Partnerships will be considered
as a way to improve the site
Mayor Mufi Hannemann is looking into operating the Honolulu Zoo under a public-private partnership.
Hannemann noted yesterday that private funds will pay for a new $500,000 cage for Rusti the orangutan, and added: "Along that line, we will soon convene a group of stakeholders who will evaluate the feasibility of forming a public-private partnership for operation of the zoo.
"I will call on members of city departments, the Honolulu City Council, the Honolulu Zoo Society and others to discuss the possibilities of entering into partnerships with the private sector to see whether that may be a better way to operate the Honolulu Zoo," Hannemann said in a release about Rusti's new home.
City spokesman Bill Brennan said Hannemann hopes to gather the group within weeks and to give it a three-month deadline for making a recommendation.
The idea has been knocked around, but never studied to this depth, Brennan said.
"The mayor wants to look seriously and once and for all at the idea of a public-private partnership operation of the zoo," Brennan said.
Hannemann doesn't have an outcome in mind, Brennan said, other than having the best zoo possible. "He's open. Everything's on the table."
"He has an affinity for the zoo," Brennan said. "He cares about that place and thinks it holds a special place in Waikiki and the state of Hawaii among residents and visitors alike. He wants to give the zoo its due."
Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi and zoo Director Ken Redman both called the idea of examining a public-private partnership timely.
Many mainland zoos are operated that way successfully, they said.
"We've often talked about public-private partnerships, as long as employees are protected," Kobayashi said.