Proposed Budgets For Next Five Years
Annual Zoo Attendance
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Sedgwick County Commissioners voted, 4-1, to approve a five-year funding agreement with the Sedgwick County Zoo. Agreements have been common practice between the Zoological Society and Sedgwick County.
During the economic downturn, the five-year agreements were replaced with year-to-year commitments and the zoo experienced more than $3 million of deferred maintenance to buildings.
"Our donors would not want to donate money if the county doesn't have a commitment, and the county's commitment has always been to add to people," said Mark Reed, executive director of the Sedgwick County Zoo. "This is all about getting back to the good partnership."
Commissioner Richard Ranzau was against the agreement and cited that it was not the right time to make a long-term financial commitment.
"I think we're jumping the gun trying to provide financial security to any entity, when we ourselves do not have it at this time," said Ranzau.
The zoo will get about $31 million from the county over the next five years, giving the Zoological Society time to focus on a $10 million to $12 million capital campaign to expand the elephant exhibit.
County funding pays for salaries and infrastructure at the zoo. The new agreement will help pay for nine additional employees needed after the elephant exhibit is expanded in 2016.
Currently, the zoo has two female elephants, Stephanie and Cinda, that have been there since 1972.
New requirements for accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums require that the zoo have exhibits built with enough space for at least three female elephants, two males, or three elephants of mixed gender.