On behalf of the Toledo Zoo, I would like to extend our thanks for the many kind thoughts that the community has sent for our elephant manager, Don RedFox.
They have been a great comfort to his family and to our staff as we unite behind our friend and colleague.
Even as this tragedy has galvanized the community in its support for Mr. RedFox and the zoo's elephant program, the zoo's positions on certain aspects of this incident have been misunderstood, and I feel the need to clarify them.
The most notable position that has been misrepresented is on the video feed of the incident. In its July 9 editorial “A public video” The Blade states that “Toledo Zoo officials have refused to release the video, claiming it is part of Mr. RedFox's personnel record.” This is simply not true.
We at the zoo recognize its role as a public institution and make records available for inspection by the public, including the media. We have understood all along that the video could be among those records.
But we have an obligation to protect the zoo from any potential liability. Therefore, we must also abide by a temporary restraining order issued on July 6, in response to a claim filed by the RedFox family, that the video could not be released at this time.
Showing or releasing any video until the courts have determined that it is legally appropriate for us to do so would place us in contempt of the order.
We would prefer that this video not be released to the public. We feel it provides no additional insight into the incident and would only cause further undue stress to Mr. RedFox and his family.
However, if the court finds that the media have the right to view the video, we will have to abide by this finding and release it.
Were this to happen, we would hope that the media would treat Mr. RedFox and his family with respect and dignity.
Elephant's act not rare or surprising
That a male African elephant cared for in free contact injured a keeper is neither rare nor surprising, two terms used to describe the incident (“Attack on keeper rekindles debate on zoo elephants,” July 11).
Even more frustrating is The Blade's apparent ignorance of the conservation mission of today's zoos. All of the costs of keeping elephants in Toledo — the $14.5 million-dollar expansion of zoo facilities, the restriction of a wide-ranging mammal to a 1-acre exhibit, and past, present, and future injuries to zoo staff — must be weighed against the benefits to accomplishing the zoo's stated mission.
Does the zoo's keeping and breeding of African elephants — a species routinely culled in the wild to alleviate overpopulation — improve the prospects for conservation of wildlife and the natural world? Are visitors who view Louie more likely to take actions that benefit wildlife than those who visit a zoo that doesn't incur the costs of keeping elephants?
I long for the day when the media ask these questions, and the administration of our region's largest, and publicly funded, conservation organization engages the community in this important discussion.
Leave video use up to the courts
The Blade insisted that the video of Louie the elephant turning on his keeper at the Toledo Zoo be made public.
The Blade wrote in its editorial: “Taxpayers have a right to determine for themselves how well Mr. RedFox performed his duties.”
I am a taxpayer, but am not competent to pass judgment on how Mr. RedFox performed.
Let common sense prevail. If someone is injured on the job, even in the public sector, let's grant him his privacy and leave it to the courts to decide what should be made public about the incident.
Who's an expert in judging video?
If you are correct that any private entity that receives public funds is subject to the requirements of the public records law, that raises for me a question:
How many Lucas County property owners — the taxpayers in question for this matter — who have not already seen the video would have the training and/or expertise in elephant handling to determine whether the performance of the handler was appropriate, and whether those duties were performed correctly?
I think the answer is, not any.
Rose Garden Drive
Don't resurrect ‘Touchdown Jesus'
Ever since “Touchdown Jesus” was struck by lightning and made national news, people in the Dayton area have been concerned with how their part of Ohio is perceived by others (“Church that lost statue focuses on positives,” June 22).
Many are calling the statue an oddity or something weird. And some fellow Christians are politely requesting that it not be rebuilt.
Such concerns are not without merit. In a popular book called Weird Ohio, this statue is found under “roadside distractions” in the index.
A quick glance at the other images in this book will give one pause. Perhaps the critics are right.
Sid S. Davisson
The vanishing 3 R's in church
Have you been to your place of worship lately and noticed the absence of the 3 R's — reverence, respect, and responsibility?
I was taught that church is a place of worship. It is a place where reverent, respectful behavior is everyone's responsibility.
A church is not a stadium before the big game. Stadium behavior might allow for talking before, during, and after the game. Dress might include short shorts and tops displaying cleavage or hairy chests. But please, not in church.
I don't know any sports enthusiasts who would sit through the big game with a crying, yelling child. Yet I have endured more than one service in more than one congregation where I was distracted by such behavior.
Sadly, reverence, respect, and responsibility are fading in all the ways we relate to each other. Let's recapture these practices and teach our children by example that going to church is only the beginning of an experience worthy of the Creator and His creation.
What's the worth of a child's future?
For months, I have read criticism of teachers' wages (“Defeat for TPS students,” editorial, June 29).
What do people think teachers should be paid? They spend four years getting a bachelor's degree, have to go to continuing education classes, and often have a master's degree.
They are the caretakers of children, acting as parents, nurses, police, counselors, investigators, babysitters, religious leaders, and mediators, as well as teachers.
What are teachers worth? First, ask what parents are worth. Then ask what a child's future is worth.
Not all want to be shown the light
I had to laugh at the July 1 Readers' Forum letter “Are evangelicals welcome too?” about the camp for agnostics.
It's typical of people of faith to believe that everyone not of faith is waiting to be shown the light. The writer should attend the camp to see how happy, well-adjusted, and free one can be without belonging to an organized religion. Bring Hindu and Muslim friends, but leave the arrogance at home.