ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Local lawmakers are working to make Seneca Park Zoo more accessible for lower-income families.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello announced Tuesday that legislation will be submitted next week to lower the admission rate for the zoo to $1 per individual for SNAP recipients and their families. The lowered admission rate, once approved, will be in effect year-round.

“Investing in our parks is an equity issue,” Bello said. “Income is not a barrier to every resident accessing and enjoying all that our parks have to offer.”

The county executive cited an Insitute of Museum and Library Services study that found 43% of children of lower-income families were able to visit a museum in their kindergarten year nationwide, compared to 65% of children in the highest income bracket.

“That disparity is unacceptable,” Bello said.

According to the county executive, Seneca Park Zoo is the first zoo in New York to participate in this kind of program.

“This means that our lower-income families will be able to access the zoo without worrying if the price of entry will be a barrier to giving their children a day of fun and a day of learning at this local cultural treasure,” Bello said.

“I know how much this program will directly benefit many residents in my district and across Monroe County,” said Monroe County Legislature President Sabrina LaMar. “I applaud the Museums for All program for their nationwide efforts at breaking down economic barriers in our museums and cultural institutions.”

Standard zoo admission rates from November 1 through March 31 are $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, $7 for children 3 to 11, and free for children 2 and younger. Rates from April 1 through October 31 are $12, $11, $9, and free, respectively.

Through Museums for All, those receiving food assistance can gain free or reduced admission to more than 850 museums throughout the country simply by presenting their SNAP EBT card. For all participating museums and cultural institutions, the reduced rate is available during all normal operating hours and up to four individuals per EBT card.

The legislation is expected to be submitted next week to alter the county budget to fund the program.

“This is really making the zoo accessible for additional patrons to come and enjoy it so we don’t really believe there’s a net cost for this,” Bello said. “To the contrary, it’s such a net benefit to the community to have more people be able to access the zoo.”

During last month’s State of the County Address, Bello pitched a $121 million investment to upgrade and expand the zoo by creating an indoor rain forest and a 220,000-gallon aquarium with sharks.


Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.

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