ASHEBORO (By Dan Way, Carolina Journal Online) — A partial privatization plan being explored by the North Carolina Zoo could increase donations, enhance attractions, and speed up needed repairs, its operators say. Free-market advocates hail the move as a step in the right direction, and a consultant says the trend has been prudent policy elsewhere.
“Basically, what we’re looking at is a public-private partnership, which 75 percent of the accredited zoos and aquariums in the country now have,” said Zoo Chief of Staff Mary Joan Pugh.
The state would retain ownership of the zoo, but the more than 250 employees now on the payroll of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources would work for the private operator, the North Carolina Zoological Society. The nonprofit society already operates gift shops, sells memberships, and does some fundraising for the zoo.