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Fundraising Group Withdraws Bid To Manage LA Zoo

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Visitors arrive at the main entrance to the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

Visitors arrive at the main entrance to the Los Angeles Zoo in Los Angeles. (credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association dropped its bid Thursday to manage the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, which may lead to layoffs and higher admission fees.

GLAZA President Connie Morgan sent a letter to City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana Thursday, announcing the decision from the group’s Board of Trustees.

Santana had been leading negotiations for months with GLAZA, a nonprofit that does fundraising for the zoo, for the group to take over day-to-day management.

“GLAZA is very disappointed with the outcome of the negotiations,” Morgan said. “This is a missed opportunity to mitigate the negative impact of continued city budget cuts to the zoo and to ensure the long-term wellbeing of the zoo’s animals, its staff and its programming for the citizens and school children of the metropolitan Los Angeles area.”

The City Attorney’s Office is to blame for derailing the negotiations, according to Santana, after the agency opined that the public-private partnership model was not legal, without providing any written explanation for the decision.

“The city attorney was unable to explain why a model that works for the Hollywood Bowl, LACMA, The Music Center, Disney Hall and the California Science Center cannot work for city of Los Angeles,” Santana said.

A spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office was not immediately available for comment.

GLAZA’s withdrawal from the process puts the zoo in “real jeopardy” and will likely lead to layoffs of zoo staff, Santana said. He said he plans to recommend to the City Council that it raise zoo admission fees and begin charging for parking to increase revenue, as well as contract out for janitorial and security services to cut costs.

The zoo will also likely be forced to begin paying for its own water and electricity similar to the Department of Recreation and Parks, Santana said.

The City Council earlier this year approved the the fifth ticket price increase to the zoo in five years. A ticket for children 12 years old and under is now $12, up from $5 when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took office in 2005.

Admission for adults is $17, up from $10 seven years ago. The ticket price for seniors is $14.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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