Coaching legend John Wooden said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums and AZA members have a reputation for excellent animal care and concern for the welfare of animals—those in managed care and those in the wild. We guard that reputation carefully and grow it with our good work and strategic communication. And our polling shows that it is, indeed, who others think we are.
But last year’s reality television hit, Tiger King, reminded us that there simply cannot be enough degrees of separation between us and as one observer in the San Francisco Chronicle described it—“a dozen different flavors of scumbag.”
Maintaining a reputation takes constant input. And that brings us back to character; who we really are.
What we saw on Tiger King was reprehensible. Not just the human frailty and failure, but the treatment of animals as disposable and replaceable parts in a roadside menagerie.
As the U.S. Congress convenes for the 117th time in our nation’s history, we have the opportunity to show, once again, who we really are, by helping to pass the antidote to the Tiger King tragedy—The Big Cat Public Safety Act.
In the House of Representatives, Congressmen Mike Quigley (D-IL) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have introduced H.R. 263. In the Senate, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Richard Burr (R-NC) have introduced S. 1210. I’ll call your attention to the partisan balance in the sponsors of these two bills—a rarity in today’s world. Please, take a moment or two to visit AZA’s Advocacy Center and send a message of thanks and support to your Congressional Representatives and Senators. We’ve made it easy to do.
Concern for animals—in managed care and in the wild—is part of our community culture. It is who we are. Let’s show it. It is time to get this law passed and stop the unscientific breeding and unethical commercial exploitation of these amazing animals.
Do it today, please. Right now would be good!
Dan Ashe is the President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums
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