Zoos

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 1993:

Interior Secretary Bruce
Babbitt told the San Diego Zoo on June
25 that, “Frankly, at this time, I am not
optimistic that our biologists can issue the
permit” the zoo seeks to import three pan-
das from China under a captive breeding
loan, because the import might violate the
Endangered Species Act. Babbitt said the
zoo would be allowed to bring in the pan-
das only if it can prove that the breeding
loan “will ultimately result in enhanced
protection for the species.” He added that
his staff was concerned “that this transac-
tion will set a precedent and generate irre-
sistible pressure for the capture and export
of pandas from the only region where they
are found wild.” The San Diego Zoo has
already spent more than $1 million in
preparation to receive the pandas, who are
expected to be a record-breaking attrac-
tion, and has agreed to pay China $1 mil-
lion a year during their visit plus $600,000
per cub who lives longer than six months.

The funds would purportedly finance
panda conservation, but panda conserva-
tion funds have repeatedly been diverted
to other purposes by Chinese officials.
Babbitt’s warning came just a month after
the American Association of Zoological
Parks and Aquariums adopted a new
panda conservation policy that calls for
stationing a representative in China to
make sure “panda rental” agreements are
honored.
The Cleveland Metroparks
Zoo opened a new outdoor gorilla exhibit
on May 30. The zoo now has just one
gorilla, but hopes to obtain as many as
five.
Pro-government militiamen
stationed at the zoo in Kabul,
Afghanistan have reportedly made feed-
ing the surviving menagerie––two lions, a
tiger, a wild boar, a bear cub, and sever-
al monkeys––a top priority, despite food
shortages and heavy fighting in the area.
A rocket attack from Shiite Muslim rebels
recently killed the elephant, and many
other animals have been stolen or eaten.
The zoo is considered a symbol of national
pride.
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