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Published: Thursday, 4/7/2005

Ex-veterinarian goes before zoo task force today


Dr. Tim Reichard, who was fired from his post as the Toledo Zoo s head veterinarian, will appear today before the task force investigating zoo operations.

The Feb. 28 termination of Dr. Reichard, who served the zoo for 22 years, sparked a storm of controversy at the zoo and led to questions about several procedures at the 104-year-old institution.

Dr. Reichard said he believed he was fired for speaking openly with federal inspectors about animal deaths and animal-care issues at the zoo. The zoo administration has said his dismissal stemmed from problems with his management style.

The 14-member task force established by the Lucas County commissioners will meet with Dr. Reichard in a closed session this afternoon. While the task force is considered a public body, it has decided discussions pertaining to personnel should be conducted in executive sessions closed to the media and the public.

The most important thing is people to come and feel free to give information that the task force can look at, said Dr. Reichard, who did not ask for the meeting to be closed to the public. I m personally a person for open and frank discussion, but I understand there are some concerns out there.

Robert Reinbolt, chairman of the task force, has said he intends to close subcommittee meetings, which could bring forth some of the most dramatic testimony. Last week, Toledo Zoo Executive Director William Dennler spoke before the committee, but his time was cut off as task force members aggressively questioned him.

Task Force co-chairman Marty Skeldon said then that Mr. Dennler had not appeared to be grilled.

Last year, the zoo received $11.4 million in county taxpayer money. Voters will likely be asked to support a replacement capital levy this year as a current tax expires.

Dr. Reichard asked for his reinstatement while speaking before the zoo s board of directors March 17 in a meeting that lasted several hours. No decision has been reached by the zoo s governing board about reinstating Dr. Reichard, who was optimistic he would return to his job after last month s meeting.

I m still confident, Dr. Rei chard said. It is taking longer.

But he understands that the zoo board is examining all the facts before coming to a conclusion.

That s what I ve asked for all along is that I get heard and the information I have gets looked at, Dr. Reichard said.

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