The Franklin Park Zoo, a Boston landmark for nearly a century, may be forced to close and euthanize up to a fifth of the animals in its care due to devastating budget cuts.
New England's largest zoo and its counterpart, the Stoneham Zoo, saw their state funding cut from $6.5 million to $2.5 million by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, the Boston Globe reported, and expects to run out of money by October.
Zoo officials said they would have to lay off most of their 165 employees and find new homes for the more than 1,000 animals they currently house, the Globe reported. Those they cannot relocate — at least 20 percent, officials estimate — may have to be destroyed.
The Zoo's director is now calling on state lawmakers to override Gov. Patrick's decision, which he made with a line-item veto of the legislature's budget. More than half of the zoo's funding comes from the state.
The Franklin Park Zoo was founded in 1913, and along with the Stoneham Zoo, draws about 570,000 visitors annually.
"This is just another bad decision on budget cuts,” Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino told the Globe. “It's a great resource for the community. The zoo is an inexpensive place to spend a day in tough economic times."