Truth about the Zoo

By:  Diane Benjamin

From the Council meeting held October 8, 2012 where the Zoo Master Plan was passed (Stockton was still Mayor)

The recommendation is to adopt the MPZ Master Plan, as presented without binding any financial requirements. The financial planning and funding would be decided within the citywide long term capital improvement budget which would require Council approval. The funding received from private funding, such as through the MPZS, will be needed to assist in financial planning for the implementation of the Master Plan.  Page 21

Paying for the flamingos are now considered a contract!  Tari claims if the Council doesn’t vote Monday night to spend the money, the zoo will never be able to raise money again.  The Council passed a Master Plan because Stockton and Hales told them they had to.  Now they HAVE to fund it.  I bet you can’t wait for the Downtown Master Plan, the Bike Master Plan, Streets Master Plan, Sewer Master Plan, and Sidewalks Master Plan.  Grab your wallet!

Do you ever hear citizens mentioned in “Quality of Life”?  Isn’t it always about attracting millennials and new businesses?  The people living in Bloomington, and paying the City’s bills, are immaterial.  If they can’t afford to live in Bloomington because “Quality of Life” spending and taxation is excessive, who cares?  Did the Zoo keep GE, Electrolux, Eureka, State Farm, Mitsubishi, KMart, Cub Foods, etc etc?  What businesses located here because Bloomington has a Zoo? (or Coliseum, BCPA, 3 golf courses, 2 pools, etc)

Here’s an idea:  Put a referendum on the next ballot and let citizens vote on “Quality of Life” spending.  I predict the Zoo will be supported, the Coliseum and the BCPA won’t.  Golf may or may not pass muster.  There is a primary election next March – right before the next budget.  I dare you Tari.  Of course, what citizens want doesn’t matter, right Tari?

Remember Monday night that every dollar the Council votes to spend is being stolen from your pocket – with or without your approval.

Didn’t the $700,000 Zoo Grant from the State get cancelled by Gov. Rauner?

Fact:  The Zoo doesn’t come close to breaking even.  Adding flamingos is expected to bring 3-5% (the number keeps changing) more people to the zoo.  Increasing attendance still won’t allow the zoo to quit sucking money from the City budget.  Add the additional costs of construction and what the City contributes will NEVER result in a payback.  Expenses at the Zoo will skyrocket with more animals to feed!


Below are some Zoo facts from the City website:

On September 12, 2011 City Council approved a $126,230 contract with WDM Architects to prepare a master plan for Miller Park Zoo. The Miller Park Zoological Society (MPZS) agreed to fund $116,230 for this master plan, with the remaining $10,000 funded within the Miller Park Zoo’s operating budget. A Master Plan is needed for the Miller Park Zoo to demonstrate a roadmap for what the facility will look like over the next twenty years.  (See above – they don’t have money in their operating budget)

It is important to note that the Zoo is not asking for the cost of the Master Plan in the next fiscal year. The cost of the Master Plan is spread out over the next 15–20 years. (almost $17 million)  The average cost to the City is $222,500 over the next four fiscal years.
2014 Flamingo  $250,000 p. 13-14
2015 Red Panda, Pallas’ Cat, aviary (Eagle-Owl) $300,000 p. 21–22 (possible move to Phase II)
2016 Giant Anteater, Galapagos Tortoise, Bush Dog $350,000 p. 19-20
2017 Tayra, Bald Eagle $175,000 p. 19–20, 15-16
2018 Harbor Seal $3,000,000 p. 15-16
2019 River Otter $1,200,000 p. 15-16
2014 North parking, drives, south parking & perimeter fence $400,000 p. 11, 21

2015 Concessions and gift shop expansion $250,000 p. 11
Subtotal $650,000
PHASE II PROJECTS  (see details at link above)
Subtotal $9,625,000
ADDITIONAL PROJECTS OF OPPORTUNITY (not included in phase totals)
Orangutan, gibbon $4,000,000 p. 21-22
Asian hoofstock, amphitheater $450,000 p. 21–22, 12
Little Blue Penguin $1,700,000 p. 23-24
Australia, Cassowary, Tree Kangaroo, Black Swan $800,000 p. 23–24
Year(Projected) Project                                        City            Private
2015 Flamingo Exhibit                                             $150,000       $100,000
2016 North Parking and Drives,
         Gift Shop expansion and Concessions         $425,000         $0
2017 Anteater, Galapagos Tortoise,
         Bush Dog,                                                         $210,000       $140,000
2018 Tayra, Bald Eagle                                           $105,000          $70,000
2019 Harbor Seal                                                     $1,800,000  $1,200,000
2020 River Otter                                                      $720,000        $480,000
TOTAL for Phase I                                             $3,410,000   $1,990,000

8 thoughts on “Truth about the Zoo

  1. WHAT? NO KOALAS? Come on TARI! EVERYONE loves KOALAS! I could give a rats pygidium about apes,seals, gift shop and LEVAE the GALAPAGOS TORTOISE where you find them. They are endangered because IDIOTS take them out of their NATURAL habitat. And SERIOUSLY, does Miller Park REALLY pass for a zoo? I think it’s more of a “animal prison” for the slow, week or stupid ones who are unfortunately caught and imprisoned!

    1. In all honesty the Miller Park Zoo needs to be shut down. It is totally inadequate to house what they have now. It is a disgrace to treat animals like that.

      I’m not animal rights person and I see it for what it is, a disgrace.

  2. Is the City chained to Master Plans? Have they become ordinances or statutes? Or, are they supposed to be road maps so the city doesn’t spend willy-nilly depending on who is in office or who is the City Manager? The Downtown Strategy Plan does not include a hotel–Mr. Mayor!

    1. Agenda Item 8A (Miller Park Zoo) is for a budget amendment to increase this years spending by $125,832. There is a $7M budget gap!! Which fund will that money be taken from?? Sewers? Roads? Any guesses?

      1. Why do the previous year’s appropriated funds HAVE TO be spent. I guess I just don’t understand government budgeting.

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