The financially struggling city will seek proposals early next year for a private entity to take over Santa Ana Zoo operations,” according to the O.C. Register.
Sooner or later the City of Santa Ana is going to have to cut the Santa Ana Zoo loose. “There seems to be consensus that the city-owned zoo should be privatized. But very much in play has been who would run it: The Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo (which made its public pitch last year), the Discovery Science Center (the subject of recent rumor), or some third entity,” according to Frank Mickadeit over at the O.C. Register.
Santa Ana Mayor Pro Tem Claudia Alvarez sided with the Friends of the Zoo, in her public comments at a Santa Ana City Council Meeting a few weeks ago. I am told that Council Member Vince Sarmiento is the one who is trying to hand off the Zoo to the Discovery Science Center, which is in the midst of a planned major expansion.
But here’s the rub – look at the Board of Directors at each of these organizations and you will find a glaring omission – Latinos and other minorities. That is inexcusable in a City, Santa Ana, that is overwhelmingly Latino.
Click here to check out the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo’s Board of Directors. Their board includes one Latino and one guy who appears to be Asian.
Click here to check out the Discovery Science Center’s Board of Directors. They appear to have a few Asian and Middle Eastern members but only one obvious Latino – Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido.
Here’s the worst thing about the Discovery Science Center. They offer Santa Ana residents a free day once a month – on a Tuesday, when most folks work, and the Discovery Science Center closes at 5 pm. Remember that the City of Santa Ana gave them the land they sit on via redevelopment. How their Board of Directors can stick it to the people of Santa Ana is simply mind-boggling. I have complained directly to their Board of Directors and have been totally ignored.
I have it on good authority that this stupid Tuesday free day policy is going to trip up the Discovery Science Center when they go talk to our friends on the Santa Ana Planning Commission. Let’s see how the Discovery Science Center’s administrators explain this policy when they get called on the mat!
I used to have the same problem with the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo, but the City of Santa Ana intervened and moved the Zoo’s free day to a Sunday – now working people in our city can enjoy the Zoo for free once a month, on a day they actually have off from work.
I agree that the City of Santa Ana needs to spin off the Santa Ana Zoo, but it should not be handed to organizations that lack diversity and are insensitive to the needs of our residents. We can and should explore other options, such as combining our Zoo with the Orange County Zoo into one Zoo Authority. While the Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo have continued to raise admission prices year after year (current admission is ten bucks), you can still visit the Orange County Zoo, at Irvine Park for two bucks. Now that’s a good deal!
There have also been inquiries from organizations such as the Environmental Nature Center in Newport Beach, and Birds and Beast Inc., in Las Vegas, according to Santa Ana Parks and Recreation Agency Director Gerardo Mouet.