To the editor:
I am writing to clear up a few misconceptions about my opinions regarding the Oleson Park Zoo.
For those that have heard that I want it closed, that is simply not true. Here is the real story. In July, I heard that two arctic foxes had died at the zoo. I was shocked to learn we even had arctic foxes and couldn't figure out why they were left outside when even the media was warning people to bring in their pets. I went to the zoo and took the photos that went viral on Facebook showing the horrible conditions of the zoo, the pens and the animals in them. From there I went to several sources, including the people at the zoo, to ask what could be done to help the animals. I begged them to bring in the skunk that was experiencing labored breathing in the extreme heat. We even found a spot for her at the shelter. They refused. A few weeks later in front of the entire city council, the zoo board president laughed at me and said: "Can you imagine? If we had taken it inside it would have been the best cared for skunk in the state." This was the kind of response I got every time. Was that really too much to ask that the animals they purchase are the best cared for? Why not? If this zoo is for the children, what lessons are they learning?
My asks of the zoo, the city, Parks and Rec, etc. have all been the same, please have fewer animals, have easier to care for animals in appropriate environments and take better care of them. Stick with petting zoo type animals not the 100-plus animals including exotics in cages suffering from heatstroke, fleas and mange. Make it educational and interactive for the kids, stop breeding and selling for profit, don't buy exotic animals in the spring, lock them in a cage, breed them and sell them at the end of the year. Please.
The kids can still experience exotic animals. The Blank Park Zoomobile will bring properly cared for exotics to FD and have shows at places like the bandshell and our schools. Let's make our zoo less expensive to run and easier on the volunteers by leaving the exotic animals to the AZA zoos who have the space and knowledge to care for them, and return our "zoo" more of an open Iowa farm type enclosure where the animal care comes above the animal quantity.
Amy Von Bank