New Dallas Zoo exhibit embroiled in controversy over use of slogan

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by SHON GABLES

WFAA

Posted on May 28, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Updated Saturday, May 29 at 12:37 PM

DALLAS - The biggest addition at the Dallas Zoo in 20 years is now open to the public.

Already the new Giants of the Savanna exhibit is renewing a giant controversy.

The new $30-million exhibit opened to the public on Friday and it took no time for criticism to arrive, this time, from a continent away.

It's a war of words, pitting the Dallas Zoo against a world-renowned elephant expert, based in Norway.

Dr. Joyce Poole accuses the Dallas Zoo of outright thievery.

She says the zoo took her self-made slogan, 'let elephants be elephants,' made it its own, along with a new interpretation.

"So and so says 'we're gonna let the elephants be elephants,'" said Poole.

"That's the phrase I always use when I talk about what's wrong with elephants in zoos, that they're not allowed to be elephants and we have to let them be," she added.

"We don't know if it there's a patent or copyright, but if there is, we'll address that," said Sean Greene, Dallas Zoo deputy director of education.

Greene says the slogan is used to increase awareness of its new Giants of Savannah exhibit, where 5 acres of land is dedicated solely to its six elephants.

Dr. Poole found something wrong with that too.

"Yes of course 4, 5 or 6 acres is much better than a quarter of an acre but it's not the same as letting elephants be elephants. Then you need more space than that," Poole said.

"Is it the wild? No, we're not saying it's the wild. What we're doing, we're creating an environment for our general public, for the people of Dallas, who have very generously given million and millions of dollars to recreate this here and to throw that in their face, is actually an insult," said Dallas Zoo elephant expert, Alan Roocroft.

It's a controversy as big as the elephants themselves.

E-mail: sgables@wfaa.com

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