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Modest Proposal : Let Disney (and Friends) Run the Zoo : KENDRA PRAVETTONI, Los Angeles

October 14, 1995

To paraphrase an old maxim, you can tell a lot about a city by how it takes care of its most helpless citizens. When this standard is applied to our fellow creatures at the zoo, Los Angeles flunks. ("Evaluators Give Zoo Poor Grade," Metro, Sept. 30).

One evaluator said, "In view of the Los Angeles Zoo's history, there is no reason to expect that the zoo will not be allowed to slide downward unless its governance structure is significantly altered."

That's the key. We need to change the "governance structure" to suit the unique character of Los Angeles. We're not as compact or generally as civic-minded as San Francisco and San Diego. There is, however, one area of agreement in this spread out mess called Los Angeles--our No. 1 asset is the entertainment industry.

Has anyone noticed that the Los Angeles zoo is just a skip, hop and hillside away from MCA/Universal, Disney and Warner Studios? Say we tapped the brawny shoulders of one of these multimedia conglomerates and ask them to take over zoo operations? They have the expertise and funds to turn the Los Angeles Zoo into a world-class tourist attraction like the San Diego Zoo.

Think of the merchandising tie-ins--marketing would be a cinch. "Do lunch in the Wild Kingdom, it's a liberating experience." Or "Start the day right, power breakfast with a pachyderm." Information boards in front of habitats could read, "Let Babe or Simba give you the inside scoop." Okay, it's a little crass, but as long as the animals are pampered in natural, healthy and comfortable habitats, who cares?

Privatize the Los Angeles Zoo. Get the entertainment industry to sprinkle magic fairy dust on our sad animal friends and give them the home they deserve.

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