Zoos

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1998:

St. Louis Zoo director Charlie
Hoessle on January 1 told Tom Uhlenbrock
of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that in 1997 visits
to the Galapagos, Alaska, New Guinea,
and Australia, he saw more ecological change,
including coral dying near the equator, the
Arctic ice fields shrinking, and rainforests
drying into tinder, than he’d previously seen
in 20 years of study. “I’m not alarmed,”
Hoessle said, “but I am concerned. This is an
international conservation issue of enormous
magnitude, that can affect all of us.”


Walt Disney Inc. will reportedly
close Discovery Island, opened in 1974,
shortly before the May 6 opening of W a l t
Disney’s Wild Kingdom. Both are part of
Walt Disney World, near Orlando, Florida.
Among the first zoos to emphasize natural
habitat, Discovery Island was well-regarded by
animal care professionals, but suffered a bad
reputation with activists after 1989, when several
staff were charged with cruelty and
wildlife offenses for allegedly shooting at
hawks, breaking egret and ibis eggs, and
abusing and killing vultures. The charges
were settled out of court; involved persons
were internally disciplined. Mean-while, a
hurricane smashed the cage housing the last
four hybrid dusky seaside sparrows, who were
likely swept to their deaths. Discovery Island
had tried since 1980 to save the sparrow from
extinction by captive breeding, but the last
purebred specimen died in 1987.
About 1,200 petitioners– – w h o
seem to have gorillas confused with K i n g
K o n g, judging from their media statements––have
asked Fannin County, Georgia,
to prevent philanthropists Stuart and Jane
Dewar from opening Gorilla Haven, a rehabilitation
and retirement compound for captive
gorillas who don’t fit into zoo colonies. The
privately funded compound would be part of
the American Zoo Association’s gorilla
species survival plan. Apart from safety concerns,
some opponents reportedly fear that
educational exhibits might be used to teach
evolution. “I can look in a mirror and tell
exactly where I came from,” petitioner B i l l
Wilson told Edith Stanley of the Los Angeles
Times, “and it wasn’t from no monkey.” The
1925 trial of John T. Scopes for teaching evolution
occurred less than 100 miles north.
The San Francisco Zoo, with an
$800,000 deficit on a budget of $14 million,
gave director David Anderson a $25,000
Christmas bonus, boosting his 1997 pay to
$146,000. He last got a raise in 1995.
The Milwaukee Zoo has received
$75,000 from the Roland & Florence
Schroeder Cron Endowment Fund to support
field work on behalf of bonobos, the most
endangered of the great apes, at S a l o n g a
National Park in the Congo.
The North Carolina Zoo, a 500-
acre ‘natural habitat’ site near Asheboro,
announced on December 23, 1997 that within
two weeks it hoped to kill 20-50 beavers who
have felled an estimated 700 to 900 trees after
invading lakes in the zoo’s Africa section circa
1994. Undeterred by wire guards and predator
scent, the beavers reportedly had accelerated
their rate of cutting to about 170 trees per
month. Six trees fell across walkways in early
December, one while the zoo was open. At
deadline ANIMAL PEOPLE was trying to
persuade zoo director David Jones to experiment
with temporary water drawdown, beaver
bafflers, reorganization of exhibits, and single-strand
electric fencing to keep the beavers
out of the most sensitive areas.

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