Appealing to Dallas' Wallet, Lily Tomlin Keeps Trying to Move Jenny the Elephant


Never forget: Give actress and comedienne Lily Tomlin some credit. She's coming to understand that the best way to reach Dallas' heart is through its wallet.

Tomlin last year took up the cause of Jenny the psychologically scarred elephant at the Dallas Zoo, joining in a communitywide effort to have her—the elephant, not Tomlin—relocated to a sanctuary in Tennessee. The zoo did eventually drop its plan to ship Jenny to a wildlife park in Mexico, but Jenny fans still haven't given up on landing Jenny a home in Tennessee.

"In today's hard times, one must question the economic sense of keeping Jenny at the Dallas Zoo, when she could retire at no cost to the city to the peace and safety of the sanctuary," Tomlin wrote in a post to the "Women on the Web" site this week. "It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars annually to just maintain a single elephant in a zoo. The City of Dallas plans to spend $30 million alone to build a controversial 3.75 elephant exhibit to house up to five elephants...And, all the while, thousands of people in Dallas are losing their jobs and homes, causing the tax base to inevitably shrink."

Hey, when budgets get tight, the family pet often is the first to go. Why Buzz's own mother shipped his two childhood pets—a dog and a cat—off to "live on a farm" when we faced some hefty vet bills. So that's...wait a minute. Why are you rolling you eyes? And why are there quotation marks around the words "live on a farm"? What? No way! Mom said Sam and Midnight went to live happily on "a farm," so THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED! SHUT UP!

Ahem. So, now Tomlin is raising the economics argument, which might backfire because A) people worried about losing their homes don't have a lot of energy left to spare for an elephant and B) let's be practical—Jenny represents a lot of meat. In any case, Jenny isn't going anywhere. A zoo representative told Buzz that the exhibit expansion is continuing on a fast track and that Jenny, and at least one companion, will be part of it.

But Tomlin isn't relying solely on hard times. She also urged supporters "to bring Jenny up to the candidates running in opposition to incumbents in the May 2009 City Council election." Silly Lily. She may understand Dallas' attachment to money, but she still doesn't get how our politics works. First rule: Elected officials never, ever listen to voters. Second rule: If they ever say Jenny's going to "live on a farm," be very afraid.

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams