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. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]

  3. Richard Corcoran takes aim at public financing of campaigns

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land O'Lakes, may not be running for governor — not yet anyway — but his latest idea will get the attention of those who are.

    House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants the Constitu?tion Revision Commis?sion to ask voters to repeal the state’s system of partial financing of statewide elections.
  4. Related Group breaks ground on complex at old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — When Miami developer Jorge Perez first eyed a 4.2-acre tract on the west bank of the Hillsborough River two years ago, people asked him if he wouldn't prefer to build on the opposite side closer to the downtown core.

    No way.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  5. Eat 3-course meals for $35 at these 100 restaurants for Orlando's Magical Dining Month

    Food & Dining

    In the early 1900s, hotels offered "table d'hote" or "prix fixe" menus as a form of loss leader. Hotels didn't necessarily make money on these lower-priced, multi-course meals, often served at communal tables, but they made up for it on the booze. Prohibition may have contributed to a gradual shift toward a la carte …

    Bulla Gastrobar serves a variety of Spanish and Portuguese dishes.