S.B. Zoo






Early work

Santa Barbara Zoo

Bark Back for Conrad


How I wrote this ad:
The Santa Barbara Zoo had a problem: nouveau neighbors, affronted by the normal sounds of sea lions, had petitioned the city to have Conrad the sea lion removed from the zoo under the city's noise ordinance.

The zoo people explained the situation to me; what they wanted was an ad to rally the community to their side, and they already had the headline for me, SOS (for "Save Our Sea lion").

But I knew nobody would understand that. Instead, in the headline I gave a call to action for the public: BARK BACK FOR CONRAD, with a phone number for people to call. The phone number in the ad was for City Hall.

The result was astonishing. For two days the City Hall switchboard was swamped by hundreds of people who called and said "Oooort!" It was so much fun that the Los Angeles TV stations sent camera crews to Santa Barbara to cover the story. Two days after the ad ran, the City Council had a meeting and at the end of the meeting the mayor came out to the steps where the media awaited.

"What was the decision?" a reporter yelled.

The mayor grinned and said, "Oooort!"


Conrad the sea lion barks in the morning at the Zoo. He barks if he's hungry and he barks to prove he's the boss bull California sea lion.

He might not be boss bull long. 22 people in a nearby apartment building have filed a petition asking to have the animal removed under the city noise ordinance.

Conrad's days of basking in the sun with his two mates may be over. Unless the city council gives the Zoo an exemption from the noise ordinance, Conrad will be banished from Santa Barbara and we will lose this rare breeding colony of sea lions.

Zoos throughout the United States enjoy exemption from local noise ordinances, because everyone knows that elephants trumpet and whooping cranes whoop. That's their nature, and nature is what we are trying to preserve.

Conrad needs help. He's in a territory war with the apartments. His voice doesn't reach the city council. Yours can. The call of the sea lion sounds like "ooooort!" Friends of the Zoo: Call 963-0611 and say "Ooort!"