Letters To The Editor


November 19, 2003

Elephants need to roam freely in natural places

I'm afraid that the author of the City Diary column who lamented the huge void that will be left at the Baltimore Zoo by the departure of its elephants ignores many basic aspects of the miserable life that elephants lead in captivity ("Elephants' departure to leave huge void," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 12).

Elephants in captivity die, on average, 20 years short of their expected life span in the wild. Neither African nor Asian elephants breed well in captivity, which means putting elephants in zoos results in a smaller population in the wild and a diminishing number of elephants in captivity.

Elephants in the wild live in large, matriarchal herds that travel vast distances each day. A dramatically different, restricted life awaits the elephants in a zoo.

And there is no conclusive evidence to show that seeing an elephant in a zoo has any educational value whatsoever. In fact, if children learn anything by seeing an elephant in captivity, it is the misinformation that elephants are no more than showpieces for public amusement, rather than vital components of their native ecosystems with individual personalities, feelings and emotions.

Elephants belong in the wild, not in the artificial enclosures that dot the American landscape.

Adam M. Roberts


The writer is vice president of Born Free USA.

Buoyed by support for Baltimore Zoo

Two weeks ago, I was embarrassed to be a Marylander. More specifically, I was embarrassed to be a Baltimorean ("Elephants' departure to leave huge void," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 12).

As an employee of the Baltimore Zoo, I was devastated that many of my fellow employees, including my assistant, were losing their jobs. I felt helpless that 400 animals were scheduled to go to other facilities and zoos. I worried about losing my job.

But mostly, I was disappointed in my fellow Marylanders for allowing this to happen.

How could this happen in Baltimore? I have spent four decades in this city and have always been proud to say that I live here. Everyone says they love the zoo, so how did we get to this ignominious situation?

But as I shared my concerns, I noticed a change in the people I talked to. Each person seemed to be genuinely concerned with the health of the zoo. Repeatedly, people said they didn't realize the zoo was in trouble. Checks started to come in and people offered to help in other ways as well.

I realized that Marylanders did care. In fact, they cared deeply about the Baltimore Zoo, its animal denizens and its employees. And now individuals and a few corporations have contributed more than $100,000 in less than two weeks.

I am no longer embarrassed to be a Marylander. In fact, I am very proud of my fellow citizens.

Peter Milligan


The writer is corporate relations officer for the Baltimore Zoo.

Sparing killer defies the victim's family

My understanding is that Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. either did not consider or disregarded the wishes of the family of a 13-year-old murder victim (Toni L. Jordan) when he decided to reduce the sentence of one of her killers ("Governor to reduce woman's life term," Nov. 14).

Perhaps the governor doesn't realize that sending a 17-year-old killer to jail for life doesn't compare to sending an innocent 13-year-old girl to her grave.

The sentence of the killer of a little girl should never be commuted without the consent of the next of kin of the victim.

Bill Scanlon

Ellicott City

It turns out `life' doesn't mean life

I am a current supporter and former neighbor of Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. But I was saddened to hear of his reduction of the "life" prison sentence given to one of the murderers of Toni L. Jordan ("Governor to reduce woman's life term," Nov. 14).

Dead means dead, but I guess life doesn't necessarily mean life, eh?

I hope Mr. Ehrlich will not forget his base, the people who got him to the governor's office. We have long memories.

Tony Rettaliata


The death penalty can kill the innocent

The title of the letter "Death penalty always deters one criminal" (Nov. 16) is inaccurate.

The death penalty sometimes kills an innocent person who was unjustly accused.

Karen W. Gronau

Perry Hall

Correctional officers do more than guard

The Sun's article "Prison guard fired for posing nude is ordered reinstated" (Nov. 14) discusses the reinstatement of a "prison guard" following her termination from Roxbury Correctional Institution. I object to the continued use of this label.

Individuals hired to provide care and custody of inmates receive rigorous classroom training for five weeks before reporting to their institution. They are then required to obtain annual training under the direction of the Maryland Correctional Training Commission.

The correct title for these professionals is "correctional officer." Corrections administrators have made diligent efforts to elevate the professional status of correctional officers, and workers in that capacity deserve recognition beyond that as a "guard."

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