Make us your home page

Lowry Park Zoo chief seeks review of animal deals

TAMPA — Lowry Park Zoo president Lex Salisbury said Friday that he wants a review team from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums to inspect records of his private transactions with the zoo.

The zoo is accredited by the AZA, recognized as the industry standard. A story in the Times Friday about Salisbury's purchase of 21 animals from the taxpayer-funded zoo for his private collection included criticism from other AZA-accredited zoo directors who questioned the propriety of the deals.

AZA spokesman Steve Feldman said plans are in motion to assemble a team, but the association has not decided when members will travel to Tampa.

"We welcome that invitation," Feldman said. "That's an indication of how seriously they take our standards."

In the Times story, Salisbury acknowledged that he boarded zoo animals at his 50-acre Pasco County ranch, and at Safari Wild, his yet-to-open exotic animal park in Polk County.

Several of the animals died, including a giraffe he said had parasites, a bongo antelope that got in a fight, and deer that died at Safari Wild from what zoo officials believe were medical problems caused by the stress of the transfer.

The inspectors also are likely to consider a now-voided loan agreement with the zoo that would have entitled Salisbury to the offspring of zoo rhinos, and a boarding agreement in which the zoo pays Safari Wild $600 to care for bison displaced by the new Gator Falls flume ride.

Salisbury's transactions were all approved by the zoo's director of collections, the general curator and the chairman of the zoo's executive committee. The first two are his employees.

Salisbury insists he has never profited from the animal transfers, and did them as a favor to the zoo. Director of collections Larry Killmar said he saw nothing wrong with permitting the transfers, and he trusts Salisbury to take care of the animals.

Bert Castro, president of the Phoenix Zoo, said he never would have allowed such transfers, even if Salisbury's intentions were good.

"It's important that you don't run into gray areas that could possibly be perceived as a conflict of interest," Castro said. "Especially if you're dealing with taxpayer dollars."

The AZA team will be given access to records of all animal transactions to and from Lowry Park Zoo as well as the zoo's protocol for acquiring and disposing of animals.

Salisbury says he hasn't broken any rules.

The city of Tampa and the zoo are also conducting separate audits of all transactions between Salisbury and the zoo.

Salisbury says he isn't worried.

Lowry Park Zoo chief seeks review of animal deals 09/26/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 3:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients


    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel


    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal


    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate


    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]