Henry Vilas Zoo says funds are secure after allegations that donations are missing

Henry Vilas Zoo.
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- Henry Vilas Zoo says its donations are secure and transparent following a report that the Madison zoo may have lost tens of thousands of dollars.

The Isthmus reported Wednesday that the Dane County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the zoo’s handling of money collected in the donor tubes in the zoo.

According to the Isthmus, Dane County officials say they are concerned about a discrepancy in the amount of visitor donations, after the zoo severed its contract with the Henry Vilas Zoological Society, which used to operate the zoo.

Vilas Zoo posted to Facebook later Wednesday saying that the organization will not comment while the matter is still being investigated.

However, the zoo added:

“The donations that have been collected since our separation from the society are the most secure and transparent they’ve ever been. We can all rest assured current donations are directly benefiting our zoo,” according to the Facebook post.

NBC15 reached out to the Dane County Sheriff’s Office for comment, but did not get an immediate response Wednesday night.

The Isthmus reports that data obtained through an open records request shows that donations jumped thousands of dollars after the zoo severed its contract with the Henry Vilas Zoological Society.

The zoo had previously contracted the society to provide financial support, operate concessions and attractions and coordinate volunteers and educational programming. In the spring of the 2019 the zoo decided not to renew its contract with the society, citing mismanagement. The county has now taken over the duties the society used to manage.