Dallas Observer Online -- dallasobserver.com | news

What a Gas
Warm and fuzzy: OK. I get it. You can take your child to the Dallas Zoo ("Chick Fillet," February 15) and give them the warm and fuzzy feeling of touching, holding, and interacting with a sweet baby chick. Then you can return in a few days and attend the scheduled feedings to observe the gassed, dead baby chicks being fed to a larger animal.

Now that's entertainment!

Shame on you, Dallas Zoo. Have you no compassion? How do you sleep at night?

K.O. Olds
Fort Worth

Total waste of life: While it is true there is a food chain, and some larger animals eat smaller ones, it seems wrong that baby animals from the petting zoo wind up becoming someone's dinner. And it is totally revolting that sometimes they are killed, frozen, and then thrown out in the garbage. What a total waste of a life.

This must be very upsetting to zoo personnel who, likely, love animals. Or to children who come back to the zoo, asking what became of a certain chick.

Furthermore, if the animals are offered a home by someone who will rescue them, why shouldn't they receive this sanctuary? After all, the zoo has already benefited by having had the animals in the petting zoo.

You mention that the program may be expanded to yet more animals. I hope not. I hope the community will see to it that the "gas chamber" isn't meant to accommodate even more helpless victims.

Carla Kallan
Los Angeles

Ugly reality of death: Welcome once again to the Dallas Hall of Shame. My family stopped going to zoos years ago because of the inherent cruelty involved in caging animals that should be roaming free. Now, we have a petting zoo charming little children and their parents into thinking that animals mean something--allowing parents to talk to their children about the miracle of birth and babies and yet, behind the scenes, is the ugly reality of death.

I understand that the zoo intends to expand the program to include rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and rats. I certainly hope that in the petting zoo they will put up a sign that says, "Love them today because tomorrow they die." We at the North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary are appalled at this deception being perpetrated by the zoo. Of course they don't want to talk about killing the babies in the "gas chamber." Putting an animal to sleep means that they will never wake up, and the gas chamber is not a nice death; they fight and struggle before they succumb.

The Dallas Petting Zoo is deceiving the public, and I know that parents and kids would not want to know that the babies they are enjoying today will be murdered tomorrow.

Barbara Yule
President, North Texas Rabbit Sanctuary

The zoo lies: Thank you for exposing the dangerous hypocrisy of Dallas' Lacerte Family Children's Zoo in endearing baby chicks to children, gassing the chicks to death, and whitewashing the practice to the children they exploit along with the animals in cages.

The "food chain" and "food animals" are social fictions often used to rationalize cruelty. The zoo deceives by promoting such notions. Like human beings, chicks and their elders are intelligent beings with a desire to live.

With plant foods available year-round, people need to eat chickens like dogs need to eat bowling balls. Supporting the chicken industry has harmed human health and the environment while entrenching a horrendously cruel industry. The chicken industry painfully cuts off young birds' beaks, often causing death. It suffocates to death each year millions of male chicks unfortunate enough to hatch into the egg industry. It crams six laying hens into such small cages that they can barely move, let alone spread their wings, exercise, or interact with each other as is natural for them. Not to mention causing terrible suffering by shipping live chicks through the mail to zoos and elsewhere--and more.

So, in seeking to excuse its death-camp practices by reference to "food animals," the zoo only digs itself in deeper. Nor are the killings of chicks and planned killings of many other animals justified due to "zoo animals'" need for food. There is no such thing as a zoo animal any more than a food animal.

David J. Cantor
Glenside, Pennsylvania

If they only knew: I cannot believe that Larry Lacerte and his wife will be happy to learn that their funds will be used for a petting zoo that could advertise with the slogan, "Pet these animals today before they are killed tomorrow." The zoo has reached a new level of greed by deciding to add this "display and pet" stage to its killing process. The philosophy is, "As long as we are going to kill innocent animals, let's make some money on it up-front."

The zoo is not educating the children about nature. It is not even being honest with the children about the inhumane practices of the zoo. If it was, personnel would be instructed to tell the children that the animals they are petting will be slaughtered the next day or week. The real purpose of the petting zoo is to wring every drop of revenue-raising potential out of these young animals before slaughtering them.

I not only plan to contact Larry Lacerte personally and inform my clients who donate to the Dallas Zoo of this horrendous practice, but I will also personally join the protests that most certainly will take place at the zoo.

Cathy Kelly

All God's Creatures

Lost and empty society: After reading your article "Chick Fillet" (February 15), I could only sit here in despair. In the last few months there have been so many articles and radio and TV shows showing abuse of animals that I am beginning to lose hope that we can ever become a civilized society. The example we are showing the youth of this country is going to come back to haunt us. There is no respect, much less feeling, for animals, and it is extended in many cases to human beings.

Without respect for the life and feelings of God's creatures we are a lost and empty society. You must be held responsible by publishing this and with no reprimand to the zoo. We have all been brought up to believe zoos liked animals, but alas, they too have become entertainment centers for society. A wise woman once said, "Animals and children have no voice nor choice." I hope you will let these words stir your heart and those of your readers and that you would become the voice of these animals.

June H. Booth
Slidell, Louisiana

Hiding behind the children: I can understand the necessity of using chicks, rabbits, mice, rats, guinea pigs, and quail as food sources for other zoo animals. What I can't understand is exploiting their cuteness and making them temporary pets without truthfully informing zoo visitors or, at the very least, the junior zookeepers. Deputy Zoo Director Chuck Siegel says, "If they [zoo visitors] ask, we are going to be giving them an honest, natural point of view." To my mind, this equals yet another instance of the City of Dallas' standard operating policy, "If they don't ask, we won't tell." It seems cowardly of the zoo's administration to expect a junior zookeeper, who is only 11-13 years old, to explain to a zoo visitor what lies ahead for the bunny or chick they're petting.

If the zoo isn't ashamed of this policy, then they should be honest with the public and post it on a sign in the Lacerte Children's Zoo, explaining the baby-petting program from beginning to end.

What about teaching kids the responsibility of caring for a pet and not getting rid of an animal when it's no longer a cute baby? Now that's an educational project with a positive impact!

I'm surprised the Lacerte family would want their name on a second-class facility that won't responsibly educate the public and promotes the exploitation of baby animals.

Patricia Melton

Eat more vegetables: The "Chick Fillet" article gives all the more reason for one to become a vegetarian. It is so true that so much of what we consume daily is placed on our plates as a result of the slaughter of other living creatures who experience fear and pain.

Becoming a vegetarian will not solve all of our moral dilemmas, but it is a good first step.

Allan A. Saxe

Letters policy

Letters to the Editor can be sent via e-mail or form. Good, old-fashioned handwritten letters should be addressed to Editor, Dallas Observer, P.O. Box 190289, Dallas 75219.

Shorter letters (300 words or less) are more likely to be printed. Dallas Observer also reserves the right to edit letters for reasons of grammar, clarity, and space. Letters must be signed with the writer's actual name, although the name may be withheld from print on request. Letters must be accompanied by a daytime phone number.

You are also invited to participate in our discussion groups.