Target: Jan Haegan, Planning & Zoning for Moultrie County Board
Goal: Protect wildlife from a proposal for a drive-through zoo.
Wildlife are at risk of imprisonment from a plan to build a drive-through zoo near a pristine rural community. The zoo wants to host a variety of animals and showcase the creatures to car-riding patrons through the construction of a one-mile drive-through track through the park. The zoo’s prospective owner does not have any background in wildlife management or zoology. We do not need another zoo that simply uses our earth’s creatures for profit. Speak up now to protect precious wildlife.
Known as the Aikman Wildlife Adventure, the zoo’s preferred location would be situated between private farms in Moultrie County, Illinois. The park hopes to utilize a mere 40 acres with 25 of those acres being strictly for a drive-through area that will makes llamas, bison, deer, and camels accessible to patrons. As of right now, the park is in the early planning stages. The current zoning ordinance in Moultrie County does not allow for an operation of a zoo. However, the Moultrie County Board will decide this week if the zoo is worthy enough to change the ordinance to allow a special land use provision for this operation.
This wildlife prison is proposed by James Aikman. Aikman has experience as a banker, not as a zookeeper. He cannot promise the animals’ well-being or that the operation will be one hundred percent environmentally friendly without any impact to the surrounding farmland or groundwater. The operation hopes to eventually house popular wildlife zoo animals such as bobcats, kangaroos, leopards, porcupines, giraffes, hippos, rhinos, elephants, birds, and many different other species. Operating such a tourist attraction with a variety of animals requires experience. These animals cannot survive together on only 40 acres of land. Each species needs its own special habitat. This operation could be frighteningly inhumane for these precious creatures.
Aikman promotes the drive-through wildlife area as a “sanctuary” and is excited about central Illinois’ newest tourist attraction. A wildlife sanctuary is not a tourist attraction. What Aikman wants to provide is an animal prison. There is no way that this park will be able to sustain a variety of animals in a safe manner. By signing this petition, you are urging the Moultrie County Board to not amend the county’s zoning ordinance for Aikman Wildlife Adventure.
Dear Ms. Haegan,
Wildlife animals should be coveted and protected, not used for monetary gain in tourist attractions such as zoos and parks. The Aikman Wildlife Adventure wants to house a variety of animals and feature a drive-through area where patrons will be able to interact with wildlife from their car. This is not how wildlife should be treated. James Aikman does not have a background in wildlife management or zoology. I am afraid that this proposed park will be an animal prison, not a sanctuary.
There is no way Aikman could provide the correct habitat needed for every single species in the park to live a happy life. Furthermore, the park threatens the integrity of the groundwater. If there is not a safe disposal method for animal waste and disinfectants, these contaminants could leach into the groundwater, polluting nearby precious freshwater supplies needed for drinking water and farmland.
I urge you to not make an amendment to the county’s zoning ordinance just for this unethical zoo operation. You might think that the zoo will bring tourists and economic prosperity to the area but you should think again. The Decatur Park District’s Scovill Zoo, which is located in a city with 75,000 people, has 100,000 visitors a year, the same amount of visitors that Aikman proposes for his zoo. Moultrie County has a fraction of the Decatur population. The zoo’s outlook isn’t looking so prosperous and the animals could end up being the county’s problem if the park doesn’t succeed.
We should cherish our wildlife, not imprison them. We need to move past tourist attractions that display our animals as if they were property. Please protect wildlife and farmland and deny Aikman Wildlife Adventure the right to operate in Moultrie County.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Matt Beldyk via Flickr