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3 golden objects Minnesota Legislature

Office of the Legislative Auditor - Financial Audit Division

Report Summary
Minnesota Zoological Garden

Financial Audit For the Period from
July 1, 1995, through June 30, 1997


Public Release Date: April 24, 1998 No. 98-25

Agency Background

The Minnesota Zoological Garden (Zoo), which opened in 1978, is located in Apple Valley, Minnesota. It was established pursuant to Minn. Stat. Chapter 85A as "a partnership between the private sector and the state." The Zoo is supervised and controlled by the State Zoological Board. The board consists of 30 public and private sector members. The Governor and the Zoological Board each appoint 15 members. The board is responsible for appointing a director who serves as the chief administrative officer of the Zoo. Dr. Kathryn Roberts has served as executive director since 1986.

Audit Scope and Conclusions

Our audit scope included enterprise activity revenues, Discovery Bay expenditures, and payroll and other administrative expenditures for the period July 1, 1995, through June 30, 1997. This was not a complete audit of all Minnesota Zoological Garden programs.

We found that over the last 11 years, the Zoo has experienced a significant decline in its unrestricted retained earnings balance. The Zoo did not operate within its available resources in fiscal years 1996 and 1997. We also found that, although the Zoo collected and appropriately deposited the revenues generated by admissions, memberships, monorail, and gift store activities, it needs to improve its cash reconciliation procedures.

We found that the Zoo properly processed and recorded disbursement transactions relating to Discovery Bay. The Zoo also processed its payroll in accordance with applicable bargaining agreements and properly recorded the transactions in the accounting records. However, we found that the Zoo did not ensure that all travel reimbursement claims complied with applicable policies and regulations. We also found that Zoo employees used state purchased frequent flyer miles and cellular phones for personal use.

In its response to the audit report, the Zoo indicated that it agrees with the findings and has taken steps to resolve the issues.


Office of the Legislative Auditor, Room 140, 658 Cedar St., St. Paul, MN 55155 : or 651‑296‑4708