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A better retirement for chimpanzees than for people?

Letters to the Editor
Published April 7, 2005

I hope you can imagine my shock and dismay after reading Monday's A section of the St. Petersburg Times.

With interest, I was reading about how physicians are/or will be lobbying to fight against Medicare cuts (Doctors fight cuts in Medicare fees). And then, a few pages later, there was an article about how the federal government is funding a $14-million animal sanctuary so that lab chimpanzees can retire to a relaxed place (Chimp retirement community opens). But that is not the bottom dollar. Another $19-million will be spent on them over a 10-year period, and I'm sure that that is not the bottom line, either.

What has happened to our politicians, their followers, and others in this country who care more about chimpanzees than their own parents or grandparents?

I think some politicians should see if they might be able to buy a spot at the chimpanzee home for their retirement. It's evidently where they belong.

-- Kerry Boehm, Port Richey

Petting zoos should be avoided

We at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals are deeply saddened that so many people have contracted kidney infections after visiting petting zoos in Orlando and Plant City. Perhaps now more people will realize that barnyard exhibits are not only cruel to animals, but are dangerous to people as well, particularly children.

In 2000, for example, 16 children were sickened by E. coli traced to cattle at Merrymead Farm petting zoo in Worchester, Penn. One 4-year-old girl suffered severe kidney damage and had to undergo a kidney transplant.

Cows, chickens, goats and other farmed animals can be harmful to your health whether on your plate or in a petting zoo. Hand-washing is not enough; the safest, most humane thing to do is avoid petting zoos and adopt a vegetarian diet.

-- Heather Moore, senior writer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Norfolk, Va.

Where is parental responsibility?

I was shocked to hear that Ag-Venture Farm Shows is being sued because people were sickened from petting its animals. I find this to be yet another case of people taking absolutely no personal responsibility in their lives or of parents blaming anyone else but themselves for failing to properly monitor their children.

These petting zoos have barnyard animals that people are allowed to interact with. The experience is enjoyable, fun and educational. Anyone who has ever seen young barnyard animals will know that they occasionally step or lay in their own excrement and therefore by petting one you could touch some.

I am not a rancher or farmer. I am the father of three boys who I have taken to petting zoos countless times and each time was wonderful for my children.

Do we now let parents who are too irresponsible cause a situation in which petting zoos may not even be able to exist?

-- Brett Krumenacker, Tampa

A legacy of tolerance

On behalf of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim community, I would like to offer our sincere condolences on the death of Pope John Paul II to members of the Roman Catholic Church and to all people of conscience.

Muslims worldwide respected Pope John Paul II as an advocate for peace, justice and human rights. He worked tirelessly to build tolerance and understanding among people of all faiths.

Muslims will remember Pope John Paul II as the first Pontiff to visit a mosque. In May 2001 the pope visited the Ummayad Mosque in the Syrian capital of Damascus, where he held and kissed a copy of the Koran. Furthermore, he built bridges between Christians, Jews and Muslims and encouraged respect for diversity.

The late pontiff understood that ignorance, bigotry and oppression are a threat to our world and led by example to eradicate them. Religious, civic and political leaders in the Tampa Bay area and across the world would benefit by following his model. We look forward to reaching out to all segments of our society and continue on our mission of building bridges of understanding.

Pope John Paul II's message of international peace and interfaith reconciliation is one that will reverberate for generations to come. Though the world will miss him, his legacy can live on through furthering his work of building respect and tolerance.

-- Ahmed Bedier, Central Florida director, Council on American-Islamic Relations CAIR, Tampa;

Good ol' boy behavior

Thank you for your reporting and investigation of the promotion of Douglas Wright. For Holland & Knight's managing partner, Howell Melton Jr., to think it is okay to promote or even maintain someone on his staff, much less a partner, with Wright's history and blatant disrespect and horrendous treatment toward women is completely incomprehensible.

Good job St. Petersburg Times on bringing this important issue to the attention of Tampa Bay residents. I can only hope that Wright will get his due justice. He should not be a partner in an international law firm. Thank you to the women at Holland & Knight who spoke up for themselves and what is morally right. When will the "good ol' boys" grow up?

-- Beverly J. Nelson, Tampa

Don't be too quick to judge law firm

I have read your recent articles about Holland & Knight, my former law firm of eight years, and I do not believe they fairly portray this fine firm.

Holland & Knight has a rich history of putting the community and pro bono work ahead of making the most money for its partners. During my recent tenure there, I did not witness any discriminatory action against women or any other group of individuals. To the contrary, Bill McBride, who was the former managing partner, spent a great deal of time and money to promote diversity and the advancement of women and other minorities. During McBride's tenure and today, Holland & Knight does as much volunteer and pro bono work as any firm in this nation. It was the only law firm ever to receive the prestigious National Point of Light Award.

Just as we should not judge a newspaper by a few poorly written stories, we should not judge Holland & Knight, a law firm with a rich and wonderful history, by a very few isolated and uncharacteristic incidents.

-- Steve Uhlfelder, Tallahassee

Kudos for St. Petersburg mayor

Kudos to Mayor Rick Baker for bringing the Grand Prix to St. Petersburg. Way to go!

-- Maryrose Schwartz, St. Petersburg

[Last modified April 7, 2005, 01:23:19]

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