The Louisville Zoo sign

The Louisville Zoo in Louisville, Ky. (WDRB photo) 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The search for a private operator to help manage the Louisville Zoo has been cut short.

During the city's budget crisis in 2019, the zoo was asked to look into finding a private party to help run the facility. Over the past 22 months, the zoo put out requests seeking interest from organizations with experience managing animal parks.

But during a budget hearing on Tuesday, the zoo's director said it received only one response from an operator they say wanted to aggressively increase admission prices, and renegotiate employee benefits, salaries and union contracts.

"At that time, for all of those reasons, it was determined that one submitter was not the best future for the zoo," Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak said.

The effort to find a private operator for the zoo ended in November 2020. Walczak said the zoo is doing so well he expects it will see a budget surplus this year.

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