“There are a lot of things we just don’t know yet about the situation,” Broxson told the zoo’s executive director, Danyelle Lantz, and Gulf Coast Zoological Society Inc. Board of Directors President Chuck Emling, adding that he hoped the county could find a way to help. “We can’t afford to lose this valuable asset. We need The ZOO.”
Zoo supporters hope local governments, led by Santa Rosa County, will commit $250,000 a year for five years to stabilize the financially struggling facility. Ultimately, they hope Santa Rosa County will create an Interlocal Zoological Authority with representation from Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties to help The ZOO restructure $2.7 million in debt, buy the 50 acres on which The ZOO operates for $2 million and provide $250,000 per year for operations. The county has made no indication that it would or would not support that request, but Broxson has proposed a plan that would commit $125,000 per year for three years if each commissioner commits $25,000 per year from his district’s recreation budget.
For more on this story, see the Aug. 28 issue of Navarre Press or subscribe online.