By Whitney Evans | July 17th, 2012
Giraffes have rights, too.
This week we will look back at wacky Freedom of Information requests or denials. Today’s denial was sent in by Charles Davis, associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and SPJ Freedom of Information committee member.
A reporter requesting a dead giraffe’s medical records was denied access because of the animal’s privacy rights.
After the death of Ryma in 2002, a giraffe housed in Smithsonian’s National Zoo, Washington Post reporter D’Vera Cohn requested the necropsy and pathology reports and the animal’s medical records.
However, this denial had some animal rights supporters scratching their heads, including Laurence Tribe of Harvard Law. Tribe supported legislation allowing legal representation for animal rights.
“It is sort of the fox guarding the hen house,” he said of the National Zoo. ”They are clearly the ones whose neglect or mistreatment might be at issue.”
Post reporter Cohn had few options after the denial because the Smithsonian is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, the Washington Post explained, because although federally funded, the Smithsonian does not belong of the Executive branch.
Despite this, the Smithsonian has a disclosure policy and has responded to other requests for information, the Post reported.
For the full article, click here.
Whitney is the summer Pulliam/Killgore intern with the Society of Professional Journalists. She recently graduated from Brigham Young University after studying journalism. Connect with her via email – email@example.com – or on twitter – @whitevs7
*Know something about Freedom of Information that you think we should cover in a blog post? We want to hear from you! Send information to wevans@HQ.SPJ.org. It may be featured in a future post.