Stimulus Bill Shines on National Zoo

Despite ban, bailout will fortify homes for animals in DC
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 4, 2009 5:55 PM CDT
In this Dec. 7, 2005 file photo, a Sumatran Tiger drinks water in an enclosure at National Zoo in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.   (AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File)
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(Newser) – Luke the Lion is expecting home renovations while animals around the country are stuck with what they've got, Pro Publica reports. Luke's trick: living in the National Zoo in Washington, DC. The economic stimulus law forbids local and state outlays to zoos, but neglected to mention the National Zoo, which will receive $11.4 million from the Smithsonian's stimulus money.

“Building a new place to house lions?" asked Sen. Tom Coburn. "Is that more important than building a new bridge?" But the Smithsonian says 100-year-old buildings need repairs to house animals and welcome 2 million visitors a year. More than 200 other US zoos say they met stimulus goals, like job creation, but were stuck on a banned list. "Zoos and aquariums don’t belong on that list now, and they never did," said a zoos spokesman.