Woodland Park Zoo reviews meeting practices

The Woodland Park Zoo Board of Directors will be extending its public comment period at tomorrow’s board meeting, while at the same time reviewing their practices to accommodate more members of the community .

This move comes after protestors, who rushed the doors at the zoo’s the December Board meeting while protesting about the relocation of the elephants, complained about the length of public comment time during the meetings.

“I think this was handled really poorly by the zoo,” Susan Hoppler, 52, a member of Friends of the Woodland Park Zoo Elephants told The Seattle Times in December. “It was very publicly known that we were going to be here. I think they should have been more prepared to allow us to be able to attend the meeting.”

The agenda for tomorrow’s meeting is now available online, as per the zoo’s existing policy of posting it one week prior. The relocation of the zoo’s elephants is not on the agenda for this month’s board meeting.

“During our Board of Directors’ meeting in December, we experienced greater community interest for our public comment period than ever before. The board officers and Governance Committee are closely evaluating our practices and learning how we can better accommodate a larger group of community members, as well as media requests, at future meetings,” said Laurie Stewart, Chair of Woodland Park Zoo Board of Directors.

2015 marks the 50th anniversary for the Woodland Park Zoo Society (WPZS), which is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization that has an agreement with the City of Seattle to manage Woodland Park Zoo. The society is governed by a Board of Directors.

In similarity with other private non-profits, the zoo has rules and practices regarding public involvement including during its board meetings. The Zoo Society Board’s public comment period, which currently lasts for 10 minutes of the meeting, is designed for board members to hear input from community members.

“It is important for us to hear feedback from our community. Moving forward, we are researching best practices by other nonprofit organizations and reviewing our practices. We will share the new policies and procedures, which will be formally adopted by the board this spring,” says Stewart.

In November last year, the zoo announced plans to relocate elephants Bamboo and Chai to another accredited zoo. The zoo continues to work on finding a new home for the elephants who are much loved by the local community.

Click here to learn more about the zoo’s public process and reporting to the City of Seattle.

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