Monday, February 13, 2012

One More Lesson from the Children's Zoo

OK ... so the closing of the Stanley Park Children's Zoo still has some lessons for the kids.

When the Vancouver Park Board made the decision to close the longtime attraction as a cost-saving measure (while keeping the money-losing Queen Elizabeth Park Arboretum open because it had potential as a tourist draw), I blogged that the Children's Zoo's "last lesson" would be that profit, more often than not, trumps value.

Well, looks like I was wrong. The latest learning experience generated by the Children's Zoo has to do with integrity and keeping one's promise. The Vancouver Sun reports that it appears the pygmy goats that had been such a fun part of the Children's Zoo have been sold through a livestock auction house and may be, even as we speak, the featured attraction in stews, curries or any number of dishes.

Re-selling the goats, according to the article, would have been a violation of the agreement signed by the owner of the hobby farm where the goats had been sent.

The lesson? People sometimes aren't good to their word -- especially when money comes into the picture. Let's assume, too, that the owner of the hobby farm is not fundamentally a bad person -- you know, the kind who would stand there, washing his hands with humble soap as he expressed a desire to give a good home to these animals, all the while plotting to send them to market at the earliest opportunity.

After all, it's been a year since the animals were sent off to new homes: that's hardly the "earliest opportunity". Maybe the owner felt there were 1,001 reasons to justify selling the animals: a sudden economic downturn (who hasn't experienced that?) and a belief that there was no other option. But assuming there was no loophole which would have put the owner within his legal rights to sell the goats, that leaves the question, When and under what circumstances does your word -- regardless of whether it's on paper in a contract -- cease to be valid? The Bible has some pretty strong language about covenant-breakers.

It also has some pretty strong language about judging others, so let's take this to a higher level. This latest last lesson from the Children's Zoo is more a discussion topic: if you give your word and stand by it, will God not bless you more than if you break your word because you think you think you have no other choice?

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