June 02, 2022
County Board Chair Patrick Miles, (608) 886-9167
County Board

The Dane County Board of Supervisors met tonight at the Alliant Energy Center. At the meeting, the County Board approved a resolution establishing an independent investigation of the Henry Vilas Zoo. The resolution was approved with a vote of 25 to 7 with 1 abstention.

The resolution specifies that the Dane County Board Chair shall select and appoint a retired Circuit Court Judge as a special investigator to lead an independent investigation of the zoo. The investigation shall include, but is not limited to:

  • allegations of racism by zoo management
  • allegations of retaliation for union activity
  • allegations of retaliation for whistleblowing
  • allegations that employees have been unequally disciplined
  • allegations that animals at the zoo have been neglected or mistreated
  • allegations that zoo employees have left their jobs due to a hostile work environment

"I’m pleased we are moving forward with this investigation. We need to restore public trust and confidence in a destination that is valued by the community," said County Board Chair Patrick Miles. "I believe this ground work will help ensure that all zoo employees are treated with respect, and that we are treating the animals at the zoo humanely. We have a great asset in both the zoo and the dedicated staff. This investigation should provide us with recommendations to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure this is the case."

The retired judge who is appointed as the special investigator will be able to bill their time at a rate of $200/hour, and the special investigator shall also be authorized to bill for clerical and other staff assistance and necessary expenses, not to exceed $50,000.

The investigation is expected to be completed with a written report due no later than October 1, 2022.

The resolution will now to go County Executive Parisi for signature.


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