Unfortunately, a city committee, by a vote of 7 to 5, has recommended that the Traverse City Commission close the Clinch Park Zoo next year. If the City Commission accepts this recommendation, the children of the Traverse City region may never again see much of our northern Michigan wildlife. With increasing urbanization, our children are less likely to observe, in the woods, otters, beavers, cougars, lynx, bobcats, wolves, bears, elk, coyotes, and eagles. Without an opportunity to see wildlife, our children are unlikely to understand, love, and conserve these animals.
The seven members of the city committee who voted in favor of closing the zoo have no plans to relocate the zoo and have made no arrangements for the future care of the injured and orphaned animals that currently reside at the Clinch Park Zoo. Although their decision may have been based, in part, on financial considerations, the Clinch Park Zoo expenditures comprise only 3% of the Citys budget. Further, the recommendation ignores the economic impact that the zoo has for Traverse City. The city and downtown benefit greatly from the 110,000 visitors to the zoo every year. Also, 7,500 area school children tour the zoo annually and learn from the educational programs sponsored by northern Michigans only zoo.
City residents and visitors love the zoo and enjoy the spirit of Traverse City zoo train. Thats why the Clinch Park Zoo was voted The #1 place to take children in northwest Michigan (Record Eagle - Whats Up North Survey, May 24, 2002). In a recent telephone survey, only 1 % of city residents considered the zoo the single most important issue the City must address in the next year.
Save Our Zoo Now! Our children and the injured and orphaned animals of the Clinch Park Zoo need your help. Dont wait until the gates are closed forever.
Richard Griffin is a Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. He is a native of Traverse City and the past president of the 475-member Grand Traverse Zoological Society. Judge Griffin currently serves as a member of its Board of Directors.