Coalition wants Brookfield Zoo added to capital funding bill
The Brookfield Zoo: Needed Infrastructure for Compassionate Education (B-NICE) coalition called on lawmakers during a press conference Wednesday to add funding for the zoo to a new capital funding bill.
Stuart Strahl, president and CEO of the Chicago Zoological Society, said the coalition supports the capital funding bill. The Chicago Zoological Society is a nonprofit that runs the zoo in Brookfield.
"We're asking for Brookfield Zoo to be included in the bill," Stahl said at the press conference. "We’re a 'zoo for all' and help from the state would help the zoo. Without it, we might have to increase the price of admission or cut hours."
Stahl said the zoo should be expanding, not cutting back.
"The zoo is an economic driver for the area," Stahl said.
Stahl said lawmakers are working toward the state's first major capital bill in a decade.
"The work we do goes far beyond the zoo gates," Stahl said. "The more we receive from the state to help repair crumbling infrastructure, the more we're able to focus on sustaining and expanding our STEM education, conservation education, science, nature, leadership and accessibility programs that directly benefit communities from our region."
William Hook, the principal of Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, said his school partners with the zoo, and the zoo does much for the school.
"The zoo even sponsors our prom," Hook said. "It has a job shadowing program for our students. It would be a great loss if those programs needed to be scaled back or cut."
Gigi Sevilla, a volunteer at the zoo, said people are able to bond through their connection with nature at the zoo.
"The zoo goes far beyond the ground and makes a better world for people and animals alike," she said.
Under the previous capital funding bill, in 2009, the zoo was given $17 million, according to Suburban Chicagoland. It currently needs repairs that will cost around $260 million, according to NBC 5 Chicago.