Saturday, December 9, 2017

Holidays at the Zoo - Animal Enrichment Video Links and Reviews

For those who follow this blog regularly, I apologize for the delay in follow-up to the last post about the Barrier Abuse at the Bear Cubs.  As well I have other Hot Topic posts including one very important to me that I've had in the works for over a year about the Komodo Dragon.  

I usually don't post my photos and videos to the blog anymore.  I used to sometimes, add in good stuff with cranky stuff, but since I don't have the time or energy to write about cranky stuff in a timely manner, when I do, the posts have been mostly concentrated on issue points.  If you aren't familiar with my Zoo related social networking sites, and want to see all the happy Animal stuff, please check out my youtube channel.  I'm not too timely with that most of the time either, but I do post alot of the fun stuff I see on visits to the Zoo Friends.  I usually Tweet out the links, so you can follow @leo811 on Twitter or Subscribe to leo811sf on youtube if interested.  

For this post, I am including all the links to my Boo at the Zoo Animal Fun here.  I try to do a post on this event annually, as there have been changes to it through the years, and one topic I like to pick at is what is being given out at the treat stations.   As I said, because of limited energy for posts (the Animal issue ones are just too upsetting to do most of the time), I want to concentrate on those Animal related..  That said, I didn't get all my Halloween videos Tweeted out, so I figured I'd do this post with good stuff, before trying to finish the bad (more accurate would be sad) post catch-up.  

You will see that the date on the Bear Cub video recent, when all the rest are timely to Halloween.  I spent over an hour with those cuties, who were getting Pumpkins for the first time.  There was too much cuteness and I ended up with hundreds of files to go through.  

Hope you enjoy all the Fun these Friends had!

From Boo at the Zoo Weekend

Chimpanzees - Minnie, Maggie and Cobby ... video

Chimpanzees - Cobby, Maggie, and Minnie ... still photos

Nile Hippo - Tucker

Great Hornbill - Hercules, 
Grizzly Girls - Kiona and Kachina, Wild Squirrel

Sifaka - Max and Mina

Mandrills - Banjo, Lulu, Pandora, and Angie

Wolverines - Kiwi and Rocky

Anteaters - Evita and Angelo

Black Bear Cubs - Valdez and Juneau ... video

Black Bear Cubs - Juneau and Valdez ... still photos

From Halloween Day 

Domestic Cow - Slider Happy Birthday!

Komodo Dragon - Falcor 

I'm trying to stick to Animal related issues, but as I noted I usually post about the treats that are given out at the Halloween Event.  Every year for past several or more, I have noted my disappointment that the Zoo would give out treats that contain Palm Oil.   I assume anyone reading this knows why that is an issue.  Despite me posting about it for years the Zoo continued to give these Animal Murdering treats out.  Well, I was happy and surprised to finally see a change this year and no Palm Oil treats were given out, and I didn't see the Cliff Bar (another Palm Oil user) people there either.  So Thank you to the Zoo for not supporting companies that support Murdering Animals.  Took long enough.  Sad.

I've been coming to the Halloween Event at the Zoo for over fifteen years.  I love Animals and Pumpkins and seeing them interacting is a wonderful thing!  Its always been a favorite time and these special treats led me to learn about Enrichment.  You will see in my videos there was lots of fun times for the Friends!  The only thing I'd like to see is more varied Pumpkin Enrichment options.  This is just a personal thing, but some of the Animals are given uncarved Pumpkins and some of them show no interest.  Some like them uncarved so they can dig at them with their claws and its great for them and super fun to watch, as you will see in the Bear Cub video.  That said, (yes I realize I say that alot), some of the Animals ignore the uncarved Pumpkins, so maybe giving two Pumpkins would be a good option for them.  Example.  Hercules Hornbill only had an uncarved one, and didn't show it too much attention, preferring to eat the treats from his regular feeding ball.  If there was a carved Pumpkin with his treats in it, that would have been a different Enrichment for him.


For those who don't know, on Thanksgiving Day, the Turkeys at the Family Farm are given a Holiday Feast on a silver platter!  I love this!   Its sometimes a roll of the dice whether they go for it or not, but its a lovely gesture by the Keeper and we sing my Happy Turkey Day song and Celebrate these awesome Friends.  ... This year the Chickens had a special meal too and the Turkeys shared their Yums with some other Friends! 

Thankful For These Friends!

Happy Thanksgiving Farm Friends!


Five years ago the Zoo finally caught up to other Zoos and started doing a Light Event.  First year, while some of the event lights were knocked out, I actually thought it was awesome and gave it a thumbs up.  Here's a cool video that was made and donated.  Not sure why my video doesn't have sound, there was great music to go with it, I can still hear it. Weird.  Anyway, cool and something, unfortunately that wasn't shown past year one.

Zoo Lights Light Show

The following years have all been a fail for the most part in the Light aspect of it.  There just aren't enough lights is my constant complaint.  I just think if you're going to have a Light event you can't go light on the lights!  Unfortunately the Zoo never goes all out or strives for much more than medicrity, which while complaint, is sad.

So, I've posted in the past that the Event area is too big.  I've suggested (in posts) concentrating it to a Entry Village to Cafe to Playground barrier.  I even think extending to Farm and having a Nativity Scene would be cool.  Last year lights started going up a couple months in advance, this year not until last week.  I've been told the area has been reduced, barriers as I thought would be good, with the extension to the Primate Center and Giraffe Barn.  The Primate Center will now host Santa.  I had a brief moment of glee anticipating the concentrated area would be doubled up on lights then!  Nope.  Also not happening this year are the vendors.  Three years ago they started having craft vendors in Entry Village which I thought the Holiday Gift Bazaar (my title for it) lite was a great idea.  That was gone last year.  A few vendors at the Lion Fountain last year were decent, but stuck in the back like that didn't create a Holiday Shopping vibe which is nice and near the Zoo Store is a more ideal location. Anyway I was told No vendors this year.  Curious as they could even do only in-house booths.  Docents could sell their buttons, even turning them into Ornaments very easy by adding a red ribbon and small bell attached to the pin back.  Another could be for the Adopt an Animal Program. That all said, the Wood cut-out Deco's I've seen are nicely placed, but I'll have to wait for someones report on the rest, as I don't plan to haul my cookies out in the cold night to see Holiday Lights lite. 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Hot Topic! - Barrier Abusers Put Bear Cubs in Danger

So, I think after my last post this post is going to pretty much write itself, as they say, a picture says a thousand words.  These pictures only need to say ten.  What the Hell are You Doing, Endangering the Animals Safety.

If you haven't, please read my previous post for back story on why hanging over the Barriers is a dire issue point.

I knew before these Precious Cubbies came to SF that there would be an issue with the Barriers at this exhibit. While they were renovating this exhibit and sprucing up the railings, I asked if there was a plan to put a deterrent, like maybe the staggered bamboo same as at the Anteater? No there was no plan.  Although everyone on Staff that I asked said, "That would be a good idea" or "I wish they would."  

This post was written the day after the Cubs arrived.  Two weeks before they went on exhibit. Plenty of time to add a deterrent to the Barrier.

I have stood at the Cubs at least two hrs a day, three times a week since they came on exhibit four weeks ago. I have seen a steady stream of offenders.  I have seen a steady stream of Staffers stand there and say nothing, with these offences are in action.  I have seen one Staff Member say something.  One.  I even asked a Staffer who didn't say anything.  I've pointed it out to several, "look", nothing.  Is Management telling those on Staff not to say anything to people?  Seriously, what gives that so many people do not find that this is a problem?  Wake Up!  This is a problem!

Does the San Francisco Zoo care if someone falls into an enclosure?

Bottom line, there needs to be a physical deterrent attached to this Barrier (as well that of the Black Rhino and Hippo).  As I've suggested too many times, the bamboo like at Anteater would work fine. Or even a short glass across the concrete edge of the enclosure like at Wolves, just so no one rolls/bounces into the enclosure.  Whatever it is, there needs to be something, because people do not read their few little signs. If they do not put something up, and someone falls in and jeopardizes the lives of these Babies, I am going to be alot more vocal than I already am.  My little blogging of "my opinions" is already a thorn in their side, what do they think happens after I've been documenting this for years and they have done nothing? Every minute those Cubs are on exhibit and someone is hanging over, the Zoo knowingly puts their lives at risk.  The same as it does for the other Animals in the same situation.  The Zoo knows.  No way they can't.  They read this blog and I've been posting about it for years.

I will note that the Cubs are pretty trained to come to a Cow Bell, but that should not be something they rely on to call them in if something as novel as a Human appears in their territory. Especially not after they are weaned from the bottle that they are coming to the bell for.  And I can tell you that the Rhinos and Hippo are not trained to retreat for a bottle.

I was asked by one Staffer what I blog about.  I said, "Everything. Good and Bad.  Things I see that aren't right."   They said, "... but that goes against our Mission."  Alluding to me that I shouldn't be blogging about the Zoo, if its anything other than what I see while wearing rose-colored glasses. I thought that was both curious and interesting.  What about my Mission to do what's right for the Animals?   They said, "But that's your opinion."  I said, "Yes it is my opinion, and its all based on facts."   Again they said, "But that's your opinion."   ... Well, it appears, These Photos are Facts, not Opinion.

I'm posting the collage of the Winner and Runner-up first because I don't want you to tire after seeing all the other offenders and give up before see these gems.  The Winner is something else.  Actually never seen anything quite as daring as this. I think at one point she might have let go for a second. And yea, the Runner-up offended in front of three Staff Members.  Its amazing that I can still take hundreds of photos of the Cubs each visit and still notice these misbehaviors, yet Staff can't.  Or they do and just don't care.  Then someone falls in and they are screwed.

Kids are constantly running by, playing, pushing each other and other basic not paying attention flailing about.  One of them accidentally bumps one of these Parents and their grip could be jostled and in their kid goes.

Keep in mind that these are just some of the photos I've taken.

Hot Topic! - UnSecure Barriers Continue to Put Animals At Risk

Its been more than a year since I've posted about all the things that I feel need to be documented and public.  As I've stated many times, Zoo issues really drain me.  It just seems never ending and for what reasons things just can't be right there, I'll never know.  I need the outlet this forum provides, but at the same time, I often try to put down my thoughts and I just get too overwhelmed to write anything.  What that's left me with is tons of notes and upset to match.  

This post was going to go straight into the issue with the Bear Cubs enclosure but as I am writing, I know this will take a turn into a repeat of issue points surrounding Barrier Abuse. I apologize to those that have read this all before.  You can skip straight to the next post, which I hope to write soon after this one.

The sporadic things I have posted about have been situational to that time frame.  While I like to post in chronological order, I'm trying to let go of that, otherwise being this far behind in my list of posts, I'd never get anything posted.  For now, I've narrowed down my issue points to that of Animal Welfare and Animal Endangerment. Both I've been writing about for years.  The later is a constant, as it happens continually.  As I sit here this moment, I can almost guarantee there is someone hanging their kid over a barrier, and most likely at a Code Red Animal enclosure.

I have endlessly posted about the Barrier Abuse issue.  If you are interested, please use the search box in the upper left corner and search "Barrier".  I have made a video about it, I have tweeted photos of offenders while I'm at the Zoo to both the Zoo and the AZA (more on that later), I have made a Facebook Page about Zoo Safety in general.  Its been almost seven years since I started being vocal about this issue, yet there are still three hot spots at the Zoo that go unprotected.  All Code Red Animals.  

Code Red Animals for those who don't know are those considered the greatest threat to Humans. These Animals have a shoot to kill order if they come in contact with a Human.  This means that for whatever reason, accidental or voluntarily, any Human that ends up in an Animal enclosure, the Animals will lose its life, if it at all appears to approach the Human. So, if someone hangs/stands their kid over/on a Barrier and they lose their grip for whatever reason and the kid falls in, the Animal gets a bullet.  Is this the Animals fault?  No.  Is it the Parents/Guardians?  Yes.  Is it the Zoos?  Yes.

Some Parents/Guardians will make the case that they "have a hold on the kid."  That is BS.  I'm sorry but this is a serious issue and to have any flippant reasoning is irresponsible and self-entitled. I will make a case for this in my next post with photos.  I'm sure the Mother who dropped her kid in the Wild Dogs at the Pittsburgh Zoo thought she had a grip too.  Or How about the kid who fell into the Jaguars at Arkansas Zoo.  Then there's the people who don't even watch their kids like the Mother at Cincinnati Zoo who got Gorilla Harambe killed. Bottom line, accidents obvious happen, so Zoos need to at the very least have Barriers that will prevent accidents, by having Barriers that no one can lean over, sit over, stand on, ect.

The Zoo makes little effort to protect the Animals.  Their effort is signs smaller than those cautioning not to enter unauthorized areas, and  that promote events and the sale of beer. For the longest time there weren't even those signs.  People don't really read signs, but at least there is some form of notation of rules.  Then they put up wordy signs about trespassing.  Most people can't even understand those.  Then they put up signs with the visual that is meant to say don't cross barrier, and I was told by visitors looks like, don't pee in the exhibit.  Again there are better ways to word and display signage, but the Zoo fails to do a decent job at that.  Let's be clear, even with decent signage, there is a desperate need for better Barriers.  But, that doesn't mean bigger, better and more signs shouldn't go up.  I tried to campaign for more Animals to have glassed in enclosures.  That went no where.  I knew the Zoo would never fund for that, but at least the need and reasoning for something additional to protect the Animals was out there.  

When the male Giant Anteater moved to the exhibit across from the east end of the Lion House, he had no protection.  People would stand, lay across and hang over his barrier.  Not only is this disrespectful of his home space, but again if someone falls in, doesn't end well if the Animal approaches the Human.  He is not a Code Red Animal, but he could do some serious damage with those claws.  Going back to at least 2012 I blogged about it, a Docent I know emailed the Director about her concerns.  It wasn't until an impending AZA Accreditation inspection in 2015 did the Zoo put up a barrier to deter people hanging over the Barrier.  ... At this time they also put up some silly little metal lips at Hippo and another odd metal strip at Asian Rhino that does nothing to deter.

Attempts at Fixes.  The Zoo has made some.  Although the Bears, Rhinos, and Hippos are still desperate hot spots.  All Code Red Animals. ... Along with the Anteater, after the Harambe Gorilla Tragedy, the SFZoo added additional Barriers to both Gorilla and Chimpanzee enclosures.  I thought it was interesting choices, since they did nothing to fix issue points at Bears, Rhinos, and Hippo and those are the three places I continually see offenses every visit.   ... A couple weeks ago some large poles went up in front of the Asian Rhino.  I can only assume this will be some sort of deterrent? Although considering that there is one Barrier there, an additional one short of glass only needed to be the staggered bamboo fencing like at Anteater, to deter sitting and standing on the railing.  These poles look awful, and even if they put wiring across, will not keep people from hanging over.  All this while people continue to hang over at Bears, Rhinos and Hippo.  Glass is the only way to protect this Animal since his enclosure is level with people. 

Most all of what I'm referring to is to protect the Animals against the daily accidents just waiting to happen.  Someone entering intentionally, is not going to be stopped by anything short of enclosing all the Animals (at least the Code Reds) with glass.  That said, I don't think an Animals should ever lose their life because of someone who decided whether of sound mind or not to enter an enclosure.  I know this way of thinking would never become rule, because Society values Humans,  higher than Animals, but it should.  There was a Zoo that had someone try to commit suicide by entering the Lions enclosure and they killed the Lions.  This to me is insane.  I have been at the Zoo when they have been on alert for someone trying to end their life in this way.  I would be devastated if one of our Animals lost their life because of this.   Our Grizzly Girls almost lost their life when an unstable person entered their enclosure. Thankfully they didn't want anything to do with the Human, but if they did, Bang!  because the rifles were aimed at them.  While these are extreme and random, these things obviously happen and there should be better guidelines for situations where the Animals should be at risk for being killed. 

So, about the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums).  I had written to them on a couple occasion about Animal Welfare issues, the first time for help for the Andean Bear who had lived 24 years on concrete when it was known he had bone issues from doing so. They never responded.  He was put down still having full mental capacity, but because his poor legs literally were pounded to death and he could no longer walk.  RIP Wishbone.  I had sent them very detailed information on many issue points prior to the Zoos Accreditation Inspection.  Not to prevent Accreditation, but hoping that as the governing organization over Zoos, that they would at the very least do something about some of these issues, the Barriers being one of them.  Its been two years now and the Barriers are still an issue, and the Chimps house still has peeling lead paint.  I see the Chimps picking at it and eating it.  I have Tweeted them numerous times while I'm at the Zoo with photos of people on the barriers.  No response, until recently.  So you can see I don't have much faith in them.  That said, I continued to document and alert, and like I said, until recently.  To my surprise the AZA Tweeted back and asked for me to send any other documentation to the accreditation dept.  I appreciate them finally showing interest and I will send them this blog link and the next one.  They will have all the information they need and we will see if there will be any changes.

Next up (hopefully today) ... Barrier Abusers Put Bear Cubs in Danger

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Saturday Visit - The Good, Bad and Inappropriate

I rarely go out on the Weekend.  I knew the Cubs would be getting snow, so I braved the heat and holiday crowds, to go out for a bit and see these babies having some fun that I hadn't seen yet.

                                          Cubbies in the Snow!

On the way out, the Lemur Cafe was shut down as the Fire Dept was there.  Apparently it got so hot in there it tripped the alarm and SFFD came out.  Allegedly there are no fans or Air Conditioning in the grill/kitchen area.  How is that possible?  I have no idea what laws are for this, but I can't imagine its legal to have employees operating the grill/fryer/ect.  especially in warm weather, without the relief of a cooling system.  The Cafe is run by an outside company, but it must follow Zoo Management as I understand.  I think its pretty cruel, especially with the heatwave, to have no way for the employees to stay cool. This all said, come on SFZoo, make sure the workers in the Cafe have better working conditions. This was the Bad.

Now for the  Obnoxious.  I hate to have to write about this, but I got a feeling I need to document this interaction.  I wanted to say something to management about this, but every time I talk to them about something like this, it seems to get sloughed off.  Different rules apply when I complain about something.  Like the times I've said something when Visitors have put Animals in danger and I've been sworn at by Visitors and management does nothing.  For those not interested, I understand, skip it and check out my Cub group on Facebook Rescued Bear Cub Club for videos of the babies enjoying the Snow and Ice Treats!

While watching the Cubs, a couple started talking to me about how cute they are.  I said, I know, I've been out several times a week and love them so much I have a FB Group for them.  The guy said, "The Zoo should hire you."  I laughed and said, "Oh the Zoo would never hire me, they don't like me."  He asked why.  I said,  "Because I look out for the Animals and if you care about the Animals too much, they don't like that."  One of the Docents there then stuck herself between us and said, "That's not true. The Zoo takes good care of the Animals."  The couple looked at her like what's going on?  I said to the Docent, "I never said that they didn't take good care of the Animals."  I turned to the couple and said, "Did I say that?"  They said, "No."  The Docent went on saying, "Yes you did."  I said, "No I didn't."  She continued to say I did, so I asked her to tell me exactly what I said that implied that.  She had to think for a minute and then said, "You said, The Zoo doesn't like people who care about the Animals."  I said, "That's exactly the truth."   ... But, that in no way implies an opinion about the care of the Animals.

Digress - That is what I said, because in my experience that's the truth. It had nothing to do with their care. The Zoo Director and other Management do not like if anyone cares too much.  Its no secret, I've written about it, and its been demonstrated at Zoo Meetings, when I personally have seen Management, Park and Rec, and Board members roll their eyes, when Keepers would bring up Animal issues that they could not get addressed any other way than in that forum.  As well, in the way so many long time Keepers have either been let go or run out of there, for addressing Animal concerns.  Good Grief, the Zoo went without a Vet on Staff for almost two months, relying only on covering the schedule with previous Vets.  How did this happen?  Allegedly one Vet "retired", or was asked to in lieu of being fired. The other was allegedly fired for allegedly trying to do best by the Animals and having Management oppose.  The Director eventually hired back the Vet that she allegedly fired in the wake of the Patas Monkey scandal, that was documented by KGO News.

Anyway,  So this Docent insinuated herself into our space and interrupted our conversation, and then proceeded to call me a liar.  She didn't hear the whole conversation, and had no idea the progression of the conversation.  In my opinion she was out of line and once again someone there is calling me a liar.  ... I know for a fact that my passion and commitment to watching out for the Animals and speaking up if I think something isn't right, is exactly the reason the Zoo Director and her Management Minions do not like me.  They have no other valid reason, and that is why I have still never received a valid reason for either time my Membership has been taken away. Because what else am I doing while I'm there?  I'm watching the Animals.  I don't even report people over barriers anymore because they don't do anything about it.  So SFZoo, what is it that I'm doing that is so wrong?

Continuing on, So this Docent continued to make her case about the care of the Animals, saying she came from being Anti-Zoo, yadda.   I didn't want to continue with her, but since she was going on and on, touting her position, I was curious, since I had recently witnessed a Docent do nothing when the Bear Cub fell into the pool a couple weeks ago, and I continually see people over the barrier and they say nothing.  So, I said, "I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I want to ask you, Would Advocate for the Animals if you saw something that wasn't right?"  She said, "Yes if she saw an Animal in distress, I would go to Education,..." (I'm thinking go to Education? If an Animal is in distress, why aren't they calling Security?)  Anyway, I said, "That's not what I mean."  I said, "Let me ask you this, Do you think that the Komodo Dragon is living in the ideal situation?"  She said, "Yes, because of his medical condition,..."  I said, "They committed to building him a new home before that and never did."  She said, 'He was small."   I said, "I'm not going to argue about that", and I asked her If when she first became a Docent (2012), at that time did she ever look at the Chimps and think they should have better?  She said, "They are old and can't be moved around."  I said, "Tanya (Director Peterson) tried to kick them out, after they lived here near 50 years,  so she could bring in Orangutans.  I saved those Chimps."  All she had to say was, "We are still getting Orangutans."   I said, "Well, what you've told me is what the Zoo tells you.  You might want to learn more about the Zoo than just what you're told."  Which is true.  I don't believe just what people tell me.  No one should.  I was endeared to the Animals and became passionate about the Zoo almost ten years ago, and I did my research. I read every article on SFGate ever posted, I read every Joint Zoo Committee Document, I searched all the Animals by name,  and found out their history.  Why, because I was interested in learning about the Animals I was lucky to know.  Sadly, even back then I was told by a Staffer that some didn't like me , because it was weird that I cared to know so much about the Animals.  Why would that be something weird?  I think its weird to spend time doing something and not wanting to know more.

Anyway, she walked away and I could hear her behind me loudly talking at groups of people, saying, The Zoo takes good care of the Animals, like she had to still counter something I said, which was NOT even something I said. So inappropriate.

Like I said, I wanted this documented, because who knows if this Docent shared her interaction with me, the Zoo may decide to make something of it, even though she instigated the interaction and at no time did I say anything untrue or inappropriate.  I can talk to who I want.  I can say what I want.  I'm not being vulgar, or threatening, which is in their guidelines. (Although remember, people have been vulgar and threatening to me, yet when I report it nothing is done.) Its not bashing the Zoo, by pointing out things that could be better. It shouldn't be viewed as wrong to want better, instead of accepting mediocrity. I don't often talk about things like that with other visitors, but that conversation with that couple was initiated by them and led that way.  And what I said was true.  The Zoo would never hire me, they don't like me.  They don't like me because I care too much.   

Additionally, contrary to what I've heard, that being that I make stuff up, what I write in this blog, is reflective of what I see with my own eyes.  The Komodo Dragon lives in a Terrarium.  The Chimps have been slighted for over two decades and were set to be sent away.  People hang over the barriers. Those are facts.  Its all the truth.  Its curious that the Zoo is always so concerned with what I say or write, when If they felt secure in what they were doing there, I could say anything and it wouldn't/shouldn't matter.  ... As well, there are people who visit the Zoo everyday who make negative comments about how they think the Animals are, and the enclosures they are in.  I hear them.  Yet its only my opinions that seem to matter so much.  

Ok, so I've sorta digressed again.  Its not right that I should feel like I have to write about such things and repeat stuff I've previously written about.  I got other things to do.  Like write a detailed post about the Komodo Dragon.  But back to yesterday, Bottom line, I should not have been verbally attacked (how I felt) by this Docent and called a liar.  She should never have interrupted a private conversation, or went about involving other visitors with her misinterpretations.  

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Security and Docent FAIL During Urgent Animal Accident

Yesterday 8.28.17 marked the Cubs fourth week out on exhibit!  Can't believe how fast time has gone by.   As I start to post (to my Facebook Group Rescued Bear Cub Club) highlights from week two of the Cubs being out on exhibit, I've decided to keep in chronological order and put this out there now.  

In addition to the Cubs having new adventures during their second week out on exhibit, on Tuesday of that week (8.15.17) there was an incident involving an accident with one of the Bear Cubs,  that really upset me. I came home and actually wrote a post about it, but then decided not to publish it and instead maybe talk to some key people at the Zoo in regard to specific issues.  So, like I said, I wasn't going to post about it, but then the next day after I talked to several people (both on Staff and not), I felt I should (and was also encouraged to) document what happened and my issue points and resolutions that in my opinion would better the Zoo. ... Some agreed there is room for improvement in regards to these two issues. Another (this person on staff) had the details wrong and really didn't want to hear the facts, to which I realized this person, as well probably others, really believes the Zoo operates at optimum.  That it's all butterflies and bluebirds, and no room for improvement.  Huh.  

So here's what happened.  I was watching the Bear Cubs. They were playing at the edge of the pool and the little girl fell backwards into the pool. A drop that I've been told was 20-40 ft.  I immediately freaked out, as she is not only very small, but had not even been in the pool yet, and I had heard varied accounts of whether there was any water in the pool, ranging from alittle to break a fall, and none, which would just leave concrete.  There was no Animal Staff there, no Security.  I'll say right here that I'm just painting the picture, I have no issue with Animal Staff, or this Dept. The second I saw her fall, I ran to the side to see if I could see her in the pool, (even though with any depth seeing into the pool was impossible), maybe on the stairs, something.  My phone hasn't been working right and I knew trying to make a call would take too much time.  I was growing worried as she hadn't come out and little boy was pacing the edge looking into the pool.  I saw a Docent and asked her if she had a radio. She did not.  I pulled out my phone, which as expected was wonky, so I asked her to call for help and pointed to the sign with the phone number.  I called out to little girl and no response. I started calling to the Keeper, but the way the exhibit is built it would be long shot that she'd hear me. I called to little girl again, nothing.  I was imaging her laying on the cement, unable to move. Finally I got my phone to work and I called Zoo ER number that goes to Security.  I got voicemail! Too much time had passed (several long minutes) so I turned to run to find someone, and saw Curator Ron walking towards me. I told him what happened, and he ran to the back, and I heard him call over the radio for all Keepers to Bears.  A few minutes later, after Keepers went to the ledge above the exhibit to look down to the pool, Keepers rang the lunch bell that the Cubs are trained to come to, to call little boy in.  He left the edge of the pool and ran to the den,  and as soon as he cleared the doorway, little girl shot out of the pool and ran there too!  I was so happy to see her run out and all her limbs working!  I was so worried, I did alot of praying and crying in that short amount of time.  Very thankful she was ok.  I did't know if she got the wind knocked out of her, blacked out, whatever it was that prevented her from surfacing til she heard the bell, but, geez (at the time) I wondered if I wasn't there and acted quick, no one else reacted to do anything, and she could have just laid at the bottom of the pool, possibly in critical state, for who knows how long.  I say at the time, because the next day I confirmed there was 2.5 ft of water in there and pool is 8-10 ft deep and she was swimming!  She was still checked out by the Vet and all was ok.

I'm glad, no matter how the Zoo Director and some upper level Management treat me, that I'm still there, watching out for the Animals.  They can try to make me the Villain and say things that aren't true so people think I'm the enemy, but thankfully I've been blessed to be there at a lot of the right moments over the years, to watch out for these precious Animals.  I'm also grateful to those who were there that thanked me, and those that always recognize value my observations and actions. 

So, my two issue points. 

#1 - Calling Security and getting voicemail.  Initially I was really upset by this, and immediately talked to Staffer Lamar about it.  He said it was probably a service issue.  If there was no service, I wouldn't have gotten voicemail.  So that wasn't it.  I later realized that possibly the Docent had gotten through at the same time I did which caused my call to roll over to voicemail. I thought that was a good possibility, but several people said they wouldn't count on that being what actually happened. I was also told, by a couple of people that it was when I told the Curator what happened that the call went out.  Regardless, to me, having an ER number go to voicemail is unacceptable.  That's like getting voicemail when you call 911.  There could very well be two ERs there at the same time. People need to get through. Hypothetically, with so many people breaching barriers there, when this pool accident was happening, someone could have dropped their kid in at Rhinos, and what, call to get a voicemail? While that's extreme, why even have that happen, when the solution is to just have two phones, and the calls roll over to the second phone when first one is busy.  Problem solved.  ... I also want to note that I did not leave a voicemail.  In previous times, when I would call and end up hanging up, one of the Security Guards always called back (caller ID) to find out if there was a problem.  No one called back this time.  

#2 - The Docent just standing there watching the accident unfold.  I wrote years ago about the lack of awareness and initiation from the Docents.  For one, the Zoo doesn't hire enough Security Guards, so they should teach the Docents how to identify situations in which they should call Security.  Not that Security is all that aware either.  Alot of Staff could use a lecture in being aware of visitor misbehavior and identifying Animal issues.  Anyway, back to this incident.  This Docent stood there and watched and would never have even thought to call for help unless I asked her to.  I don't understand that. Witnessing a situation where an Animal is possibly in distress and just standing there?  That just shouldn't happen.  If the Zoo cares enough about this, they can ask me who the Docent was. ... If Docents are not going to carry radios, they should have the ER number programmed into their phones and instructed when to use it.  If the Docents aren't going to be extra eyes on the grounds, what are they there to do? because most of the time they don't even have the facts about the Animals correct. ... I retold this incident to another Docent the next day and she said she didn't even know there was an ER number!   Does anyone actually guide the Docents?

The Zoo needs to have a back-up ER cell phone, so no call goes unanswered.

The Zoo needs to educate their Docents to identify situations that would require them to call Security, or at least go and seek help.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bear Cubs on Facebook! - New Group for Fun and Facts

I apologize.  I posted last Saturday that I would have another post later that day.  That didn't happen. I have been working on a new Facebook Group, and didn't get all the info sorted that I want to include so I put it off, planning to launch and post about it by mid week.  During Tuesdays Zoo visit, there was an incident that was upsetting on several points.  I got home and spent the evening writing about that, but at the end, decided to hold off on posting it.  Will get back to it.  The rest of the week was busy, and I've been sorting through 1000+ Bear Cub pix the last couple of days!  And that number doesn't include the hundreds of videos.  

Today I will launch my new Facebook Group, Rescued Bear Cub Club!  I know, I already have so many online ventures I can't keep up with, but I start each of them out of passion and intention of making them all they can be.  Often, time and energy drain get the best of me.  I do try my best and its always for the Animals, that's what keeps me going.  So, please visit my new Group!  Join, Contribute, Share or just Lurk.  I think you will find it informative, and fun. Hopefully together we can add a bit to much needed awareness about how so many precious Cubs end up losing their Mothers and left orphaned.

The San Francisco Zoo's recent acquisition of two orphaned Black Bear Cubs, Juneau and Valdez, has created excitement and joy for me, as I have never known Bear Cubs.  I've wished for the experience of not only seeing a Cub, but the experience of watching one grow-up.  Now I have the gift of seeing these two precious babies grow and thrive.  I have been endeared to these babies from before they got here.  I am drawn to their story, and the plight of other abandoned Cubs.

The news of their impending arrival reminded me of the first Bear Cub plight I followed online. Sadly that Bear didn't have the opportunity these two will have.  I don't remember how I came across the story of little Bear Cub Makoon, but I followed his journey from early start to finish. A journey that was frustrating and a finish that was heartbreaking.  Makoon was found near death on the side of the road in Manitoba, Canada.  Rescued by a member of the public, a Sanctuary offered to rehab him until he was old enough for release.  They were denied by the Government, who instead allegedly placed him in the Assiniboine Zoo.  Despite public outrage, and opposition of experts, he was allegedly released into the wild at five months old to fend for himself.  This is younger than the two Cubs currently at SFZoo.  There was never any proof provided that Makoon ever made it to the Zoo or to the Wild. It is speculated that Manitoba Government killed him. His sad story is documented on the Facebook Page linked below, which also serves as an advocacy platform, for Bears and other Wildlife.   

The woman who started this Page for Makoon was instrumental in advocating for him every step of his journey.  She kept track of all the details put forth by the Assiniboine Zoo and Manitoba Government. When something wasn't right, she asked questions.  Her name is Judy Allen Stearns and she rocks!  I'm lucky to have met and remained friends with such a driving force for Bear Cubs.  I learned alot about Government interference, and cried alot over something simple as doing right by a vulnerable and in need young Being.  She and her Husband Roger are in the process of opening their own Bear Cub rehab facility on their property in Manitoba.  

San Francisco Zoo has provided forever homes to other Wild Born Animals in need, including three Bears.   

The first Bear rescued was in 1980.  Wild Born Polar Bear Ulu, came to the San Francisco Zoo at approximately three years old.  She and her Mother, along with two other siblings (all who are thought to have found homes in other Zoos), were repeat offenders in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.  Its common for Polar Bears to head into town in search of food.  The ones lucky not to be involved in a direct Animal/Human conflict and killed on sight are caught and taken to Bear jail, then released by helicopter far from town. They are marked and if they return, the three strike limit applies even to Bears and Ulu had reached hers.  Thankfully her life was spared, when a forever home was offered by the SFZoo.  We were lucky to have her.  I loved this Lady and I am honored to have known her.   She lived a long, happy life, passing in April this year.  At 36, she was the oldest living female Polar Bear in a North American Zoo and estimated to be one of the oldest in the World.  
The two Grizzly Sisters, Kiona and Kachina, have lived at the SFZoo since being rescued in Montana in 2004.   They had lost their Mother, who was euthanized by State officials after an Animal/Human conflict situation.  Orphaned, they were rehabbed and released at a year old. Fending for themselves they eventually ended up coming into human populated areas in search of food.  Like Ulu, they ran out of strikes and at almost a year and a half, they too were set to be euthanized before being offered a forever home at the Zoo.  

How do all these Bears end up in peril?  The information we have on SFZoo Bears, Ulu, and Kiona and Kachina, has been attributed to Animal/Human conflict, with these Bears repeatedly coming into human populated areas in search of food.  The case with Makoon, our Valdez and Juneau, along with the other seven Cubs rehabbed this season at the Alaska Zoo, is unknown. Cubs can become Orphaned, for reasons of conflict that results in Mother's  being killed for nuisance,  abandoned because they are weaker and can't keep up,  and being illegally or legally murdered.  Yes, it is legal to Hunt Bears in many places.  Our current disgrace of a President has also made it legal for blood thirsty Humans aka Hunters that Murder for joy, to legally kill Mama Bears and their Cubs in their dens.  This Bill includes the same parameters for Wolves.  The allowance of these acts of violence are in my opinion, barbaric, horrific and downright evil. 

It is thought that the Bear Cubs who have come to live at the SFZoo, became abandoned as a result of Animal/Human conflict.  The specific reason is unknown.  These Cubs were rescued by the Alaska Wildlife Dept. and rehabbed at the Alaska Zoo.  It was determined they were not candidates for release because they had been too habituated by Humans.  Releasing them would only cause them to wander into a town and be at risk for being killed.  Homes for all have been found in North American Zoos.

Interviews with the Alaska Zoo Director, in regard to these Cubs,  have him urging for more Bear Awareness.  If you live in or are traveling to Bear Country, few tips include, keeping trash inside, don't put trash out until day of pick up, take down bird feeders, don't leave pets or their food outside. Helping to reduce interaction will help to reduce the number of Orphans.  So, while our disrespectful President and other evil demons are out there murdering these precious Beings, there are kind souls who do everything they can to help these babies who are desperately in need.   

I have learned these basic tips, but there is more information out there.  You can visit:  or a simple google search will turn up many results for those who want to learn more on Bear Awareness and Orphaned Cubs.

This Group will document the growth and life of the San Francisco Zoo's two Black Bear Cubs, Juneau and Valdez, along with other Cubs the Alaska Zoo has rehabbed this season and sent to forever homes at other North American Zoos, three Black Bear Cubs to Greater Vancouver Zoo and four Brown Bear Cubs to Oakland Zoo.  I will also post related stories about other Orphaned Cubs as I come across them.  

Hope this has been interesting and informative.  In an effort to spread the awareness and information, I may also post this to the Group in full and/or in parts.  Sorry for the repeat of info if that happens.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bear Cubs Debuted This Week!

I've been trying to get this post done since early last week, but with seeing the Cubs most of last week and my Birthday yesterday, I'm just now finishing it and posting.  

So Yes!  The Bear Cubs are out!  I can not even express the amount of cuteness that's going on with these two!  They are a complete delight and and joy!  I am so happy to be able to know these babies and be able to watch them grow up.  I feel very blessed.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to see Bear Cubs and following their journey has and will be an incredible experience.

The Cubs were let out into their enclosure for public viewing last Monday and were on view from 10a-noon and 2-4p, with a bottle and nap break in between.  That will probably be the schedule again this week, unless they choose to extend or shorten times, pending the Cubs needs.

I watched these babies both viewing times Monday and in the morning Tues, Wed, and Thurs.  I seriously can not get enough of them (and I'm not the only one)!  I'm still going through my photos and video from Monday. The babies were very active, exploring their new home, running and chasing, rolling and playing, climbing, they were all over the place and it was great fun for them and me!  I think I captured alot of their "firsts", and look forward to sharing them.  Check back for my next post later today.

By the end of the day on Monday, the babies were showing signings of tuckering out.  They had too much fun and excitement!  This low energy moment came just near 4p, and I was lucky to capture them sitting side by side. 

I had been referring to them as Dezi and June, in relation to the areas they were found in,  Valdez and Juneau.  I was surprised and very happy to learn the Keepers were calling them the full names.  I hope the Zoo allows these names to become official.  With every new arrival, whether born there or transferred, I fear the worst in naming, ever since poor Tucker Hippo was named after a ballplayer and that trend took off.  So sad and disrespectful.  Animals deserve names that mean something to them, their species, or at the very least a name that fits. 

I have posted a few videos so far.  I'll link the first one, if you want more Cub Cuteness, you can click on my user name you can view the others.  I'll also add more today. ... The Cubs first order of play was the trio of tree trunks! So much action on these, they showed them attention all week!   Little Girl Juneau was quick to start stripping the bark off everything she could lol!  They had a ball!   

Here's the initial fun

Sharing these Cubs is one reason for this post, the other is I have found it very curious that the Zoo has not taken the opportunity to talk about these Cubs in detail.  What I mean is, not only is it exciting they are here, but their journey is one that should promote awareness.  They should have posted about their acquisition, as soon as it was secured.  I finally posted about it two weeks after reading news articles out of Alaska.  The Zoo first mentioned it, that same day, most likely after getting wind that I had broke the news.   

I haven't looked at the Zoo Facebook since last week, but as of Monday evening, there was still no mention of the Cubs, since that day more than two weeks ago (after my blog post), and the Cubs were now out.  In my opinion they have really dropped the ball, following these Cubs journey, from the Alaska Zoo, to quarantine, to their first day out. They are going to be popular and posting about them every step of the way and about their story would have been wonderful for visitors to follow and a great way to spread the message they represent.  I'm not surprised, but it saddens me sometimes the missed opportunities to share and educate people.  

Education is something the Zoo puts forth as part of their Mission, yet they fall short in doing so.  For years I blogged about Awareness Days that I'd visit the Zoo and find there is no information being put forth, either in display or talks. In the last few years, they have seemed to step it up a bit, but not enough in my opinion compared to the plight of so many Animals.  They did a good one for Rhino Day a few years back, but then on Thursday, there was no evidence at the Zoo that it was World Lion Day.  Lions are having a really tough time these days with poaching, canned hunting, and other evils that threaten their species, and nothing to build awareness about that.  Maybe at the Keeper talk it was mentioned, but what, those talks reach a couple dozen people, when an average of four thousand walk through the gates each day?   There needs to be some displays at Entry Village circle, appropriately outside the Education Building. 

As I expected, these babies are very popular.  Not only did a see a few of the same people come by to see them, there was a continued heavy stream of visitors lined up along the barrier for extended time watching with smiles and more comments of how cute they are than I can count.  Also as expected, there were too many people dangling their kids over the barriers.  The first one within ten minutes of the Cubs being out for the first time. UG.

Anyone who know me, or is familiar with my blog, this issue is something I write alot about and did in regard to the renovation of this exhibit.   

I have watched and called attention to this issue for over six years now, and the Zoo fails to do little to keep the Animals safe.  I have yet another post in detail about Barrier Abuse at the Zoo, so I won't digress too much here, other than to say, the Zoo had the opportunity before these Cubs went on view to secure this barrier railing with a deterrent and they didn't.  I pray these babies stay safe, because no one at the Zoo seems to care about safety.  You can see that by the photo I posted, the person over the barrier is in front of the Zoo Security Ranger and he wasn't the only Staffer who this happened in front of.  There was one Docent on Thursday who said something to someone, but that was after three previous days of nothing. I have heard that Management allegedly tells Staff not to say anything about certain misbehavior, so I have to wonder if that applies to dangling over the barriers of code red Animals, because I see this every visit.  The times I have reported it and Security has got there in time, they and Zoo Management seem to make light of the issue when talking to visitors. I don't know, I think its as serious an issue as I make it out to be.  Anyway, I'm not trying to hate on the guy (Ranger), he's nice to me, as are the Security Guards, Docents, and many Staffers, but MY mission is to document issues, and if anyone is not putting forth their best to be aware of misbehavior that could endanger the lives of any of the Animals, I'm going to be vocal about it.  I'm sorry, but the Animals safety and well being is MY priority.  

Anyone, especially those employed by the Zoo should have their eyes on barriers at all times when near exhibits.  If they aren't doing that simple thing to keep the Animals safe, they need to ask themselves, ? How would you feel if you missed it or didn't say something and someone fell in resulting in the death of an Animal, when the target team shoots to kill in an effort to save a human? Because that is exactly what would happen.