Friday, February 10, 2006

Scummy Officials and Slimy Lawyer for Rosamond Gifford Zoo Try to Weasel out of Fine for Killing 4-Day-Old Baby Elephant Kedar:

By Miracle, the USDA Rejects their Requests.

Read this quote:

“The Syracuse zoo wanted to use the money for a construction project to make its elephant yard safer for a new baby elephant due in late spring.”

Funny, it’s only after they’re fined does the zoo want to make the changes that led to the death on Aug. 4, of Kedar, a 4-day-old male Asian elephant. Kedar fell into a pool and later died that day from a twisted intestinal tract.

According to the article, “…[t]he condition existed for 14 years, but had never been cited during annual federal inspections…

And, “[t]he zoo was cited in November for failing to have barriers that would have prevented Kedar from entering the pool.

“By agreeing to the civil penalty, the county-owned zoo will not have to admit to two violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act related to the death of a baby elephant.”

So now they can’t even just admit their lack of caring and cheapness and just pay a fine. $10,765 is nothing compared to the pain the 4 day-old elephant endured. What a short painful existence Kedar had.

And then they have their slick lawyer try to get out of it.

Now I ask you – should they (or zoos in general) have elephants when it’s jacks like these who are responsible for them?

USDA rejects zoo's proposal for fine Thursday, February 09, 2006

By Mark Weiner

Staff writer

Federal officials have rejected the Rosamond Gifford Zoo's request to redirect a $10,000 fine the zoo must pay for violations related to last year's death of a baby elephant.

The Syracuse zoo wanted to use the money for a construction project to make its elephant yard safer for a new baby elephant due in late spring.

In a letter to Rep. James Walsh, the administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service insisted the fine is "fair and appropriate" and that it be paid as soon as possible.

The $10,765 from Onondaga County taxpayers will go into the U.S. Treasury's general fund to support President Bush's proposed $2.77 trillion federal budget, a USDA official said.

If the county decides to challenge the fine in court, the zoo could face more severe consequences, USDA-APHIS Administrator W. Ron DeHaven wrote

in his letter to Walsh.

DeHaven wrote, "We wish to emphasize that the stipulation agreement represents our offer to resolve this case without incurring the time and expense involved with formally pursuing enforcement action through the administrative law process."

County Attorney Anthony Rivizzigno said the federal agency left him with few choices.

"Unfortunately, we're going to pay the fine," Rivizzigno said Wednesday. "We're disappointed we can't use the money to make some enhancements to the zoo exhibit. This has been dragging on for a long time. It doesn't look like it's going to go anywhere. So it's time to put it behind us."

Dan Gage, Walsh's spokesman, said the congressman has few options left. "We're disappointed in the decision," Gage said. "We would rather have the money forwarded into an account that would be used to upgrade the facility."

By agreeing to the civil penalty, the county-owned zoo will not have to admit to two violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act related to the death of a baby elephant.

On Aug. 4, Kedar, a 4-day-old male Asian elephant, fell into a pool and later died that day from a twisted intestinal tract.

The zoo was cited in November for failing to have barriers that would have prevented Kedar from entering the pool. The condition existed for 14 years, but had never been cited during annual federal inspections.

If the zoo refused to accept the penalty, the USDA said it could seek higher civil or criminal penalties for each violation.

The maximum penalty is $2,750 per count, per animal, per day for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.

"Sure, it's heavy-handed," Rivizzigno said of the USDA's policy. "That's how they get people to settle these cases."

Rivizzigno said he expects to have a check ready to send to the agency today, but first he will attempt one more appeal in a phone call to a USDA-APHIS deputy administrator.

© 2006 The Post-Standard. Used with permission.

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