Sparks fly at Cypress Zoo park board meeting - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Sparks fly as zoo director threatens to resign at park board meeting

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BENTON, LA (KSLA) -

Changes could be coming to the animal rehabilitation center and zoo at the Cypress Black Bayou Park & Recreation Area.

Interim park director Robert Berry says it was a zoo when it first opened, but the focus changed over the years toward more rehab work for injured and rescued wild and exotic animals.

Now, Berry says the park board wants to shift the focus back to operating as a children's petting zoo. 

Berry says that's because that was the original purpose of the park, as a zoo featuring animals native to Louisiana. Tax dollars supporting it were not intended to pay for a wildlife rehabilitation facility or house exotic animals there.

Still, the park's master plan states that the exotic and rehab animals are not going to be moved. The plan suggests that they could remain on the site, with the support of private donations once a non-profit fund is set up.

Some rehabilitation volunteers at the facility are unhappy with the plans, and say there may be more behind the move to make the changes.

The park board held it's regular meeting Tuesday night. Volunteers and employees showed up to voice their concerns about possibly losing the animals. That's when Park Director Robert Berry made a comment about Zoo Director/Veterinarian Dr. Gia Morgan.

Rehab center supporter Linda McLaughlin says, "He said she shouldn't have sent people in here to fight her battles, she needs to man up and come fight her own fights."

Berry acknowledged the comment and says,"I can understand why she would be offended by it. Her emotions are probably running as same as mine. The last couple days she's been under a lot of pressure, direct pressure just like me. I owe her an apology for making that comment. She's an excellent, excellent veterinarian for the park."

Also during the meeting, several rehab center supporters stormed out and could be heard cursing.

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