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New York – January 12, 2008 — The Coalition of Living Museums (CLM), a *group of 76 zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums in New York State, released a video that it hopes will go viral as a part of an effort to convince Governor Paterson not to cut its members’ funding by 55 percent this year and totally eliminate it next year.

Paterson proposed cuts to the Zoos, Botanical Gardens and Aquarium (ZBGA) budget line is looming over CLM members. The group has gone full-throttle with a creative approach to convince Paterson and Albany legislators to reconsider these disproportionate, draconian cuts.

A Bronx Zoo “employee” is rendered speechless in the video. While commended for his role in helping the state’s economy and bringing in some of the more than 12 million annual visitors to the Coalitions’ facilities, the “employee” is ultimately let go.

“We hope to engage viewers with one of our best ‘spokespersons,’ an animal ambassador representing all of the zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums across the state,” said John Calvelli, Wildlife Conservation Society Executive Vice President for Public Affairs, which operates the Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium. “In the video, visitors are then encouraged to send letters of support asking Governor Paterson to restore this critical funding source.”

Karl Lauby, The New York Botanical Garden Vice President for Communications commented, “Living Museums, like The New York Botanical Garden, provide educational services to hundreds of thousands of area children and families, all inspiring future generations of environmentalists who will care for the fragile plants and wildlife of the Earth.”

“In these challenging times, families both need and deserve these refuges across the State to experience and learn about nature. Imagine if these sanctuaries were no longer as accessible to millions of New York residents,” said Sharon Myrie, Vice President of Education at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

According to a 2008 national public opinion survey, 79 percent of Americans believe that zoos and aquariums are good for their local economy, and an impressive 80 percent believe that zoos and aquariums are important enough to local communities to be supported by government funding.