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Columbus Zoo Ending 'Highly Problematic Relationships' Highlighted In New Documentary

 A big cat sits on an enclosure at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.
Flickr Creative Commons
A big cat sits on an enclosure at the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium.

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is making changes based on issues raised in a new documentary about the exotic animal trade.

The Conservation Game mentions the zoo, former director Jack Hannah and some other former and current staff members. It claims the zoo paid vendors for cubs that appeared on TV shows, then gave the cubs back to the vendors when the animals matured.

"The Columbus Zoo team has made some substantive changes in organization structure and policies since Jerry Borin became interim CEO on March 30," a zoo statement says.

"Based on some issues raised in The Conservation Game, the Zoo’s new leadership has made changes, including ending all relationships with animal organizations mentioned in the film, championing passage of the Big Cat Safety Act, and no longer allowing any cats or primates off grounds for programming," the statement says.

The film has not been widely released to the public, but was recently screened at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. The film's IMDB page describes the plot as "Retired Ohio police officer, Tim Harrison, stumbles upon a bombshell discovery when he suspects that the world's most famous celebrity conservationists may be secretly connected to the exotic big cat trade."

Carney Anne Nasser-Garcia, one of the documentary's producers,
commended the zoo for ending "highly problematic relationships with roadside zoos and other notorious members of the big cat trade."

The film's Facebook page posted a statement Thursday, saying "We commend the Columbus Zoo for making the necessary changes. Our film is not even out yet, and it's already having a positive effect."