at the zoos as places to sustain in their current condition I think the constituent saying the money is better spent elsewhere is probably right. I grew up in Buffalo, NY a city with a small zoo that was a destination for learning and connection to wildlife for the entire community. I have to admit though the place seemed a bit small when considering the size of the enclosures for the large animals and especially the aviary for the bald eagle. One of the highlights of my childhood was a trip with my parents to the Toronto Zoo, two hours away in Canada. They had pavilions where the animals roamed free and outdoor facilities for giraffes and other large animals that covered vast expanses of territory. A visit to the Toronto Zoo was an experience as exciting for me as visiting Disney World. I know the state would like to be frugal in an economic climate that seems dismal at best but I think we need to rethink how we view our spending on cultural establishments. To cut funding to the zoos is to walk down a path that eventually leads to inappropriate care for species that are very rare whose natural habitat is endangered and whose presence in zoos is an inspiration to children everywhere. I say rather than cut funding to the zoos we should form a long-term plan to consolidate the Zoos into a theme park that could attract tourists from New England and around the world. If long term planning is considered then these animals that are a strain on our local economy could become a major revenue builder and more importantly a way to get our youth excited about biology and the environment.
Thanks, Evan, and also to Genessee for her comments on the other zoo post. I agree we should be rethinking our approach to these zoos and more deeply to zoos in general — a grim, under-funded zoo is not a good thing. Hopefully, the current flap can push those conversations. But we haven’t had those conversations yet and they’ll take some time; we in the legislature have tried to find the balance between driving a conversation about change and destroying an institution with too sharp a cut.
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