One subject that keeps coming up when it comes to the relocation of the Toronto Zoo elephants is finances. There are several figures that continue to emerge in an attempt to sway both public opinion and the opinion of city council. Here is a brief outline of where one of these figures was acquired, and some additional figures not yet made public."Charcoal drawing on silk - copied from a photo of Thika and Iringa"
Courtesy of Ann Walsh at The Toronto Zoo Elephant Keepers on Facebook
When the Toronto Zoo was looking at expanding their elephant program the question was asked, “How much does it cost to run the elephant program for one year?” The answer to this question after taking into consideration all the factors involved in the program was approximately $600,000. This figure includes diet, medical expenses, the salaries of keeping staff, heat/hydro, care and upkeep of exhibit, etc.
This figure was brought to the attention of city council to urge them to expedite the decision making process of finding the best home for these elephants that was underway by Toronto Zoo management. They argued that the longer this process took, the more of this $600,000 annual budget was being used on the elephants. What they failed to mention is that a substantial portion of this figure would still be spent even without the elephants at the zoo. Plans are already underway to move new animals into the current elephant house, therefore the cost of heat/hydro, salaries and exhibit maintenance remain. The only true savings are on the cost of the elephants diet and medical care, a figure which falls substantially short of the $600,000 estimate.
This is not the only factor to consider when looking at the financial impact of the
re-homing of the elephants. In the summer (July and August) of 2010 Toronto Zoo guest services staff conducted a survey of patrons on zoo site. The results of this survey showed that 10.9% of zoo visitors said that they would not return to the Toronto Zoo if there were no elephants. An additional 4.1% of those polled were unsure if they would return.
According to the Toronto Zoo’s annual report the revenue generated by admission (front gate admission, membership sales and parking) for the 2009 and 2010 seasons averaged out to be $18,647,966. 10.9% of this figure works out to be $2,032,628.29. This is the approximate total that the Toronto Zoo stands to lose on admission revenue after the departure of the elephants, a figure that far outweighs the exaggerated $600,000 that the Toronto Zoo stands to save annually. When net revenue from retail, food services, rides and rentals is factored in this figure jumps to $2,296,745.92 and this does not even take into consideration the 4.1% of people who were unsure about returning to the Toronto Zoo.
These figures clearly demonstrate that the Toronto Zoo elephants generate far more revenue than expenses and that remains true even if you apply any form of realistic variance to those statistics. Any argument that this decision should be rushed in order to save money simply does not hold up. We owe it to this elephants to take the time to find the home that is best for them.
//Brendan Linnell, 11/13/2011
Sunday, November 13, 2011
From "The Toronto Zoo Elephant Keepers" on Facebook:
Posted Sunday, November 13, 2011