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Group trying to save Nocturnal House from closing

Posted by Geeky Swedes on January 6th, 2010

The Woodland Park Zoo is planning to close the Nocturnal House exhibit for budget reasons and a group of citizens is banding together to try to keep it open.

Even though the zoo had near-record attendance in 2009, it’s still struggling with the economy. “For 2010, we needed long-term solutions that match our income with increasing expenses, and that meant reducing annual expenses between $800,000 and $1 million,” this letter explains. “Closing the Night Exhibit emerged as the best of a set of unpleasant choices. Closing it will save about $300,000 in operating costs annually.”

Now, a Facebook group has been set up to try to save the exhibit. “While times are tough, we need to not lose the things that make the Zoo so great. For many this is their only chance to actually see the wonderful creatures that inhabit the nighttime world. What better way to turn fear into fascination and apathy to respect then to show creatures, many of whom live right under our noses, in a great approximation of their natural habitat doing what they do.” The site explains.

The “Save the Woodland Park Nocturnal House” group is planning to gather at the exhibit this coming Sunday at 1 p.m. “I don’t think we need to make this a protest or demonstration, and that would probably get us kicked out of the zoo,” writes the Facebook group founder Scott Gifford, “but we …can explain to people what is happening, let the Zoo staff know why we are there, and have a good time as well!” (Thanks Jen & Tammy for the tip!)

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51 reader comments so far ↓

  • 1 chrishen // Jan 6, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    chrishen 1 hour ago
    OK, so the zoo has been spending money hand over fist to build new exhibits…like the penguin tank and others…as well as other non-animal-related buildings-(remember the parking garage debacle?) and now they claim they cant maintain even the old exhibits? Given that the Noctural House is one of the most popular exhibits at the zoo, this feels like an attempt at extortion to me. Shame on them for not being good stewards of their finances

  • 2 LovrienS // Jan 6, 2010 at 10:23 pm

    The night exhibit is actually my favorite in the entire park. We just went last weekend, and I enjoyed it there as much as I did when I was a kid. I had always thought that this exhibit required less energy to maintain as opposed to others that called for large lamps, heating equipment, and landscape maintenance. Please don't close this very unique part of our zoo! :(

  • 3 Idle Activist // Jan 6, 2010 at 10:29 pm

    Why don't they seek corporate sponsorship?

  • 4 Furious George // Jan 6, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    The reason the Night Exhibit requires so much energy is straightforward, though perhaps not intuitive: Day and night are reversed from outside, because these are nocturnal creatures. Meaning it has to be kept lit and heated during their “day”, which is our night.

    Closing the current exhibit is a done deal. Supporters should instead put their effort behind funding a more efficient replacement.

  • 5 onederfullone // Jan 6, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    “Even though the zoo had near-record attendance in 2009, it’s still struggling with the economy.”
    I've maintained a family membership to the zoo for over twenty years. As the kiddies are much older now, our actual attendance has dropped off quite a lot.
    And in this economy, choices have to be made, and someone has to make the right one, for a change.
    I won't be renewing our membership that comes up in June.
    Shame on the Woodland Park Zoo for resorting to such blatant tactics. It appears that they have learned all the wrong things from our local government…

    And you can keep your 'zoo doo' too.

  • 6 kim // Jan 6, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    it's a non profit strategy. sniff, sniff.

  • 7 angelatini // Jan 6, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    That is my favorite part of the zoo. If they close it I will certainly go less often. I am sure others might feel the same.

  • 8 Ytoo // Jan 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    Corporate sponsorship would double the admission fee.
    The price is high enough already that most families in Seattle are shut out.

  • 9 Xanadu // Jan 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I hope the group gathering on Sunday brings a check for 300k with them, cuz that's what it will take to keep the exhibit open.

    The zoo, like most not-for-profits rely on charitable donations to keep afloat. Thoes with deep pockets watched their portfolios dwindle like the rest of us. They aren't writing as many checks as they used to. And corporate donations are way down. Most corporations answer to their stock holders and when stock values are down, thay don't like to see the company they invest in giving money away.

    It's sad, but I am more concerned with social service organizations that help people out and are cutting sevices, rather than a bat house.

  • 10 m // Jan 7, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Yeah – I'm not understanding how a Facebook group or a gathering is going to compensate for a targeted $300,000 savings.

    I love the zoo – have been going so long that I remember when it was concrete and chainlink. To go from that to a world class zoo as a non-profit requires tough money choices. We could argue all day about which of those choices we agree or disagree with, but choices are necessary.

    I do find this a great loss, but this doesn't make me want to cut off my membership. That's simply cutting off my nose to spite my face ( as grandma used to say).

  • 11 chrishen // Jan 7, 2010 at 12:53 am

    Seriously-
    If the zoo “leadership” had eliminated just one of the buildings/exhibits that they added in the past 2-3 years…the noctural house would not be on the chopping block. Going on s spending/building binge in the face of declining revenues and attendance is a last gasp measure of survival-the leadership should be tossed out and replaced with fiscal conservatives who like nocturnal animals!

  • 12 SeaSpider // Jan 7, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Nice to see someone is smart enough to figure this out!

  • 13 Idle Activist // Jan 7, 2010 at 2:16 am

    No it wouldn't, corporate sponsors underwrite the expenses of the institution, they don't determine entrance fees. Learn a little before you type.

  • 14 Kat // Jan 7, 2010 at 2:16 am

    Can't they close that kids zoo-nasium thing? An exhibit MANY people who don't have kids who visit the zoo well never use.

  • 15 onederfullone // Jan 7, 2010 at 2:23 am

    Yeah, because corporations are evil, they do nothing beneficial for society, blah blah blah blah…
    If corporations were involved, beyond grants, I'd bet the Zoo would improve overall, and be more acsessable to more folks.
    But what do I know.

  • 16 Name // Jan 7, 2010 at 2:25 am

    Seems they need to cut a lot more than just the nocturnal house… that's only about 1/3 of the annual deficit that they are running, in addition to whatever debt they have racked up over the years.

  • 17 Idle Activist // Jan 7, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Hell, it might even be a decent zoo like other zoos in this country with corporate sponsors.

  • 18 Idle Activist // Jan 7, 2010 at 2:33 am

    Hey, that's my favorite exhibit. You get hands on interaction with wild monkeys….

  • 19 Idle Activist // Jan 7, 2010 at 2:37 am

    Personally I can't stand the nocturnal room, you can't see **** in there and it smells like bat guano; I can get that in my kids bathroom at 5am.

    I say get a few more elephants, just to drive the animals rights folks nuts.

  • 20 sweetrose // Jan 7, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Is that why the admission to SAM doubled when Gates got involved?

  • 21 sweetrose // Jan 7, 2010 at 4:02 am

    Teach your kids to flush.

  • 22 sweetrose // Jan 7, 2010 at 4:13 am

    I agree and I tend to find zoos sad places anyway.

  • 23 sweetrose // Jan 7, 2010 at 4:16 am

    You poor thing. It must be terrible for you to live in such a provincial place. It explains the frightening anger your posts express.

  • 24 Idle Activist // Jan 7, 2010 at 4:33 am

    You mean when the museum doubled in size and operations?

  • 25 Stupid Hippie // Jan 7, 2010 at 5:25 am

    I know, the best solution: raise taxes!

  • 26 kim // Jan 7, 2010 at 5:39 am

    and it would be renamed the *insert corporate name here* zoo.

  • 27 Melissa Jilk // Jan 7, 2010 at 10:07 am

    admission to SAM is suggested.

  • 28 Kyle // Jan 7, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Don't forget, though, a lot of planning and expenditures were already in motion at the zoo when the economy tanked. I don't think they could have just stopped the new penguin exhibit, for instance, half way through when things began to look bleak. So many organizations' decisions may look ill-advised at the moment, but there is probably momentum behind much of it that would also be ill-advised to stop. Just my best guess…

  • 29 Ytoo // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Yeah. Except fewer Seattlites can see it.

  • 30 ballardemican // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    you know sweetrose, I've been commenting here for few months and your post always go down like this:

    You post something irrational or factually incorrect.

    Someone else posts a short response pointing this out.

    You then attack that person ad hominem instead of responding in a considered way to what they've said.

    Okay, now call me a name.

  • 31 pants // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    seeing as it's considered one of the better zoos of this country, your comments are wildly off the mark.

  • 32 ballardemican // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    oh you mean like the Denver Zoo, Houston Zoo, San Diego Zoo, and other Zoos w/ corporate sponsors?

    What's Denver Corporation's stock symbols again? (don't say FU :)

  • 33 ballardemican // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    I don't know what to think about this. Where is Stupid Hippie when you need her?

  • 34 ballardemican // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    ahh — didn't scroll down far enough. Thanks.

  • 35 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    How do you figure that? SAM admission fees are lower than any city art museum I know of and are SUGGESTED, ie. free. Also, the sculpture park is free.

    Maybe you'd prefer an all tax payer funded museum? Is that what bothers you?

    Grow up.

  • 36 busdrivermike // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    A “more efficient replacement”

    Corporate speak for “money maker”.

    Other “more effecient replacements” :

    New bear cubs every three or four years. That would be a money maker.

    A better concert venue featuring a VIP area. Where? There just seems to be open territory where the nocturnal exhibit used to be. Sweet, sweet Kismet.

    A modern Events center rental space. For…who else…those nice loving corporations.

    A bigger, better, food court. With more…you guessed it!…corporate franchises, yay!

    Of course, they will need a parking garage to “support the enhanced infrastructure”.

    See, I can do doublespeak too!

  • 37 Ytoo // Jan 7, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Hmmmmm this seems to be an irrational or factually post.

    What name did sweetrose call someone?

  • 38 Furious George // Jan 7, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Don't be obtuse. The new penguin exhibit is massively more energy-efficient than the old one, in addition to being a much healthier environment for the animals (well, that one choking incident notwithstanding) and more attractive for visitors. It was and will continue to be a good move for everyone involved.

    The zoo knows what their most popular exhibits are. Likely the same was already planned for the nocturnal house, but the economy caught the zoo flatfooted. As a result, its decommissioning is being carried out in a less graceful manner — by which I mean ham-fisted from a PR perspective, though logistically probably about the same.

    You're not doing doublespeak, just talkin' crazy.

  • 39 cocky_mom // Jan 7, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    Well said. Certainly could have been handled better …

  • 40 facebook-1243264333 // Jan 7, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    It appears that they have learned all the wrong things from our local government…

    and business! Amazon.com refused most pay increases last year because the economy was so bad ;)

    hey does anybody know what happened to the jag?! was he laid off or something?! google isn't helping.

  • 41 onederfullone // Jan 7, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Businesses can't just do what they want, and close their doors, offices, like libraries and parks, because they wouldn't be screwing YOU, they'd be screwing themselves and their stockholders.
    Leave that to the unions to try to accomplish.
    Some people are just clueless about business, they keep confusing them with some red carpet welfare system, like our government.
    Jag? whatever.

  • 42 onederfullone // Jan 7, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    What isn't sad, eh Rose???

  • 43 onederfullone // Jan 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    What explains the absolute defeatist sadness throughout your posts rose??? Something wrong? Need a shoulder???

  • 44 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 7, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    Considered by who? I find it dull, out of date and in terrible condition…..go check out the San Diego Zoo or Brookfield Zoo. Those are zoos.

  • 45 W. F. // Jan 7, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Perhaps some of the more colorful commenters can be placed in the empty cages. I'd pay to see that.

  • 46 sweetrose // Jan 8, 2010 at 2:37 am

    I hear there is good meat on those baby bears. Amazon Fresh could deliver it.

  • 47 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 8, 2010 at 3:27 am

    “Corporate speak for “money maker”.”

    Much better to have a money loser I guess.

    Oh I know your solution, a tax on lattes or something?

  • 48 Bark more, Wag Less // Jan 8, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Just be sure you feed Maria welfare checks…..she's a sucker for taxes.

  • 49 LBB // Jan 8, 2010 at 3:35 am

    When was the last time you visited? Our zoo is considered one of the more natural zoos around – not like the concrete zoo in San Diego

  • 50 zoosupporter // Jan 8, 2010 at 6:19 am

    you have to understand that the funding for new exhibits and other zoo improvements is earmarked and spoken for YEARS before they happen.

    if people want to raise money to build a new nocturnal house then they should and that money would then be earmarked for that purpose.

    why not be thankful that seattle has such a wonderful place to spend time with our friends and families? did you know that the zoo is 110 years old?
    thats 110 years of people enjoying the zoo.

    are you a zoo member? do you support the zoo?

  • 51 Patti // Jan 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    There are over 9,000 people that do not want this exhibit to close . I would think the board would reconsider. Have they seen the facebook campaign? http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=411576415

    How about a fund raiser to keep it open. Look for corporate sponsorship. Imagine the publicity if they saved the Nocturnal House. They would be a hero.
    I and almost 9,000 people really hope the board will seriously reconsider their decision.

    Please keep this in the news, blogs, papers ect.

    ~Patti~

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