"TULSA ZOO REMOVES EVOLUTION EXHIBIT"
Tulsa architect Dan Hicks, supported by a petition signed by 2000 area residents, plus a scientifically conducted poll showing that over 2/3 of the city's population believed the zoo should not promote evolution, was able recently to persuade city officials to remove exhibits depicting horse evolution and human evolution from display at the zoo. Hicks and his co-workers credited the influence of ICR materials with playing a significant part in this action and also suggested that citizens in other communities could undertake similar projects."
However, when I wrote to the Tulsa Zoo to ask about this, I found that things were not at all as the ICR was attempting to paint them. A copy of a memo dated January 8, 1996, was sent to me. It reads:
"RECOLLECTION FROM THE 1995 ORIGINS ENCOUNTER:
Early in 1995, a private citizen (and member of Tulsa Zoo Friends) by the name of Dan Hicks approached the Zoo staff with requests that some Zoo signage be modified. He stated that he was offended by some text, and confounded by that fact that said text contradicted beliefs that he had instilled in his child at home. He specified (a) graphic reference to a common ancestor for chimps and man; (b) 'straight-line evolution' as represented by Equus models in one of our displays; (c) another display's reference to the age of the Cosmos. He offered to replace some of the signage at his own expense, as well to provide a 'disclaimer' attesting to the 'non-factual' nature of evolutionary 'theories'. He was thanked for his interest and input, assured that some thought would be given to his comments about horse evolution, and told that his offer to provide new signage at his own expense would not be necessary.
During the next six months, Dan frequently wrote to me and others with the same basic requests. He appealed to ZooFriends' Executive Director and President, the Director of the Parks and Recreation Department, the Chairman of the Park Board, City Council persons, and the Mayor of Tulsa. Many letters of protest were received from private citizens; most of these were based on a form letter, and many seemed to be affiliated with fundamentalist churches in our area. Letters were written to the editors of local newspapers as well. Petitions were submitted with up to 2,000 signatures; to my knoweldge, these were not prepared or conducted by an independent agency. Our City's population is about 380,000; the metropolitan area is 745,000, and I am unaware of a 'scientifically conducted poll' representing two-thirds of either population number.
In September, City and Park officials met with Dan Hicks and his associate to discuss their concerns. Although we did not feel it was appropriate to honor all of his requests, we did agree to the following: (a) to place a sign at the Zoo's entry which states, 'There are many views on the origin of biological species and their behaviors. The information that accompanies our displays is based on compelling evidence of the natural sciences. Because scientific knowledge is subject to change, these displays may be revised as new informatin becomes available.' (b) to reword one line of signage from our chimp exhibit from 'Scientific blood tests show that chimpanzees are man's closest biological relative, branching off from a common ancestor about 6 million years ago' to 'Scientific blood tests, including DNA analysis, show a biological similarity between chimps and people'. (c) to modify the exhibit on Equus ancestry to more completely reflect current sicentiifc thought, using the writings of Dr. Bruce McFadden.
Although Mr Hicks volunteered to work with us on copy for the latter modification, we declined his offer. The general tone of our meeting expressed a need for sensitivity to the beliefs of different groups, but confirmed that established scientific principles could not be ignored or watered-down."
David G. Zucconi, Director
Tulsa Zoo and Living Museum
In a personal note to me, Director Zucconi says:
"Lenny-- thanks for your letter; it made my day! As you can see from this 'recollection', we did not remove any exhibits nor turn our backs on basic biological information. We are trying to avoid an 'in-your-face' attitude (this is, after all, the Bible Belt), but not at the expense of objective interpretation of data. The City (Mayor et al) has been supportive and helpful. Your interest and support is appreciated."
A letter I sent to ICR, asking them to provide the name, methodology and results of the person who conducted their "scientifically conducted poll" (as well as asking them bluntly why their Acts and Facts article claims that exihibits and displays were removed when in fact they had not been) has so far gone unanswered. Hmmm.
It therefore appears that nearly every sentence in the ICR's newsletter article was blatantly untrue. There was no "scientifically conducted poll" done by ICR or anybody else. The Zoo did NOT remove any exhibits depicting horse and human evolution. In fact, the distinct impression given by the Zoo is that they cosnidered the cretinists to be a huge pain in the neck, and wished they would just go away. They apparently dealt with the ICR's minions by politely brushing them off and making a few cosmetic changes.
If one were cynical, one would suppose that the ICR's inaccurate story concerning this "victory" was deliberate, with the unacknowledged goals of (1) rallying the cretinist troops ("see, we won this time!"), (2) making sure those donations to ICR keep coming in ("we can win elsewhere too") and (3) encouraging other supporters to get out there and fight for the Lord. Thus, ICR's newsletter article can best be viewed as a flat-out falsehood which was told in order to keep those checks coming.
How typically creationist.
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