Minnesota Zoo to bank on lions and giraffes to solve attendance slump

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Minnesota Zoo is betting on lions, zebras and giraffes to bring in more visitors and ward off future funding crises.

Earlier this month, the Apple Valley zoo indicated that it will be requesting $1.5 million in emergency funding from the state amid a budget shortfall caused by declining attendance, rising staff salaries and costs.

But the Star Tribune reports that in spite of its revenue problems, it is still pushing ahead with ambitious expansion plans to secure its future, at the center of which is a $30 million to $40 million African Savanna exhibit.

The exhibit won't open until 2021, but would feature animals such as lions, giraffes and zebras that the newspaper says would be a "continual draw for crowds," after a year in which attendance dropped 4.5 percent.

KARE 11 says the only other time the zoo has asked for extra funding was in 1999 when an $800,000 cash injection was approved, and its latest budget request is being supported by Governor Mark Dayton, albeit with reservations.

"I support the deficiency request, because, I'm told, without it the Zoo would have to close exhibits, transfer animals to other zoos, lay off staff, and severely disrupt its operations," he told the station. "However, I am very concerned that the Zoo board and managers arrived in this predicament; and I expect the legislature will properly take a close look at its costs, funding, and future plans during this session."

The zoo, which receives around a third of its annual funding from the state, has an operating budget of $25 million, WCCO reports, and laid off seven employees following a round of cuts in October that will save $500,000.

The Star Tribune notes that the zoo has other improvements planned for this year, including the addition of Hawaiian monk seals, and a zip line, while a $20 million project to revamp the snow monkey exhibit will follow in 2017.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2020-11-30 at 7.41.02 AM

Human remains found at Albert Lea building where 3 people where shot

Authorities say the human remains are not related to the shooting.

DirecTV

DirecTV subscribers could lose KARE 11 on Tuesday

A new contract needs to be agreed upon by 6 p.m. Tuesday.

prison, Rush City cell block

Inmate from Rush City prison dies after COVID-19 diagnosis

The man is the fifth incarcerated person in Minnesota to die from COVID-19.

ambulance

Belle Plaine man dies after duck boat capsizes on lake

One man was found sitting on the overturned boat while another man was in the water.

Screen Shot 2020-11-29 at 4.59.51 PM

Watch: Adam Thielen watches end of Vikings/Panthers just like all of us

The Vikings receiver looked like a true fan on Sunday afternoon.

Chad Beebe

Chad Beebe's roller-coaster fourth-quarter keeps Vikings playoff hopes alive

A muffed punt and a game-winning touchdown helped defeat the Panthers on Sunday afternoon.

127266986_2766399800267634_3587849554502438415_n

West-central MN cops warn kids to stay off ice, or 'Santa won't come'

This comes amid repeated ice warnings across the state.

covid-19, coronavirus, PPE

Nov. 29 COVID-19 update: 57 deaths, nearly 9,000 more cases

Nearly 100,000 tests were included in Sunday's report.

jim ramstad

Watch former Rep. Jim Ramstad's memorial service online

The ceremony will be live-streamed for the public on Sunday.

EDL1LeKXsAEeH32

How high can Rashod Bateman go in the 2021 NFL Draft?

The Gophers star receiver has plenty of praise heading into next April.

TCF Bank Stadium

15 more from Gopher football team test positive for COVID-19

That brings the total number of cases from this outbreak to 40.

Related