Lehigh Valley Happening received this open letter to the community for distribution to our readership:

As a valued friend of Lehigh Valley Zoo, we urge you to send an email to District 1 Lehigh County Commissioner, Thomas C. Creighton III, at tomcreighton@lehighcounty.org [mailto:tomcreighton@lehighcounty.org] encouraging him to vote YES on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 to continue support for your Lehigh Valley Zoo – a treasured community asset in his District.

Your Zoo. Our Challenge.
Lehigh Valley Zoo needs the continued support of ALL who care about its future.
After months of spirited collaboration between the Lehigh County Executive and Lehigh Valley Zoological Society’s President and CEO, Richard Molchany, Lehigh County Executive, Matt Croslis, has proposed an amendment that would provide an annual subsidy for the six years remaining on the Lehigh County Zoological Society’s lease. Lehigh Valley Zoo has endorsed the proposed 2014 subsidy, which represents about a 25 percent cut from the 2013 funding subsidy. The proposal includes a $185,000 subsidy for the Lehigh Valley Zoological Society in 2014, 2015 and 2016 that drops again to $150,000 for 2017 through 2019. Each of these amounts can be reduced further by $35,000 if the Zoo’s financial picture improves. In addition to the proposed six year subsidy, the County would pay the Zoo $92,500 to care for county-owned bison and elk located in the Trexler Nature Preserve.

The First Reading and Discussion of the aforementioned amendment (Bill #2013-43 sponsored by Commissioner Dougherty) was proposed during the scheduled Commissioners’ Meeting on September 11, 2013. The Second Reading, Discussion and Vote will take place during the scheduled Commissioners’ Meeting on September 25, 2013.

Lehigh Valley Zoological Society President & CEO, Richard Molchany, requests your presence at the Lehigh County Commissioners Meeting on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 7:30pm in the Public Hearing Room of the Lehigh County Government Center, 17 South Seventh Street, Allentown, PA for the Second Reading, Discussion and Vote on Bill #2013-43. Positive citizen-input and a strong show of public support is encouraged and greatly appreciated to help ensure that this vital six-year amendment is favorably approved by the Lehigh County Commissioners during its second reading on September 25th.

Please RSVP to araisman@lvzoo.org [mailto:araisman@lvzoo.org] if you will attend this meeting.

As a non-profit organization, Lehigh Valley Zoological Society is nine years young, but as a treasured community landmark, our history spans over a century. Founded in 1906 by General Harry C. Trexler,a local industrialist, the Trexler Game Preserve has educated and entertained more than five million people. General Trexler played a significant role in saving the North American Bison from extinction by providing a place where both bison and elk could roam freely. In 1935, the County of Lehigh took ownership of the Preserve, and in 1974, construction began on the Preserve’s 29-acre Children’s Zoo. In 2004, the Lehigh Valley Zoological Society assumed management of the Zoo, as well as the daily management of the bison and elk herd in the 1,100-acre Trexler Nature Preserve.

The Zoo’s core purpose – to save species from extinction – inspires our work, our conservation education programs, and our leadership in wildlife conservation. Lehigh Valley Zoo is home to more than 294 animal ambassadors representing over 88 species.

The Zoo’s animal collection includes 24 species classified as endangered, threatened, or species of concern. Lehigh Valley Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the international organization that sets the highest standards for zoos and aquariums. With more than 220 accredited members, representing the
top ten percent of zoos and aquariums in North America, the AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and a link to helping animals in their native habitats.

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums enhance local and regional economies, collectively generating $16 billion in annual economic activity and supporting more than 142,000 jobs. Over $130M is collectively spent by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums onover 1,900 conservation initiatives, with a future funding goal of $200M annually, making AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums the world’s largest wildlife conservation funder. This figure represents 10 different kinds of conservation activities, such as donations to conservation organizations, the management of our own programs, the rescue and rehabilitation of endangered species, education programs that directly protect species in the wild, and research vital to the conservation of endangered species in the field. AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums attract more than 179 million visitors every year. Approximately 50 million visitors are children, making accredited zoos and aquariums essential family-friendly, community-based assets.

In 2012 Lehigh Valley Zoo attendance reached over 125,000 and over 35,000 students experienced our formal conservation education programs that meet Pennsylvania Assessment Anchors and Eligible Content Standards taught by a team of highly skilled educators.

100% of the school districts within Lehigh Valley participate in educational programming with the Zoo. The Zoo is listed as an educational improvement organization under the Pennsylvania DCED Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC). 2009 through 2012 the Zoo was voted Best Family Day Trip in The Morning Call’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

In 2012 Lehigh Valley Zoo generated economic activity of $2.0M of revenue, $1.8M of expense and invested an additional $110K of capital investment. This direct business plan generated nearly $4.0M, supported a roster of employees in excess of 65, while engaging 15,000 hours of interns and volunteers. If you consider the indirect economic activity (multiplier of revenue from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. Department of Commerce) our economic reach will approach $5.0M. The majority of the economic activity was spent in Lehigh County.

We would never want to take the “fun” out of the zoo experience, but we do believe it is important to underscore the meaningful lifelong learning that occurs. The cultivation of caring attitudes through guest engagement and interactive programs to further conservation and animal welfare are at the core of what Lehigh Valley Zoo delivers daily that enriches our community’s quality of life. The citizens of Lehigh County can be proud of the educational and family-recreational value that our AZA-accredited Lehigh Valley Zoo provides daily to enhance our community.

Stewardship of this 29-acre conservation Zoo is a tremendous responsibility, but more importantly, a treasured community asset to preserve and protect for the residents of Lehigh County. Lehigh Valley Zoo continues to set the stage for new stories – and the memories they make – for the newest generations

The Zoo’s foundation is based on the strength of its people and the steadfast support of the community.

Please join us on Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 7:30pm in the Public Hearing Room of the
Lehigh County Government Center
17 South Seventh Street, Allentown, PA.