AirTalk for May 20, 2011

L.A. Zoo considers privatization plan

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David McNew/Getty Images

A pair of rare snow leopard cubs play at the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

Since its opening in 1966, the Los Angeles Zoo has been owned and operated by the city. Now, LA’s top administrator says the taxpayer-funded animal attraction should be turned over to a private manager. Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana pitched the idea saying that the combination of spiraling employee costs and years of deep budget cuts, could cripple the beloved institution. But not everyone’s happy with the plan. Leaders of SEIU 721, which represents about 230 zookeepers and other workers, want to make sure any change wouldn’t be at the expense of the workers or the lions and tigers and bears. How would the proposed private/public partnership work? Is it easier to raise money for the zoo, if it’s privately run? Can the zoo survive without it?


Miguel Santana, Chief Administrative Officer for the City of Los Angeles

Julie Butcher, SEIU Local 721 Regional Director for the Cities of Los Angeles and Orange County

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