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Attorney for zoo files public records request

TAMPA — E-mails are pouring into the city about the controversy surrounding the private dealings of Lowry Park Zoo president Lex Salisbury.

They include correspondence from former zoo employees who allege the city doesn't know the entire scope of Salisbury's transactions.

Now the zoo wants to see them.

Zoo attorney Richard Harrison submitted a public records request Thursday asking for any written communications sent to, or from, the mayor, City Council members or any other staff members about the zoo since March 1.

"Why we think that's important, or whether it's still important, is probably still up in the air," Harrison said.

He wouldn't say whether the zoo wanted to see who was making allegations.

Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio has a meeting scheduled with zoo officials this morning. She wants to talk with Salisbury

City officials met with Salisbury earlier this week to talk about his private exotic animal park Safari Wild and exchanges made with the nonprofit, taxpayer-funded zoo.

Safari Wild gave the zoo 10 acres of land where the zoo built two structures to hold animals and allowed its horses to graze.

The zoo entered into a now-dissolved loan agreement which left three white rhinos in the care of Safari Wild and would have entitled Salisbury's venture to some of the rhinos' offspring.

Safari Wild is getting paid $600 each month by the zoo to temporarily care for five bison displaced by the new Gator Falls water flume ride.

Salisbury has insisted he never profited from the dealings and has already severed the relationship.

But Iorio wants more. She wants her representative to sit on the zoo's decisionmaking executive board and for the zoo to recognize its animals as city property. Both would increase the city's oversight of the zoo.

In a meeting this week, the zoo and city couldn't agree on those two points.

Alexandra Zayas can be reached at azayas@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3354.

Attorney for zoo files public records request 09/18/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 5:50pm]
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