[Below is the original script. But a few changes may have been made during the recording of this audio podcast.]
It's hard to feed an elephant—let alone a herd—when you've just lost $15 million. Just ask the Wildlife Conservation Society, the organization that runs New York City's zoos and aquarium.
In order to avoid cutting back on feed and other necessities, the Society has had to cut $10 million from its payroll. So the animals won’t starve, but there'll be fewer people to care for them, or study them.
And this is a critical time for animal study.
Diseases that jump from wildlife to humans, such as Ebola or bird flu, are on the rise and may worsen as the climate changes.
The last wild places are disappearing, but new species are discovered, such as the rock rat in Laos. As are unexpected abundances, like the 6,000 Irawaddy dolphins recently found in Bangladesh.
And the Society has also been charged with maintaining some of those last wild places, such as the 680,000 acres in Chile's Tierra del Fuego islands gifted to the organization as "forever wild."
Some may argue that zoos are archaic while others call them arks for endangered species, but there are few alternatives for the animals. And zoos remain one of the few places left where urban children get to experience the call of the wild.