City Ends Longtime Contract with the Zoological Society

The Zoo Societies Board of Directors contributes, their passion, time, and effort to support the Society’s mission, benefitting El Paso Zoo and citizens. The Society has provided support to the Zoo as a private nonprofit for over 60 years.

The Society has worked cooperatively with the Zoo, securing millions of dollars, fostering community involvement, engagement, and providing support through fundraising campaigns under an agreement with the city that was up for renewal in December 2022. That agreement, became obsolete, and we were granted two extensions allowing the Society and City to craft an improved agreement, carrying the Society’s support forward into the future. Since then, the Society has attempted to fulfill this objective.

We are extremely saddened to say that despite the Society’s best efforts, the city has not shown willingness to engage in a constructive dialogue for a new agreement. We were led to believe that we would enter into negotiations before the agreement extensions expired. Instead, on February 26th, we received notification that the agreement would not be extended or renewed and that we needed to vacate our offices on zoo grounds, without further explanation.

In addition, the city has now begun to take over the membership, volunteer and zoo camp programs managed and administered by the Zoo Society for the last 60 years.

The city’s proposed approach does not only shut out the financial support the society has provided, eliminating private fundraising that only a 501(c)(3) can facilitate, but also will set back the zoo and community to an archaic model of municipal zoos that would not be sustainable in the current economic model of modern zoos.

Long ago, cities have recognized that maintaining and improving public Zoos cannot function at the taxpayers’ expense using public funds. As a result, the universal modern trend among public Zoos is to increase cooperation with private organizations like ours, fostering greater community involvement and charitable giving to support Zoo initiatives, eliminating the burden on taxpayers.

By severing its relationship with the Zoo Society, the City of El Paso would be regressing.

We fear that without the involvement and support of the Society: both the quality of the Zoo and the taxpayers of El Paso will suffer.

It is unclear as to how the city plans to use taxpayer dollars to fund the programs without the Zoo Society’s support. The Society has communicated honestly and openly with city leadership, expressing its interest and commitment to our zoo and community. So far, with no success.

We trust the city recognizes the value of the Society and is open to dialogue envisioning a new perspective moving forward. We will keep our community updated on any new results.


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