Unlike some zoos, the Buffalo Zoo keeps tabs on the hundreds of animals it sells every year to make sure they don't fall into unscrupulous hands, zoo officials said Tuesday.
Usually, a surplus animal is sold to a zoo with which the Buffalo Zoo has a long-standing relationship, to fill a particular need in the receiving zoo's collection, officials said. The Buffalo Zoo purchases many specimens in the same fashion.
But when the creature is going to an unfamiliar zoo or dealer, the move is "carefully researched to see that ethical guidelines are followed," said Frederick C. Paine, curator of birds and reptiles.
If the animal is moving through a dealer to a third party, the zoo does a follow-up check, said Gerald D. Aquilina, curator of mammals and fish.
"Every time a zoo animal moves, it has to be accompanied by a federal transport form," Aquilina noted. "We can do paper chases."
The zoo held a news conference on the subject Tuesday to distance itself from a recent CBS-TV report suggesting that animals sold by some zoos often are re-sold at auction to irresponsible buyers, end up in shooting preserves where they are easy prey for customers or are used for inhumane laboratory research.
The "60 Minutes" segment did not mention the Buffalo Zoo. Nevertheless, the zoo was "extremely concerned" because the report "falsely characterized the majority of accredited zoos as acting irresponsibly," said Executive Director Minot H. Ortolani.
"Our mission is to exhibit animals for the purposes of conservation, education and recreation," he said. "The zoo does not support or condone the sale of exotics through public auctions or the use of exotic animals in shooting preserves or in invasive research which does not have a direct benefit to the conservation of the species involved."
If an animal on loan is mishandled, the animal is taken back and "future transactions with the recipient terminated," Ortolani said.
In another development, Zoo President Robert M. Greene told the board that construction is to begin in the spring on the long-planned Parkside Gate.
The proposed entrance on Parkside Avenue between the Giraffe House and Elephant House has been on the drawing board for more than two years, but plans were stalled after construction bids on the original design came in high.
Under the revised blueprint, the atriumlike entrance would house a hands-on wildlife interpretive center for children, Greene said. The $400,000 structure is expected to open in the spring of 1991.
The zoo also received a $50,000 check from the Women's Zoo Board, funds raised in 1989 through the adopt-an-animal program and promotions.