The Los Angeles Zoo is one of the few remaining zoos in the United States that is publicly owned and operated. But in an effort to save money, the Los Angeles City Council is currently considering a plan to privatize the facility.
Animal groups such as In Defense of Animals (IDA) oppose privatization of the zoo. Catherine Doyle, IDA's elephant welfare specialist, told the Los Angeles Times that it could mean less transparency, making the zoo "become even more secretive and insular."
If the proposal is approved, the zoo animals would still be owned by the city, and current zoo-specific employees would continue to be employed by the city (others could be transferred). New hires would be employed by the zoo operator. Some zoo employees have expressed concern that the new staff won't have the same animal expertise as the current staff.
The city is also considering privatizing other facilities, including the Northeast Animal Center. In that particular case, privatization would be preferable, since the shelter, which holds animals but has never opened to the public due to lack of funds to pay for staff, would be run as a low-cost spay/neuter clinic and adoption center by the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society.
On the other hand, one of the companies that has already expressed an interest in taking over the zoo operations is Parques Reunidos, a Madrid-based for-profit that owns more than 70 amusement parks, water parks and zoos around the world.
A former Los Angeles Zoo consultant told the L.A. Times that any private operation is going to "Disney-fy" the zoo. "That's what they do," he said.
Don't let this happen. Sign the petition telling the City Council to oppose privatization of the Los Angeles Zoo.
I agree with animal proponents who feel that privatization of the zoo will put less focus on the welfare of the animals and more on a for-profit operator's bottom line.
As Councilman Richard Alarcon told the Los Angeles Times, if a private corporation can make the zoo profitable, why can't the city?
The zoo should continue to be publicly owned while alternative ways to raise revenue are considered.
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