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Toronto, Ont. – One of the city’s landmark attractions, the Toronto Zoo, is badly in need of a management shake-up before embarking on a major fundraising campaign, says the union representing animal keepers and other frontline workers.

“We need new management from the board on down,” said Jim Fudge, president of CUPE 1600.  “We need a board that shares a common vision and goal and senior management that understands animals and is willing to work with frontline staff.”

The Toronto Zoo board, management and foundation have been embroiled in a series on internal fights and resignations in recent months. In the meantime, Fudge said, the zoo’s attractions are being diminished.

“Twenty years ago, the zoo’s collection included almost 3,000 specimens. At the end of 2007, that number had fallen by almost half to just over 1,600,” he said. “Meanwhile, management numbers have continued to grow.”

There are 68 management or non-union positions compared with 169 full-time frontline workers, a ratio of one manager for every two-and-a-half staff, Fudge noted. At the very top, he said, administrators are out of touch with day-to-day operations, concentrating on one-off attractions instead of building the zoo’s collection along with its conservation and education programs.

CUPE 1600 members have defined five steps that need to be taken to shake up Toronto Zoo management and help boost fundraising efforts, Fudge said. They are:

1) create a zoo board that shares a common vision and goal for the zoo;
2) bring in a new CEO and other senior managers who have a background working in zoos;
3) open up lines of communication between senior management and all Toronto Zoo unionized workers;
4) develop a plan to expand the animal collection;
5) secure proper funding so that the Toronto Zoo can go forward as a leader in wildlife conservation and education.


For more information, contact:

Jim Fudge, President, CUPE 1600           416-579-2873
Russ Armstrong, CUPE National Representative         416-292-3999
Pat Daley, CUPE Communications   416-292-3999 or 416-616-6142