Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Sep 29 2004

Fresno's Chaffee Zoo And Measure Z

The Chaffee Zoo in Fresno is in trouble. It's one of the zoos closest to my own home, so I'm putting in a good word for them. This fall, the residents in that area will vote on Measure Z, the result of which could make or break the zoo's existence. I won't pretend to know the whole story, but from what I understand, members of the Roeding family donated land for a park in Fresno in the early 1900s, and later other land was purchased to enlarge that park. Later the zoo was built. Some of the Roeding family members still living are apparently not in favor of Measure Z, because it could mean that the zoo will have to expand further into the general park acreage that their ancestors donated to be used as free space to be enjoyed by all. The expansion would also probably involve the removal of trees, which would further change the landscape and environment of a place that was supposed to be full of trees.

The Chaffee Zoo is currently on the list of accredited zoos of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), but that could change if Chaffee can't improve and expand certain areas of the zoo habitat for larger animals.

This is a tough issue. A sales tax would help save the zoo financially, at least for awhile, but it's sad to see the conflict when everyone is simply wanting to be supportive of the right thing.

At least one local company, Pelco, in nearby Clovis, has been supporting the upgrades and maintenance to the zoo. They are backing Measure Z as an added way to keep the zoo going.

While I can understand the Roeding family's reluctance to see their ancestor's gift used in a way that was not originally planned, I can also understand the current Fresno community's desire to keep and maintain the zoo. And in the end, the people who live there will have to pay the most and will see the most change after the election. What I'm going to suggest is that the original donors intended the acres of land to be a haven in which local (and visiting) humans could relax and enjoy the day. If the donors could have a voice right now, would they want to see their donation go toward making a place where the humans who visited the park could also be making a better place for animals, and for their future children? I think they might want to see just that, because philantropists usually have the ability to give with an eye toward opening up the future to hope and its possibilities, even when circumstances change and take things outside the scope of the era in which they live. The gift the Roeding family gave has become so much bigger and more important than even they could have foreseen.

Maybe the current Roedings could be persuaded to be supportive if they could look at the zoo as being part of the park that was purchased land, rather than donated land. I don't know. But I hope everyone will continue to work for what's best for the community of Fresno, and ultimately, for the rest of the planet. If the planned upgrade and basic maintenance of the zoo moved into areas such as water slides and carnival rides, I wouldn't take a very positive view. But the animals are part of our environment, our planet, our home here. It's too late to save some of our precious species, but modern zoos are offering a way to preserve the animal friends we have left. For awhile, and maybe for the rest of earth's existence a zoo may become the only place one can experience some of these creatures, and if the Chaffee Zoo can help keep even one species going for the foreseeable future, and can do it with dignity and a comfortable artificial habitat for that species, I'm all for it. I hope the Roeding family will stay flexible. I don't know any of them, and I don't speak for them, but I can hope.

You and I who live outside the Fresno area won't get to vote on Measure Z. But there are ways to support the zoo, through memberships, memorials and donations. And if you think Measure Z will help more animals in the future, you can visit Save Our Zoo to find out how to help. If you think it's all too far away from where you live, then find your nearest zoo and lend your support there. It's all good.

posted at: 11:47 | category: /Miscellaneous | link to this entry

They Wag The Dog But We Just Wag Our Tongues

I am getting really weary of hearing about how the two best-known candidates for U.S. President have this black mark or that gray gap in their decades-old military service records. It's easy to go back and analyze the detailed movements of someone's youth. But drag out your own past for a moment. Who hasn't done things (or left things undone) in the first 25 years of life that might make us seem less than worthy of our present station in life, if those details were pulled up and paraded for all the world to see 20, 30, 40 years later? Would any of us pass this kind of scrutiny? And do we all have detailed records and detailed proof of every movement and every choice we made as young people, with the thought that we might be called upon to explain ourselves at any given moment?

Some might say that it's more important for a U.S. President to have a spotless military service record than for the rest of the world. But the last time I checked the Constitution, the only qualifications listed for the office were: To be a natural born citizen, to be at least 35 years old, and to have been a resident for at least 14 years. Although many of our past Presidents have had a stellar military background, some never served in the military at all. The writers of the Constitution didn't just forget to put that in the requirements. They knew that the office would require many qualities in leadership, and that those who served in the office of President might come from a variety of backgrounds. They purposefully kept the guidelines as broad as possible, so that those who might attain to be President could come from different walks of life. If neither of our two present major candidates had served in the military at all, would some other ancient detail be dragged up and flung in their faces? To what end?

The world is moving at a much faster pace than it has ever moved before. It's tough to keep up with what happened two elections ago, much less several decades ago. The name-calling and mud-slinging might be fun for inexperienced children, but if we're going to demand that our leaders come up to the mark, we'd better be ready to act like adults too, and put our own time and effort into making our country a great place. We don't have a moment to waste. We've got to focus, people. The truth is, for better or for worse, our country usually gets exactly the kind of leadership ability the rest of us attain to.

posted at: 08:31 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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