Truth about zoos

Re: "Zoo's oldest elephant dies; cause unknown," Tuesday:

An elephant is taken from its wonderful homeland in Tanzania, lush with land, a herd family with deep-rooted customs. It is brought to a place where it can stand on concrete for decades. Sometimes, it is isolated in a barn for years because it is not safe to be around the other elephants. It dies and people are sad?

I visited the Philadelphia Zoo for the first time in 1947, and was entranced at every visit as a child. I took my Dad, at his request, to the zoo for his 90th birthday last year. He was trying to recapture the magic he felt as a child. It cannot be done.

We cannot pretend that the Philadelphia Zoo is a cruel place with the best intentions. Wild animals do not thrive on human love; they adapt to their captors' needs. The elephants are leaving for a sanctuary. Will the lions and the gorillas and the . . . (fill in the blank) . . . be next? I hope so.

Sandra Watson

North Wales


Kimmel Center

Re: "To the drawing board, $300 million later," June 1:

As chairman of the board of the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, I could not be more proud of what the Kimmel Center has accomplished in its first, short, six years. Willard G. Rouse was a visionary who understood how important it was to help Philadelphia's cultural community grow. He understood that truly great accomplishments start with big dreams. Through its service to the Philadelphia community, the Kimmel Center was one dream that will now live on for generations. This community owes nothing but respect and admiration for Willard G. Rouse and his vision.

The Kimmel Center welcomes more than a million visitors a year and partners with eight important cultural institutions. With the recent funding we received from the many generous individuals, corporations and philanthropies, our construction debt has been resolved, and we have established an endowment of more than $72 million. This civic achievement is unprecedented in Philadelphia and deserves praise and thanks to all those who participated, but no enterprise should stop its quest to do more and to do better.

Though the acoustics of Verizon Hall have been enjoyed and applauded by artists and audiences alike, we continue to examine ways to enhance the experience. However, these efforts in no way diminish our amazing success in what we do best everyday: showcasing the finest artists of our time in an awe-inspiring space for hundreds of thousands of audience members each year.

William P. Hankowsky


The Kimmel Center

for the Performing Arts


Health-care faults

Stacey Burling did a nice job ("The cost of hospital care is difficult to pin down," Sunday). But this entire argument of increasing price transparency is a misguided red herring.

The U.S. market-based model of health care has failed, and failed miserably. Giving health-care consumers - formerly known as patients - more pricing information on hospital stays just fuels this failed model, although I am less critical of quality and outcomes data.

Uwe Reinhardt's comment that we know what a Chevy, a haircut or an iPod costs is indicative of how pervasive the market model has penetrated even the highest level of academic scholarship on health-care policy.

When we finally learn that health care is not a typical commodity - that we should not "trade in human flesh and human souls" - we possibly, just possibly, might regain our moral footing in U.S. health care.

Richard A. Lippin, M.D.



Side with the lambs

A letter writer Friday said the Democrats had nominated a naïve lamb to represent us in a world of hungry lions.

I believe the Democrats have nominated a candidate who will strive to bring those hungry lions to the bargaining table and seek solutions to common problems of the world and the nation.

The Republicans have nominated a candidate who will continue the policies of the Texas gunslinger who has led us into wars around the world and a national recession.

Richard Billings

Cherry Hill