Off Limits

In its summer edition of the members-only zoo review, the Denver Zoo addresses the unfortunate rampage of Hope the elephant. Hope, who had been performing a daily, and much-hyped, Elephant Walk alongside a baby elephant named Amigo, escaped from a bathing area on June 10 and ran willy-nilly through the zoo, slightly injuring three people before she was captured. The walks were canceled; Amigo, who turned three with little fanfare on Sunday, was grounded; and Hope was shipped back home to California.

"Denver Zoo has had a formalized animal escape protocol since the late 1980s," writes zoo president and CEO Clayton Freiheit. "The protocol's procedures are regularly reviewed and also practiced by having periodic unannounced drills. The protocol includes two elements, 'Code Blue' and 'Code Red,' which are announced over our two-way radio system to all staff. Code Blue escapes involve those animals that are not considered to be life-threatening to either staff or zoo guests. An example would be an eagle accidentally liberated and flying off to roost in a tree. Although difficult to recapture, the bird would pose no threat to anyone's personal safety. A Code Red announcement means that a potentially dangerous animal (large carnivore, great ape, venomous snake, etc.) is somewhere it shouldn't be. Clearly, the elephant incident was definitely a Code Red and demanded a prompt and decisive response from our staff."

Current events on the Colorado political landscape suggest that it might be wise to extend this colorful code policy throughout the state. In Denver, for example, ten city council members will be "escaping" in less than two years, thanks to term limits that "accidentally liberated" them, and they will all need new jobs. If, for example, the courtly Dennis Gallagher were to run for city auditor, it would "pose no threat to anyone's personal safety" and would therefore merely constitute a Code Blue. On the other hand, if Susan Barnes-Gelt, a "potentially dangerous" carnivore (at least from the perspective of Mayor Wellington Webb, who took a beating from the councilwoman over his stadium-box deal), were to make a run for mayor, that might constitute a Code Red.

Kreme de la Kreme: At least the zoo has a policy on how to quell a stampede; Ocean Journey is obviously trying to incite one. In its latest cheap marketing ploy (back in May, Ocean Journey invited Survivor star Alicia Calaway to kick off its Outback Adventure exhibit), the financially beleaguered and public-relations-challenged aquarium is offering Krispy Kreme jelly doughnuts to anyone who shows up on September 1 to see its newest creatures from the deep: Lion's Mane Jellies and West Coast Sea Nettles, two jelly species.

But will that be enough to prevent Ocean Journey from getting kicked off the island?


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