Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Mixed messages at the zoo

Letters to the Editor
Wednesday, March 12, 2008 - Commercial Appeal
Mixed messages at the zoo

Your March 7 editorial, "Communication gap dooms trees," warned of the Memphis Zoo alienating future friends of the zoo, specifically the youth.

On my last visit to the zoo, my kids watched the sea lion show, during which a zoo keeper throws a plastic bottle into the water and one of the sea lions retrieves it on the tip of its nose and places it into a recycling bin.

The crowd cheered as the zoo keeper ended the skit with the message that "recycling is good for the environment, and we should all do our part to recycle."

After the show was over, my kids were psyched to do their part, and we looked high and low for a recycling bin. We searched by the vending machines, the restrooms, the various exhibits (pandas, elephants, primates), the Cat House Cafe, and all the way to the Memphis Zoo offices by the entrance. Not a single recycling bin was in sight.

When I asked about the lack of recycling bins, zoo personnel said such bins are untidy and attract unwanted pests. Needless to say, we left the zoo a little alienated.

Teaching conservation of natural resources while cutting down old-growth forest and promoting recycling while not providing recycling bins is indicative of the zoo's "do as we say, not as we do" attitude. The message one is left with is that we should care about making our world a better place, but leave the work to someone else.

Warren Oster


Anonymous said...

The last time I visited the zoo, I saw at least 4 recycle bins. An employee told me that behind-the-scenes recycling has been going on for years by the zookeepers and other staff, and that they're beginning to add more visitor recycling bins, too. Sounds like they're working on it!