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Zoo Adopts the Zone Defense

April 06, 1986

Over the years, visitors to the San Diego Zoo--especially young visitors--have expressed their delight at encountering chickens and other feathered creatures wandering untethered through the grounds.

Now, zoo officials have announced their intention to curtail this hoary tradition with the introduction of a "chicken-free zone."

Special zones appear to be de rigueur in San Diego these days. In Del Mar, a movement is afoot to turn virtually the entire city into a no-smoking zone. The San Diego City Council is considering establishment of a cultural zone to preserve treasured institutions like the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art by preventing them from selling out to condominium developers.

The zoo's zone, officials say, would protect the zoo's collection from diseases spread by the popular and ubiquitous birds roaming among the cages.

The plan involves conducting a chicken dragnet and then "relocating" the feathery creatures in the zoo's canyons.

Chicken catchers will then be deployed to prevent homesick fowl from fouling populated areas of the zoo--the so-called "chicken-free zones."

If the zone plan works--and we wish it well--the zoo population will remain healthy, and visitors will still have the opportunity for chance encounters with the amusing birds, which will continue to cavort in some areas of the zoo.

Our fear is that the zoo's plan, along with its Del Mar and La Jolla counterparts, is symptomatic of a zone mania that will inspire still other zone proposals.

Before long, we could be deluged with zones dictating or prohibiting all sorts of activity. We can envision temptation-free zones to keep us at arm's length from Gelato parlors and chocolate chip emporiums, or perhaps even politician-free zones in which flesh could not be pressed by strangers and babies would be safe from bipartisan bussing. On second thought, maybe those ideas have some merit.

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