When you're in the business of serving people, consistent service that goes unnoticed is usually its own reward. That's because just one oversight can create a mess even those in the business of cleaning up after animals might find daunting.

I've been watching the Niabi Zoo make mistake after mistake, first by removing memorials placed by the zoo around the property without notifying the families affected, then by trying to excuse their behavior which is, in a word, inexcusable.

The Zoo Director, Lee Jackson, has the honor of mopping up these discarded memories. And understandably, the families are feeling betrayed by the promise of Niabi Zoo that their loved ones memories would be honored. But it's a mess he made himself by removing the plaques without notification. He then tried to make less of the feelings of the people most affected by insisting that a Memorial Garden was part of some "Master Plan" and already in the works. That may be the case now, but it sure didn't seem like it when he said it. In coverage by WQAD and the Quad-City Times, Jackson is quoted saying, "We had a plan, we just didn't communicate it. The mistake was in communication."

Ouch--Don't try to minimize someone's concern. It clearly wasn't a 'Communication problem' as Jackson hoped. It was an accountability problem. It seems as the story developed, the real problem did surface; that Jackson didn't want to carry on a project that was started before his tenure. Later in the Times article, Jackson admitted that no plan for a memorial garden existed when the removal of memorial plaques started. "We figured we'd have it resolved before it became an issue. We wanted to do something nice; in a centralized location. It just wasn't done right, and I take full responsibility for that."

Taking full responsibility, and regretting behavior is not apologizing. And by not apologizing, Jackson hasn't acknowledged the emotion and effort that goes into choosing the perfect place for your loved one.

Everybody makes mistakes. This will only get better when the memorial garden is completed, and a full apology is given to the families. The handling of this smells worse than a hot day in the monkey house.

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