Dyer Straits: Or, When a City Council Member Doesn't Trust the City

Angela Hunt

I know, right? On Wednesday, Paul Dyer, director of the Dallas Park and Recreation Department, handed down his decree that Jenny the elephant is to remain in Dallas after all. No doubt you figured, "Well, that is that," for better or worse. Only, not so fast.

Not only are the Concerned Citizens for Jenny vowing they're going to continue on now -- "We remain determined to fight for Jenny and make sure she gets to The Elephant Sanctuary and soon," noted Margaret Morin in an e-mail to Unfair Park yesterday -- but council member Angela Hunt is also plenty peeved with Dyer's decision. Hunt's lengthy response to Wednesday's decision follows after the jump. --Robert Wilonsky

From Angela Hunt:

By its own admision, the Dallas Zoo's cage for Jenny is too small. So they're going to bring in another elephant to share this small space?

The Zoo director claims they'll build her a new, large exhibit in just 18 months. That's more than unrealistic. It's just not true.

In the three years I have been on the council, I've watched as construction project after construction project is delayed for one reason or another, often for years (Downtown parks, Santa Fe Trail, Trinity project, Katy Trail extension north, etc., etc.). The city is incapable of meeting its own deadlines for construction. And eighteen months to find an architect, design, bid out the construction contract, build, and finish out a huge zoo habitat is naively unrealistic at best, purposely misleading at worst.

Jenny's old. She's 32. According to the zoo association, elephants in zoos generally live 35 years. She'll spend her final years in a small cage, waiting for her new exhibit to be built as its construction is delayed for several years. She'll continue to be tranquilized for weeks at a time when she self-mutilates or attacks her new elephant companion (as her medical history indicates she will do).

Instead, she could be roaming 300 acres of Tennessee countryside.

Having placed Dallas under national scrutiny by deciding to send our remaining elephant to a drive-though Mexican zoo, Zoo director Gregg Hudson is now desperate for a mulligan. He's trying to undo an embarrassing breach of judgment, only to make another. He didn't want to piss off the zoo's trade association that wants its members to exchange animals only with other members. Then he saw the national outcry from those who objected to sending her to Mexico when she could go to a huge sanctuary in the U.S. Now, he's copping out by choosing neither, a non-decision that does nothing to help Jenny.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky