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Minnesota Zoo seeks $1.5M emergency cash boost amid budget crisis

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A budget crisis at Minnesota Zoo has officials seeking a $1.5 million emergency cash injection in order to maintain its operations.

The Star Tribune reports that declining attendance and the growing cost of salaries and animal feed has "blown a hole" in the Apple Valley attraction's budget, and say further cuts could lead to layoffs and the closure of exhibits.

Governor Mark Dayton told the newspaper he backs the request for additional funding – which officials deny is a bailout – but was unhappy that zoo managers had been unable to balance their budget.

In October, the state-run complex laid off seven works as part of a round of cuts that shaved around $500,000 from its budget, according to the Pioneer Press.

State funding accounts for just under a third of the zoo's $25 million operating, the newspaper says, with the rest coming from admissions and private funding.

Following the last summer season, the zoo revealed its attendance was down around 4.5 percent, at a time when expenses for animal feed, energy and staff salaries went up, adding an extra $1 million to the budget.

Prior to this, the zoo, which had seen record attendances in recent years, topping out at 1.3 million, when new exhibits were revealed.

The Star Tribune reports the emergency funding request is already before the Minnesota Legislature.

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