The new zoo blues - Page 3

A scathing report shows how the privatized SF Zoo spent its bond money on tourist traps, not animals

A rescue zoo, as they describe it, would provide a new home for exotic animals once held by private owners in inhumane conditions. Zoo veterinarians and other staff already possessing experience treating sick animals would naturally fit into the new concept, and the zoo's past conservation efforts, like programs for eagles and wild cats, could be grandfathered in.

Deniz Bolbol, a co-coordinator of the Bay Area–based Citizens for Cruelty-Free Entertainment and supporter of the rescue zoo idea, describes the joint committee that oversees the zoo as a rubber stamp and says, "everything the zoo proposes is approved; everything is unanimous."

"The Board of Supervisors really needs to reform the zoo at its base," Bolbol said.

Lazarus opposes the idea of a rescue concept because he believes it won't generate enough revenue to keep the zoo self-sufficient. Sup. Sean Elsbernd, whose district includes the zoo, was also cool to the idea, saying no one has an idea of how much it might actually cost. Discussions at the board about how the $48 million in bond money was spent, in the meantime, would likely take a back seat to the lingering citywide $338 million budget deficit.

Besides, he said, the zoo's new Grizzly Gulch, where two bears that were close to being euthanized by Montana wildlife officials live, represents what the commission is asking for.

"In concept, it's a great idea," Elsbernd said. "In concept, I also support every street being repaved every year. But there's reality. There was no realism in their report that showed us how to achieve [a rescue zoo] in the means that we have."

The operating agreement between the Zoological Society and the city comes up for renewal in June.

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