The Little Rock Zoo

.The Little Rock Zoo needs to step up and care for the animals better! Please read the several artciles here with deaths, sickness and a bald chimp!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Oregon Zoo Has Started Spending 125M In Public Money

PORTLAND, Ore. - The Oregon Zoo has already started spending $125 million in public money on new animal exhibits but a new audit on its past track record on managing large construction projects criticizes zoo officials for going over budget and for not keeping a better watch over the money.

The audit does not go into a lot of detail but the findings show the zoo's construction projects have not been handled well. For example, the audit found that the highly publicized Predators of the Serengeti exhibit ran $1.6 million over budget and the Red Ape Reserve, which is still under construction, is currently over by $1.3 million.

Just days before the audit was released, two high ranking officials left the zoo, including the man in charge of constructing the exhibits. According to Metro Deputy COO Scott Robinson, one decided to pursue other career interests and the other decided to retire.

Metro oversees the zoo's operations and budgets. Robinson said one thing that cost more money on the big lion enclosure was a new standard for the cat exhibits requiring higher retention walls. It was a rule that came down after a tiger escaped at another U.S. Zoo. He said in addition, roads cost more than anticipated, as did demolition of old exhibits.

Despite the explanation, the consensus among zoo members we talked to on Thursday was that they want Metro to run the $125 million bond project as a business with a hard bottom line.

The zoo and Metro are hoping to use the audit as a road map to make sure mistakes are not made as they get ready to spend at least $125 in public bond money. And they want to point out that the overruns highlighted in the audit came from donor money, not taxpayer dollars. But they did admit the folks running the projects perhaps did not have the desired expertise.

"We have world class animal experts that take care of animals. We have world class experts in conservation education and we have world class experts in managing guest experiences. What we don't have is world class experts in construction management," Robinson said.

Robinson added that the zoo has already made changes in its construction practices, including new oversight measures to make sure money is not wasted. And there are new controls in place to make sure employees are not overworked and overtime is kept at a minimum.


No comments:

Post a Comment