As a zoo lover, perennial supporter, and frequent visitor, I feel compelled to voice my outrage over recent events. I have never before felt anything but admiration toward those who have had the vision to create such a wonderful Toledo institution, a major plus for our oft-maligned metropolis.
The ongoing evolution of this facility to create as natural habitats as possible for our kidnapped and incarcerated other species is admirable. To cast aside on a whim a gentle soul who has passionately dedicated his life to serving the health and well-being of these captives at a well documented and almost universally heralded level is not.
At the same time, I have never felt warmer toward The Blade for not letting what would appear to be a gross injustice be swept under the carpet.
This is a defining moment for the future of our zoo administration. Zoo supporters - and I believe I speak for most as I have not heard a take on this other than similar outrage - need a show of reasonability and accountability. This will only end well if those at the top can put aside their egos and do the right thing, or step aside.
The zoo's credibility has been severely compromised by the top two's feeble and completely illogical attempt to cover their (tire) tracks. When we sit down to write out our checks, we want to envision exotic birds and beasts - not Volvos.
My heartfelt thanks to The Blade for providing the checks and balances that the zoo board has disregarded. I hope to be reading soon happy words of reinstatement and a renewed striving for accountability and conscience to restore our faith in this beloved institution.
I am livid. As an auto worker in the area I usually support almost all levies but it is getting harder to do. Reading about the zoo leasing Volvos and driving by schools and fire stations filled with Toyotas and Nissans in their parking lots is just getting to be too much.
These government employees need to learn not to bite the hand that feeds them. The auto industry is very important to the Toledo area. We are the ones bringing new money into the area economy. The service industry just recirculates the money the manufacturing industries bring into our economy.
Medical personnel, Realtors, restaurant employees, and insurance agents all count on a population with good, high-paying jobs with benefits.
We are all living in this metropolitan area together. We need to learn to support each other. It cannot be a one-way street forever.
When people spend their money, they need to start thinking about where it is going to end up - China, Japan, Sweden, or the Toledo area. This goes double for spending tax dollars.
Reading about the Toledo Zoo leasing Volvos because they were "safer" than a Jeep certainly made me think back to all the Wild Kingdom shows and safari movies I have ever seen. Can't remember one in which they were tracking elephants in a luxury sedan!
There is nothing I can do about my property taxes and the share that goes to support the Toledo Zoo, but I will not be supporting the zoo with my votes on new tax levies or renewals again. It's a shame to think these executives can dictate what they will drive in such a strong, family, union-orientated city as Toledo. I would be curious to know how many zoo members are union supporters and how devastating it would be to the Toledo Zoo without their support.
It is a sad day in Toledo when the dirty laundry of one of our most valuable community assets is aired. The firing of the Toledo Zoo's lead veterinarian has opened the door to many hidden skeletons, and one would hope that some corrective measures will be in place to ensure such activities do not occur again.
From afar, it would seem there are members of zoo management who are more concerned with their reputations and their lifestyle than their actual jobs and responsibilities. When you are on the community's payroll, luxury cars should not be a part of the compensation package! And to think the excuse one of the zoo board members gave was better fuel mileage! How much fuel are you using in a month that a nearly $700 per month vehicle is cheaper to operate than one costing $300?
If Dr. Timothy Reichard's claims prove to be true and he was terminated for making critical comments regarding the zoo's animal care procedures, there are immediate steps that need to be followed: Both William Dennler and Robert Harden should be the ones on the receiving end of a termination letter.
The saddest part about this is not the actual problems with the care of the animals. What is most tragic about this story is that people again entrusted by the community at large have abused the system for their own personal benefit.
Mr. Dennler and Mr. Harden now join the likes of Lucas County Sheriff James Telb and former Lucas County Commissioner Sandy Isenberg as permanent members of our ever-growing "hall of shame," reserved for public servants who take advantage of their position for personal benefit.
I am the director of development at the Potawatomi Zoo in South Bend, Ind. In 2004, my zoo was ranked 19th in Child Magazine's listing of the "Top 20 Zoos for Families." Your own Toledo Zoo came in at number 8. I've worked in zoos for 15 years (Miami Metrozoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Potawatomi Zoo) and, in the last 10 years, I have visited more than 130 zoos in the United States, Europe, and Africa. I am also a professional fellow of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
Toledo has one of the finest zoos in the entire world. I would certainly place it among the top 10 zoos in the United States.
Within the past 20 years under the direction of William Dennler, the Toledo Zoo has jumped to the forefront of American zoos. The mix of new exhibits and WPA architecture gives the zoo its charm and uniqueness.
Professionally within the zoo world the staff of the Toledo Zoo is highly respected. The zoo is involved in many conservation projects such as the Aruba Island rattlesnake project. The zoo also has several world-class exhibits, including the often imitated Hippoquarium and the award-winning aviary.
From a visitor services standpoint, the Toledo Zoo is perhaps the best in the nation, with creative concessions areas such as the Carnivore Cafe and the Lodge, and a friendly staff.
Just like any business, zoos have their internal problems. I hope the local media and, more importantly, your readers, realize that they are truly blessed to have one of the finest zoos in the world in their own backyard.
Potawatomi Zoological Society
South Bend, Ind.
Animals are not ours for entertainment, but those already living in captivity deserve the best care we can offer.
These sensitive, sentient creatures must endure a lifetime residing in "habitats" only a fraction of the size nature intended. It wasn't so long ago they were forced to live in tiny cells with concrete floors, their every natural instinct cruelly suppressed.
Changes came about to better their welfare because individuals spoke up and declared that treatment and those living conditions to be wrong. That doesn't happen in an environment where whistleblowers are fired and employees are rewarded with obscene perks.
Hopefully this new task force will take the animals' best interests to heart.
North Holland Sylvania Road
The Toledo Zoo is a place for animals. The problem: too many hogs at the trough.
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