Zoo's Future

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With big budget cuts looming at city hall, unloading the zoo could potentially save Lansing a lot of money.

But where else can kids go and only pay $2 for up-close views of exotic creatures.

But now funding is in question, and there's a good possibility the city will have to hand it over to the Potter Park Zoological Society, a private organization.

"We do wonder if the funding is going to go down all the time," said
Diane McNeil, the executive director.

McNeil said the society will do whatever is best for the zoo, and if that means taking over all financial responsibility from the city, then she said they'll do their best. But she added the transition would have to be gradual.

"By gradual transition I'm talking in financial terms," she said.

Murdock Jemerson, the director of the department of parks and recreation, said zoos all across the country have had success with this kind of transition. It's also what the Detroit zoo is going through now.

In 2005, it took $2.2 million to run the zoo. They brought in $538,000 thousand dollars from parking and admissions. So that means the society would have to come up with almost $1.7 million.

McNeil said that will involve creative fund raising, and Jemerson said that could mean an increase in admission.

But both said they will do everything they can to keep the visitors and the animals happy, though financially the future of the zoo remains wide open.