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As We See It

Is the Las Vegas zoo better than no zoo at all?

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OSHA recently imposed more than $13,000 of fines against the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park.
Photo: Leila Navidi

It’s telling that more than a week after OSHA imposed fines of more than $13,000 against the Southern Nevada Zoological-Botanical Park, there hasn’t been a big outpouring of support. After all, given the zoo’s shoestring budget and nonprofit status, this fine—which arose over old wiring, safeguards in the reptile house and concerns over staff safety in the monkey enclosure—could literally cripple and close the facility, which draws roughly 40,000 visitors every year. If, say, the San Diego Zoo was in trouble, you’d have to assume the outcry would be deafening. So why the silence here? Could it be an unspoken show of support to animals in captivity? Or is it just our zoo, which Humane Society spokeswoman Lisa Wathne called “a depressing and a sad place and an embarrassment to the city of Las Vegas”? It can’t be helping matters that many animal lovers still remember when one of the zoo’s lions had to be euthanized in 2009 after eating part of a rubber football thrown into the enclosure. Perhaps the most important question to ask at this point is whether Las Vegas is better off having no zoo than the zoo it has now. Unless people start showing some support, that question could be answered soon.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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