Blogging About Critters Since 2007

Monday, February 2, 2009

Calgary Zoo Feeling Economic Pressure

They had to cancel a big project that would have showcased polar bears and seals.

But don't feel too bad for them. Dr. Clement Lanthier, Calgary Zoo president and CEO (is this a corporation??) sounds like a real jerk.

Lanthier, a veterinarian and walrus researcher who took the helm in Calgary two years ago, says the cancellation of the polar bears exhibit might please some animal-rights extremists, but the reality is a blow to Canada's white bears.

"It's off the table until somebody comes to the zoo and says, I want this and I'm willing to pay," said Lanthier.

That will happen, says the vet who's spent the past 15 summers in the arctic, when polar bears reach a point where only captive breeding can save them from extinction -- a day that's on the horizon.

Lanthier doesn't hide his contempt for animal rights groups who lash out, without considering the role zoos play in conservation.

"They are people with opinions, but their credentials don't exist -- they're opinionated, but that's it," he said.

"We need to ask them, what have they done for research, conservation; what have they done for those animals?"

He's a staunch defender of Calgary's record, despite some well-publicized misfortune, such as the death of 41 stingrays and a baby elephant last year.

"One thing for sure -- all of the animals in the zoo will die eventually," said Lanthier.

"We have to recognize they don't live forever."

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