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RELOCATING THE ZOO WILL CREATE MORE PROBLEMS

I was saddened to read that the Buffalo Zoo has run out of patience for remodeling its Parkside location and plans to leave our neighborhood for a pricey new vista on the waterfront. More distressing than the prospect of empty single-use buildings cluttering Delaware Park is the thought of how unnecessary the move really is.

Ours is actually a very good zoo, being one of only a handful in the country accredited by both certifying organizations. But it has fallen behind fashionable zoos, where all of the animals are put in larger exhibits than can be accommodated without expanding into Delaware Park.

Even at its current size in historic and paid-for buildings, the zoo loses money every year and continues to operate only because of annual subsidies from the taxpayers. Larger exhibits, more animals and increased staff will only cost more money and absorb funding currently available to other cultural institutions.

A new zoo cannot be designed as a money-maker, and the increased annual cash needs will be in addition to the $50 million to $150 million needed for construction, which can only be paid for by new taxes. To suggest placing such a debt on top of our local economy -- already teetering from overtaxation -- is irresponsible.

Although a new zoo may increase memberships for a while and attract some out-of-area travel, it will not generate enough money to pay the increased operating expenses, much less retire the enormous construction costs.

Why not create a satellite location for the zoo? Memorial Auditorium would be ideal for inexpensive conversion to a spectacular bird exhibit. And connecting transportation, the Metro Rail, is already in place.

WILLIAM J. KNAPP Buffalo

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