- Associated Press - Friday, January 30, 2015

APPLE VALLEY, Minn. (AP) - A projected budget shortfall could force the Minnesota Zoo to go beyond layoffs and close some of its exhibits this year.

Officials say the zoo is facing a budget crisis due to declining attendance and increased costs. A spokeswoman says the zoo is now asking lawmakers for $1.5 million in emergency funds.

Gov. Mark Dayton says he’s in favor of helping the zoo, but he believes officials could have done a better job with the budget.

Rep. Anna Willis of Apple Valley says she thinks the zoo will receive money from the state, but the amount is unclear.

The Minnesota Zoo is a state agency with an annual operating budget of $25 million. Seven zoo employees were laid off in October through a round of cuts aiming to save about $500,000.

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