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California

Audit says L.A. Zoo nonprofit should be more transparent

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City Controller Ron Galperin’s audit of the Los Angeles Zoo says that the nonprofit that runs marketing at the facility should post its financial documents online.
(Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

A new audit recommends that the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., a nonprofit that runs marketing for the city-owned zoo in Griffith Park, reveal its financial records in order to be more transparent.

Los Angeles City Controller Ron Galperin’s audit, released Wednesday, found that “stronger controls and reporting are necessary to ensure the completeness and accuracy” of the revenue reported by the association.

The zoo’s marketing, membership and fundraising have been handled by the association since 2013, when the city sought to boost ticket sales and membership at the Griffith Park attraction by working with the group.

The city gets a percentage of revenue that comes in to the zoo association.

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However, there are six contracts between the city and the association for zoo work, and the numerous agreements have created “ambiguity and inconsistencies,” according to the audit. For example, the audit found that the city had been underpaid $36,328 in concession revenue from 2014 to 2016.

The nonprofit should “provide the details of its operational revenue and expense transactions online, in line with how the city operates,” the audit said.

The audit also states that on a long-term basis, the city will be “better served by an alternative organizational model.” Other cultural institutions, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, have “successfully transitioned their governance arrangements,” the audit said.

“I think the zoo would be well-served by operating as a nonprofit,” Galperin said in an interview.

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Connie Morgan, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn., said that it would “be a little out of the ordinary for a nonprofit” to post detailed financial information, adding that it would be something the association would have to study.

Overall, Morgan said she was “really pleased” that the audit highlighted the numerous agreements, saying she also shares the controller’s concerns about the contracts.

dakota.smith@latimes.com

Twitter: @dakotacdsmith


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