Zoo Speak: Dr. Doolittle is alive at Elk Grove City Hall, but how much is that doggie chimpanzee in the window?




By D.J. Blutarsky | Guest Commentary | 

The Sacramento, or Elk Grove Zoo has been in the region's news a lot lately. Just this past week, the Sacramento City Council received a report of possible new sites for the zoo's relocation. Meanwhile, the City of Elk Grove has been quietly negotiating a deal of its own to relocate the zoo to its borders as well. I say quietly negotiating, but in reality, the City's PR machine has been dishing out hype like stampeding buffalos! 

What struck me as most significant during the Sacramento City Council's discussion was not the timely resurgence of their supposed interest in keeping the zoo, but the admission that the inventory of animals is owned by the City of Sacramento. So, when Elk Grove Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen told a local television station last week that it was "all about the animals", it turns out she was absolutely right.  

With Mayor Singh-Allen serving as the City's Dr. Doolittle spokesperson, we now know that every last peacock, flamingo, monkey, and snake has a price on its head, and the City of Sacramento's staged effort to keep the zoo just drove the price up for Elk Grove taxpayers. I wish I could say that Elk Grove has a brilliant track record in negotiating deals, but it is simply not true. Does anyone honestly believe that Costco would not have come to Elk Grove if they didn't receive their 20-year tax break from the City? 

So now the zoo is knocking on our door and If you go to the zoo's website www.saczoo.org/animals, they boast that they have "nearly 500 native, rare and endangered species". While the "donate now" popups also permeate the web site, let's not kid ourselves,  the Sacramento City Council wants to be paid up. If the animals are like real estate, each furry critter will have a net present value, plus future earning value as well.

I think anyone who has observed the Elk Grove City Council for any length of time knows that when the hype precedes the deal, we are gonna pay and pay dearly. Even if the zoo were to simply move to Elk Grove on free land the taxpayers provide to them and keep the same number of animals--the zoo is a money loser, plain and simple. City leaders might talk up the multiplier effect and blah, blah, blah, but even in the desirable Land Park area, the zoo is a money loser.

Our very own Dr. Doolittle and her band of swashbuckling negotiators just might want to get a second opinion on this deal, but at least she should talk to the animals and ask them what they are worth! After all,

"If I could talk to the animals, just imagine it
Chatting to a chimp in chimpanzee
Imagine talking with a tiger, chatting to a cheetah
What a neat achievement that would be"  

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3 comments

Renegade said...

DJ is right. A zoo is a money pit. After construction of habitats; freezers for polar bears and penguins, large grown foliage and trees for shade and food for the herbivores like deer, giraffes and buffalo, which will be at incredible costs, the maintenance bills will continue to drain the city coffers or alternatively / concurrently, EG taxpayers wallets. Those Mello Roos, they are a 'comin.

Let's not forget the food and vet bills that go along with maintaining multitudes of exotic animals. Costs: astronomical. Even if every patron pays $40 to enter the zoo, buys a $40 t-shirt or cap, buys a $8 soda and a $12 hot dog, costs won't be met unless the public is drawn to this facility like it was Disneyland. Is that mouse available to act as our EG Zoo mascot?
If not, this endeavor will not be close to income neutral.

It's just another pipe dream. Remember the soccer / sports fields Gary Davis promised our kids? We couldn't afford that. But we can afford a zoo? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice.....

Randy Bekker said...

I have read all the negative commentary zoo articles but like Costco we gave up tax dollars to get a Costco. Now do we know how much money a zoo will bring to Elk Grove? Surrounding businesses, new businesses? Because even though we gave up tax revenue to get Costco have you seen the amount of businesses that have been built an plans for businesses to be built around Costco. Not everything is always so negative when you look at the entire picture besides just focusing on a little portion of the picture.

Capt. Benjamin Willard said...

No bucks, no Buck Rogers!

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