Save the zoo

To the editor:

When I was a little girl my family took me and my brothers and sisters to Oleson Park to ride the train, have a picnic and feed the animals. I must have been 5 or 6 at the time and now I’m 66, so I know the zoo has been there for over 60 years.

Six or seven years ago when the city decided to close down the zoo and level the park. My husband, Scott, my children and grandchildren decided to join the rally at city hall with Friends of Oleson Park Zoo. Scott then decided to join the Friends of Oleson Park Zoo and a few years later became the volunteer zoo manager.

I’ve helped him there for three or four years now and there have been many improvements during that time. Orville and Joyce O’Connell contacted many businesses and organizations that were willing to donate their time and labor. The barn, the winter building, the pens, some of the feeders, etc. were some of the improvements made that way. Sidewalks to aid mobility for wheelchairs and strollers, cement floors in the barn, wooden fences to separate the petting zoo from the rest of the area were added also. We have cleaned, painted, scrubbed and spread rock in the area.

We have volunteers who come every day to clean cages, feed the animals and care for them. A lot of time, love and money is given to the care of the animals every day. A lot of love is given to all the animals and they give love back to us.

But now the zoo has a detractor, someone saying that we abuse our animals, we don’t feed them well and that we don’t know how to care for them. These accusations have hurt all the volunteers and threatens to harm the existence of the zoo.

The residents of Fort Dodge need to come to the rescue of the zoo. We need your help or the zoo that has been here or so long is going to disappear. What was once an asset to Fort Dodge will no longer exist.

If you wish to help, call your city councilman and tell them you want the zoo to continue to house our beautiful and unusual animals. It would be unfair if a handful of activists decided for the rest of us whether we continue to have a zoo in Fort Dodge.

Vickey Groat

Fort Dodge