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Animal Health Center at Zoo

March 23, 1997

Re "Protests Stall Expansion of Zoo Medical Facilities," March 7:

The story refers to the Mineral Wells area proposed for the new animal health center as a "popular slice of Griffith Park." It actually is a rather remote area, and one of the less popular and underused picnic sites in Griffith Park. Only eight of 23 acres in Mineral Wells are under study for possible use for the animal health center, and the zoo expansion will not interfere with the hiking and equestrian trails. I have met with Griffith Park Sierra Club members and equestrians and have attempted to work closely with them, but thus far they have been very closed-minded.

The Los Angeles Zoo was reaccredited for five years by the American Zoo & Aquarium Assn. last September. This milestone was covered extensively by The Times. Although concerns were expressed by AZA regarding the possibility of the zoo not being reaccredited if corrective measures were not taken, the zoo staff was able to successfully close ranks and work together with the single-minded purpose of being reaccredited. I would like to emphasize that at no time did the zoo lose its accreditation.

The Los Angeles Zoo is presently managed by the Recreation and Parks Department, although plans are being finalized for the zoo to become a separate city department in 1997.

The Los Angeles Zoo has assembled a group of the finest veterinarians in the country under the leadership of Dr. Charles Sedgwick. These individuals, assisted by two consulting oncology surgeons, worked in a poorly designed, outdated health center to save the life of our silverback gorilla, Caesar. More emphasis should have been placed on praising them for their lifesaving, heroic achievement.

MANUEL A. MOLLINEDO

L.A. Zoo Director

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