I was astonished to learn from the zoo public relations officer that no one had contacted them about the hottest elephant story to hit the wires in quite some time. Not a single news source inquired at elephant headquarters for a quote, a view, or even a comment, on the article that ran this month in Science magazine and then was picked up by the worldwide press that zoo elephants don't live as long as their counterparts in the wild do. Their lives are, according to the info, up to 2/3 shorter than their wild brethern.
So whilst I was outlining my project to her and trying to set up some interviews with those in the know, I said, off-handedly, "I guess you must be flooded with calls about the elephant research that was just published." That's when she dropped the bomb that Roger Williams Park Zoo was apparently off the radar for any local news sources. And she appeared steamed.
"Those studies were based on 50 year old data from European zoos with outdated practices. We don't follow them any more. And they ignored the poaching factor." I could sympathise. I had read several news accounts that were forwarded to me by friends who ran across the info. I followed the hearings in LA about the controversial Asian elephant breeding program there. It seemed as though zoos were getting an unecessarily raw deal if the data was that skewed.
So I went to a few websites, and am hunting down the original to see what they really said.
In the meantime, I've been setting up interviews with more folks and getting a skeleton crew together for the project. I believe I have a shooter who will work for what I can afford to pay at this point, and a volunteer PA. Sweet. If we can work well together this will be the most satifying thing I've done yet.
More as life develops...