We’ve begun another count related to Lex Salisbury. Our original count began in April when 15 monkeys escaped from Safari Wild, an exotic animal park under development in Polk County. The monkeys enjoyed several weeks of freedom in the wilds of Florida; five of the monkeys have still not been recaptured.
Our new count is how long Mr. Salisbury*, the president of both Safari Wild and Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo, can resist calls for him to resign (or how long city leaders and the zoo’s board can resist pressure to fire him).
The monkey prison break began an avalanche of bad news for Lex. Not a week goes by without a new article in the Tampa Tribune or St. Petersburg Times raising questions about links between the taxpayer-supported zoo and the private, for-profit Safari Wild. Excellent work by journalists at both papers have exposed that zoo money was used to build two barns and fencing at Safari Wild, zoo staff worked to promote the animal park, and dozens of animals from Lowry Park Zoo were either loaned, sold or donated to Safari Wild.
- In early September, Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio demanded that Lowry Park Zoo end its relationship with Safari Wild.
- The Tampa Tribune asked “What else is he trying to hide?” in a September 18 editorial that concluded, “Lowry Park Zoo needs new leadership.”
- In a September 28 editorial, the St. Petersburg Times made their position clear, “It is time for Lex Salisbury to step down as president of Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo.”
- The incoming head of Lowry Park Zoo’s executive committee said that Lex used “bad judgment,” and leaders of zoos around the country have called Salisbury’s actions shocking and unprecedented.
- On Thursday, Tampa City Council member Thomas Scott called for Salisbury’s resignation.
You Can Help
Write to the City of Tampa (the animals at Lowry Park Zoo are owned by the city) and ask the mayor to push for new leadership at the zoo.
Mayor Pam Iorio
City of Tampa
Online comment form.
*Lex Salisbury is also a founding member of The Zoological Association of America, an organization that promotes the private breeding and sale of exotic animals. It’s stated mission is to “Protect and defend the right to own animals” and “Defend the owners of animals against the false allegations and mischaracterizations of animal rights activists.” Members of the group include disreputable zoos, such as Miami’s Jungle Island, who have been denied accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.