Smithsonian To Close Petting Zoo Because of Budget Cuts

by Arin Greenwood on February 17, 2011

photo by cliff1066/Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license

No matter your view on government-run zoos, this news is sad: The Smithsonian Zoo is cutting its popular – and adorable – Kids’ Farm petting zoo because of budget cuts, a Smithsonian spokesperson confirmed to a rather bereft OOTS News on the phone, not a moment ago.

There is no closing date that’s been set yet, but the spokesperson said that the petting zoo, which opened in 2004, will likely close in “late spring or early summer.”

No plans have yet been made for the soon-to-be-unemployed animals. “We’re looking into alternate homes,” said the spokesperson.

Much has been written about the fate of petting zoo animals, once they are no longer in a position to be petted. (Frasier Valley Auction confirms to an even-more-bereft-at-this-point-OOTS that petting zoo animals have indeed been sold for slaughter at its auctions.)

A facebook group has been created . The group’s founder – OOTS’s cousin Jamie Davis Smith – says that her three kids have spent “many happy hours” at the petting zoo, hanging out with the animals and learning where their milk and food comes from, and that she is upset that the decision to close the zoo seems to have been made without any public input.

Smith says that she is considering staging a sit in for three-year olds, to protest the zoo’s impending closure. “We have to act quickly since spring is fast approaching.”

The Smithsonian’s plan to close the petting zoo was in its 2012 Federal Budget Request, released on Valentine’s Day. The total request was for $861.5 million – an increase of $100 million over its last appropriation of $761 million. The request includes $100,000 for research related to Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe, $500,000 for Understanding the American Experience, and $100,00 supporting Web and new media projects. Cuts include the petting zoo, and replacing paid staff with volunteers at the Museum of the American Indian.

What do you think should happen with the petting zoo?

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  • zoofriend

    Yet no one is concerned that eight zoo employees are slated to lose their jobs.

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