Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told a congressional panel that the Smithsonian Institution should turn management of the National Zoo over to a public-private partnership – saying that it would result in more creativity and flexibility in managing the research center and the 163-acre zoological park in the heart of the nation’s capitol. The model proposed by Gingrich has been implemented in other zoos around the country, including the Atlanta-Fulton County Zoo, which has been a non-profit organization since 1984. For almost 100 years, the city funded and operated the zoo until it reached a “crisis point for various reasons.” But, if we’re talking Smithsonian, why stop at the zoo?
Geoffrey Segal is the director of privatization and government reform at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. He is also editor of Reason's Privatization Watch.