Monday, July 20, 2009

Story is pulled

We learned earlier this evening that WPEC decided not to air - tonight - the story they have been promoting since last Thursday.

We'll provide you more details as we get them.

Thank you for your continued support for the Palm Beach Zoo.

In the news

News reports:

"I sort of created Russ Rector," (activist) Ric O'Barry says, unhappily. He hasn't done a thing since then except make a lot of noise. . .He's an egomaniac, a publicity junkie." Palm Beach Post, Sept. 5, 1994

(A hurricane) "should provide just enough extra water to push Miami Seaquarium's crocodiles over the wee walls of their concrete pens and into open water. This comes from Russ Rector, a disgruntled former dolphin handler. When that happens, Rector estimates that they will breed with native alligators to form indefatigable super-species: the croc-a-gator. Miami New Times, April 26, 2007.

Rector hired a plane to tow a "Lolita is Dying" banner over the Seaquarium..."They know she's dying, and they are removing her from everything," Rector said. Miami Herald, Feb. 20, 2006 (more than three years later Lolita is not dead).

When he didn't get his way with the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, Rector told a reporter that when Chiles had his heart attack: "I hope it hurt when Lawton Chiles was laying on the ground dying." (New Times July 8, 1999)

"I'm not in the animal rights club" he said slamming both the Humane Society of the United States and PETA. Miami Herald, Dec. 3, 2003

A Sept. 8 letter to the White House: "Dear Mr. Vice President, I recently sent you a letter concerning two very relevant and pressing issues. . .Please don't try and placate me with the administration's animal rights positions, my letters have never mentioned those words...Do something now sir before this blows up and becomes a political nightmare!!!!!" Sun Sentinel, Sept. 26, 1993

Logging on, he clicks through a list of photographic scans, looking for the perfect gesture of goodwill for a favored journalistic contact. He settles on a scan titled "boobcrui.jpg" - a group portrait of 21 topless women photographed on a yatch - attaches it to an email, types in the header "PICK YOUR POISON," signs it with his usual "R/R" and clicks SEND chuckling. New Times, July 8, 1999

Rector's blowhard, in-your-face style has alienated more people than it has captivated. Palm Beach Post, Sept. 5 1994

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some got it right the first time

Fringe extremist Russ Rector approached other media about his false allegations before he went to WPEC.

But experienced reporters quickly realized that Rector was wrong and they knew there was no story here. They showed good journalistic judgement.

Read more about Rector in an earlier post.

When are the dead not dead?

It is possible that WPEC may suggest that animals are dying at the zoo.

Despite the best effort of the Palm Beach Zoo to provide the animals with eternal life - yes, animals do die at the zoo.

They do not however die from any type of animal neglect.

In April, Palm Beach Zoo demonstrated how much it cares for animals by opening a $5 million state-the-art animal hospital and hired one of the best vets in the nation to run the hospital.

WPEC is relying on information provided by fringe extremist Russ Rector (see earlier post about Rector) and his cohort for its story.

WPEC also is looking at USDA reports that show a decline in number of some animal species from 2008 to 2009.

It was explained to WPEC, in the only interview they allowed the zoo, that animals have died at the zoo because of natural causes, untreatable illness and in one case from injury. There has never been a single death at the zoo from food related illness or neglect.

It was explained to WPEC that the decrease in some animal numbers also is the result of animals that the Palm Beach Zoo loans to other zoos for exhibit.

If WPEC had been willing to reviewing documents with the zoo they also would have learned that USDA reports showing a dramatic drop in the number of one species is - an error that USDA is correcting.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Don't Forget

Please read the letter from Dr. Terry Maple, president and CEO of Palm Beach Zoo, in an earlier post.

When is a rat not a rat?

In June, days before the Palm Beach Zoo knew WPEC was doing a story, the zoo asked Nozzle Nolen to do a special check of the commissary where animal food is prepared to make sure there were no rats.

Why? Because the same commissary manager who was working with fringe extremist Russ Rector was suddenly complaining that there were rats in the commissiary. No other employee reported seeing any evidence of a rat.

In an abundance of caution, zoo management asked their pest control experts to take a look. Nozzle Nolen places traps and bait in various locations in the commissary. In two reports, Nozzle Nolen reported there was no evidence of rats or other rodents inside the commissary.

These reports were given to WPEC. Apparently rather than believe the experts they were listening to Russ Rector and his cohort.

When is something a fake?

Palm Beach Zoo's former commissary manager was working with fringe activist Russ Rector (see earlier post for more about Rector).

Together they were determined to embarrass and harm the Palm Beach Zoo. Photographs were staged, unsubstantiated accusations were made and other actions were taken as part of their self-proclaimed mission to destroy the zoo.

Imagine you bought peaches and found one that was rotten. Suppose your neighbor took a picture and said you were feeding that to your family. Yes the peach is rotten but the picture won't show that you threw it out.

Drop the peach on the floor and a picture won't show that you picked it up.

Just because there is a picture, it doesn't mean it tells the whole story.

So who is behind these false allegations?

The man behind the allegations is a fringe activist named Russ Rector. He is a well-known crank that most responsible reporters have learned to ignore. Even other activists criticize Rector.

Rector has proclaimed dolphins more dangerous than sharks.

When he didn't get his way with the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, Rector told a reporter that when Chiles had his heart attack: "I hope it hurt when Lawton Chiles was laying on the ground dying." (New Times July 8, 1999)

Rector has vowed to close down the Palm Beach Zoo. It is a vow he makes about all his imagined enemies.

He brags about contacting WPEC and says that he was "directing" one of the zoo's employees and "she did everything I asked her to do. He also acknowledged that, "I was setting you up."

This and a great deal more information was offered to WPEC. They refused to hear, see or read any additional information that we offered to provide.

From the President and CEO

Below is a letter from Dr. Terry Maple, President and CEO of the Palm Beach Zoo:

Dear Friends of the Palm Beach Zoo:

You may be aware of a pending “investigative report” to be aired on WPEC Channel 12 in the coming days that makes disturbing claims about conditions in our commissary – the “kitchen” where animal food is prepared. I want to assure you that these claims are baseless and completely fabricated.

Our staff here at the Palm Beach Zoo is dedicated to the animals entrusted to our care and they take every precaution to ensure that animal food is fresh, clean, and nutritionally appropriate.

The report is based on the false claims of a disgruntled commissary manager who was terminated for her poor performance and for her role in collaborating with a known animal rights extremist whose stated goal is to “shut down the zoo.”

The report may claim that the commissary is infested with rats. This claim is strongly refuted by our animal management team, USDA inspectors, and Nozzle Nolen, the professional contractors who are responsible for controlling rodents and other pests on zoo property.

There is no objective evidence of rats in the commissary building.

The report may show photos of spoiled food in the commissary. These photos are intended to make you believe that tainted or moldy food is being fed to our animals. This is patently untrue.

Animal food is carefully stored and prepared, and any food that appears to be spoiled is discarded, just as it is in your kitchen at home.

No animal at this zoo has ever become ill as a result of poor-quality food.

The report may also claim that the commissary is dirty. In fact, we require that the commissary be cleaned daily, and no food is ever left on the floor to attract pests. While the commissary is located in a humble trailer, it is kept clean and orderly at all times.

Although Dr. Salvatore Zeitlin and I were interviewed by channel 12, I am concerned that this story will not be reported in a fair and balanced way. We believe this report and the sensationalized teaser campaign now being aired to promote it are intended to drive viewers to their newscast during a competitive “mini-sweeps” period.

You have my personal assurance that these false claims will be carefully and thoroughly refuted in the days to come.

Your visits to the zoo provide clear evidence of the superior health and welfare of our entire animal population. Our $5 million zoo hospital that opened on Earth Day is further testimony to our deep and abiding commitment to animal health and wellness.

Your continuing loyalty and your confidence in the Palm Beach Zoo team are deeply appreciated.

Terry L. Maple, Ph.D. President/CEO

WPEC-12 is wrong

What's is wrong with WPEC-12?

The station is promoting a story about "allegations" concerning the Palm Beach Zoo. The story is flat wrong. But they are more interested in boosting audience during sweeps week then doing a fair report. It's a shame that a fine organization is being unfairly attacked.

This blog is here to make sure that accurate information is available to friends of the Palm Beach Zoo.

Thank you for your continued support and we look forward to hearing from you.