Town Crier: Oakland Zoo’s new status to be director’s legacy

MONTCLARION: April 10, 2014

The year was 1985. I was a young, brash reporter for the number-one morning radio show in the Bay Area — KSFO.

One of my early assignments was to cover a story involving the Oakland Zoo. They’d just been named one of the top 10 worst zoos in the country. At the time, it was pretty shocking, and a rap they probably didn’t deserve.

I remember the interview I had with the new zoo director — Dr. Joel Parrott. It was on board the sky ride. You might say I was a captive audience. Over the next 20 minutes he outlined big plans for the zoo, which involved groundbreaking ideas like replacing cages with more natural habitats. Thirty years later, the Oakland Zoo is recognized as a model for zoos everywhere.

All this came to mind as I opened my email, this morning, to find the Oakland Zoo has been granted accreditation by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The AZA calls our zoo one of the best in the world.

“A proven leader in the care and conservation of wildlife and education.”

The accreditation process is like birthing a baby. It takes the staff months to prepare for the rigorous review that comes around every five years. The AZA scrutinizes everything from animal care and safety to veterinary programs, conservation and education.

The Oakland Zoo will be Parrott’s legacy. He’s given three decades of blood, sweat and perhaps a few tears to building an animal care and conservation center that shines a spotlight on Oakland. Congratulations, Joel.

Around town: Say it ain’t so, Joe. Longtime bartender Joe Hannon is retiring after 28 years at Crogan’s. Fans like Montclarion Kevin Cardenas say Joe makes a mean cocktail and is lucky at dice. He’s also a big Red Sox fan, so look for Joe to be traveling back east when he retires. Joe’s retirement party starts at 5 p.m. on his last day — April 26.

Montclarion Kelly Powers is crowing about her niece, Katie Cummins, who just won the Piedmont High Bird Calling Contest with a hilarious cockatiel call. Katie and her team will be guests on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on April 25. See photos of Katie and her team at

Animal tale: And speaking of birds … there’s a wild turkey roaming the hills with an arrow piercing its side. Reader Dominique Achener sent me a photo, last week, of the bird making his way through her yard near Chelsea and Clive. She tried to corral the turkey, but he ran off. “This is some heartless person[s] solution to how to control the turkey population — with bow and arrow,” she writes, worried that the bird will suffer if someone doesn’t come to his aid.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by email at or on the web at


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