Lincoln Park Zoo tapping external help to defend animal-death crisis

CHICAGO: A spate of animal deaths and subsequent bad press at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo is turning into a battle that threatens to permanently alter the popular tourist attraction.

CHICAGO: A spate of animal deaths and subsequent bad press at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo is turning into a battle that threatens to permanently alter the popular tourist attraction.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has been calling for the zoo's president to resign, is now talking with Chicago city council members about passing an ordinance to prohibit the zoo from keeping elephants, said Debbie Leahy, director of captive animals and entertainment issues for PETA.

The zoo has seen nine animals - including three elephants -- die in the past seven months.

Kelly McGrath, who handles public relations for the zoo, said it's working with a number of Chicago PR people to manage the escalating crisis.

She would not comment on speculation in Chicago that Burson-Marsteller was one of the firms working for the zoo. Bob Kornecki, who runs Burson's Chicago office, said he could not comment on client relationships.

McGrath, who agreed to only respond to written questions, said the zoo's attendance and fund-raising efforts have not been hurt by the animal deaths.

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