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