A Farmington man says he's got the solution to boost crowds at Hogle Zoo and increase ridership on UTA buses, but he said public officials aren't listening.
The solution, says 80-year-old bell collector Elwood S. Clark, is to put oriental bells on the zoo's camels and help soften the roar and rattle of UTA buses by installing traditional Russian sleigh bells on their front bumpers."For people from Idaho, Colorado and Nevada, I'm sure it wouldn't hurt if they knew there were bells on the camels," Clark said.
Clark has been campaigning for several months to get the bells on the camels and buses and has sent one, similar to a cow bell, to Gov. Norm Bangerter. Clark owns a large collection of bells including those from Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, India, China and America. Clark said that camel bells are signifcant historically and philosophically.
"Cameleers put a bell on the lead camel when traveling across the deserts at night or through the dust storms to prevent camels from getting lost. Like camels, many people today, without caution and proper leadership, get lost in the storms and stress of modern society," Clark said.
In a letter, Bangerter told Clark that the Hogle Zoo camels were too wild for the bells but said he had sent the bell to Zoo Director LaMar Farnsworth just in case the zoo happens to get tamer ones.
"I appreciate hearing from you and hope you will continue to be concerned, as I am, about making our government more effective," Bangerter wrote in the letter.
Farnsworth said Bangerter was just "passing the bell" and it now sits in Farnsworth's office. Farnsworth said that the zoo's seven Bactrian or two-humped camels have not been domesticated and the bells would be inappropriate. To place the bells on the beasts would require a risky tranquilization of the animals, considered an endangered species.
"The camels probably did wear bells in India, but they wore them while they working them. These are wild," Farnsworth said.
Farnsworth said he has offered to put the bell on a domesticated llama at the zoo and would consider it for a domesticated camel if one is ever obtained by the zoo. Clark said he doesn't want the bell on a llama.
The Russian sleigh bells, grouped in sets of varying tones and fastened to the sides of sleighs, would have a calming sound that would mellow the loud UTA buses, Clark said. He also believes that the bells could increase ridership by signaling passengers like the old whistle on the Bamberger passenger trains that once connected Farmington to Salt Lake City.
"I called John Pingree at UTA. He wasn't interested. I don't see how it would do any harm," Clark said.
While Clark has donated the cow bell and wants to donate three other Indian bells for the camels, he said that UTA ought to foot the bill to buy the bells and have them mounted on buses.