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Patrick Defends Zoo Budget Cuts

This article is more than 10 years old.

The operators of the Franklin Park Zoo, who last week warned that some animals might have to be destroyed if state lawmakers don't restore funding, say they won't be euthanizing any animals as a result of state budget cuts.

Officials at Zoo New England had said in a letter to legislators last week that without more funding they'd have to shut down the Boston zoo, whose wild animals include lions and giraffes, in October and close its smaller counterpart, the Stone Zoo in Stoneham. They said as many as 200 animals might have to be destroyed because it likely would be impossible to find new homes for all of them.

In a revised statement released Saturday, Zoo New England said it meant the state would be forced to care for the animals or euthanize them.

At the Franklin Park Zoo, there are hundreds of exotic animal species from around the world in exhibits including a tropical rain forest, the Australian outback and the African savannah. The Stone Zoo features animals including reindeer, black bears, jaguars and goats.

Gov. Deval Patrick cut state funding for the zoos from $6.5 million to $2.5 million. On Sunday, Patrick spokesman Kyle Sullivan said the governor would never support euthanizing animals as a budget tool.

"As a supporter of the zoo and a parent who has visited often, the governor is disappointed to learn that Zoo New England has responded to this difficult but unavoidable budget cut by spreading inaccurate and incendiary information," the governor's office said in a statement. "In the midst of an economic crisis like this one, when families and businesses alike are making sacrifices, we would all do well to remain level-headed and focused on solutions. The administration looks forward to working with Zoo New England and their supporters to find one."

Zoo New England said it had no further comment.

The cuts to the zoos were among $150 million worth of line-item vetoes Patrick said were necessary to balance the budget he received from the Legislature because of declining tax revenue.

Senate minority leader Richard Tisei, R-Wakefield, whose district includes the Stone Zoo, told the Boston Globe he believes Patrick cut the zoo's budget, at least in part, for political reasons.

"I don't know if it's to build public support for another tax increase or they think these are easy targets, but I would hope that the Legislature has the good sense to override the veto," Tisei told the newspaper.

This program aired on July 13, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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