For Immediate Release January 11, 2005
Contact: Roseann Trezza
FORKED RIVER – Officials at Popcorn Park Zoo officially announced here today an admission price increase to cover rising costs for food, veterinary care and medicine at one of the country’s only zoos for abused animals of all species.
Adult admission is now $4.25, and tickets for children under age 12 are $3.00 each. Student groups will now pay $2.00 per child to learn about the approximately 200 species of animals on display at the venerated facility.
"Costs are rising, and there’s simply no other way to maintain the high level of care for all the animals we get here without raising admission," explained Zoo Director John Bergmann. "It’s our last resort, but we finally had to do it."
Declining donation rates since 9/11 have added to the economic burden of the zoo and many non-profits nationwide.
"We’re hoping donations will rebound in 2005," said Roseann Trezza, Executive Director of the Associated Humane Societies that owns the zoo. "We’re bringing animals back from the brink of death in so many cases, and the costs can be enormous."
Popcorn Park Zoo is where Poppy and Shadow, two dogs set ablaze last April by Ronald Fredericks of Seaside Heights, received massive medical attention (see article). Both have fully recovered from their physical injuries, and Poppy has since been adopted out to a new home. Shadow, the younger of the two, still requires many hours of training to trust men again.
"The amount of care some of these cases require would cost thousands of dollars in the private sector," said the zoo’s Chief Veterinarian, Laney Baris, VMD. She cited one recent emergency call during which zoo personnel retrieved 26 starved dogs from a home in Howell, NJ. The dogs were infested with ticks and hookworm from living in an environment littered with feces inside the home and out. Initial treatment for these dogs would have been well over $1,000, and that doesn’t include multiple follow-ups, food or board.
Each pet adopted out from the zoo is vaccinated, dewormed, treated with flea and tick preventative, spayed or neutered and microchipped for identification. Cats are tested for feline leukemia and feline AIDS and dogs are tested for heartworm. "That’s a lot better than getting a pet for free to a good home," said Baris.
The society currently takes in an estimated 18,000 animals a year – a number that has increased each of the 37 years Trezza has been on the job. "I’d rather see people treat animals better and maybe prices could stay where they are," Trezza said. "I’ll let you know when that happens."
The Associated Humane Societies was founded in 1906 out of Newark, NJ and has grown to become New Jersey’s largest animal rescue organization. AHS provides food, shelter, medical care and adoption services for 18,000 animals each year through its Animal Care Centers in Forked River, Newark, Tinton Falls and Union. As one of the few shelters in New Jersey with full-time veterinary staff, AHS provides high-quality medical attention at each of its four locations. Popcorn Park Zoo in Forked River is renowned as a sanctuary for all animal species and remains one of the country’s only facilities for mistreated and neglected wildlife, exotics and farm animals. AHS is a leading advocate for promoting humane public policy and education in addition to enforcing state animal cruelty laws.