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.