Frogs, Hogs, Dogs

Submitted by lmcshane on Sun, 05/25/2008 - 14:31.

The parking lot at the Metroparks Zoo was filling up to capacity as I rode my bike over the Brighton-Brooklyn Bridge today.  I was intrigued to note that some of the pedestrian crossing signal changers were gone--notably the street level boxes that allowed pedestrians to cross at Denison, ALDI's and Archwood.*  I looked up and saw the sign advertising the new program at the zoo.  The sponsor is TCP.  Who is TCP?

Further up the road, near Deaconess, the signal changers have been replaced with auditory signal changers.  I didn't hear the signal changer, when the light changed to WALK, but it did make an auditory sound, when I push the button to signal a change. 

It sure would be nice to know what's going on here in the neighborhood.  Is that too much to ask?  Because, if it's a good thing, we want to know it.  Good things are...well, GOOD.

*the cynic in me says that this is the city's way of coping with higher than usual stop-and-go traffic on Pearl and the Brighton-Brooklyn bridge, as a result of warm weather and zoo traffic.

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zoos - animal use or abuse?

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has also caught the attention of the PD lately, with an outstanding article on Friday. As with the recent political coverage, it was good to see some real reporting going on.


You have to ask how (and whether) zoos actually contribute to wildlife conservation , since it is their rationale for keeping animals in captivity, however good the conditions. The AAZV website recently addressed these issues - see the May 24 entries, pro and con.


Then there is the question of allocation of funds at CMP, whose state mandate is to acquire and preserve natural lands. The zoo was taken over by Metroparks when it became an embarrassment and the park levy was seen as a reliable funding source. But most voters think of the natural resources of the Park system when voting; indeed, some have suggested the zoo should be cut loose again. Compared with land protection, maintaining a zoo is very expensive.


The PD raised several very serious issues. As far as I know, the deficiences listed by the outside inspectors have never been mentioned, much less discussed at a Park Board meeting. So obviously the remedies, including money, have not been addressed. If commissioners have been briefed in private, this would be a violation of the Sunshine Law.


The controversy over keeping elephants, especially in a northern zoo, was discussed, but they are a big 'draw.' And the prospect of a baby elephant, complete with naming contest, is irresistible. Since there are also elephant exhibits at Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Columbus, Toledo and Cincinnati, consolidating resources might better achieve conservation, if that is the real goal.


When first selected in May of 2003,  the Elephant project was estimated to cost about $4 million. Like many CMP projects it has mushroomed: when it reached $30 million dollars it was scaled back and is now projected at $25 million for construction alone (not including design, planning, supervision and later items). Hippos were originally included, but removed to reduce costs - so a giraffe exhibit with provision for a hippo stall were done separately for an additional $1.5M, supposed to be included in the elephant tally.


The Primate Forest mentioned in the newspaper has never been discussed in Board meetings - gorillas were mentioned briefly when news broke that the monkeys had to be transferred. It certainly has not been budgeted; in fact, the construction at West Creek Reservation isn't even budgeted yet. From the Zoo Society's website, they have raised 80% of their $12.5M (half) share of the elephants.


Not borrowing does not guarantee good money management - you can be irresponsible with  levy funds or utilize borrowed money responsibly. As Columbus Metroparks has shown: leveraging their roughly $14 million of annual levy income to acquire 7500 acres since 1999 (Cleveland Metroparks, with 4 times the income, has protected only 1/6 as much land in the same period).


Park Director Hartenburg was quoted "We care only when we understand." The public needs to understand and care about the park system, the zoo, and their tax dollars. 


I agree that understanding is a key to caring.  

But at what cost?   

Thanks to the Muse for an excellent rundown and report of the issues. 

I have never been to the CMP Zoo, after reading this, I will go soon.