Entries Tagged 'Zoo' ↓

With Non-Profit Mergers you wonder what they have in the bank

This week was busy with another non-profit merger;

The Butterfly House & Aquarium has raised $4.2 million toward its capital campaign to expand aquarium exhibits, which can be applied toward the project, Otto-Pepper said.

Of course the Butterfly House is merging with the Zoo and it seems they have raised a lot of money.

LSS is also merging with the Multi-Cultural center, which I fully support, and probably is long past due.

But you have to wonder what is going on with their bank accounts.

As you know, the Levitt has yet to release numbers from their 2021 season even as their 2022 season has been finished for over a month.

The Denny Sanford Premier center is up for contract renewal and they are taking in millions in profits and commissions.

According to the Pavilion’s annual report in 2021 they had over $5 million in the bank. This is after basically skipping a year due to Covid. You also have to remember that we not only give the Pavilion a yearly operational subsidy but we give millions each year fixing the building due to the poor construction of the facility to begin with (windows, roofs, etc.)

Maybe it is time the city council takes a hard look at how much we are subsidizing these facilities taking into consideration how much is in their bank accounts. Do we really need to subsidize the Pavilion, the Zoo, the Denty and other facilities when they may have millions in their bank accounts. I don’t think so.

UPDATE: Sioux Falls Zoo announces FREE admission on one of the coldest days of the year!

UPDATE: I guess there were 192 visitors on Monday with 19 of them with memberships. I believe 2 years ago when they offered a FREE day there was around 14,000 visitors. They need to do a FREE day once a month on a Saturday or Sunday.

While Councilor Pat Starr has been after the ZOO to offer FREE admission at least a couple of days of the year, like they did 2 years ago (you know since we subsidize them with our tax dollars and they will soon be asking to merge with another private non-profit) they decided to do it with very little notice or media coverage on a Monday after Christmas. They made the announcement only 24 hours in advance on Sunday, December 26 on their FB Page the FREE admission lasted all day on Monday from 10 AM-4:30 PM. Not sure who all got the press release, but the Argus made the announcement at 11 AM on Monday and KELO AM made the announcement at 12:30 PM on Monday.

While I will agree that even if it was cold, many of the animals are used to the cold weather and would have been out and active. Would not have Sunday been a better day with family in town and people off of work? And what about announcing it at least 5-10 days in advance? I guess I will have to give the Zoo credit for one thing, they at least keep their doors open all year unlike Great Bear that will close at the drop of the hat and not open until winter is half way over (what is up with this place? Who closes a winter sports facility because of the cold? Dumb.) I wonder if our new $4 million dollar ice ribbon will be closed for cold weather? 🙁

Hopefully Councilor Starr will inquire what the FREE attendance numbers were on Monday. My guess is about 17-23.

The Zoo & Butterfly House are considering a merger

When I saw this press conference yesterday I was confused about this possible merger, Thanks to SF Bizzo for some clarification;

The Butterfly House & Aquarium and Great Plains Zoo & Delbridge Museum of Natural History might be joining forces.

The boards of both organizations have approved entering formal discussions to determine whether it makes sense to combine.

A joint exploration committee will be working with a consultant to determine whether to recommend the organizations combine. The process was endorsed by Mayor Paul TenHaken, who held a joint announcement with the organizations today at City Hall.

The mayor can endorse this all he wants, but it is the city council that will have final approval. A city councilor told me today that they were not informed about this consideration until last week. However, I do think it is worth exploring and would be a good match. But I do have some questions.

What is the financial strength of the Butterfly House? Are they just struggling so they saw this as an opportunity for a tax payer bailout? What is the financial strength of the Zoo? How about exploring another option like merging and becoming a private non-profit all together and have the Zoo lease land from the city and let taxpayers off the hook?

I have heard since they terminated Ms. Whalen things haven’t been going as well (though the employees may be happier). Why is it that the first option is the taxpayers bailing both of them out? Why create this monster and take on more Capital Improvement Debt? Also, like the Pavilion and Events Center, while we all subsidize the venues with our 2nd and 3rd pennies, we still have to pay to walk through the doors. What percentage of people who pay taxes in Sioux Falls can afford to pay admission at the zoo or even go there? Should we be subsidizing the place?

While this needs a lot more studying, I suggest the City Council get involved and have the consultant look at them merging and become a Private Non-Profit. It’s time we start spending tax dollars on infrastructure instead of bears and butterflies.

When is the Washington Pavilion going to present the 2019 & 2020 Annual Report to the Sioux Falls City Council?

The last report to show up on the Pavilion’s site is 2018. If you do a search of city council informational meetings you are unable to find the last time the Pavilion has presented an annual report to the City Council. I guess I’m curious why the 2019 and 2020 annual reports are missing? The Great Plains Zoo will be presenting their annual report to the Parks Board on Wednesday (no supporting docs).

I would also like to see what the financials are for the Levitt from this past season (we may not see those until next spring).

I am often curious how organizations that receive millions in tax dollars to subsidize and provide maintenance to their facilities can just skirt providing financial reports to the citizens or don’t even post them online to at least view. This is what happens when you have a city ran by a cruise control mayor who hates open and transparent government, or maybe he just doesn’t understand it?


In more cruise control government ineptness, the rumor is that the Chief Cultural Officer that the Mayor so desperately needed has resigned and leaving the city this week. If true, I find the timing ironic considering several councilors have asked publicly at meetings when they will get a review about what she has contributed to the city since her position was created. I guess the best way to get out of giving a report is to quit. LOL.

Part III of Jamison’s ‘People (Monkeys) First Initiative’


Sioux Falls – Jamison, on Monday will announce part III of his People (Monkey’s) First Initiative, which will release the (snow) monkeys at the Great Plains Zoo. Jamison’s plan will be allowing the monkeys to either find a place down by the Big Sioux River on their own, or they can couch surf as long as they like.

Jamison feels it is time to ‘Release the Monkeys’ and give them the freedoms their descendants have (no offense Manny Steele).

Of course, the Huether campaign was quick to respond. Huether said, “I have been planning the release of the snow monkeys for a couple of months, ever since I took them on an ice fishing trip out at my lake home on Diamond Lake. Heck, I would go even a step further, and let them stay at my lake home, of course, if they don’t throw any crap, because, you know, I don’t like CRAP.”

Jamison also said that Huether missed the 2nd and 3rd tier of this initiative, allowing squirrels to maintain several nests on different properties within the city limits.

Huether responded by saying, “I have been allowing the cottontails AND squirrels to do that for several years through an executive order, and you can bet a snowgate tour of the event center for affordable airfares on it that the squirrels and rabbits are happy about it, but the chickens, not so much.”

Stay tuned, Jamison plans to announce his ‘No crying at press conferences’ initiative next week. Don’t bring tissues to the press conference, just your big boy/girl pants.

See your taxdollars hard at work this Saturday!

Monkeys, Magic & More! will have their grand opening this Saturday (29th) at the Great Plains Zoo. FREE Admission from 9-11 AM.

The whole concept of Zamby and sfmonkey.org was based on the city subsidies to the Zoo and the monkey spas. Well at least you can go see your investment for FREE for about 2 hours. After you hit the Zoo, I also suggest you head over to the Pavilion and peruse the galleries FREE for the last time.

Who is Zamby?

After seeing the above billboard last week (and laughing my ass off) I figured out that Dan Daily is behind sfmonkey.org

At a recent South DaCola Fest he told the attendees he ‘MAY’ be buying billboards. I called him and asked about the billboards. All he said to me is that he did purchase them and they have been running for a few weeks, but he wouldn’t tell me how long they would run or what was going to be on them. He did say though that they will change weekly and so does the location. I guess it is a ‘work in progress’.

City moves forward on monkey hot tubs and texting ban

The new photo of our current city council

You sometimes wonder if anyone at city hall is in touch with the local-yokals. This was pretty evident at the ribbon cutting today of the River ‘Millions over budget’ Greenway project. But I am going to give that it’s own post.

Second reading of spending the 4 million dollar surplus is on Tuesday’s agenda;

This of course includes the expenditure for the monkey hot tubs (that should be privately funded);

Apparently we have so much money sitting around in Sioux Falls, this seems like a great way to spend it. Here’s the deal. Nothing against zoos or young families, but when I see lines of people outside of food banks and food giveaways at churches I think using taxpayer money to build spas for monkeys is ludicrous and ridiculous. Like I said, I think the snow monkey exhibit will be awesome, but it should be privately sponsored. If you disagree with me, I ask you, how much have you donated privately to the zoo? I wonder if Darrin Smith also screwed up this naming rights deal?

I also see the Public Services Committee is exploring the texting ban, even though several educated law enforcement officials have told them this is a state law issue;

(a) No person shall use or have in their immediate physical possession a handheld electronic communication device while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle on a street or highway within the city limits of Sioux Falls.

Like I have said in the past, I dislike people who do this kind of stuff, but this is a state law issue, not a local issue.



UPDATE: City Council approves Zoo’s ownership of animals

This is an interesting video to watch (Item #25 FF 2:07).

Some important things to point out is that the Zoo must purchase any new animals themselves and they WILL cover the ‘general liability’ insurance on the animals. If you click on Item #30 you can read the PDF documents about the agreement.

Looks like the zoo wants their cake and to eat it too

Just when you thought I would drop the monkey crapper – monkey business, I get drawn back in. If you watch the November 21, informational meeting you will hear the zoo director talk about the zoo wanting to own the zoo animals. It helps with trading animals for breeding, etc. I’m all for it, but,

1) They should have to purchase the animals from the city &

2) They should have to cover the insurance on them

And, see, #2 is the kicker. The zoo not only wants us to ‘gift’ the animals but they also want us to cover the insurance. The council votes on it this Monday (Item #25). Document.

Here’s the dealio. I’m cool with them owning the animals, but they have to take on the responsibility of them, that means paying for them and providing their insurance. We’ll see if the council caves, once again.