Beacon Center’s pork project report takes aim at Zoo Knoxville

Local News

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Money for Zoo Knoxville is getting called out by a watchdog group’s ‘2020 Pork Report.’

The Beacon Center is a nonprofit organization known for the annual report and for advocating for limited government and free market principles.

Knoxville showed up as No. 11 in the report titled, “Twelve Days of Pork,” for giving the zoo an extra $700,000 to help offset losses during the coronavirus pandemic.

That’s on top of the $1.4 million slated for the zoo in the city’s budget.

Knox County gave the zoo another $500,000 as a loan.

“City and county officials could look to other business models like Chicago’s famous Lincoln Park Zoo, which operates without government assistance by relying on donations.”

Beacon Center

Zoo Knoxville says it is grateful for the investments from the city, county and individuals.

Both the city and county also responded to the report, noting that the zoo is the No. 1 tourist attraction in the community.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs expects the county loan to be paid back in a set timeframe, and notes the money didn’t add to the tax burden.

The city of Knoxville points out the report doesn’t reflect that the zoo creates a projected economic impact from tourists of about $30 million in a non-COVID-19 year.

Pork report also criticizes state-issued masks

The report also mentioned the state’s COVID-19 masks given out early in the pandemic.

They’re the ones that appeared to be made out of sock material.

The report criticizes the state government for spending $8 million in a no-bid contract.

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