SPRINGFIELD — Senator Eric P. Lesser joined other local elected officials and members of the Zoo in Forest Park’s board of directors today to announce the funds secured in the FY2019 state budget for the Zoo and its educational programming.
“Like many people across our region, I grew up visiting the Zoo at Forest Park. Today, I bring my daughters to experience it for themselves,” said Senator Lesser. “This funding will enable the Zoo to continue to provide its well-known educational programming like Zoo on the Go, care for the animals year round, and offer area youth internship opportunities. This is an important resource for our community and I am proud to support it.”
“The Zoo in Forest Park provides our inner city and our low income communities with a unique experience to see, learn and appreciate the animals. It is incumbent that we work together to provide the funds to support the ongoing operations to keep the Zoo here in Springfield,” said Rep. Carlos Gonzalez.
State Reps. Bud Williams and Jose Tosado also attended.
“We are incredibly grateful to Sen. Lesser, Rep. Gonzalez and all members of the western Massachusetts legislative delegation for making this funding a reality,” said Sarah Tsitso, executive director of The Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center. “Our 124-year-old Zoo truly is a regional treasure, providing education and enrichment to generations of local families. The funding included in the 2019 state budget will support all 150 native and exotic animals that call our Zoo their home, enhance conservation and rehabilitation efforts, spur economic development through internships and job training, and provide educational programming for children and adults. This wonderful partnership with the state will impact more than 50,000 people in 2019, and provide opportunities for growth for The Zoo in Forest Park & Education Center.”
Zoo officials noted that the Zoo is an important economic driver for the region, especially as more visitors come to Springfield for attractions like MGM Springfield and the Dr. Seuss Museum.
The state funding will support the Zoo’s programming, including hands-on educational internships for veterinary students from local colleges, including UMass-Amherst, University of Connecticut, Westfield State University, Bay Path University, Springfield Technical Community College and Holyoke Community College.