Ron Kagan, Director and CEO of the Detroit Zoo

Ron Kagan, who’s been Director of the Detroit Zoo for nearly 20 years, and whose career working for zoos has spanned 35 years–discusses the philosophy behind functioning as something of an iconoclast in the zoo industry, including how he arrived at the decision (with input from the community, among others) that it was no longer right or reasonable to continue displaying elephants at the Detroit Zoo, closed down the exhibit, and sent those elephants to the 2300-acre PAWS sanctuary in San Andreas, CA. 

 

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He also touches on an overlapping situation currently under way with the Toronto Zoo deciding to no longer exhibit elephants. Ron also responds to an e-mail we received that day from Sherry Silk, Executive Director of the Humane Society Tampa Bay, but who spent much of her career as Operations Manager for the Michigan Humane Society in Detroit–recounting how Ron allowed the Humane Society to hold adoptions in the Zoo parking lot, which became the biggest off-site adoption events in the country (750-800 animals adopted in a weekend), and praising Kagan for his “very progressive” thinking…and he notes how this is an example of his view that the care and treatment of all animals exists on a continuum, rather than more segmented camps of pets, zoo animals and other captive animals, wild animals, etc. He also opines that a significant issue currently facing zoos and zoos directors involves more closely examining climate and weather in deciding what animals to display, and not display, at a given zoo. (www.DetroitZoo.org)

ALSO: We spoke with Andrew Grantham, the man and voices behind the “Ultimate Dog Tease” video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGeKSiCQkPw), the viral sensation that racked up about 25 million hits on YouTube in the first two weeks after it was posted. Andrew–the Talking Animals Guy on “Talking Animals”!–discusses how he makes his videos, including “Ultimate Dog Tease”–and how people can buy related merchandise, with all proceeds going to the Nova Scotia SPCA (talkinganimals.spreadshirt.com)–and what’s next for him professionally. (www.YouTube.com/TalkingAnimals)

COMEDY CORNER: Jerry Seinfeld’s “Horses” (snippet) (www.JerrySeinfeld.com)

MUSIC:The Beastie Boys’ “Funky Donkey,” Flat Earth Society’s “Mutt,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Simon & Garfunkel’s “At The Zoo”

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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