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Execs' Volvos cost zoo $1,200 a month

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The Toledo Zoo pays for Volvos for its executive director and chief operating officer.

Morrison / The Blade
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What's it cost to keep a zoo executive rolling? These days, more than $600 a month.

The Toledo Zoo's top two executives said good-bye to the Jeep and the Dodge the zoo leased for them and recently replaced them with a pair of Volvos.

Executive Director William Dennler drives a 2005 Volvo SUV provided by the zoo. The zoo leases the vehicle for $673.94 a month. That's on top of his salary of $173,535 and the $12,750 each year the zoo provides him in deferred compensation.

READ MORE: Crisis at the Zoo

Robert Harden, the zoo's chief operating officer, motors to work in a zoo-provided Volvo sedan. That car has a lease payment of $609.04. Mr. Harden is paid $107,646 a year.

The zoo put $3,000 down on each Volvo to lease them for four years.

Why the expensive rides?

"Best financial deal for the Toledo Zoo,'' Mr. Harden said.

"The Volvo is a safer car and has better gas mileage than the Jeeps I've been driving over the last 7-8 years,'' said Mr. Dennler in a telephone interview from the Bahamas, where he is on a vacation, which he said was "ruined" by The Blade's inquiries about zoo operations this week.

According to safety test ratings, the 2005 Volvo XC90 and the 2005 Jeep Liberty have small differences in key safety ratings. And, Volvo SUV models cost roughly $20,000 more than the various Jeep Liberty models.

Both vehicles received "excellent" for the front, rear, and driver's side crash and "good" for passenger side crashes. The Volvo received a "good" rating for rollover resistance, while the Jeep earned an "average" mark.

The Volvo SUV and the Jeep Liberty have about the same gas mileage rating, with a slight edge for the Jeep. The Volvo is rated 17 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway. The Jeep is rated 18 MPG city and 22 MPG highway.

The zoo took in about $11 million in taxes from Lucas County property owners last year, half to pay for zoo expansion and half to pay for operating expenses.

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