The Binghamton University basketball program has had its share of image problems thanks to many of the off-field indiscretions of its players, but don't you dare compare those animals to the ones in the actual zoo.
The whole Binghamton "zoo" motif began last week when five more players were tossed off the team for various offenses, prompting exasperated BU athletic director Joel Thirer to say, "Truthfully, if I'm the president? Who's running the zoo? "
Because Binghamton's basketball team is comprised of many African-Americans, Thirer's zoo imagery dances dangerously close to casual racism, but Amanda Padwa, the business manager for the actual Binghamton Zoo, cranks the insensitivity amp to 11, just for good measure. Padwa sent a pithy letter to the Binghamton Press where she calmly explains how comparisons between the team and the zoo are completely unfair to, you know, the zookeepers and caged wild animals under their care.
I am tired of hearing that blight on Binghamton University, the men's basketball team, being referred to as a "zoo." The Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park has just received re-accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the industry's governing authority. We achieved this status by being in the top 10 percent of all the zoos in the country.
Our animal care, safety, employees and educational and service standards are set high and met accordingly. Not one of our tigers has been arrested with cocaine. No otter knocks over old ladies to shoplift condoms. Our bear doesn't have temper tantrums and storm off his exhibit. You won't find any of our lemurs busted for smoking pot. So, please, stop insulting zoos by comparing those criminals to us.
Amanda J. Padwa
To be fair, you won't find any of Binghamton's players cruelly plucked from their natural habitat and forced to spend their lives in a small enclosed space behind bars for the rest of their lives. Oh wait.