Boston Zoo Takes Politics to the Birds, and Gorillas and Lions Too

The dismal approval numbers facing Congress combined with the ups and downs of the 2012 Presidential race lead many Americans to compare politics to a zoo.

Now one New England zoo is out to prove that politics really is for the birds, and gorillas and lions and anteaters too.

Boston's Franklin Park Zoo is holding its third " PreZOOdential Election" next week to elect an animal as the new "president" of the zoo.  The election will, appropriately, begin on Monday, Feb. 20, President's Day.

Franklin Park began the tradition in 2006 and found it so popular it did it again in 2008 and now in 2012, following the election calendar.

"We're expecting high voter turnout," Brooke Wardrop, the zoo's director of communications, told

Up for election this year are a lion, a lowland gorilla, a Brazilian ocelot, a giant anteater, a red panda and an Andean condor, oh my!

PHOTOS: Click here for a first look at the candidates and their platforms.

Taking a backseat this cycle is the zoo's current President, Kiki the Gorilla, who was forced to bow out of the race after two consecutive terms in office.

"Yes, we did decide to invoke term limits for Kiki," Wardrop said.  "We wanted to make sure that all  the "districts" at the zoo were represented, so we selected candidates from each of the various sections within the zoo."

The animals must plead their case not to their fellow zoomates but to the two-legged friends who stare at them from afar and will be the ones casting the ballots.  Beginning Monday and ending Friday, zoo visitors can vote for their preferred "animal-date" at ballot boxes in the zoo's Tropical Forest Section after, of course, they educate themselves on each of the six candidates' "platforms."

Christopher, the male lion, is running because  "everybody knows he is naturally King," according to his position page on the Zoo's website.  Jockamo, a male giant anteater, meanwhile, is clearly making a run for the Michelle Obama vote, promising to be a "strong voice for the importance of healthy eating and exercising," according to his page.

And for new mom Stella Luna, a red panda, her platform is early childhood education, a cause she has championed since she gave birth to twins on July 4, 2011, Wardrop told

As in a real election, just because you're not in Boston doesn't mean you can't vote.  Absentee ballots for the "PreZOOdential Election" may be cast online by e-mailing

So far, Wardrop reports, there have been no signs of dirty campaign tricks among the animals, although she did say that zookeepers get into the election-year fun by making campaign signs for their favorite candidates.

Ready to  fulfill your civic duty?  Click on each candidate below for more information:

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