As you know, for years we have been asking the city for copies of the documents the zoo is required to submit annually under its management contract with the city – namely, a “capital improvement budget, spending plan, actual expenses and schedule describing its projected development for the current budget year and for the next 2 following years.” The zoo has never produced any of these materials. Instead, it periodically produces retrospective feel-good reports couched in broad general terms, so it has been impossible for citizens to see how the zoo planned to or actually did spend its money - despite the fact that it gets a large amount of public funding every year from the city, the county, bond measures and the East Bay Regional Park District. And despite us raising this issue over and over, the city was apparently never willing to do anything about the fact that the zoo did not ever file the required annual reports and ignored its contractual obligation to do so.
City finally commits to enforcing zoo’s management contract after years of questions, admits it never has done so
This letter came to us unsolicited, and with the author’s permission, we are publishing it as an example of one whose mind was changed by the truth.
Dear Friends of Knowland Park,
I was all set to vote for Measure A1, until I met a nice lady at the Lake Merritt farmer’s market. I fell hook-line-and-sinker for the Oakland Zoo’s A1 campaign and their spokescat, “Leonard the Lion.” I explained this to the nice lady who ultimately turned me against the zoo and their expansion project. She proceeded to tell me what I needed to know; that all kinds of critters were going to be displaced by the A1 project. Bunnies, bobcats, skunks, etc. all would be homeless! I skeptically thanked her for the info and snottily told her that my opinion was quite nuanced, thankyouverymuch, but I did have an open mind and would make up my mind before the election. Thank God she got to me when she did. I slept on it and woke up the next morning completely opposed to A1 and its horrible scheme to encroach on these awesome creatures’ rightful home.
So this is a note of gratitude and a sincere apology for my snotty attitude to that nice lady. But also, I hope you guys will do a PR campaign to educate people about Knowland Park. I had seen your “Save Knowland Park” signs and I totally scoffed at them. “Save Knowland Park” is not a good tagline, sadly. I envisioned a little kids playground with seesaws and swings. I dug my heels in and hoped you would be defeated (sorry L). I have since come around, but only because Nice Lady got to me at the Farmer’s Market. I am not alone; my friends who I spoke with about this also were clueless about Knowland Park.
When you’re up against Leonard the Lion, you really need to bring it. So if you find yourselves in this unsavory position again, I would suggest a new tagline that tells people like me what is really at stake. Something like, “Save the Knowland 500-acre wild animal habitat and nature preserve.” You may need to shorten it to, “Save Knowland Wildlife Preserve.”
Perhaps you should fight fire with fire and anthropomorphize that pretty little fox pictured on your mammals page:
A million thanks and my sincere apologies for almost voting for A1.
Your friend for life,
Photographer and teacher, Christian Naventi, has a special talent for bringing animals in the wild closer to the children he teaches through his use of critter cameras. With photos and videos, he’s able to capture brief moments of animals in their natural state as they pass his cameras. Christian has developed a deep love for Knowland Park and has shared his talents with us to help us reveal the sometimes hidden beauty of Knowland Park. Unlike animals in captivity, wild animals are shy and reluctant to expose themselves to the danger we humans pose. Knowland Park is habitat for many species of wild animals that must share the park with us but often remain carefully hidden out of sight.