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Detroit's zoo boss denies rift & FOBIA response

February 3, 2005
Section: Metro
Page: 01B

Detroit's zoo boss denies rift
Kagan is removed as CEO of zoological society, will shift focus to fund

The Detroit News

John Wisely

ROYAL OAK -- Zoo Director Ron Kagan and Detroit Zoological Society
Chairwoman Ruth Glancy downplayed talk by some of a personal rift that
some said led to Kagan's removal as CEO of the society, a nonprofit group
that raises millions each year for the zoo.
Glancy said Wednesday the move will free Kagan of his responsibilities
for volunteers and some administrative functions at the society, but he
will remain heavily involved in fund-raising.

"We couldn't do it without him," Glancy said. "We decided that it would
be most prudent if we gave other people some of the responsibility. I
continue to have the utmost respect for Ron (Kagan)."

Kagan, who made $36,000 a year as CEO of the society, said he "felt fine"
after the move. He acknowledged some disagreements with Glancy but said:
"None of it is personal."

The question of fund-raising comes at a time that Kagan describes as the
most financially difficult for the zoo in more than a decade.

State budget cuts in recent years have prompted the zoo to close Monday
and Tuesday during the winter months.

In 2002, the city shuttered the Belle Isle Zoo and Kagan announced last
month that the Belle Isle Aquarium will likely close next month.

Kagan expects to lay off 14 or 15 zoo employees next month. The staff now
numbers 150.

Kagan, who makes $140,000 as zoo director, said he hopes to build a new
$100 million aquarium in Detroit that could be a major tourist
attraction, but those plans are incomplete.

Work continues on the Belle Isle Nature Zoo, a $7.5 million facility that
will feature animals native to Michigan.

Glancy said the budget problems underscore the importance of

"The zoo is going to have to rely more on private philanthropy from
corporations, foundations and federal grants," Glancy said.

Some zoos around the country have been turned over to nonprofit agencies
because local governments had trouble funding them.


Press Release:

From: FOBIA - Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium

To whom it may concern,

In relation to your article "Detroit's zoo boss denies rift" (02/03/05)

It is worth noting that Zoo Director Kagan's removal as CEO came a few
days after The Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium (FOBIA) submitted hundreds
of citizen comments that had been posted on their website,

The comments expresses outrage at the closing of the Belle Isle Aquarium,
not only from the metropolitan area and State, but from around the World.

Citizen comments were submitted twice to Ruth R. Glancy, Chairman of
the Zoological Society. The second time they were delivered by hand by
after said information, which had been sent by registered mail, disappeared from Mrs. Glancy's office.

The Detroit Zoological Society's administrative capacity during Kagan's
tenure has the poorest record in the nation:

Charity Name                                              Overall Score Overall Rating

Detroit Zoological Society                                   38.22
Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association                 56.85
Saint Louis Zoo Foundation                                38.91
Friends of the National Zoo                                 57.93
Zoological Society of Florida                               62.98

The Friends of belle Isle Aquarium maintain that the closing of the
Aquarium is an ill thought out and unproductive move that will leave
Detroit proper a culturally poorer city.

For more information: