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L.A. City Council to consider measure to privatize zoo management

The Los Angeles City Council on Friday will take up a proposal to possibly turn over management of the Los Angeles Zoo to a private operator.

The measure calls for the city to begin soliciting proposals from prospective operators. It also asks city analysts to explore an alternative to privatization to see whether there are changes that can be made that would save money while keeping the zoo under city control.

Los Angeles officials started looking at the possibility of privatizing the zoo two years ago, in the midst of the recession, when Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa asked staff to reevaluate the city’s core services. 

The zoo and botanical gardens, which the city opened 45 years ago, have faced budget cuts and staff reductions in recent years, and Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana has warned that the zoo could face more cutbacks in the future, and even possible closure, unless a private operator steps in. Santana says privatizing management of the zoo would save nearly $20 million over the next five years.