Even If Zoos Are A Guantanamo For Animals, They Need High Admission Fees To Assure Quality
Last week I visited the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens.
Admission to the Cincinnati Zoo is higher than at my local Houston Zoo. The Cincinnati Zoo is $13.50 for adults and $8 for kids 2-12. In Houston it is $10 for adults and $5 for kids ages 2-11. In addition, it runs $6.50 to park on the grounds on the Cincinnati Zoo while all parking is free in Houston.
When I arrived in Houston in 1998, the zoo did not charge admission. That sent up a warning flag. The Cincinnati Zoo has long been recognized as one of the leading zoos in the country. I don’t know much about running a zoo—I know zero about running a zoo—but I’m sure it costs a lot of money.
My father said to me last week that zoos are ” A Guantanamo for animals.” That was a good line and has factual merit. But zoos are not going away and should have as a first concern good treatment of the animals.
Earlier this year, I visited the very large and well-known San Diego Zoo. Admission there was $33 for adults and $22 for children. If you want something decent, you have to pay.
During my recent Cincinnati Zoo visit, I could not help but notice the absence of a single black zoo patron. I’m sure some black folks did visit the zoo that day—it was a nice 70 degree day—But I did not see any.
While the Cincinnati Zoo is a regional attraction, Cincinnati is 50% black and the neighborhoods near the zoo are very black.
I see on the webpage of the Houston Zoo that students under the age of 19 who live in Houston city limits can go to the zoo for free on a school field trip. Cincinnati charges $5 for students.
The Cincinnati Zoo might have some progress to make on being more accessible to the local community.
As for Houston, I believe it should further raise admission and consider a schedule of discounted days for local residents. That is the only way it will become an institution worthy of such a large city.
As a kid, I was sometimes brought to the terrible Slater Park Zoo in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Here is an article about the mistreated Fanny the Elephant from that zoo. I recall that the Slater Park Zoo, now closed, was once featured on 60 Minutes in a segment about awful zoos.
The animal in the picture is an Okapi. These beasts are the only living relatives of the giraffe and live in central Africa. Please click here to learn more about this creature.