Sun. May 26th, 2024

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.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

9 thoughts on “The Santa Ana Zoo shouldn’t be handed to organizations that lack diversity”
  1. There’s an old saying, you get what you pay for holds true here. The Santa Ana Zoo is heads over the O C Zoo and worth the ten dollars, especially considering what larger Zoos charge nowadays.

    Clearly, Discovery is trying to tie natural science to zoology which doesn’t really connect. The Friends, on the other hand, have had an intimate relationship that goes back for years. If I had to choose, Friends of Santa Ana Zoo us the clear choice over other entities, known or unknown.

    Diversity isn’t as important as the ability to manage the Zoo for the benefit of the community. But, it is interesting that there are not more latinos on the board in a city that is predominantly hispanic.

  2. The Zoo doesn’t have many employees.

    But there is a large number of volunteers, and most of them are non Latino and many are from outside the city of Santa Ana.

    So what is you great idea? How are you going to get the Latinos to work for free?

    1. There are PLENTY of non-profits in town with Latinos on their boards. It is obvious the Friends of the Zoo aren’t even trying to diversify themselves.

        1. If you have to ask then it is obvious you have no sincere interest in this, just as the Friends obviously don’t want to diversify their board.

          Here’s the problem – now this topic is out and open for discussion. Let’s see what the City Council makes of it as they consider who to spin the Zoo off to.

  3. You can always cough up the few thousand dollars to join as a full member.

    Even tho the Zoo has free days, the zoo is not free of costs.

    Being on a board like FOSAZ, requires work ande some people are not into that kind of effort.

    1. The Zoo’s endless expansions are the problem. This was a fine zoo for little kids. This board has spent years trying to turn it into something else.

      And refusing to embrace diversity on their board under these circumstances is ridiculous. If these people can’t figure this out then they need to go.

  4. refusing to embrace diversity ….

    Where is the beef?

    Most of these type of org. grow there own replacements and from the stock of people coming up from the ranks most are Latinos and from Santa Ana.

    1. That is not evident when you look at their board now. Somehow we found qualified Latinos to serve on our City Council but we can’t find Latinos to serve on the Friends of the Zoo Board? What message do you think that sends?

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