Even More Zoo Thoughts

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(Disclaimer: I am in the tank for the Franklin Park Zoo. I’m a member, I go there often, I know Executive Director John Linehan (not well))

With that out of the way, I wanted to add a few items to the discussion:

1) Clause M of the Section 5 of Chapter 92b of the MA General Laws — I’m curious why this hasn’t come up sooner — it prevents the Zoo from charging admission to students on school trips. I understand the impulse but it seems unfair to expect the zoo to stand on its own (kind of) without letting them charge an important group of customers.

2) The Two-Headed Monster — The political dynamic created by the two locations of the zoo — one in the suburbs northwest of Boston and the other abutting several neighborhoods of the city — means each location has a strong constituency that won’t give up their location. Even if a single location might be more efficient.

3) Zoo New England’s Development Challenge — The events of the past week probably helped the Zoo in the short run, but ensuring an override of the GOV’s veto. But they may hurt in the long run — by (again) calling into question the long-term viability of the zoos. It is tough to raise private money now, period. It is even tougher if its not clear that your donations are going to an institution that will last.

I grew up going to the Stone Zoo, which is now a run-down echo of its former self. And the Franklin Park Zoo does not compare to other better-financed zoos in other cities, but I admire the staff’s ability to do a great deal with very few resources and I enjoy visiting. I hope the Franklin Park Zoo survives.