City Hall saves High Park’s yaks from the poorhouse

City Hall saves High Park’s yaks from the poorhouse

Some yaks at the High Park Zoo. (Image: Tim Alamenciak) Some highland cattle at the High Park Zoo. (Image: Tim Alamenciak)
 

West-end yaks will no longer need to hold out their hooves for spare change, because it looks as though the city is about to reverse a 2011 decision to cut the High Park Zoo’s funding. Credit for the reversal belongs, in large part, to Ward 13 city councillor and part-time llama lobbyist Sarah Doucette, who played a key role in marshalling support ahead of Wednesday’s budget committee meeting, where councillors voted on a package of measures that included the zoo’s funding request.

If the decision is upheld by city council on January 29th, the zoo will get $229,000 from the city in 2014, which should be enough to keep the goats and capybaras fed and cared for until next year. The zoo has been subsisting on private donations—a precarious situation, but an understandable one, under the circumstances (city council wasn’t in a big-spending mood, and yaks don’t vote).

The High Park Zoo and the city’s other free-to-visit animal attractions were some of the first “gravy” Rob Ford’s administration eliminated after he was elected in 2010, so not only is this a victory for the animals, it’s also another blow to the Ford legacy, such as it is. If there’s a political lesson here, it’s this: don’t mess with anything cuter than you are.