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Miami Commissioners on Tuesday delayed a vote on whether to save cash-strapped Jungle Island. The historic park on Watson Island which is home to rare primates and exotic birds may be in danger of going out of business due to a $25 million government loan that it can't afford to pay back. Jungle Island photographer Christian Cruz told NBC 6 he was concerned about losing his job.
The financial impasse between Jungle Island and the city of Miami has ended with the zoological park saying it plans to make a $2 million loan payment due in August, The Miami Herald reported.
The owner of the cash-strapped tourist attraction said recently that it couldn’t afford the payment, and suggested that an investor would step in and pay the bill if Jungle Island was given additional waterfront acreage to expand.
But it’s putting aside that bid, at least for now, after city officials staunchly resisted the idea that they pay the $2 million, the Herald reported.
“Jungle Island has made the decision to put its expansion plans on hold and reconsider our options for the future at this time,” the park said in a statement, adding that it plans to meet its obligations.
The attraction generates about $1 million per month in revenue. But it owes more than $26 million to the city and county, which have made most of the payments on the federal HUD loan Jungle Island took out to build its home on Watson Island, which opened in 1997, the Herald said.
In addition, Jungle Island has not been able to pay rent on its city-owned property in more than three years, according to the newspaper.
The two sides spent weeks negotiating a possible deal, with the park exerting significant pressure on the city, according to the Herald, before Jungle Island reconsidered its plans.