Thursday, October 23, 2014


Today's news item describing PETA's request that Texas A&M stop using live elephants for the annual Elephant Walk tradition reminded me of details of a pet project I've been mulling for a number of years: A zoo at Texas A&M University.

In my notes, I have dubbed this dream project "The Texas A&M University Wildlife Habitat and Center for Conservation Science," but I should note that I have neither sought nor received any official buy-in.

This is a very rough sketch, and I'm mostly posting it now for posterity, and on the off-chance that an angel investor might read this and decide to bankroll the project. If that happens, I'd at least like to get a season pass.

The broad strokes:
  • We are a land-rich campus and have the opportunity to pick up farmland in the area to make natural habitats.
  •  Augment Elephant Walk tradition by having a (secondary?) mascot elephant(s)…these wouldn’t be carted in for a performance, but would be friends with whom we would develop a relationship
    • *Bonus: "Ol' Sarge" the elephant helps build the first on-campus bonfire after we are allowed to have them again.
  •  Opportunity for cheap labor by utilizing undergrad and grad students in related majors for labor.
    • Bonus: Enhances the Vet School’s offerings by allowing specialization in zoo exotics.
  •  Attract top notch scientists to work on an interdisciplinary endeavor.
  •  Adds value to the community…provides a source of revenue as a family/tourist attraction.

The potential shareholders (again, these are my thoughts, and this should not be taken to represent buy-in from any entity named below):

  • TAMU Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences – Conservation Biology and Biodiversity (CBB)
  • TAMU Bioenvironmental Science
  • TAMU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Science
  • Dr. Mark Holtzapple, TAMU Chemical Engineering – Biomass Fuel
  • Whoever is working on solar power
  • Whoever has the land
  • Whoever is working on cleaning up river water
  • Cities of Bryan & College Station
  • American Zoological Association
  • International Zoo Educators Association
  • Stephanie Boyles (Wildlife Biologist at PETA when I first dreamt this up)

I've noticed that there is roughly 700 acres of land along the Brazos River where TX-60 crosses it heading southwest out of town. The Cameron Park Zoo in Waco (the closest zoo to Bryan/College Station at about 100 miles) is similarly situated on a river. It seems to work well for them!