SFCC zoo is one of the best

Published: Friday, January 30, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 11:27 p.m.

I was surprised to see comments on the editorial page about turning Gainesville's airport into a zoo "so we won't have to take our children to Jacksonville to visit the zoo."

Gainesville has a zoo and has had one since 1972 - the Santa Fe Community College Teaching Zoo. Perhaps the teaching zoo is one of Gainesville's best-kept secrets, but it is nationally recognized.

The teaching zoo is accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, and one of only 200 accredited zoos and aquariums in the country.

In September 2002, the teaching zoo, along with 15 other facilities, won the International Conservation Award for its work both in captivity and in the wild with Matchie's Tree Kangaroo.

Additionally, the SFCC Teaching Zoo is a nationally known training facility for zookeepers. The Zoo Animal Technology Program, based at SFCC, has placed graduates in 37 states at more than 130 zoos and aquariums.

In fact, more than 20 percent of the staff at Disney's Animal Kingdom (the largest zoological facility in the country) graduated from the zoo program.

Throughout the year, the teaching zoo is visited by approximately 32,000 visitors. Zookeepers give guided tours to help educate the public about animals and a variety of conservation issues.

Yes, there is a zoo in Gainesville - and it's free. As a facility for education and conservation, it deserves your support. So help with this worthy endeavor, and support your local zoo.

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