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Published: Thursday, 11/29/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Crisis at the Zoo: Document excerpts

Excerpts obtained from documents provided by the Toledo Zoo after a public records request by The Blade:

"Failing to address problems allows the goals of the organization to be 'overthrown' by various employee groups ...That is what has happened [in the zoo's mammal department] ... There has been a coup." - consultant Scott Warrick to zoo managment

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"The giraffes were deprived exercise during the months of August and September, 2003, despite the recommendations of the attending veterinarian to the contrary." - U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report after Feb. 4, 2004, inspection

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"There are significant communication problems in the mammal department that need attention. These communications problems have negatively affected animal welfare." - March 18, 2004, report by zoo committee set up to review USDA inspection report

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"It has been determined that the care and treatment of the animals was appropriate and that there was nothing to indicate that the zoo was culpable to any adverse impact on the animals." - Minutes of the March 22, 2004, meeting of the zoo board of directors concerning the zoo committee's review of the USDA inspection report

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"A memo dated Nov. 19, 2003, from the curator [of mammals] to the zoo staff is indicative of the problem of lack of veterinary authority. The memo states that anyone concerned about the welfare of an animal should bring it to the attention of the curator, the BPC (Biological Program chair), or executive director. It does not mention bringing animal welfare concerns to the attention of the attending veterinarian." - U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection report after Feb. 4, 2004, inspection

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"I still have serious concerns about using this [consultant Scott Warrick's report about the mammal department] for anything other than an internal mgt document. I think sending this out is only going to stir up the folks in that dept. and not be effective for much else." - Aug. 25, 2004, e-mail from Robert Harden, zoo chief operating officer, to Sheri Caldwell, human resources director, Randi Meyerson, curator of mammals, and William Dennler, executive director

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"If we are going to worry about what the employees will say, and I guarantee you some of the employees will do exactly what Bob says they will do (actually, I am counting on it!) then this process has already failed. Rabid employees will try and use this against us. Let them. I hope they do. ... You are at a serious crossroads where you will take up the sword and fight or lay down and take it. You cannot win without the buy-in of the good employees. I care what they think. Screw the others. They have it coming to them." - Aug. 25, 2004, e-mail from Mr. Warrick to Sheri Caldwell, human resources director

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"Organizations are not democracies. They are dictatorships ... Employees exist to carry out the direction of the organization set by management." - Mr. Warrick to mammal department employees on Aug. 27, 2004

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"Mr. Warrick appeared to have preconceived notions condemning certain people. His dialogue was missing fundamental aspects of good communication, such as assuming keepers are human ... His body language (fast and looming approach, finger pointing, shoulder shrugging, eye rolling, loud voice, pacing and overt agitation) and manner (snide comments, interrupting people) presented an attack-style environment." - Sept. 11, 2004, letter signed by 13 members of the mammal department after their Aug. 27, 2004, meeting with Mr. Warrick



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