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The Onion, the satirical newspaper, poked a bit of fun at California’s budgetary issues with this story examining a convenient cost-saving step: The merger of a state prison with the San Diego Zoo.

The Onion says:

Plagued by a lack of funding and growing staff shortages, the San Diego Zoo and Ironwood State Prison were combined earlier this week, bringing local inmates and wildlife together for the first time under the same roof.

The new state-of-the-art facility — which will house 12 separate cell blocks, a reptile house, two weight rooms, and a primate sanctuary — is expected to save the state of California up to $5 million in operation costs over the next year.

“It is with great pride that I announce the opening of the San Diego Maximum Security Zoological & Convict Reserve,” director David Hennessey said at an opening ceremony Tuesday. “From southern white rhinos to repeat offenders serving 20 years for drug trafficking — you’ll find them all here at our amazing new facility.”

According to officials, the institution has also suffered from three recent breakout attempts, including an ill-fated effort last Friday by Enrique Gonzalez, 36, to scale a reticulated giraffe up and over the compound’s barbed-wire perimeter fencing. In addition, a 280-pound Bengal tiger was accidentally granted parole after its file was confused with that of mail-fraud convict Cole Bucholz, 47.

ROB DAVIS

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