When Will The Turtle Back Zoo Stop Encroaching On The South Mountain Reservation?

Elizabeth Redwine
Published: 01/31/2020

The Essex County Executive's Office, last spring, told the town of West Orange in a meeting at the town hall that they needed one acre (in addition to the nine they have already developed) of forest cleared in the reservation for their 500 person amphitheater. Recently, they made two changes: they renamed the amphitheater a "conservation pavilion" and upped the acreage to 1.5.

They also released a non-binding zoo "master plan" that shows that they plan to develop an additional 5 to 10 acres, clearcutting the forest. I have attended many of the meetings and have received no answer to my question: when has the zoo reached capacity? When will the development of the zoo stop destroying old growth forest? The residents of West Orange and the County deserve an answer.

Residents are overwhelmingly against this deforestation. In our current climate crisis and with many students voicing their informed opinion that parading animals in front of a 500 person amphitheater is not the way to educate young people about conservation, residents deserve an answer: when does this stop?

Please make your voice heard and contact your freeholders.

Topics: Essex County, NJJoe DiVincenzoSouth Mountain ReservationTurtle Back ZooClimate Change