Porcupine Encore Aims to Save Kindred Animals, Plants, and Workers

An encore performance starring a now famous porcupine, named Wednesday, is part of continued efforts by a coalition of zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums across New York trying to convince Albany to reject Governor Paterson’s proposal to completely eliminate their state funding in fiscal year 2010. 

Currently, 76 zoos, botanical gardens and aquariums share about $9 million in state funding each year. The facilities maintain they are vital to New York's economy and important for millions of students' science and environmental education; Cutting their funding will be a devastating loss to New Yorkers and visitors from all over the world, they say.

“Our latest video with Wednesday, the porcupine, is a humorous take on a very serious issue facing our state’s living museums,” says John Calvelli, executive vice president of public affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). “We are hoping Wednesday can convince New Yorkers and all others who visit our facilities to contact Albany and petition the draconian cuts proposed by the governor.”

WCS reports that its five facilities account for more than $400 million flowing into the New York State economy. Visitors to those facilities—roughly four million of them—send additional tax revenue to Albany through purchases from local merchants in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and across New York.

What's more, WCS's Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium facilities are located in some of the most under-served areas in New York City. Just the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium alone employ approximately 1,200 seasonal workers in the summer, many of whom are retirees, citizens on public assistance, and students. 

Combined, all 76 zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums that would lose New York state funding attract approximately 12 million visitors to their institutions each year, bringing millions of dollars to merchants located near the institutions.

Since Wednesday's premier performance in January, more than 75 thousand people have contacted state officials in Albany, demanding that the Governor keep the state's so-called living museums alive. For more information, visit www.wcs.org

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