Petition update

Green Acres Public Comment Stop the Grizzly Bear Exhibit by May 10, 2019

Our Green West Orange Group

May 3, 2019 — 

Comments should be sent to
Copies to: Assemblywoman Mila Jasey
Assemblyman John McKeon
Senator Richard Codey
Please choose from a wide array of issues and talking below to formulate your own comments. Use This Sample Letter:
Dear Ms. Cecile Murphy and Ms. Martha Sapp of Green Acres,
I object to the New Jersey taxpayer-funded Green Acres program granting The Turtle Back Zoo Entertainment Complex $16 million for a Grizzly Bear Exhibit and $5 million to renovate baseball fields in Brookdale Park in Glen Ridge. $21 million dollars is three times the amount of the next highest application! This will be judged as one application. The 3-acre bear exhibit will house one or more grizzly bears and allow for the breeding and handling of bears.
The County of Essex is proposing to replace the existing Wild New Jersey area of the Turtle Back Zoo with a new exhibit featuring North American Bears.
No preferential treatment for the Zoo, they missed the deadline!
Essex County and the Zoological Society of New Jersey did not meet the deadline of March 30, 2019, there was no application available during the public hearings which were not held 15 days in advance of the deadline.
Public Hearings were deliberately concealed!

The hearings were created in such a way as to arouse suspicion that the Zoo is avoiding scrutiny and criticism.
The zoo has submitted an outdated master plan showing attendance is 500,000, this is not true! It is over 900,000!
I urge you to vote NO on the entire application of Zoo expansion and baseball fields renovation for $21 million dollars.

Please cut and paste and add your own thoughts....
The original intent of the South Mountain Reservation as a 2000-acre passive and peaceful Olmsted-designed park is being irreparably damaged.

Even though the Zoo is in a 23-acre section; the traffic, the light shows, the music and the promotions are preventing peaceful use of the reservation. This is an entertainment complex, not a conservation organization.
Essex County has become enamored of growing the Turtle Back Zoo, spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on animal exhibits while cloaking its activity in the veneer of conservation. This is antiquated and unsustainable.

The animals are not "partying" at the Brew Fest.
For example, for the last seven years, the Zoo has held a Beer Party, called "Party with the Animals". While the endangered Amur Leopard and Snow Leopard languish in small pens, their species is fighting to survive extinction in the wild. Promotions such as this are insensitive and should not be supported by taxpayers. After the party, the Zoo puts the beer-saturated people onto West Orange roads. This is an irresponsible enterprise.

Traffic is Unendurable.
"Indeed, this project is anticipated to substantially grow the Zoo's attendance over time, as is typical of new exhibits of this kind." (2)
The traffic is unendurable for the residents who live on the surrounding streets of the Zoo. Some wait forty minutes to drive past the Zoo. The Zoo is insensitive to the residents of West Orange by continuing to drive attendance and traffic.

School Buses delayed due to the Traffic at the Zoo!
On April 23, 2019 traffic was paralyzed in all the neighborhoods by the zoo! The following email was sent to West Orange parents:
Subject: School Buses will be delayed - Tuesday afternoon 4/23

Due to heavy traffic on Northfield Ave. and Pleasant Valley Way near West Orange Zoo, many school buses are going to be delayed this afternoon.  Thank you for your patience and understanding. 
West Orange School District Transportation.
Cars coming from the south must drive through and disturb the entire reservation to get to the zoo. This intrudes on the passive use of the park. 

The Turtle Back Zoo has engaged in excessive Tree Cutting in Violation of the Green Acres requirements.
Hundreds of mature trees have come down for exhibits and 3 parking decks. 69 more trees are marked for removal on the Zoo side of the reservoir that have died as a result of construction at the Zoo. There is flooding in the area.

Bears don't belong in captivity.
I object to the funding by Green Acres of taxpayer dollars to obtain two bears where they be denied their right to live in freedom, fishing and hunting as they do.

Bears live in diverse habitats. Their home range can cover thousands of miles. Studies show they fare very poorly in captivity and spend much of their day pacing, walking in tight circles, swaying or rolling their heads and demonstrate psychological distress. Bears need wide open spaces, rivers, salmon, forests and freedom.

This is an enterprise that keeps captive animals and stretches the intent of the Green Acres Park Development program.

The Zoo intends to breed the bears.(3)
It is morally unacceptable to breed wild animals in captivity.

Bees not Bears in Climate Change
As the world is plunged into climate chaos, spending limited tax dollars on a three-acre bear exhibit is wrong. Imagine the benefits to residents and wildlife if the tens of millions of dollars spent on the zoo were used to acquire habitat safe zones for these rare species instead.

However there is a positive suggestion, I would support an acre or more without tree-cutting, pollinator exhibition garden. Pollinators need our help. We have 4000 species of bees native to North America. They mostly don't sting as they don't live in hives. Butterflies need habitat. I suggest the Zoo consider a native plant maze where people can walk through, observe and learn about pollinators.
Animal entertainment complexes are difficult and controversial endeavors. 

In the same application is a request for $5 million for renovating four Brookdale Park baseball field. It seems that Green Acres will consider the Zoo and the baseball fields together as one application.
Are the baseball fields to be gold plated? I do not object to baseball fields in Brookdale Park, I object to the astounding expenditure to renovate them.


See the full Grizzly Bear Exhibit Application here.  If the hyperlink isn't working cut and paste:

(1) Application Cost Estimate page 14
(2) Application Environmental Impact page 33
(3) Application Project Overview page 16 

Grizzly Bear Exhibit Specifics:
The scope of work includes a 6,000 square foot building that will include the following features:
Quarantine room equipped to house large carnivores
Maternity room to house pregnant and young animals
Life support room to hold filtration equipment to maintain pool water quality
Commissary room to have freezer/cooler and area for diet preparation
Scuba Diving showers/storage for maintaining pool
Two outdoor exercise/holding yards
Graphics for behind the scenes tours
The outdoor area of the exhibit will measure approximately 3-acres (130,680 square feet) and include the following features:
Two separate exhibits for animal separation purposes
Two pools with a stream flowing between
Outdoor air-conditioned den for guest viewing
Rocks with cooling elements for heat mitigation
Training wall for husbandry staff to bring animals closer to the guests
Educational interpretives for guest interaction.

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