Rage from the Cage

Phoenix Zoo director refutes allegations of animal abuse

Color Barrier

Civil rights: In your most recent issue, the subject of black-on-white racism by the Improved Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the World lodge was clearly stated ("Exalted Ruler," John Dougherty, March 28).

I have been at the lodge and have witnessed this activity and feel that someone should point out that it's not okay to discriminate against anyone based on race.

Stumpy, in unhappier times.
Stumpy, in unhappier times.

I have been a civil rights activist since the 1960s and I still support racial equality through the Southern Poverty Law Center and Tolerance.org. I don't believe anyone should stand silent.

White people have no patent on bigotry, and it should be pointed out and rooted out whenever it pokes up its ugly head, whether in the African-American, Mexican-American or Euro-American communities.

I'm tired of people using the difference in a minuscule number of DNA strands to scapegoat other people.

Can't we all just get along?

James Bailey

Not-so-exalted ruler: Groan. I am a native of south Phoenix. I went to St. Catherine's, swam at Roosevelt pool, picked fruit and worked the fields down there.

Early on (third grade?) I realized that this side of town existed for one reason and one reason alone: to provide the city of Phoenix with cheap labor and a dumping ground for toxic waste.

The powers that be have worked hard to keep the south side of the river disenfranchised and disorganized. They've thrown in a token project here and there but have basically worked hard to keep the area poor and ignorant (why do quaint, rural-like unpaved streets only show up in the poor parts of any town?).

So now we have Councilman Mike Johnson. Turns out that this guy is a crooked grand high muck-a-muck in the Elks Lodge. The guys in the Camelback area and in "Parasite Valley" have gotta be laughing their asses off. And Mayor Skip Rimsza is dragging Johnson around by the nose, using him as a shield. And Johnson is letting him get away with it.

If people on the south side ever decided to get organized, something might change.

I realized early on that the roads that keep bringing all these new people into town lead out of town, too. So guess what I did.

Keep up the good fight.

Jim Bailey
Cripple Creek, Colorado

Riding Heard

Won't you be my neighbor?: The noisiest neighbors in town may be the Heard Museum ("Heard Mentality," John W. Allman, March 14)? This subject is a joke, right? Ink, time, energy and anything else dealing with this subject is a waste.

Reality check, please. Metallica, Anthrax and Marilyn Manson haven't been playing the parking lot of the Heard. Beautiful flutes, the occasional patter of drums and symphony music is as wild as it gets.

The last time I checked, this wasn't a town; it's one of the largest cities in the United States. The museum has been there since 1929. Have any of the neighbors been there that long?

I eke out a living working for a catering company. I wish I had the problems of those whiners with too much time and money to waste on fancy lawyers.

I've been working with my particular catering company since November and I've only worked three to five events at the Heard Museum a month. Maybe half of those events are held outside, and the latest we finish is 11:30 p.m. Wildfire is a major event, but that's only once a year. Our crew is highly professional and aware of the neighbors. We use earpiece walkie-talkies to communicate. At the end of the night, we want out of there, so we load up quickly and quietly.

By chance last week a guest arrived early for an event, and to kill time he rolled down his windows and jammed to some tunes in his car. Guess what? The museum security guard made the person stop.

The only legitimate argument is the one about traffic in the neighborhood, but that's been mitigated as well, while parking for an event like Wildfire is handled by a valet service.

This is only the opinion of a working stiff, but given the chance, I would be neighbors with the Heard Museum any day.

Valerie Sherman

Caring for Critters

Zoolander: As executive director of the Phoenix Zoo, I feel compelled to respond to your most recent article ("Creature Discomfort", John W. Allman, March 28). This article was replete with inaccurate information, and I would ask that you take responsibility for correcting those errors by printing this letter in its entirety.

Before I address the specifics of the article, however, I would like to highlight what we are all about in this wonderful organization that I have the privilege to lead. The Phoenix Zoo exists to inspire people to care for nature. Each year approximately 1.5 million visitors find inspiration, beauty and recreation among our plants, animals and programs. We serve more than 200,000 children annually through our workshops, school and community outreach programs. We emphasize the value of wildlife and are committed to excellence in care of our animal collection. We work daily with local, national and international organizations to improve the husbandry of animals in our care and work extremely hard to conserve the habitats on which their species depend. We are also an accredited member of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association and have been for many years. Last month, we were granted accreditation again for the next five years. The accreditation process includes a thorough review, site inspection, and interview process.

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