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Plan backed for group to take over South Bend zoo

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — A nonprofit group that supports South Bend's Potawatomi Zoo is a step closer to taking over its management from the city.

The South Bend City Council voted unanimously Monday in favor of having the Potawatomi Zoological Society handle day-to-day operations of the century-old zoo.

George Horn, the immediate past president of the zoological society's board of directors, said the change would simplify a structure under which the city parks department now owns and operates the zoo, while the society supports it by funding improvements and helping to educate zoo staff.

"Right now the zoo is kind of run with two heads," Horn said. "Basically, what this would create is a more streamlined management system."

The plan backed by city council members would have the city give $1.1 million a year toward zoo operations, about what the parks department now spends on the zoo. That makes up roughly half of the zoo's annual budget.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg is reviewing the proposal's financial impact before deciding whether to support it, his spokeswoman, Kara Kelly, told the South Bend Tribune (http://bit.ly/15WLDOE ).

"We just need to draw a line around the funding and hold it steady," Kelly said. "But as long as it makes sense fiscally, and it does right by the city employees who work there, that would be the only reservation."

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Information from: South Bend Tribune, http://www.southbendtribune.com

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