I WAS gratified to learn that Edward L. Glaeser recognizes the value of a great zoo in Boston (“Don’t feed the animals (do feed the zoo)”, Op-ed, July 1). Zoo New England, which manages Franklin Park Zoo and Stone Zoo, achieved record-breaking attendance last year with more than 681,000 visitors. That included more than 47,000 Massachusetts schoolchildren.
Most of the great zoos in the country follow a similar funding model: a strong base of public-sector support (often both operating and capital), earned revenues, and corporate and individual philanthropic support.
A great zoo returns many valuable dividends in education, cultural enrichment, wildlife conservation, and economic development, and in bringing people together — families, friends, and strangers of all descriptions in a common interest. Tens of thousands of students who visited last month left with a greater understanding of the wonderful, yet fragile, diversity of our planet and the importance of stewardship.
Great progress has been made and we are working hard to realize the full vision for our zoos. Despite all the rain, we had record setting attendance in June (105,000 visitors). If you haven’t visited recently, we hope you will come out and experience the zoos for yourself — and get involved.