Zoo Chair pushes for sale

“The city should not be in the business of running a zoo.”

Or at least that is how Joe Torzsok, chair of the Toronto Zoo board, feels about the recent recommendations concerning the City of Toronto selling the zoo to a private business as one of the ways to save the city’s budget woes.

Ultimately, he said, it is the decision of the entire board, not his alone.

“Newer, better models exist than the one we currently have from the 1970’s,” he said.

“Times change, the zoo needs to change with them.”

Torzsok told the Toronto Observer that the zoo has grown past the point where it needs to be closely managed by the City of Toronto.

Mayor Rob Ford has claimed there are plenty of potential buyers, even some that want to extend the zoo into a theme park. Torzsok could not comment on those discussions, as he was not a part of them.

A KMPG sevice review in July originally suggested selling the Toronto Zoo, along with the city’s farms.

City manager Joe Pennachetti echoed that recommendation when his report was released earlier in the month.

Mayor Ford claims that the city will face a budget gap of $774 million in 2012, however Pennachetti says it is closer to $500 million to $600 million.

The Toronto Zoo has an annual operating cost of $11 million.

Council will consider the proposals to cut costs on Sept. 26.

Torzsok says a sale of the zoo may not be the only option.

“If it comes down to a sale, we will cross that bridge when we get to it.”