Billings Zoo Could Lose Animals Over Finance Woes

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS – ZooMontana faces a loss of accreditation that its director says could force it to give up its tigers, grizzly bears, red pandas and most other animals.

Director Jackie Worstell says the 13-employee Billings zoo has only enough money on hand to feed its animals and cover payroll through March. She says the zoo could close by the end the year.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums last month said the zoo’s accreditation was “in immediate jeopardy” unless its finances improved.

With no public funding, the zoo has struggled for years to meet expenses through donations and occasional large gifts. Yet it has continued to expand, including last summer’s high-profile acquisition of three grizzly bear cubs involved in a string of attacks outside Yellowstone National Park that left a man dead.

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