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Letters to the Editor

Brookfield Zoo: How Illinois can help save the endangered pangolin

A pangolin carrying its baby in a zoo. | Associated Press

On the third Saturday of every February, World Pangolin Day is celebrated to raise awareness for these scaly anteater-looking creatures and the difficulties they face as a species. Just last month, officials in Hong Kong intercepted a shipment of nine tons of pangolin scales on its way to Vietnam. It had a market value of $8 million.

Pangolins are the most hunted and illegally trafficked mammal in the world. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, more than 1 million wild pangolins have been killed in the last decade as interest grows to use their meat and scales for jewelry, clothing and medicinal purposes. Trafficking of the eight species of pangolins is an international epidemic. Products are found for sale in the United States, including in Illinois.

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Earlier this month, state Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Buffalo Grove, introduced a bill, HB 1644, which would prohibit the possession, sale, trade or distribution of pangolin products in Illinois.

Since 2015, several other states have passed ballot initiatives or legislation banning the sale of pangolin products. It is time for Illinois to join them as a leader in pangolin protection.

The Chicago Zoological Society, along with five other zoological institutions in the United States and one private not-for-profit organization, founded the Pangolin Consortium in 2014. Its objectives are to gain a better understanding of the species’ behavior and physiology, raise awareness about the perils pangolins face in the wild, and provide funding to support field research.

There is still hope for the pangolin, and the Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, urges all Illinois residents to become involved in helping to save the pangolin. Write to your elected officials about the importance of saving this endangered species. Encourage your state legislators to support HB1644 by signing on to be cosponsors. You also can sign a petition to save the pangolin at CZS.org/SaveThePangolin. The petition signatures will be presented to the sponsors of HB1644 to demonstrate the public support for pangolin conservation.

Together, our efforts can help make a difference in protecting pangolin species now and in the future.

Stuart D. Strahl
President and CEO
Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo

State Rep. Jonathan Carroll, D-Buffalo Grove

$15 an hour seems fair to this business owner

Illinois hasn’t raised the minimum wage in nine years — and back then, it was raised by only 25 cents. That doesn’t cut it anymore.

When the costs of child care, education, health care, housing and transportation are all on the rise, wages need to keep up. Families depend on it.

As a business owner and as the mother of three small children, I see this from both perspectives, and they both lead me to the same result: we need to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

I started my company with my husband, and we did it with a mission to provide opportunity and fairness to everybody no matter their skill set or background. People deserve a living wage, and businesses that provide it benefit from having a respected and fairly compensated workforce.

While my business provides a living wage to our employees, there are plenty of companies out there that don’t. Those hardworking men and women deserve a raise too.

Consider the impact it will have on Illinois families, according to a report published in the fall by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute:

1.4 million Illinoisans will get a raise.

$6,300 would go into the pockets of low-income workers.

And 212,000 workers will be lifted out poverty.

That’s the future I want for my kids and my employees.

The fight for 15 has been a long time coming. It’s been talked about for years and even passed out of the legislature two years ago. But now is the time to make it a reality.

Illinois has the opportunity to put money in the pockets of a quarter of its workforce.

Now, more than ever, let’s make it happen — for the sake of mothers, fathers and children all across our state.

Jill Thomas
C
o-founder and co-owner of Golden Door Coffee
Chicago