Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Falcor's New Home! - Photos and Video of New Komodo Dragon Home!

I'm FINALLY Getting A New Home!

I was so happy to hear Falcor's new home would be built in the old home of my precious beloved Zoo Friend Goober the Tapir.  I loved that guy and I love Falcor, so I'm very happy that Goobie can watch over Falcor.

I think originally a new space was going to be built out, but I'm glad they went this route. I'm a fan of repurposing areas and buildings that we already have.

For those that don't know, this blog (and my first one gooberssfzoofriends.blogspot.com) is named for Goober.  Too many people would call Goobie an Anteater, and I'd say to him something like, good grief Goob, they think you're an Anteater and he would say, I'm not an Anteater!  Gosh I miss that guy.


My Precious Goobie will be
watching over Precious Falcor :)
See Goober's Spirit Orb in the photo?!

I took photos every visit, so here's my attempt at a time lapse of the build.  It was quick, about four months.  First pix are of the outdoor yard and then the indoor space, followed by a video of the completed enclosure!  FINALLY!  Falcor's Appropriate Home!


Hopefully Falcor will move in soon, and this wonderful warm weather we've been having continues and he can make use of his outdoor yard!  So Happy for Falcor! He is going to have a wonderful Summer and Fall in that yard!  I don't mean to be picky but I hope there will eventually be some grass. ... His life is about to get so much better, shedding tears so I'll leave it at that!  

Please view the previous post about his wait for this new home.

Komodo Dragon to FINALLY Get An Appropriate Home!

So, yeah, this post has been in draft for well over a year.  So long, that I've had to change the title and direction a bit from, Why Hasn't the Komodo Dragon Gotten a Decent Home?, to Why Did It Take So Long For the Komodo Dragon to Get a Decent Home?  

As the Zoo prepares to move Falcor the Komodo Dragon into his new home, I feel like before all the patting on the back fanfare, I must document the history of this Animal's history since arriving in August of 2013.  I have written many posts about him, which you can find by searching this blog for "Falcor" or "Komodo Dragon".   

Last year as I started to organize all my notes for this post, I realized that the last time I posted about Falcor was almost two years ago (October 2015).  It made me sad that I have waited so long to be his voice again.  I feel like a failure that I didn't keep his story a HOT TOPIC.  I've said this before, but I don't think many realize how much it takes out of me to do some of these posts.  This is not something I enjoy.  In fact it makes me physically sick most of the time, but I just deal with it, because leaving the Animals I know and love voiceless, hurts me more.  I know the Zoo (Management) thinks I live to be critical of them, but I really don't.  I would love nothing more than to have the Zoo do right by the Animals, so I didn't constantly have to wonder Why they can't.  I'd love them to do the right thing in every sense, so I don't have to wonder Why they can't.  I would love nothing more than the Zoo to be all that it can be, for the Animals that call it home and for those of us who love the place.   I'm not alone in that wish. 

As someone who went to the New Orleans Zoo with the goal of seeing the Komodo Dragon, I was really happy that we were getting one and it goes without saying that I did my research in learning everything about little (not even two years old) Falcor before he even got here.  Once he did, I watched every move the SFZoo made with him. 

Falcor was hatched October 8, 2011 at Memphis Zoo, the first after a decade of trying.  Named by his Keepers after the iconic Dragon in the classic film The Neverending Story. I was told by the Memphis Zoo Staff that he knows and responds to his name.

He has been a joy to visit since day one and from day one, he has been disrespected by the San Francisco Zoo.  

Before Falcor even debuted he joined a long list of disrespected Residents, when Zoo Director Tanya Peterson auctioned off his name to the highest bidder.  I have written plenty about my distaste for this type of fundraising, in regards to Animals who have established names.  Even those who don't (SFZoo Born), there should be some guidelines of decency.  In short, I think names should be respected, and if auctioned off, original names should be used in house and donor names only for public purposes.  I'll stop at that for now, as I said, my feelings about this are well documented. 

When his new name was announced, I felt sick.  It was the most disrespectful to date.  In my post about it, I didn't hold back how I felt. I'm not going to repeat that now, as I don't want to bash the donor again, as he is the one who has funded Falcor's new home and I'm grateful someone has come through for him.  That said, I have changed my position on this a bit, oh don't get me wrong I hate the name more than ever, but I blame the Zoo more for not only allowing the name, but using it in part.  Anyone that knows the Komodo Dragon, knows his official name is now Big Daddy Bahasa.  A name I will Never use.  As I wrote in 2013 when this travesty happened, NO Animal should be named Big Daddy anything.  As well, Bahasa, while in the Komodo native language, literally means the word language.  So this poor Animal is named Big Daddy Language. Some Animals who have donor names, get their original names used in house, but that's rare and poor Falcor didn't get that respect.  So, a sweet little two year old Falcor, has since been called Big Daddy by Zoo Staff.  They couldn't even have the respect to call him Bahasa. ... I was in a discussion recently with a Staffer who agreed it was disrespectful and said "Big Daddy" sounds like an inappropriate term between a young female and old man.  I almost cried thinking about my precious little Friend and that awful moniker. 

Falcor debuted in late August 2013, at the re-purposed Binowee Landing exhibit, now named Komodo Alley.  Appropriately named as it was a short walk-thru corridor, enclosed in glass.  This would not be suitable for him for too long.  Thankfully it was reported from day one, that he was to get a new home built for him within a year and a half.  ... A promise that was never kept.  

Over the next year and a half I asked many times about when his new home would happen.  No one knew.  Seems plans were talked about, tabled, and veto'd.  No one can decide on plan, on space, and there wasn't even money for it. What?!  I was told when he got there, One Million had been donated to build him a home.  Where did that money go?  It surely could not have cost a Million to create the Alley.  Was there never really that amount?  Was there only funds donated to get him in the door?  Then what? .. At that year and a half mark, brought in a new and shiny pet for the Zoo, Red Panda.  The Red Panda not only got a new spacious home, and a tree house built by and featured on the tv show Tree House Masters.  After that, the Zoo staff built two additional mini tree house platforms.   ... Falcor continued to just sit in a Terrarium.

Falcor was not only quickly outgrowing the Terrarium, it had become a barren dirt pit.  When he first arrived it was lush with greenery.  Within a year, plant by plant, it became void of green.  I asked about this and was told it was hard to keep plants in there.  So what, not try?  Not continue to provide him with any landscaping?  As well, he used to love to be able to look outside and one of those windows where he could see other Animals was covered up.  I never saw him get Enrichment either.  His living situation was beyond sad.  Why was this Animal, that the Zoo had to have being disrespected like this?  Why wasn't fundraising for a new home a priority?  Was it even mentioned at the annual ZooFest?  

Falcor lived for a year in that barren dirt pit.  It wasn't until the Zoo had their AZA accreditation inspection in October 2015, did he get any greenery.  Shameful and they knew it, otherwise they wouldn't have rushed to make it appear like he was living in a greenery landscaped habitat the whole time.

January 2015 


October 2015 


In the beginning of 2015, Falcor started to develop a bump on his lower spine at the point where his tail starts.  I actually didn't notice it until it became obvious in the Spring, but you can see in the above video taken in January, that it was starting then.  I asked about it continually for months and was told "they" (Vets and Animal Staff Management) knew about it and were monitoring it.  Monitoring it, they call it, what they were doing was watching it grow.  By the end of Summer, it grew to be approximately three to four inches off his body.  They waited over six months and until he allegedly couldn't walk to finally do something about it.   I'm grateful that they did all that they did do to help him, but geez, it really should have been alot sooner.  I'm not the only one who thinks that.  ... There have even been some questions whether his health issue was a one off for a Komodo Dragon, or whether the size of his habitat stunted his bones natural growth?  Some have also wondered if a larger area to exercise if he wanted to move more wouldn't have been helpful in his rehabilitation mobility progress.

Here's the Zoo's video regarding his health issue and medical treatment.  I take the diagnosis as an alleged truth because of factors in question.  I truly don't think anyone will ever really know why his spine became unhealthy. 


So let's get back to that promise of a new home.  I've heard Staff make reference to him not getting a new home because it was wait and see regarding his health issue.  As stated in the video "future unknown".    Well, that doesn't add up for me.  If a new home as promised within year and a half, of his arrival in August 2013, had happened, that would have been early 2015, so construction plans would have had to start at least six months prior, that's Fall 2014, before the Zoo knew anything about his health issue.  So hello, at that point "future known"!  ... Remember at that point they had already moved on to a commitment for Red Panda.

What's been happening since his surgery in November 2015 and two years later.  Well, a whole lot of nothing with his living condition.  He still lives in that Terrarium.  Void of greenery.  He has been getting therapy, and there have been different alterations to his space, I assume to accommodate his mobility progress.  Still he should have had some greenery, and a new home by this point.

From January 2017  

In July 2017 I noticed a box outside the one window he can look out of.  



You can see its like a chute.  It appears to measure less than 2 ft wide and about seven ft long?  Allegedly it was so he can go outside.  GO OUTSIDE!?  So via a hole cut in the wall, he walks in and with no room to move around, just sits there in the sun?  Then they turn it around so he is facing the hole in the wall and he walks back into the Terrarium.  I could have just cried hearing that.  At the very least they could have made him a little yard right there, plenty of room.  As you can see the chute in the rear of this photo and all the space around it.  


Worse, one day soon after, I saw him paw at the hole in the wall that leads to the box outside.  


I teared up seeing that.   He craves the outdoors.  When I'm there and he's near the window facing the door, I always open the door for a few minutes and show him the outdoor world and he loves it.  Perks up and is interested, rather than just laying there with no stimulation. I've also seen him huddle into the one ray of sunshine that has come through his window.  So sad.  


Soon after discovering the chute, I heard they started taking him off exhibit, up to an outdoor area so he could go outside on a natural surface.  Hallelujah!  As much as I love visiting him, every time I see the rope up at his Terrarium, I'm happy that he is on his field trip.  I was told that he loves it there and is active!  He thrives on those trips.  I wish he could just stay up there off exhibit until he gets a new home.  But, I don't know the full set-up and there does need to be a temperature controlled indoor environment for him, as not all days are warm enough to be outside.  That said, I was there on one of the hottest days this fall, 93 degrees and he was not on his field trip.  I felt like crying. 

So I asked yet again and again through 2017, When will Falcor get his new home?  I continually asked and allegedly all the plans had been veto'd as too expensive.  Each time this made me mad.  Why?  Four years later and still there is no money raised?  WTH?  ...  Additionally, and this is just me, if I was Director and my salary was near half Million a year, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing an Animal I brought here was in inadequate living conditions.  This Animal has been in need for years.  Why wait for a Donor, was a Donor even being sought?  Is there a reason the Director can't donate to the cause?

By the end of Summer seemingly out of nowhere, word was construction would begin on Falcor's new home!  FINALLY!  He waited so long!  Not the Thirty Years those poor disrespected Chimps waited, but geez, he waited and has been long overdue for MORE room!  

Construction began in October and its been a quick build!  He should be in his new home very soon!

Please View the following post that has photos and video of his new home!
http://iamnotananteater.blogspot.com/2018/02/falcors-new-home-photos-and-video-of.html

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Chronicle Follow-Up - Blog Comments and Writer Reply

I had a few comments on my previous post about an article in the San Francisco Chronicle written by Steve Rubenstein.  They contained some good insights, so I wanted to share them.  As well, the response I got from the Writer.  The Editor I guess could care less.


I just read the blog post about the staff writer and his taking some punitive jab at he way the bear cubs are housed. I see this lack of accounting for awareness by disparate writers sometimes and have written a few emails to these writers with no response. I imagine they get quite a few but I am glad that you detailed the plight of these bears and the entirety of the situation to the writer who was just making an assumption on initial responses. There are too many people that, to quote Nietzsche "take what they want and despoil the rest." I am forever seeing comments from ignorant people who see zoos as places that are ruining the wild spirit of animals. They don't seem to acknowledge that the wild places are disappearing thanks to their not understanding and that, under some circumstances, these animals can't be returned to the wild. Its purely their opinion and not a very good one at that because there is a lot they aren't accounting for, just like the staff writer. 
ReplyDelete

Replies

  1. @Anonymous- Thank you for your comment. ... The plight of the Bears were the catalyst for the response to this, because I think his words could hurt future rescues and he needed to now the severity of that action. ... Regarding what you have read, its more of that self-entitled mentality. Zoos ruining the spirit of wild Animals, what about Human responsibility for not only ruining , but taking the lives of wild Animals? It all makes me so sick. ... Thank you for also taking action in calling out writers. I've contacted tv shows, writers, and actors, about bad writing that sends the wrong message and never heard back. This guy at least wrote back (see below).

 AndieJanuary 30, 2018 at 5:28 PM
I agree with you 100%. The writer did not need to add that jab into the story line at all. Our precious black bears at the SF Zoo are comfy and happy. They have a pool and a meadow. I am so thankful that SF Zoo spoke up and took them in. Your video of them speaks volumes about how happy they are. It's absolutely adorable.
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  1. @Andie - Thank you for your comment. ... Those are two of my points, it was unnecessary and uneducated. There are things to gripe about the SFZoo, and this is not one of them! So, thankful they are here. SFZoo gets it right sometimes :) ... Glad you liked the video. I love those babies!
 AnonymousFebruary 3, 2018 at 9:27 PM
Totally agree with this blog post. I have read Rubenstein for years and sometimes he just gets a little too clever for his britches. The movement all over the country to save to save the lives of these bears who have been encroached upon by humans, (no NOT the other way around) is a wonderful thing and should be totally supported. Zoos as rescue centers are going to become more common out of necessity and will be a good transformation of the purpose of zoos.
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  1. @Anonymous - Thank you for your comment. ... Good to know this is his "style", repeat offender of bad writing. ... Indeed, whatever facility can save the life of any Animal in need, should be praised, and not faulted. ... I agree 100% and your last sentence. I may have written something about that in recent times, as I know I have talked about it alot. In respect to the SFZoo, I would like to see them not participate in as many captive breeding programs and focus on giving home to more Rescues.


Hello Chronicle Writer and Editor,

I was very upset by words written about the San Francisco Zoo in this article. I wrote an email that turned into a blog post.  Please take a read, as the words written were very Irresponsible and Unnecessary to the story.

An excerpt:

So, Rubenstein, you slam the San Francisco Zoo for the size and placement of its Black Bear enclosure.  Your flippant remarks that echo you obviously having a desperate need to be a novelist, shows a lack of understanding of what has happened at the SFZoo.  So, let me educate you.

In short, there were Orphaned Bear Cubs in need of a home.  San Francisco Zoo had an available home.  Their Lives were Saved.

Steve Rubenstein, you should be ashamed.

Here is the link to my blog post for the full text.
https://iamnotananteater.blogspot.com/2018/01/san-francisco-chronicle-writer-steve.html

Give it a read, you might learn something.

Kim

---------------

Dear Kim

Thanks for writing.  I’ve no need to be a novelist, desperate or otherwise.

If I made a factual error, please point it out and I’ll do my best to get it corrected.

All best

Steve (fellow bear admirer)

------------ My response

Its not a factual error, its irresponsible writing that could affect saving future lives.  Maybe you should do a story about Orphaned Bears in general.  A piece that would educate people about Bear Awareness and how to prevent these babies from becoming Orphaned and noting that there is limited space and unless Human interaction as well as hunting, is downsized, more Bears will lose their lives.

------------- No further response.

I was disappointed by Rubenstein's reply, but actually surprised he even responded.  I felt he could care less about the issue I had and the point I made, which to me, doesn't support his "bear admirer" position.  Instead he hid behind his safety cushion of reporting facts, regardless of any thing else.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

San Francisco Chronicle Writer Steve Rubenstein Takes Jab at SFZoo and I'm Pissed!

Some blog posts take me forever to get the energy to tackle, like one I've been trying to get finished for over a year.  Sometimes there are ones that don't take as much effort and luckily I can get done in a timely manner.  This is one of those.

When I started writing last night, (which I ended up too tired to finish), my post started with, ... I am so angry right now and for once, this time it's not at the San Francisco Zoo it's at the San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer Steve Rubenstein. 

Last night I got home, and before getting ready to wash the day off I took a moment to scan through email.  I have Google News alerts for about a dozen Animal and Zoo related topics.  One came through about the Oakland Black Bear Cubs First Birthday.  Those who have followed any of my social media forums know I love Animal Birthday Celebrations.  I smiled and quickly started to read the article.  I didn't even have a chance to get to the photos before getting upset.  Over the course of the next couple hours as I did chores, thoughts for an email to the reporter circled through my mind and that upset escalated to being really pissed off and ended with being downright angry.

These are the words that were the source of my upset:
You can read the full article here:

So, obviously I have decided to write about this here, which will be sent to Rubenstein.

I'm not sure what anyone else feels after reading this, but my issue with it, is that it is plain Irresponcible.  For me, that irresponcibility could affect lives.  

So, Rubenstein, you slam the San Francisco Zoo for the size and placement of its Black Bear enclosure.  Your flippant remarks that echo you obviously having a desperate need to be a novelist, shows a lack of understanding of what has happened at the SFZoo.  So, let me educate you.

In short, there were Orphaned Bear Cubs in need of a home.  San Francisco Zoo had an available home.  Their Lives were Saved.

Steve Rubenstein, you should be ashamed.

Every Orphaned Bear Cub, or any wild Animal in need, that can not be returned to the wild, is vulnerable to losing its life.  If there is no captive facility that can give them a forever home, they will be Euthanized.  Adults most often don't even get the chance of being placed in a facility. 

Oakland Zoo was in the process of building a new exhibit (California Trails) that would have multiple enclosures for native state species.  Their rescue of these three Cubs, thankfully included saving the life of their Mama as well. 

When San Francisco Zoo's beloved Ulu the Polar passed, her home was vacant for several months.  When contacted by Alaska Wildlife Fish and Game about an Orphaned Cubs, the San Francisco Zoo had the space to give them a forever home.  Thankfully their lives were spared because they had someplace to go.  

If Wildlife authorities do not secure homes for wild Animals that can not go back to the wild, they are put down.  Any captive facility that can save a life by rescuing them from that fate, should be praised, not knocked for the housing it provides, unless its inadequate, which does not describe the SFZoo enclosure.   Rubenstein's words are a detriment to facilities that rescue Animals.  So again, shame on this writer.  His irresponsible words might make the San Francisco Zoo and other facilities think twice before rescuing animals from death just because they don't have a State of the Art Exhibit ready.  That's just wrong. What's wrong with this guy?  

Do I wish the SFZoo Cubs had a brand new exhibit? Sure.  I even blogged about the space next to the Grizzly Bears, suggesting in the future it be built into an exhibit for them.  Is the enclosure they are in now inadequate?  No.  In fact it was renovated very nicely for them.  They are Happy, Healthy, and ALIVE.  Another thing, obviously without measuring, I think the space is larger than Grizzly Gulch, which was a newly built enclosure for them, when they were rescued. ... Is the Train annoying?  Sure it is.  I wish the whistle didn't have to blow and bother the Animals, but they do get used to it, it seems, and in the Cubs case they don't even seem to notice it.  They are food and play motivated and I rarely even see them look up at visitors. 

Steve Rubenstein, I have seen your name in print for many years, you should have more integrity with your words.  That whole paragraph was unnecessary and had nothing to do with the Oakland Bears Birthday.

I have been following the journey of the Oakland Zoo Black Bears since their arrival.  They are a joy to experience, and I include them regularly on my Facebook Group Rescued Bear Cub Club, dedicated to Rescued Bears, featuring our San Francisco Zoo Cubs.  I wish them a Happy First Birthday!  There is video of their party on Oakland Zoo's Facebook. ... Also note the Oakland Zoo has rescued two Brown Bear Cubs from Alaska as well!

Its still unclear whether our SFZoo Cubs will get a Birthday Party, I've asked but have not heard anything yet.  Happy Birthday to our babies! I made a video in honor of their First Year, you can view it here:  





Monday, December 25, 2017

Ten Years Since Tatiana - Are the Zoo Animals Any Safer?

For years my Holiday routine included a Zoo Visit.  I have had a Membership most of my Adult life, but it wasn't until the following year that my passion for the place and its residents would escalate and I would learn more about the Animals as individuals and be endeared to each one.  That Christmas Day in 2007,  I visited the Zoo Animals, even though I didn't know their names, I was thankful to be in their presence.  

I had two places to go that day.  I debated which to do first and chose the Zoo.  When I got home at 5:30p, I would learn that the Tiger in this photo was Tatiana.  Taken at 2:48p, probably that last photo of her.  By 4p, another visitor had seen the three evil delinquents who caused her death, harassing the Lions and didn't say anything to them or notify Zoo Staff.  By 5p, Tatiana was dead.  I would forever know the name of a Tiger I would never really know.  Her companion Tony would become one of my best Zoo Friends.


RIP Tatiana  Bless You and Precious Tony.  Thank you for trying to protect him and your home from Evil Delinquent Bullies. 

Hard to believe its been Ten Years.

Every Holiday Season since 2007, the Media has dredged up the tragic events of that Christmas Day.  Every year I'm pissed about it.  I think they do it just to have a sensationalized story.   Unless there is a new reason, there is no reason to keep bringing it up. So, as someone who hates when this story resurfaces, why am I bringing it up?  Its been ten years.  In my opinion not much has changed to keep the Animals who live at the Zoo, safe in their home.  Why is that?

If you read my last post, then you will understand why I feel this way.  While the exact circumstances are not the same, a barrier was breached, by both Tatiana the Tiger, and the Delinquints who led her to her death.  

It seems the media continues to focus on the height of the wall, which may or may not have played a part, but was not in violation of any guideline.  I had never participated in comment banter before this, but spent many nights up late reading every sfgate comment on every article and responding to many in the Zoo's defense.  All I knew is, if that exhibit had re-opened the next day, I would feel safe in front of it.  I figured the Zoo had been open almost 80 years and a Tiger had never escaped before, there couldn't be an issue with containment.  I thought that Tatiana gained super strength from rage toward her tormentors, and was able to use their legs as a ladder to exit the enclosure.  That said, in recent years I have learned from different sources that Zoo Management has allegedly known for over forty years, that the Big Cats could get out and as far back Visitors had reported seeing a Tiger's head peek out of the bushes that lined the top of the enclosure.  So many years ago, those instances didn't involve Tatiana.  In the summer of 2007, one person relayed that she heard rustling in the bushes and saw a Tiger's head pop up for a second.  That may or may not have been Tatiana, but it was one of the Zoos Tigers, showing that they could get out if they wanted to.  Even a Keeper said a Tiger could easily jump out.  So, in hindsight, not so sure I'd go and stand in front of that same enclosure.  

The point is, that even though entry to the enclosure was not the catalyst for that tragedy, unsecured barriers played a part.  All those years went by with different administrations coming and going and not one ever thought to put more secure barriers on exhibits that held Animals that could jump.  Just like today, people hang their kids over barriers, but I guess not until one falls in will the Zoo add a deterrent to prevent such a thing.  I pray all the time that never happens and the Animals stay safe. 

Even though I now know, an escape is possible, I had never felt and don't currently feel an Animal could get out.  My concern is that a Visitor could get in, most likely accidentally.  

I also want to say something about misbehavior.  I've written endlessly on this as well, but the barrier breaching is just part of bad behavior that is allowed at the Zoo.  Too many instances that parallel what happened to Tatiana, still going on today and the Zoo doesn't even give these offenders a reprimand.  One incident in which Visitors threw rocks at one of the Tigers who was sleeping, because they wanted it to get up.  You would think that person should have been thrown out, not only because of the action, but because of the direct reflection to the Tatiana tragedy.  Nope.  Zoo Management allowed those offenders to continue on with their day at the Zoo. Outrageous.

The way Visitors behave, breaching barriers, throwing things in enclosures, heckling the Animals, Howling at the Wolves, banging on windows, pounding their chests at the Gorillas, its all disgusting., harassment and bullying of the Animals in their home.  The Zoo Staff most often says nothing to these people, in fact they barely notice.  I've had Zoo Staff stand right next to me while people hang their kids over the barrier.  Security zoom by on their bikes with blinders on.  And if you do call in something, offenders are never ejected.  In fact I've witnessed Security and Management when they do talk to offenders and often they are so causal about it, I see them laughing.  Personally I don't think putting the Animals in danger or harassing them is funny.  I've stopped doing that because its a waste of energy.

How many more years do we have to wait for these issues to be taken seriously?  

HOT TOPIC! - Barrier Abuse at Bear Cubs Continues - Why? ... Update.

Hope everyone is having a Wonderful Holiday.   I wanted to post this by yesterday but didn't get the chance.  I have a post done for today, but this one needed to be posted first.  So, I take a bit of time this Christmas morning to finish it up and post.  One of the best things I can do for the Holidays is to finish all the posts that I have in draft, a gift to my Animal Friends, who when I don't post, I feel I let I let down.  I have long felt and it seems to be accurate, that I am one of the only ones, if not the only one, outside the walls, that is a voice for the Animals.  I'm not saying that to be pompous, but its the truth.  This blog is the only place you are going to hear about Zoo issues.  Its been a weight on me, six years now, but I do it for the Animals.  I don't want to, I don't like to, it often makes me physically sick, but my passion for their well being forces me to.  Anyone who thinks I have another agenda, doesn't know me and more important doesn't care about the Animals.

So, unfortunately I've had to write too many posts already on the subject of Barrier Abuse.  More than a few about the enclosure at Bears that was once home to the Andean Bears, then Polar Bear, and now Black Bear Cubs.  The barrier at this enclosure has been an issue point as long as I can remember.  Let me bring up the incident at Grizzly Bears in 2009.  This same type barrier, that runs along both Bear grotto enclosures, was breached by a man who entered the exhibit.  The end result was the Zoo's Target Team pointing rifle's after the Bears with shoot to kill orders if either of the Bears made aggressive moves toward the man.  Thankfully our Bears knew better and went to their night quarters when called.  They could have easily lost their lives.  That would have been on the Zoo for not having secure barriers or proper staffing monitoring the enclosures that are vulnerable.  

Hopefully I don't repeat myself too much from what I've written in previous posts, but I do also like to have each post as a stand alone, so sometimes its unavoidable.  That said, let me lay out the situation very siimple.  There are two ways someone can end up in an Animal enclosure, Voluntarily or Accidentially.  Both ways result in the Animals vulnerable to losing their lives for reacting naturally to a foreign object in their home.  Guns will come out, and Animals will be shot.

Someone entering an enclosure Voluntarily is something that happens rarely.  Unless enclosures are enclosed in glass, they are not going to prevent these situations, perpetrated by sinister minds.  We'd all like to see open air exhibits, but the truth is, these days, its a gamble each day whether the Animals will be safe.  In my opinion if you put Human lives above Animals, and that's the priority in the Zoo world, then all Code Red Animals should have fool proof barriers. ... Someone entering an enclosure Accidentally is something that happens multiple times a day.  These accidents are preventable with simple deterrents both ON the barriers, in signage, with verbal instruction by staff, and with serious reprimands (ejections).  Each one of these deterrents are not being put forth at the San Francisco Zoo.  ... The SFZoo will never glass in all Code Red exhibits, to prevent voluntary entry, but at the very least they can do something about preventing accidental entry.

In recent years, for varied catalysts, some physical improvements to barriers have been made.  The Anteater and Bobcat barriers finally got a jagged bamboo addition to prevent people from themselves or more often their kids, standing on or sitting hanging over the barriers.  This as simple as it is, I think is the best alternative to glassing in the enclosures, that I've seen so far.  I started blogging about the Anteater barrier issue years before they put this in.  Only when their AZA accreditation inspection was impending was something done.  ... I blogged about the breachable points of entry at Chimps years before anything there was done.  Only after a kid fell into the Gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo, that resulted in the death of their Gorilla Harambe was anything done at our Zoo.  Barriers at Chimps and Gorillas were reinforced and extended, apparently to avoid any copy cat type situations? There were some points to fix, but they were not the most vulnerable.  ... Next up the most recent barrier addition has been to the Asian Rhino.  A ridiculous metal strip was added to the barrier railing to prevent? people from sitting on it.  It was flat and posed no discomfort, so did absolutely nothing.  Now, there's not really an accidental entry threat, so adding the same type of barrier as at Anteater would have been the better option.  Curiously, they recently added an eye-sore barrier that I can't figure out and is frankly seemingly ridiculous as well.  Huge poles with metal wiring across it.  People still stand and sit on the barrier.  It looks bad and the same achievement could have been met with the jagged bamboo. ... A metal addition was also put at Hippo, that again did nothing to deter.  Hippo is a major hot spot for people hanging their kids over barriers, but at least there is a secondary barrier, to keep the Hippo in.  That doesn't mean its not a vulnerable spot, but it would take a bit of extra effort and rolling on a kids part to make it in, but it could definitely happen! The neighboring Black Rhino is another story.  I've endless posted photos about the barrier abuse there and nothing has been done.  There is no secondary barrier, if a kid falls over, one bounce and they are in the enclosure.  The same type of barrier is at Bears.

Anteater
New at Asian Rhino
Ugh

Constant calling attention to the barriers at Hippo, Black Rhino, and Bears, has done nothing.  Why is that?  The Zoo Management reads this blog.  Are they resistant to do anything because its me pointing these things out?  Selfish. OR  Do they really think that there is no threat to their Animals?  Stupid.  This is a real problem.

This past year I started tweeting photos of people over barriers as I saw them, both to the Zoo and to the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums).  I stopped for a bit after no response, and when I started up again, the AZA responded and requested I contact the accreditation department with concerns.  I played by doing so, but knew nothing would come of it, because I have contacted the AZA on two other occasions and nothing happened.  First time was when the Zoo did nothing to provide the Andean Bears with comfort, keeping them living on concrete exclusively and literally letting them pound their bones to death.  I called out the Zoo on this, alerted AZA, and wrote letters to Board Members, Donors, and the City Rec and Park.  There was no response to me or the issue. Wishbone the Andean Bear died from injuries to his bones that prevented him from being able to walk.  He died with no other medical issues and full mental capacity.  Euthanized because he couldn't walk. The Zoo's neglect to provide this Soul with a proper living environment, killed him.  ... I contacted the AZA with a long list of issue points they should check out during their Accreditation Inspection.  None of those things has since been attended to.  Its been two years this Fall.  The Chimps still live with lead paint peeling off their house.  I understand if a full paint job while they are still in that enclosure is not possible because of the toxic mess it would cause, but painting over those peeling spots to seal them at the very least should happen.  I have seen the Chimps reach at peeling spots, put their fingers in it and then in their mouths.   

So, you can see why its understandable that I don't have any faith in the AZA when it comes to pushing for necessary improvements.  I don't think they do anything that would really threaten any revenue they may get from a Zoo.   That said, I did contact the AZA as they requested, they responded to the barrier information that I sent them, which was basically a letter pointing out that I've contacted them in the past, ect. and including links to blog posts with photos of the abuse.  They said they would look into it and contact the Zoo if they thought there was an issue that didn't fall within AZA enclosure guidelines.  They included the guideline document.  I intended to read it, but never got to it.  Frankly, I don't think its on me to read through a document to see what's acceptable.  I'm not blind or stupid, I can see that people hanging kids over barriers is not right and that it puts the Animals in danger of losing their lives.  As I write this I guarentee there is someone hanging their kid over the barrier at Bear Cubs and the AZA and all non-Animal Staff at the SFZoo don't give a crap whether they fall in and our Cubs get killed while they retreive the kid.  Well, I care.  

I also know that the Keepers who care for these Animals care.  I think we are all curious why this is such an obstacle to get rectified.  Any Keeper (in any Zoo) that has insight to this, please comment.  Remember you can chose to comment Anonymously.

So, what's the point of this post?  I wanted to update on the correspondence with AZA and I also feel its necessary to keep this issue relevant, until something is done.  This barrier needs at the very least the same jagged bamboo addition that was put at Anteater.  This barrier must be made impossible for someone to stand on, sit on or hang over.  This must be done sooner than later.  

So I am again calling out the San Francisco Zoo to make the barriers not only at Bears, but at Black Rhino and Hippo, safe for the Animals and the kids who are put on barriers by their self-entitled parents.  

I am also sending this to the AZA and calling them out, as an authoritive leader of North American Zoos to make barriers in all Zoos impossible for people to stand on, sit on, or hang over, with a solid barrier at least waist high, so no kid can crawl through (Harambe) specifically at Code Red Animal enclosures.  If this was in place already, so many Zoo Animals in AZA Zoos who have lost their lives needlessly would still be alive.

If anyone wants to be a voice, 
you are welcome to do so 
by using the contact links below.  
Thank you.

San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson

San Francisco Recreation and Park

AZA



Sunday, December 17, 2017

Animals Crimes - Trump's Order Regarding Elephant Trophies



I seem to always start my posts with apologies and reasons why I've not posted in too long.  Last week I got one on my list checked off, next up was to write something about another event that disabled me from my momentary ambition to post.  

It was the weekend that our diabolical President put for the Executive Order that would reverse the Ban on Importing Elephant Trophies. Like most of us, my Soul is continually trampled by all the Crimes Against Animals every time we access the internet.  Those of us who often avoid the News, used to be able to protect our Souls from time to time, but anyone using Social Media knows, there is no escape.  On Facebook alone, there are dozens of awful Animal stories everyday.  The Abuse toward Domestic Animals, the torture of Farm Animals, and seeing the Smiling Evil Ugly faces of the Demons who Hunt down and Murder Animals for Fun, are only a few on a long list of Offences Humans inflict on these innocent non-Human Beings, who instead we should all be Thankful and Amazed that we get to share our life and planet with.

With all the Crimes Against Animals, we know the numbers of perpetrators is out of control.  Its not just the Trophy Hunters who are the most skewered on the Internet, but its down to the teenager you see with a Raccoon Tail Keychain on their back-pack, who doesn't care an Animal was alive when they chopped off its tail, because, "it's soft".  The people you see who know how Palm Oil is sourced and yet will still buy products because they got to feed their cake hole with that one Girl Scout cookie regardless of the fact that Animals were burnt alive to make it.  I know these things for a fact, because I have personally stopped people in these two exact situations and tried to educate them.  

That said, we should be able to look to people with forums to educate on a grand scale to help save these lives and put an end to these crimes.  Instead we have self-centered good for nothings like the Kardashians putting forth how cool it is to wear that Raccoon Tail and having the legions of celebrity ass-kissers run out and buy them.  You have top named entertainers like Blake Shelton, praised with a TV Show, Awards, ect. and he's a big-time Animal Murderer.  Its all so disgusting and the list of names is so long, People just don't care about anything but themselves.  And at the other end of the fame forum we have our President and other World leaders who allow Crimes Again Animals for whatever self-serving reason, when they should be enforcing the protection of all Beings.  

Even before Donald Trump became President, it was evident that this person was not one of compassion for anything other than money.  He and others like him, have no use for our Earth, unless its making them money.  Once he took office, he proved that with so many allowances that destroy our Land and its non-human inhabitants.  Anyone who would allow Hunters to Murder Hibernating Bears and their babies, is pure Evil.  But, what would anyone have expected from someone who spawned these Demons...



So let's get back to that weekend when news broke of Trumps support in the Murder of Elephants and allowing Demons to bring home trophies like the psychopathic serial killers they are.  Like the majority of us who have compassion and empathy, I was outraged and disgusted, sick and frustrated with the feeling of helplessness under the reign of someone out of control with these attacks against Animal lives.  The continued support of barbaric actions, by too many, including our pathetic joke of a leader, is getting to be too much to handle.  Thankfully that Order is on hold, but that doesn't mean it won't be back on, and it also doesn't help the Bears, Wolves, Bison, and other Animals who are losing their lives legally, to the Joy of Hunters and our Country's Administration.

So, as I sit holding my tablet reading Social Media all weekend about the Elephant situation, via email I get the San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson's words regarding this.  While her words were against the Order, it bothered me to hear them.  I wrote about this once before but for those who missed it, buried in one of my posts, back in January, someone told me that Peterson wrote in a staff email after Trump took office, Welcoming him, and hoping he takes care of our Wild Things.  My ears pulsated when I heard this.  Anyone who cares about Animals could see way before he was nominated, that this was not a person who was going to do good for any wild thing.  I'm sorry but anyone who cares about Animals would not have supported having him and his Spawn in the House, by writing something like that.  Did she really believe that was possible out of this guy?  even as wishful thinking, in my opinion someone who is the face of an Animal organization, should have let that one slide without a mention.

In addition to Director Peterson's words, she noted the Zoo's special exhibit Red Ivory.  She made it seem like the Zoo was doing some major Education with this Film and their Pledge, both supposed to make a statement against the Ivory Trade.  In my opinion, neither does anything to help the plight of Elephants.  If I didn't know what the subject matter of the film was supposed to be, I wouldn't have come away from it any wiser.  I felt is was just an artsy showcase for one of Peterson's friends.  As for signing the pledge, I highly doubt Ivory importers are Zoo visitors.  Its not even a Document that will be sent to the President.  I just didn't get the whole thing.

Someone in management recently asked me if I saw Red Ivory, because its ending.  I said yes, I saw it the first day.  They asked what I thought.  I told them artsy and no real message about the plight.  I said, Animals are in real crisis and messages need to be stronger. I don't think its bold enough.  This person basically replied this in gist,  the Zoo has to be soft, so people aren't offended.   Well, I'm offended that any forum and this one being a Zoo where masses of people interested in Animals, come through the gates, opening themselves up to learning about Animals, isn't using that outreach opportunity to be blunt about the tragedies as they really are.  There doesn't need to be posters at the entrance with Elephants and Rhinos with their faces cut off, but having a PG rated exhibition area for those who are under a rock and don't know what's really going on, to be educated, I don't think is a bad thing.  The message needs to be wider, and the Zoo has the facility and forum to educate.  Geez, its part of their Mission.  Education. Conservation.  Well then take a real stand!  

The Zoo has only in the past few years done anything for Animal Awareness Days.  It was a slow grow and still not fully bloomed.  I'll use World Rhino Day for instance.  In 2011 I made this video of Our Beloved Precious Elly.  https://youtu.be/wvqA6PXZlPI

It would take two more years for the Zoo to even put up a sandwich board with a bit of info about Rhinos.  It was only a few years ago that they had an actual event for the occasion.  As well that of Lions and Tigers.  Yet at none of these events are Visitors actually painted a picture of how tragic the Wild is for these Animals.   Its tragic for me that thousands of people walk through the gates on these Awareness Days and don't really learn what their plight is about.

Maybe after this Offensive Order by Trump, our Zoo and others will be more vocal about the plight of all Animals.