THE BRONX - The Bronx Zoo and New York Aquarium are feeling the pinch of Gov. David Paterson?s recent budget cuts, which slashed their funding from $9 million to $4 million.

Officials at The Bronx Zoo say the funding level has returned to the amount the zoo received 25 years ago and the difference in budget may force the zoo to fire full-time employees. The lost funding provides for the salaries and benefits of 40 full-time employees. If workers are fired, it will have a direct impact on the care of the animals and the collections, officials say.

The funding cut may also result in an increase in admission fees, which could prevent families from visiting the museum while personal budgets are also tight.

Zoo officials say they will continue to petition the governor about the funding cut.