The Zoo has a New Elephant, So Can Jenny Retire?

Remember Jenny?: Give Margaret Morin credit for perseverance. For nearly a year, the leader of Concerned Citizens for Jenny has lobbied, cajoled and pleaded with city leaders to send Jenny—until last week the Dallas Zoo's only elephant—to a sanctuary in Tennessee. In that time, she says, she's learned just how responsive city council members are to their constituents—and she's still not giving up. In fact, she retains hope that Jenny may spend her golden years in Tennessee.

Wow...months of dealing with Dallas municipal government, and her soul hasn't been reduced to blackened ashes of despair. Buzz has got to get some of whatever meds she's using.

"I found over the course of the past year the Dallas City Council doesn't listen to citizens. They're blind and deaf," Morin told Buzz on Tuesday, when we checked in with her to see how the Jenny campaign was faring after the council last week approved $13.5 million to construct the first part of the zoo's planned African savanna exhibit and the zoo announced the arrival of a new elephant.

That took nearly a year? We'd accuse her of being naïve or a really slow learner, but, heck, even Buzz is sometimes surprised by City Hall's capacity for obdurate obtuseness. (It's true! Why, we nearly spit out our morning beer as we read this Sunday's Dallas Morning News. "Had [Hurricane] Katrina not happened, they would have been visiting us again and telling us everything is OK," council member Ron Natinsky said in response to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' "holy freakin' shit" report about the state of the city's levee system.)

So let's not be too hard on Morin for her own shock at the council's response to the retire Jenny effort. ("They just talk and talk, and they say nothing," she says.)

Instead, let's admire her for her recent efforts to meet with a dozen or so council candidates and incumbents in the past weeks. She and her group aren't endorsing anyone. She just wants them to remember Jenny, an emotionally troubled, sentient beast who has had what can fairly be described as a tough life.

Who knows? Maybe she's right to hope. For instance, a reasonable person could suggest that now that the zoo has a new elephant and is readying a new exhibit, its managers might at least consider letting Jenny enter a peaceful retirement in Tennessee. She's done her duty. The zoo will still have elephants. Can't we let Jenny go now?

Hah. Just kidding. "Reasonable." That's a good one. —Patrick Williams

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

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