The head of Miller Park Zoo said the zoo has received plenty of hate mail over the recent death of a flamingo at the hands of a child who hit it with a rock.
Bloomington Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts Director Jay Tetzloff said the incident appears to have been an accident, with little the zoo could have done to stop it. But he said that didn't stop the anger from many who read about it on social media.
“It was everything from, ‘We shouldn’t have a zoo,’ to ‘It’s your job to take care of the animals,’ ‘The kid should be dealt with’ and ‘This was no accident’ and probably everything in between," he explained.
Tetzloff said he heard from more than 60 news organizations worldwide wanting comment on the flamingo death. He added zoo staff responded to those requests with a brief, two-sentence response confirming what had happened and refused interviews in the immediate aftermath in hopes the story would go away and not cause additional stress on the zoo or the family.
“I really did want this to go away, not wanting to be known for (this),” He said. “I want us to be known for our great alligator exhibit we just built or the Pallas cat kittens we just had born, something like that, not of an incident where we lost a bird.”
Miller Park Zoo is taking steps to limit children being unsupervised on zoo grounds after the incident.
Tetzloff said the zoo will require anyone age 12 and under be accompanied by an adult.
“If you are paying the child admission fee ($4.95), then you can’t come in by yourself, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “If we are saying a 12-year-old is an adult because that’s how we charge them, then 12-year-olds can be responsible for themselves, but below that you have to come in with an adult.”
Miller Park Zoo’s website lists adults as ages 13 and up.
Tetzloff added he doesn't believe there's anymore more the zoo can do to prevent accidents in the future, saying the close proximity patrons have with the animals is part of the zoo's unique character.
O’Neil Pool’s Future
Bloomington's O'Neil Pool has opened for a 45th season, and the city officials say they don't know how much longer it can last.
They've asked legislators for funding through the new $45 billion capital bill to replace it with an aquatic center.
Tetzloff said replacing O'Neil Pool would be critical for the west side, where residents have fewer recreational outlets.
“I think it’s going to be hard for a police chief – and we are going to have a new one here in the future, to say that having no pool (there) would be a good thing for his department,” he said. “I definitely believe having the kids something to do and keeping them busy is always a positive no matter what neighborhood they are in.”
City officials have estimated an aquatic center would cost about $10 million. Bloomington’s four new city council members have said they consider such a project to be a funding priority.
Tetzloff said such a facility could serve as an economic driver.
“I think it’s an opportunity to revitalize that part of Bloomington,” he maintained. “Yes, some people say it’s just a pool. I think there’s more to it.”
The city is also looking for funds for the final Hamilton Road extension and other infrastructure projects.
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