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Education outreach programs are in peril due to SB 313

 

Last updated 3/1/2019 at 10:35am



The passage of Senate Bill 313 will eliminate the conservation and environmental education programs seen by hundreds of thousands of children and adults each year.

Introduced by state Sen. Ben Hueso Feb. 15, the bill is titled the “Circus Cruelty Prevention Act,” which provides additions to current laws governing treatment of circus animals. The text of the bill, however, applies new constraints which will decimate hundreds of wildlife organizations in California.

SB 313 would prohibit outreach educational programs unless they are provided by an organization which is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. AZA membership is expensive, and most of its member organizations are large zoos and aquariums with extensive funding like the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Los Angeles Zoo, San Francisco Zoological Gardens, Monterey Bay Aquarium, etc. In fact, there are less than 25 organizations in California with an AZA accreditation.

While the AZA does promote standards of care for all member organizations, not having an accreditation by AZA does not mean that animal care and welfare can be substandard or ignored. All organizations that house wild animals must be licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Besides annual inspections by the USDA, organizations are inspected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife along with other local authorities. Additionally, many smaller, private organizations like Wild Wonders, belong to the Zoological Association of America whose accreditation attests the adherence to strict care standards.

Educational outreach programs provide a service to the community, and also cover a significant portion of the operating costs for wild animal refuges. Wild Wonders in Bonsall delivers close to 1,000 education programs to schools, libraries and special events each year. Without being able to continue these programs, Wild Wonders and hundreds of other smaller private zoos will go out of business, and the incredible learning opportunities provided to children will cease to exist.

The text of the bill can be seen at: http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201920200SB313.

After reading the bill, if you have concerns about its consequences, contact your state senator or representative or the office of Sen. Ben Hueso at (916) 651-4040.

Jackie Navarro

Wild Wonders

About Wild Wonders: The facility in Bonsall is where kids and adults can “tame” their curiosity for wildlife. Through live interactive programs and tours, wildlife educators and 120 animal ambassadors will take groups on a dynamic adventure they will not forget. The goal is to excite the public and foster a desire to preserve and learn about wildlife and the important role they play in the planet.

 

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