Friday, July 17, 2009

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


  1. As a lifelong resident and supporter of the zoo, I can't believe one of our local news organizations would go after the zoo like this. I saw the "promo" for this story to be aired. Shame on WPEC.

  2. Ashley (Primate Keeper)July 17, 2009 at 7:10 PM

    I am very frustrated by the injustice of these allegations. I am confident that whatever they may present, however harsh, will not even phase us. We work very hard and are passionate about our animals and this zoo. I even left the Palm Beach Zoo for a few years to start a family, and chose to return. I returned because this is a great Zoo to work for and they do great things. Not just locally, but worldwide. When I see comments being made by our attacker such as "Long as I live I will make sure these animals are being watched." As if to imply that we do not care for our animals. I have poured out nothing but sweat, tears, and blood for these animals. I even work 10-12 hours a day(that's time away from my child). She has done nothing but hurt them. First by not successfully doing her job which by the way was suppose to be to manage the comissary, but now the animals no longer get the variety of produce they used to get. For we can no longer accept donations from BJ's and risk more false accusations. All she's done is hurt our animals and it makes me sick. All I can say is we will keep going with smiles on our faces everyday. I thank the community for all their support.

  3. The community will continue to support the zoo. I have no doubt about that. People are not dumb, they can see through what is happening. It is now a shame that a local generous business can no longer donate leftover food when all they were trying to do was help. Shame on this former commissary manager. Shame on that extremist Rector and shame on WPEC Channel 12 for caring more about rating than actually reporting a true story!

  4. As grandparents the Palm Beach Zoo has been both an enjoyable and educational experience for us and our grandchildren for a very affordable price. Keep up the good work.