Overland Park man complains about zoo’s Buddha statues
From The Kansas City Star
David Engle said he felt a chill down his spine Sunday on a visit with his family to the Kansas City Zoo.
He could hardly believe it when he saw zoo visitors rubbing the heads and bellies of two large, smiling statues of Buddha at the entrance to the Tiger Trail area.
“We can’t have a cross or a nativity scene on public property,” said Engle of Overland Park, who complained to a zoo employee. “It is phenomenal to me that the zoo would put up Buddha statues.”
Engle, who said he and his family are Christians, said it was idolatry and “infuriating to God.”
Buddha is the name ascribed to Siddhartha Gautama, a religious philosopher and teacher who lived in India in the sixth century B.C. and was the founder of Buddhism.
This was a new one for Zoo Director Randy Wisthoff, who said he has never heard complaints about the Buddhas before. He said they were purchased a few years ago at a statuary shop, along with concrete pagodas and a terra cotta warrior, to provide an Asian theme for the Tiger Trail.
“The zoo stays out of all politics and religion,” Wisthoff said. “I’m sorry somebody interpreted it that way. I appreciate his comments and concerns. We will discuss it with our board leadership and see if they want me to get rid of them.”