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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Who's zoo-min who?

Five days into the great Put a Gun to the Lion's Head saga, Zoo New England boss John Linehan boss finally surfaced to insist he really didn't mean to cause such an uproar.

And he has a point.

While I and others have been pretty harsh in noting this isn't the first time zoo officials have pulled this publicity stunt to get the Legislature to cough up more dough for the operation, this entire fiasco need not have happened.

All that would have been required is for the Globe reporters and editors to check the clips to find the pattern of serial sensationalism that has passed for legislative relations by the organization.

Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us three times?

Meanwhile, it appears some level of sanity is returning to Beacon Hill, where lawmakers may be spared the embarrassment of putting the lives of animals ahead of people. While Gov. Deval Patrick is ordering zoo officials to take another look at their options, override fever is subsiding in the House.

“A lot of people generally feel that we’d like to see the funding go to the zoos; they’re important,’’ said state Representative Martin Walsh, a Dorchester Democrat. “However, doing that at the expense of these other programs - it could be a very difficult vote for folks. If a choice comes between voting to fund the zoo or funding people with mental illnesses, I’m going with people with mental illness.’’

There are a lot of lessons to be learned. One of the big ones is that organizations representing people as well as animals make rather large claims about the impact of budget cuts. Reporters and editors should do some basic work, like checking the clips and talking to other people, to verify them. Even on a Friday afternoon in the summer.

If they had, this story would not have been so ridiculously overblown.

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Blogger Americas Best Zoos author said...

A great cultured city like Boston NEEDS a good zoo! I've been to the Franklin Park Zoo a couple times and it's worth saving. Gov. Patrick had better make sure this zoo survives, or he deserves the electoral consequences.

Allen Nyhuis, Coauthor: America's Best Zoos

July 18, 2009 2:48 PM  

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