NEWS FLASH: Oakland Zoo CEO Joel Parrott admitted Thursday night at a Piedmont League of Women Voters forum on Measure A1 that the Zoo is spending $1 million on its campaign. We always knew we were going to be massively outspent, but this is beyond what we really thought possible. He also denied the Measure is about paying for the environmentally destructive expansion project into Knowland Park, despite the fact that the measure makes explicit reference to construction, expansion, capital projects and development of a “conservation center”, which as those of you following this development over the last several years know, means the 34000 sq ft 3 story ridgetop complex the Zoo wants to construct as a key expansion element. We really do wonder where all this money is coming from, especially when he claims they don’t have enough to take care of their animals.
It was clear from his comments that his goal is to become the largest Zoo in California, eventually taking over the whole of Knowland Park. We can’t let this happen. PLEASE send a contribution today to help us spread the word about this measure and its impacts on the special place that is Knowland Park. As we pointed out last night, expansion doesn’t always have to be bricks and mortar—the Zoo could expand its imagination and develop wonderful nature programs taking kids into the world of Knowland Park and letting them discover nature firsthand. Other places, like Audubon Canyon Ranch in Marin County, do this. Oakland’s kids don’t need a gondola ride and a restaurant to discover nature and learn about conservation. They need adults less focused on empire building and more focused on authentic conservation, which means preserving habitat, not building on it. As one of our leaders observed last night after the talk, what they plan to build is really more of a Deconservation Center! It’s wrong for the Zoo to spend resources it could be using for the animals on a million-dollar media blitz to get funds to build this supersized expansion project. Help us spread the word and please send a donation today! We have less than 30 days to let voters know the real choice they are being asked to make. We support animals and education too, but we have a different vision of what that means. We don’t support continuing to stress our native animals by bulldozing their habitat, and we don’t support the notion that kids can only learn about nature by riding a gondola to have someone tell them about it!