The New Zoo Revue, Coming Right At You

Maybe you forgot -- it's been two months, after all. But tomorrow, the city of Dallas turns over control of the Dallas Zoo and the Dallas Aquarium at Fair Park to the Dallas Zoological Society and its operating arm, Dallas Zoo Management. "Actually, at midnight tonight we turn over the keys and the cash drawer," Park and Recreation Department Director Paul Dyer tells Unfair Park. And, he insists, no one will know the difference: "That's our goal."

At some point, we'll get hold of the contract between the city and DZS, which was hashed out in a matter of months and which calls for city to pay DZM $10.8 million in management fees. "You need a year to do this," Dyer says. "We started in July and will turn the keys over tonight, and it's remarkable." But, till then, we had a few questions for the director, chief among them: How many of the some 300 zoo employees did DZS keep, per its promise to hold on to as many as possible?

"Well, we RIF'd them all," he says, referring to the reduction-in-force policy that kicked in once the council OK'd the deal (without the contract in place, which irked Angela Hunt). "Then they went back and interviewed the entire lot and offered jobs to ... well, I don't have the exact figure, but it was in the 90-percent range." He adds that "a small handful" of workers were brought in by DZM.

But not let go from the zoo were let go: "There were some [zoo employees] with 18, 19 years in the city system, and thy're willing to come back and do what they can where they can. Some of the technical people will go back to work in Water Department, some in streets, all over the place -- wherever they had comparable jobs. It'll be to their advantage to stay in the system till they can get to retirement."

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky