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Zoo Improvements

October 15, 1995

* I was disappointed that many of the positive improvements at the Los Angeles Zoo mentioned in the accreditation report were not included in "Evaluators Give L.A. Zoo a Poor Grade" (Sept. 30).

The American Zoo & Aquarium Assn. officials made their site visit more than four months ago from May 18-21, less than six weeks after my appointment as the new zoo administrator. Even at that time the zoo had begun to move forward and show improvements. Some notable excerpts from the accreditation team's report include: "horticultural program is excellent"; "perimeter fence renewal is excellent"; "the collaborative California condor breeding/recovery program is a model and the zoo is to be commended for undertaking and maintaining it"; extremely professional security force"; "stunning collection of both plants and animals and progressive programs in public education, research and conservation"; "husbandry practices appear to be high standard; all specimens appear to be well-nourished and in excellent health."

Yes, there are issues that need to be addressed and that process is ongoing. Opportunities are available to all employees and volunteers to provide input as part of strengthening our internal communications. The City Council Committee on Zoo Improvements, headed by Council President John Ferraro, has committed an infusion of $8 million beyond our operating budget over the next three years to correct infrastructure, Cal-OSHA and USDA issues. A new gorilla holding and transfer area will be completed in January. We will break ground in 1996 for a state-of-the-art chimpanzee exhibit, the first phase of the Great Ape Forest.

The success of the Los Angeles Zoo requires the support of the people of Los Angeles and your newspaper. I ask that you profile the positive progress the zoo is making along with the challenges we face.

MANUEL A. MOLLINEDO

Los Angeles Zoo Administrator

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