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Henry Vilas Zoo fundraising employees move out, partnership ends

MADISON (WKOW) — Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison is no longer supported by its main fundraising organization.

The contract between Dane County and the Henry Vilas Zoo Society expired after Sunday.

The society hosted fundraising events and ran concession and volunteer programs for years. Now, Dane County will take over those operations.

Zoo officials say they’re hiring more people to get the jobs done.

“Basically it comes down to we need more staff. And if it’s not going to come through a support organization, then the county has stepped up and said that they really recognize that we need those staff and want to help us find those staff,” said Jess Thompson, conservation education coordinator with the zoo.

Society employees tell 27 News they moved out of their offices at the zoo over the weekend. 13 full-time employees were laid off. Others became county workers.

The county is now working with a consultant to find a new fundraising partnership.

County officials have maintained zoo visitors will not see changes to operations moving forward.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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