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National Zoo cites animal "privacy rights," refuses to release info

Next up: Irate privacy activists, upset at the practice of implanting
ID chips into pets to identify them if lost, sue vets to stop the
practice, citing Fluffy's "right to be let alone" and complaining
that, Revelations' "Mark of the Beast" is now being taken literally...




   National Zoo Cites Privacy Concerns in Its Refusal to Release Animal's

   By James V. Grimaldi
   Washington Post Staff Writer
   Monday, May 6, 2002; Page E12
   Thousands of people have peered in on the National Zoo's PandaCam to
   see Tian Tian and Mei Xiang cavorting. They have surfed to the zoo Web
   site's ElephantCam to watch the most intimate moments between Shanti
   and the pachyderm's newborn calf. And they have tuned into the Naked
   Mole-Rat Cam to follow the subterranean rodent's tubular meanderings.
   But don't ask to see their medical records. You won't get them.
   The Smithsonian Institution's National Zoo has taken the position that
   viewing animal medical records would violate the animal's right to
   privacy and be an intrusion into the zookeeper-animal relationship.
   The notion that animals have a right to privacy is, from a legal
   standpoint, odd, because courts have long held that they don't.
   This all comes by way of a request for said information from
   Washington Post staff writer D'Vera Cohn, who recently asked the the
   National Zoo for animal medical records and necropsy and pathology
   reports from one of Washington's most renowned institutions after the
   death of Ryma, a beloved giraffe.
   The reply came in an e-mail letter from Zoo Director Lucy Spelman. The
   answer was no, The Post cannot see animal medical records, only
   "detailed summaries prepared by the individual generating those
   records or reports." The reason: Releasing medical records would
   violate the animals' privacy rights.


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