United Poultry Concerns
||February, 20 2001
The Dallas Childrens Zoo What To Do?|
Rich Buickerood, Director|
The Dallas Zoo
650 South R L Thornton Freeway
Dallas, TX 75203
Email the Members of the Dallas City Council: http://www.dallascityhall.org/html/contact_mcc.html
Email the City of Dallas Park and Recreation
Department, which oversees the Zoo.
The home address for the Lacertes, the family that funded
the remodeling of the Dallas Children's Zoo:
Lawrence and Joyce Lacerte
5323 Park Lane
Dallas, Texas 75220
Dallas Zoological Society
Board of Directors
JC Penney Co., Inc.
Jennifer Burr Altabef|
Locke Liddell & Sapp, LLP
Bristol Hotels & Resorts
Dallas Morning News
ICC Energy Corporation
Commercial Real Estate
Deutsche Banc Alex.Brown, Inc.
Regional Health Supply, Inc.
Community Volunteer, ex officio member
Read Poland Associates
Haynes & Boone, LLP
Vinson & Elkins
Communities Foundation of Texas
Carol E. Frank|
Thompson, Coe, Cousins and Irons
Locke Liddell & Sapp LLP
G. Michael Gruber|
Godwin White & Gruber
Associates First Capital Corp.
Michael P. Haggerty|
Jackson Walker, LLP
West Hurtt Funeral Homes
Southwest Center Mall
Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, LP
Sylvia Sotelo Kidd|
Affiliated Computer Services
Tom C. Leppert|
John I. Levy|
Jack Lowe, Jr.|
WFAA, Channel 8
Greater Dallas Asian American Chamber of Commerce
Michael L. Meadows|
Southwestern Medical Foundation
Community Volunteer, ex-officio member
New York Life Insurance
Jay A. Pruett|
Central & South West Corporation
Wells Fargo Bank
Frank S. Ryburn|
Phillips Ryburn Associates
Robert E. Scott|
Bank of America
Ernst & Young, LLP
Dallas Area Rapid Transit
Charles Sprague, M.D.|
Southwestern Medical Foundation
Pann Sribhen, P.E.|
Chase Bank of Texas, NA
Barbara van Pelt|
van Pelt Associates
Edward O. Vetter|
Gayla Von Ehr|
Autry Warren, Jr.|
TXU Electric & Gas
Southern Methodist University
Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau
The Mansion on Turtle Creek
The Dallas Zoo is owned and operated by the City of Dallas and the
City of Dallas Park and Recreation Board. The Dallas Zoological
Society (DZS) helps support the Zoo. The President of DZS is Jim
Howard. DZS is a 501 © (3) not-for-profit organization that was
founded in 1955 to help develop one of the outstanding zoological
collections in the nation, in partnership with the Dallas Zoo. The
Society's only purpose at that time was to raise private funds to
purchase animals for the Dallas Zoo's collection. Now celebrating its
45th anniversary, the Society has expanded its role significantly.
The Dallas Observer reported on February 15, 2001 in Chick Fillet: Life in the food chain includes a stop at Dallas childrens zoo, by Charles Siderius, that the Lacerte Family Childrens Zoo, which is part of the Dallas Zoo, gasses to death, refrigerates, or throws in the garbage twelve or more chicks every week. The zoo told the Dallas Observer reporter that its CO2 gas chamber is humane, that the childrens zoo experience of seeing and holding the chicks is educational, and that most parents are no more truthful to children about the animals the children eat than the zoo is truthful about the animals the children pet.
Please contact the Dallas Zoo (contact information above) and say what you think about what they are doing and what you think they should do instead, keeping in mind the zoos justifications, as cited in the Dallas Observer. One option mentioned in the article is the offer by Kathy Rogers, head of the Rogers Wildlife Rehabilitation bird sanctuary in Hutchins, Texas, to take the dozen or so chicks each week, care for them at the rehabilitation center, and when they are old enough, let them be feral on the sanctuarys property. The zoo has declined Rogers offer.
Regarding the humaneness of the gas chamber: An article in New Scientist, May 19, 1990, reported on the use of gas by Ruth Harrison. The author of the influential book Animal Machines and a member of the Farm Animal Welfare Council in Britain said, I used to be very much a proponent of CO2 stunning. But a visit to a mink farm in Denmark, followed by subjecting herself to inhalation of various gas concentrations, changed her mind. Concerning the gassing of day-old male chicks by the egg industry, which she once condoned, she said, In my opinion, it is no better than the old practice of filling up a dustbin with them and letting them suffocate. Compassion in World Farming reports that in chickens, Gas stunning will not lead to instantaneous insensibility to pain (Karen Davis, Prisoned Chickens, Poisoned Eggs, p. 121).
Regarding the claim that children are educated by seeing and holding the baby chicks before they are disposed of. The zoo intentionally lies to the children and betrays their trust. How exactly are lying and betrayal educational? The zoo in this regard is of the essence of traditions such as black slavery and 4-H, in which white children were taught to love the mammies who raised them and then sever themselves from black people and in which children are encouraged to nurture and love animals destined for slaughter. One question nowadays is, how many 4-H children witness and/or conduct the slaughter of their former friend and dependant?
Regarding the zoos claim that it is no worse than parents who dont tell their children the truth about the chickens and other animals they and their children eat: this is the What Im doing is no worse than (some other terrible thing) justification for doing something wrong. The zoos basic argument to justify its practice of using children and baby chicks to draw crowds and make money is that it is acting in accordance with accepted family and social behavior. This is true. The zoo is no worse than a society composed of adults who betray their children about the true nature of hamburgers, chicken nuggets, bacon, and steak. Hiding from children and lying to them about what animals are put through in order to become meat or to give milk and eggs, as well as indoctrinating children to eat foods from these animals, thereby increasing their risk of food poisoning, arthritis, obesity, diabetes and other diet-related maladies, is both child abuse and animal abuse, just as what the zoo is doing.
- Regarding the zoo as a social institution. A zoo is a public entertainment business masking as public education and, since the 1960s, saving species. A zoo comprises captive animals atrophying and being manipulated in artificial environments. Many of these animals eat other animals, dead or alive. As long as society supports zoos and the idea of the zoo as a valuable experience with nonhuman animals, the problem of feeding the captive carnivores will remain.
Letter from Don Elroy, Director Tennessee Network for Animals
To: Director, Dallas Zoo
I am writing in reference to an article in the Dallas Observer which
referred to the Zoo's practice of raising and then destroying young
chickens in the "CO2" chamber.
The idea of a zoo keeping a lot of babies around for promotion is not
a new one but, it is a practice that most accredited zoos are trying
to move away from currently. Even AZA's own procedures and memos have
stated that fact. Why would any zoo wish to create more animals just
to become surplus, or as is stated in the article, for feeding other
animals? We both know that baby chicks are not "lion food" since it
would take so many to feed a lion that you would have a chicken farm
just devoted to that purpose.
The education argument that you put forward is not a valid one, since
zoos usually want to educate about caring about animals and state
that their purpose is conservation of species. Teaching chidren out
of both sides of your mouth is not "education" but, more in the line
of conditioning to a certain way of thinking. If you really want to
educate children then why would you lie to them about what you are
actually doing? If you truly believed that this practice was a
necessary process then hiding it would not be the choice made.
Children are not unintelligent or uninformed, as the child that asked
the question proved to you.
Raising your own animals for the food chain may seem to be a
necessary process, but that does not include some of the statements
made by your zoo spokesman. The purpose that I see here is more one
of drawing children in with baby animals than a food chain necessity.
Since a lion or other large cat needs more nutrition than can be
provided by baby chickens, they can only be supplemental to the
animals diet. As I have helped to place lions and other large cats in
sanctuaries around the country that have also become surplus animals,
I don't see any of this as educational.
I would request from you that this practice of killing the young
chickens be discontinued as well as the other animals in your
children's petting zoo. Please take this into consideration in any of
the future plans for the zoo. Teaching children that lions eat
chickens is not teaching them correct information about a large cat
in it's natural habitat by any stretch of the imagination anyway.
Please feel free to contact me on this subject if you wish.
Tennessee Network for Animals
Dallas Zoo Response Follows:
Dear Don Elroy:
Thank you for your e-mail of 17 February, 2001 concerning the article
you read in the recent Dallas Observer.
If you would like to discuss the article, feel free to contact me at
this e-mail address.
A few clarifications of misconceptions and pieces of information
which you may find useful:
- The Dallas Zoo buys and feeds out to its animals over 30,000
chickens annually. Most come in frozen. Some come in live, and are
used to feed snakes and other animals which will not accept inanimate
food items. Small, thawed chicks are especially important in the diet
of predatory birds, such as hornbills, bustards, eagles, and so on.
- Lions in the wild feed on a variety of prey, of course: zebra,
antelope, some birds. Ours are feed are variety of animal proteins -
mainly from cows, some horse, some poultry, and other sources. I
never told the reporter these chicks were the sole source of
nutrition for our lions. We are not trying to teach anyone that lions
eat chickens in their natural habitat.
- CO2 is used as a humane method of euthanizing the 12 chicks per
week (624 per year) which you read about. One alternative is to feed
these 12 out live, but we have decided against that option. If you
know of a more humane option, I would be glad to have you share the
information with me. I do not know the method used by our vendor to
kill the remaining chickens which come in every year - I doubt it is
I also believe it is a more humane approach than that provided to the
reporter by the "sanctuary." Think about it...that person thinks
being punctured alive by the talons of an owl is a better alternative
than going to sleep with CO2. It may be more natural, but it is not
more humane. Neither are the fire ants, starvation, and parasites and
other effects of overpopulation which would probably be experienced
on the "sanctuary" property.
- We have always been open about this practice. The reporter wanted
to create a story, and did so, using insinuation and inflammatory
This is a progressive, open organization. The "anonymous zookeeper"
could have expressed concerns to any one of dozens of supervisors,
curators, veterinarians, or me. The institution's Animal Care and Use
Committee (ACUC) has been openly (not "quietly") discussing this
issue for months to try to come up with an optimal approach - any of
the zookeepers, PR people, scientists, managers, etc on the ACUC
could have been approached. Debate, dialogue and diversity of
opinions are valued and encouraged here.
- Education comes in several forms, including didactic (classroom)
and experiential (riding a bike, touching a chick, smelling a
Experiential is especially important for the little kids (personally,
I think a child who connects with a live chick is more likely to
become a future vegetarian than one who's only experience of chicken
comes as processed, unrecognizable, plastic-wrapped food.)
Knowing about the food chain is important in laying the groundwork
for later understanding of the concentration of pollutants and
pesticides in animals and how this affects top level meat-eaters
(like falcons, pelicans, humans, etc).
Please fell free to contact me for further discussion.
Deputy Director for Animal Management
United Poultry Concerns February 20, 2001
United Poultry Concerns, Inc.
PO Box 150
Machipongo, VA 23405-0150
(The Dallas Childrens Zoo What To Do?)