Off Limits

Separation anxiety: Now that Ocean Journey is open, it looks like the Denver Zoo recognizes it has some competition for cute and cuddly animal stories, an area it used to have all to itself. A billboard at 15th and Platte streets--a corner that is conspicuously close to Ocean Journey, with an overflow parking lot used by the aquarium and almost nothing else--shows a picture of two polar bear cubs and advertises that the zoo is only twelve minutes away (actually thirteen, according to a Westword reporter who made the drive).

In a bid to recapture the warm-and-fuzzy beat, last week the zoo reported that two newborn cotton-top tamarin monkeys, Bruce and Candy, had been rejected by their parents and were being raised by zoo personnel. The twin monkeys--they each weigh approximately one ounce and are the size of a man's thumb--were introduced to the media in a "special photo opportunity" last Friday; both dailies ran big, four-color baby pics over the weekend. "The tiny monkeys are on display from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily but are best seen at feeding time due to their shy nature," reported the Post. "They're fed every two to three hours."

Does this sound familiar? Remember Klondike and Snow?
Abandoned monkeys may be just what the vet ordered to steal the aquarium's thunder. The outdated zoo needs $125 million worth of renovations, zoo officials say--and they hope taxpayers will approve bonds to pay for part of that this fall. Since news of abandoned animal babies (and repeated photos on TV and in the dailies) generated so much positive publicity for the zoo after polar bear mom Ulu allegedly ditched cubs Klondike and Snow in 1994, maybe the zoo's public-relations people are thinking that Bruce and Candy will get them votes at the polls.

After watching Ulu demonstrate excellent parenting skills with new cubs Ulaq and Berit this spring, however, zookeepers admitted that Ulu hadn't abandoned Klondike and Snow after all and that they'd been too hasty in taking the cubs away from her. (Fortunately, Ulu refrained from suing for slander.) But that report was based on a misquote and later corrected, zoo spokeswoman Angela Baier now says: "The new theory is that she probably gave birth in the den but carried [Klondike and Snow] into the hallway and put them there and didn't know what to do with them. There's no doubt they were abandoned--they were so hypothermic when they were found that they didn't even register a temperature. Taking them saved their lives. That wasn't a question."

The only real question? Whether polar bears and baby monkeys can beat out otters and white tigers for Denver's affections.

As for that twelve-minute drive, Baier, who has attended marketing meetings between Ocean Journey and the zoo, says, "I've been to the aquarium many times, and I only leave here about ten minutes before my meetings."

So the monkeys may be too little, while Baier is two late.

Flaming the fans: Troubleshooter Tom Martino is "dedicated to helping consumers," according to his Web site. "He fights rip-offs, cheats, con artists and anyone else preying on consumers." He is so dedicated that "now you can interact with The Troubleshooter and his staff to get the inside scoop on protecting your rights" via e-mail at tmartino@TROUBLESHOOTER.COM.

YOU CAN ALSO GET BITCHED OUT, SWORN AT AND BELITTLED BY THE TROUBLESHOOTER AND HIS STAFF.

WITHIN A FIVE-DAY PERIOD AT THE END OF JUNE, TWO FORMER MARTINO FANS GOT A TASTE OF HOW MARTINO--OR HIS STAFF--REALLY VIEWS THE CONSUMING PUBLIC. ON JUNE 19, MARK EDGAR E-MAILED MARTINO TO COMMENT ON THE WEB SITE. "TOM, I LIKE YOU AND YOUR SHOW MOST OF THE TIME," EDGAR WROTE. "BUT YOU GOTTA QUIT BRAGGING ABOUT YOUR FANTASTIC WEBSITE...YOU KEEP THIS UP AND YOU WILL HAVE TO PUT YOURSELF ON THE SLEAZE BRIGADE. DON'T GET ME WRONG. YOU DO GOOD WORK ON YOUR SHOW, BUT YOUR WEBSITE ISN'T WORTH BRAGGING ABOUT. IT IS LIKE AN OLD FIXER UPPER HOUSE. A GOOD START BUT NEEDS A LOT OF WORK...I HATE WEBSITES THAT DON'T BOTHER TO UPDATE THEIR STUFF. PROBABLY NOT YOU, BUT SOME OVERWORKED UNDERPAID COMPUTER GEEK GETTING LAZY."

"GO TO HELL. HOW'S THAT FOR TRUTH?" CAME THE REPLY.
THEN, ON JUNE 21, A LONGMONT LISTENER E-MAILED MARTINO--AFTER HAVING E-MAILED HIM ONCE BEFORE ON THE SAME TOPIC--TO ASK IF HE HAD EVER HEARD GOOD OR BAD THINGS ABOUT A LOCAL AIR-CONDITIONING COMPANY.

"I GET THOUSANDS OF E-MAILS EVERY MONTH," CAME THE ANSWER. "IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ANSWER ALL IN A TIMELY MANNER. WE TAKE THE MOST CRITICAL PROBLEMS FIRST...AND THOUGH IT IS HOT...AUT[O] AIR IS NOT CRITICAL. I HAVE NO INFO OR REFERRAL ON AUTO AIR. THANKS FOR WRITING."

"OK, THEN YOU MIGHT CONSIDER DOING WHAT MANY OTHERS DO, AND THAT IS HAVE YOUR E-MAIL ACCOUNT SEND OUT AN AUTOMATIC REPLY TO THE SENDER THAT EXPLAINS EXACTLY WHAT YOU HAVE TOLD ME HERE," THE MARTINO FAN REPLIED. "THAT WAY, GUYS LIKE ME DON'T HAVE TO JERK YOUR CHAIN."

BUT MARTINO'S OFFICE WAN'T SATISFIED WITH SIMPLY THANKING THE CONSUMER FOR HIS HELPFUL TIP. "ARE YOU EVER GOING TO GET TO YOUR PROBLEM? OR DO YOU JUST LIKE WASTING TIME? (GOOD IDEA ABOUT AUTO RESPONSE...WORKING ON IT.)"

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