As a child growing up in Connecticut, it was not unusual for me to visit the Bronx Zoo ten times in one year. It was my Disney World and science classroom rolled into one and it inspired a lifelong love of zoology that led directly (eventually) to ZooBorns. Therefore it was with extreme concern that I learned of Governor Paterson's proposal to cut funding for New York zoos, aquariums and botanic gardens from $9 million to $4 million in 2009 and cut funding entirely by 2010.
The Governor's plan is to focus funding on "capital initiatives that provide ongoing environmental benefits" rather than "annual operating support" to organizations. I believe the rationale behind this approach to be deeply flawed. Zoos and aquariums communicate the importance of conservation in a tangible way that environmental engineering projects simply cannot. What is more, they reach a far larger and more diverse audience, including millions of children, sowing the seeds of concern for the living world around us. Essentially what these institutions provide is education in its most captivating and inspiring form. This leads to careers in science and financial and political support for conservation initiatives, so I can think of no more worthwhile investment for "ongoing environmental benefits" than the education provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society - the umbrella organization for the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and New York Aquarium.
The Governor's office can be emailed here: http://188.8.131.52/govemail
And now without further ado, we bring you a poster child for this cause, Katie the sea lion pup, born this summer at the Bronx Zoo. The pictures are just a couple of days old and come to us from ZooBorns reader Amber A.