Letters / Anchorage Press / October 1, 2005
I love the Press, ever since I read Robert Meyerowitz's thought-provoking article about Maggie, "The Elephant in the Room" (February 17). Sadly, it seems that, lately, most people in this community are reluctant to speak up on behalf of one lonely and depressed elephant in our midst, slated to be an "experiment" on a treadmill for at least two years, or until she breaks a leg.
Where are those who profess to "love Maggie" now? She has no words to express her fears. Who will speak for her?
Why is the subject taboo? Does the long arm of zoo politics reach into every aspect of life in our community? Even the schools and libraries handle Maggie with kid gloves, and the Daily News tells us "we've already given enough space to Maggie." Come on, a fishing boondoggle for Jack Hanna, telling Anchorage to "use" Maggie as an "experiment," isn't worth printing a local letter in response?
Maybe she's a little harder to see because she's lost 1,000 pounds due to the stress of the construction around her, but we can no longer pretend she's not in the room. Speak up, people! Give voice to your concerns. Call or write the zoo, the mayor, your senator or representative, your favorite radio or TV station, and keep bugging your newspaper. Ask your university or kids' school to include elephant discussion, debates, or stories in the curriculum. Check out a book about elephants from your library and share what you learn.
An Anchorage group, Friends of Maggie, was formed a few years ago to work behind the scenes with the board of the Alaska Zoo, attempting to persuade members that Maggie should be moved to a situation where her social and physical needs could be met. Check out their web site, www.friendsofmaggie.net, and consider lending your voice. Talk about Maggie with your neighbors, realizing that what we, as a community, do to her and for her is of national interest. Newspapers all over the country already carry her story and, so far, it isn't a flattering one.
If we are too intimidated to speak up for a defenseless, captive elephant, what will we do if we witness a child abused or a neighbor beaten? And will we dare speak up if ever we find ourselves underneath a corrupt and ineffective government?
Maggie's certainly not the only elephant in the room these days! But just imagine what we could accomplish if every citizen were to voice our concerns about her, thereby saving her life! Wouldn't we, as a community, be energized to tackle the other problems around us?
Please don't let the zoo bungle this so-called experiment so that we "break the elephant," as the designer of the treadmill once so aptly phrased it. It will be too late then.
The time to speak for Maggie is now.
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