Monday, July 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Jonesy! - Gorilla Bday!

Jonesy turns 23 today!
~ July 31~

Happy Birthday Jonesy!

I love this photo of him :)
He's smiling! & almost looks like a laugh is brewing :)


Please check the Post Archive to keep up to date
on what's happening at the San Francisco Zoo!

Speaking of Tigers ...

Sadly, Sunday at the San Francisco Zoo, there was no hint that it was International (World/Global) Tiger Day :(   ...  The Zoo continually misses out on wonderful opportunities to have "Days" at the Zoo.  They don't celebrate Birthdays, as well have let International Rhino Day and World Tapir Day pass each year without fanfare.  Events that would both Celebrate and Educate.  

It was Taymor's first Tiger Day 
as a Resident of the SFZoo 
and he seems to be 
expressing his disapproval.


Sadly, while the World is facing the probable extinction of these and so many other wonderful Animals, at the hands of Humans,  I found this video posted to the Jackson Zoo (the Zoo Taymor came from) Facebook.   Here is the link from its original youtube posting.

The video shows Taymor "playing" with a Seagull that landed in his yard.  I didn't watch the whole thing because this kind of "nature" makes me uncomfortable, but I did listen through the whole thing once I heard some of the comments coming from the crowd.  There was some laughter, which I find sad.  Granted I see people bullying and tormenting the Animals all the time, so I shouldn't be surprised. I just think if you are going to go to an Animal Park, you like Animals.  That just doesn't seem to be so.  I have witnessed many times people getting joy from harassing an Animal, smiling and laughing while doing it.  Its very sinister to me.  ...  If you listen towards the end, it sounds like the Staffer says she 'kinda mentioned to people they might not want to see it' and then she says, they (Visitors) said, "That's why we're here."   These are probably the same people who go to the Circus and enjoy seeing the Animals get whipped.

On youtube there is also a link to a video of the SFZoo female Tiger in a like situation.  The comments on her video are really awful.

In this one, people seemed to really enjoy seeing this poor Seagull being hunted and almost killed as they were watching. Much like I described that I witness when Visitors harass the Animals.  What is most distrubing, is one young girl said, "Get it!" and then "Eat it, Eat it!"  Continuing the chant, "Go Go Go! Eat it!"  Like she was cheering it on!     What kind of child says such things?  A child that probably already harms Animals, that's who.  Even worse, you don't hear the parents say anything to her.  How about, "Its not right to say such things."  So, what you have is a household where there is no respect for Animals or any such, being taught.  Then they come to the Zoo.

I didn't even have to listen to the whole thing, it sickens me that these are the kinds of people I have to breathe the same air as and hurts me that they are allowed anywhere near any Animal.

I get that there are certain Beings that people view as pests,  but there's some serious brain defect to get Joy from their Pain and Demise.

The other night I wrote a post on this same subject on another blog of mine.  If interested you can view it here:


Please check the Post Archive to keep up to date
on what's happening at the San Francisco Zoo!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Happy International Tiger Day! - July 29, 2012

To all my San Francisco Zoo Tiger Friends 
past and present, 
 I celebrate you!

Read a bit about this Recognition Day for the precious Tigers of our World, on the United States Embassy Site.


Please check the Post Archive to keep up to date
on what's happening at the San Francisco Zoo!

Thursday July 26, 2012 - Visit Yay's & Nay's

First the Nay.  

Once again poor Lily is sequestered on her own.  They really are just plain cruel to her in my opinion.   She just got reunited with her long-time mate and now they have separated her once again.  I don't get it.  AND being alone isn't enough, they have her in the baby giraffe corral, that is just that, a corral.  This is not a habitat enclosure, its a caged in pen.  Its all very heartbreaking and awful.

You can read about her being yanked about here:

 This is not a home its a cage.

If they are so intelligent why are you being so cruel to her?


This is the new barrier at the first viewing landing at the Gorilla enclosure.  I love this!  The only thing I would have done different is make the bar-barrier two-tiered, so it would make it harder for those with long enough legs to kick the window, which will happen.

Less than two months ago I wrote a blog post that suggested this type of barrier.  

<I'd like all the exhibits to be like the Big Cats, Glass with a distance between (on either side). There can't always be a moat like at Cats, but take for instance at the Snow Leopards, there can be some sort of barrier set more than an arms distance back from the glass.  The same type of glass situation also is in the corner (Grotto A) Cat exhibit.  The purpose of the glass is for the Visitor to view the Animals (as well as keep them in).   What does the glass do for the Animals?   It allows them to be taunted with people constantly knocking/banging/tapping/rapping/ect.  The view would be no less from an arms distance.  There should also (and I mean that by there should already be) sign decals on the glass at these areas saying not to do such things.>

Hopefully this is not a one-off and more of these types of barriers are planned for other areas.   As much as I hate taking photos through glass, I love the Animals safety more.  I hope they add a bar-barrier at the Snow Leopard window and extend the one at Cat Grotto A back.  Also adding some window decals, much like the one below that is now at the new Koala window.  With obvious general behavior notations.  

Frankly I have to say, I'm not sure what took them so long to make this change at Gorillas.  There has been issues there for years.  Not only by Visitors acting the fool (a guy standing next to me one time, leaned over and spit into their home), but the male Silverback Jonesy is very sensitive and easily agitated.

When my friend Lee was a Docent in 2009, she was sent a Memo detailing recent behavior that he had been exhibiting, as well as noting that he had been having a real problem with Docents and certain Photographers that would sit there for extended periods of time watching him.   Docents were instructed to take off their vests when in the area, or to not go there at all.  Photographers were instructed to rotate viewing areas.  

I know for a fact, Docents have again received the same type of Memo.   There should not still be a problem with this.  

At this time I still had an open email communication with Zoo Director Tanya Peterson.  When Lee told me of this, I immediately had ideas that would work in that area, that would educate the Visitors before they entered that area, so that Jonesy would stay calm.  Maybe its just me, but I'd want to do anything to keep an Animal from being upset.   None of my suggestions were ever used.  

Three years later, they are still having the same issues with poor Jonesy being upset, when there are simple ways to help alleviate the situation.   There should be a large sign on the paths (from Giraffe Barn and from Savannah)  That say not to vocalize or gesture to the Gorillas, and to use low voices when talking.  They should post a Docent (without vest) before the entrance (out of Gorilla's sight line) who points to the sign and/or also provides Visitors with this information.  Its very simple. 

The Zoo claims in their Mission Statement that Education is part of their Mission.  Informing and instructing people how to behave is part of Education.  Sadly from what I've seen, the Zoo seems to be afraid to tell Visitors anything in regards to behavior.

If they do not plan to put glass at all the viewing landings they need to at least put in the bar-barriers.  There also needs to be a "Shoosh" sign at each landing.  

Hopefully the new barrier will make Jonesy feel less exposed to threats.  Maybe the Zoo will adopt some other ways to help him.


Please check the Post Archive to keep up to date
on what's happening at the San Francisco Zoo!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Saturday July 21, 2012 - Penguin Chick Parade

As always the Penguin Chick event, March of the Penguins was great.  Aside from the absolute adorableness of the Penguin Chicks, I think this event also shines because of the work and love Penguin Keeper Anthony Brown has for these Animals in his care.  

This year the Chicks graduated from Fish School early, and took the the Parade route still wearing bits of their baby fur.  They were beyond cute!  

There were four graduates in the Class of 2012, two females and two males.  Three had already been named, the two boys, Bert and Eduardo, one girl, One?  The other girl was to be named by Contest during the event.

If I had the energy to make this post when I got home from the Zoo, the next part would have read a bit different, but thankfully a change was made.

The entry form for the naming contest stated to put down a girl's name.  It was a random drawing, which is always a crap shoot.  Anthony drew the winner and the name they chose was Russell Brand.  I felt like crying.

HOW could someone choose this?  SERIOUSLY?  For those who don't know Russell Brand, he is a British Actor/Comedian (google him if you're interested in more).  That said, there is just so many things wrong with this.  

Before I go on with all that's wrong with this, I will say two things.

I was immediately hurt that someone would choose this for a sweet little eight week old FEMALE chick.  I was immediately pissed that this entry was not disqualified on the spot for not choosing a female name or at least something cute and appropriate.  Thankfully the overwhelming cuteness of seeing the little ones made me forget how pissed and hurt I was long enough to be joyful watching their journey to the island :)

I will write about this situation more, but first I will note that a friend did let me know that a change was made and posted to the Zoo's Facebook page (which I do not follow).  The winner stood but the name did not.  The new name for the Chick is Perri, which is the winner's (female) name.  THANK YOU SFZOO! Whoever put their foot down and stopped naming that poor thing Russell Brand, Kudos!  You did the right thing. 

Now, for my thoughts.

For those who follow my blog know I do not have faith in the Human Species to think and/or act Respectful (decent/moral/any of the many appropriate words) when it comes to Animals.  Humans did not fail me in this situation.

This next part I direct mostly to the San Francisco Zoo.

For one, the naming of Animals should be taken seriously.  I have written alot on name changing, the only relation to those feelings I'm going to relate to in this post is the first and last name thing.  Which I will post in two words, Brian Wilson.  Ridiculous.  

Please make some rules in regard to naming the Animals, whether its the first name an Animal is recieving as a young one, or renaming :( an Animal with an established name.

First, No first and last names.  Its just dumb.
Second, the name should be gender specific, relevant to the Native Culture of Species Origin, or simply be cute or fun.  

This was a Member event.  Members get the Memo via email about the event.  Information was given about the Chick who needs a name SO THAT a name could be chosen that reflected her.  ... Anthony did say that this was a new Member, regardless, there must have been guidelines at the contest table, if not, people just need to have better sense.

From the Zoo email notice:

"Personality: She is very outgoing and usually the first to explore new objects, things, and/or people. The first chick to hatch this year, she's about a week older than the other three chicks. During feeding time, she's always in front, even if she isn't hungry!"

I chose Starlet based on the description of her personality.  And the description was accurate!  She was the leader in the parade!  Adventuring first and often ahead of her classmates. My friend Lee chose Sirena, which is Spanish for Mermaid.  

That said, another "rule" suggestion.  When doing a random drawing, amend that to be random drawing of Keeper favorites.  OR just do this and don't tell anyone.  Sort thru and pick the appropriate ones and THEN put them into the box you choose from.

Seriously, I took 453 photos and as I went thru them that night, I almost cried when I looked at their precious faces, thinking that one little girl would be literally BRANDed her whole life with that awful name.  No offence to Russell Brand, its just not a name for a pretty little baby Penguin girl.  Even if it was a boy, the winner showed no respect in choosing this name.  It was chosen as a joke, just like the donor who picked Brian Wilson as the name for Tucker the Hippo.

The Zoo seriously needs to put restricions on naming the animals.  This priveldge whether you pay for it or win it, should be treated as an honor, not a joke.

As I moved around the Parade route I happened upon Zoo Director Tanya Peterson, bouncing up and down, while high pitched shouting out to Keeper Anthony and pointing to people next to her, "This is the Family that named One."  ...  Another name which should have been veto'd.   Just awful.  Please rename this precious little girl.

The Chicks pictured above are:  Eduardo (red band) riding in the wagon, (l-r) One (blue band), Perri (silver band) and Bert (black striped band).

 It was hard to dwindle down all my photos
to an amount to make a video.
453, 291, 182, finally I couldn't go
less than just over a hundred
so i made two videos!
Here are the links, enjoy!


First Swim
NOTE:  I have read twitter statements and it appears that it was the contest winner who wanted to change the name.  So, I have to wonder, would the Zoo have left this sweet little girl Penguin carry the moniker of Russell Brand?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Happy Birthday Pokemon! - Blackbuck Bday!

One of my favorite Zoo Friends turns 13 today!

Happy Birthday Pokemon!

The Zoo keeps Pokemon tucked away in secrecy 
and I haven't seen him for over a year :(  
I love this guy and miss him!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Saturday July 14,2012 - Teddy Bear Festival

The Zoo's annual Teddy Bear Festival.  What can I say that doesn't sound like a broken record in regards to Enrichment Toy provisions.  

I'll start by saying the Grizzly Girls had a wonderful time!  They were really worked up with excitement while waiting to be let into the Gulch for their treats.   Seems they knew something more than usual was up, because I've never heard them vocalize as I did today.  

Any of the Animals are excited when there is something new in their space.  New usually mean an Enrichment of some sort.  I have a previous post "marker" for an Enrichment piece that explains different types of Enrichment.  I just haven't gotten to it yet.  That said, what I write about now is in regard to Enrichment Toys and Foraging, in regards to this event.

In my opinion any Enrichment Toys that are put out, should be stimulating and somewhat challenging.  I hate to say it, but my friend Lee and I rocked at making Enrichment Toys and (yes I'm going there) I will say, we were Enrichment Toy making Extraordinaires!   We made items that varied in color, shape, and strength, all depending on what Animal we were making for.  

Keeper Sandy did a great job putting the treats out, especially the placement of food items that were scattered and hidden for the Bears to find them by foraging.   The placement of food up in the waterfall area was particularly fun and a challenge for them and  I enjoyed watching that.

Honey on the window, always a favorite!

That said, I have to pick at the "Toy" items, which are no reflection on the Keepers as it is not their level that is responsible for supplying these items.   I don't know who's responsibility it is at this point, but the Zoo has two Staff Employee's whose job title includes "Enrichment", so I would assume it is their responsibility to procure and inspect the Items.  

There were two boxes of the same size in the exhibit.  Below is two photos of one.

By the text I've included on the last photo, I'm sure you know where I'm going with this next paragraph!  Yes, I have a problem with how this box looks, its plain ugly.  Its not fully paint (the other one was paint more but still not fully), there's no real art/theme to it, its not sealed (for challenge purpose), its just awful.  You might think the Animals probably don't care, but thats not true.  Kachina came out, knocked the other box over (which wasn't even as ugly), and ran past it, not even stopping to check what was inside.  Having something that is at the very least colorful, is stimulating.   That said, THE TAPE!!!!   This is a BIG issue!   There is no excuse for this to happen.  NONE!

When we were doing Enrichment Toys, we never even used boxes that came with tape/staples/any adhesives.   The only adhesive we would use was the Paper Mache paste mixture.  SO if they are using "previously used" boxes, someone needs to inspect them for these dangerous items.  WHAT is wrong with whoever is responsible for this?   This inspection needs to be done prior to anyone even starting to decorate an Item that will be used for an Animal.   When we stopped making Enrichments, the first Items the Zoo made and put out were for their Halloween event and they gave the Lions a box that not only had tape, but huge 2 inch STAPLES!!!!  I called this to their attention and there was supposed to be an alert to monitoring this in the future.  This was almost two years ago.  

 Seriously,   I don't think giving an Animal something with Tape on it falls into their new "Wellness Initiative"                                                 

Are they waiting for an Animal to Choke or worse?

Did the recent episode with the female Snow Leopard ingesting a foreign matter and creating an intestinal obstruction, and almost dying not teach them anything?

WHO is running this place?   Are they Lazy, Oblivious or just Brainless?

And whoever is running this place and/or responsible for Enrichment Displays,  you really should plan ahead and at least have something decent to put out on Event Days.  Otherwise, just put the food out for foraging.  These boxes were low rent.  They are fine (without tape/staples)  for an average day, since the Animals rarely get Toys anyway, but for actual events, there should be some nice Toys, that actually look like they reflect the event.  Some Mache Honey Pots/Bee Hives/Bees would have been wonderful.  Use your imagination and solicit Adults, Volunteers and Docents to make things.  If you are going to have Kids paint stuff at least prep the Items by fully painting them and teach Kids to draw simple shapes like Swirls, Hearts, Sun, Peace Signs, ect.  Let's put these crappy Items to rest.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Visit, July 10, 2012 - Its Not My Party :(

Whenever possible I try to Visit the Zoo when one of the Friends is having Birthday.  To wish them Happy Birthday, a simple Honoring of the day they were born and their life.  It comforts my Soul.  

I have written before in posts regarding Enrichment and other related topics, about my feelings regarding celebrating the Animal Residents Birthdays.  In short, like stated above, its a way to Honor them and Celebrate their lives.  Its Respecting them.  When I have witnessed Birthday Celebrations, it is wonderful.  Foremost the Animals love it!  But, its also Fun and Joyous for the Visitors.  I would think the Animal Staff would find Joy in seeing the Animals in their care Happy.  

In the case of the Chimps, I think any extra activity is essential.  These Animals are closest to Humans with brains that need constant stimulation.  I'm not about to preach to those educated about this, I am giving my opinion based on what I've learned and what I've seen.  The San Francisco Zoo Chimps are very often bored.  They have lived in the same situation for over 40 years.  They literal crave these activities.  When they have gotten plentiful Enrichment activity like Birthdays and Holidays, they go crazy watching the Keeper put stuff out.  A couple weeks ago, they got Ice Treats which I hadn't witnessed in a very long time, and they were Happy as can be, with just something that simple.  They should have it everyday.  

 I visited the Chimps and saw nothing special had been put out for Cobby's special day :(   I knew there wouldn't be, but it would have been a nice surprised to see remnants of fun.   I wished Cobby a Happy Birthday and watched them for awhile.  Cobby was restless and kept moving almost the entire time, up and down the structure, into the night quarters, over to the other grotto, and back again.  He literally seemed to be looking for something.  Alas there was no celebration for this precious guy, who has given the Zoo over 40 years of his life.

I once had a discussion about Birthdays with the Primate and Carnivore Curator Corinne MacDonald whose response was, "I'm not interested in celebrating Birthdays."   That is a miserable and selfish attitude.

Skylar/Leanne was not out in the yard today, so I couldn't wish her a Happy Birthday.  ... Maybe her party was private?  NO!  There was no party for her either.

It was interesting (one word for it) that there was not one, but two signs on the windows to her yard, saying she would be off exhibit, yet we still after a couple years of calling attention to the need, have NO signs on these same windows, asking Visitors not to Tap on them.   ...  Didn't that recent article about the new "Visionist"  say they would be putting the Animals above the Visitors now?  

As well, we continue to have additional barriers at Inti's home.  Yet, Angelo remains wide-open and vulnerable.  

And no "Shoosh" signs, even tho Inti's little sensitive Cat ears can obviously hear the high-pitched Visitor voices.

Gorillas was closed today and I could hear work being done.  I truly hope this is not the work of the new "Visionists" vision and an area such as Gorilla's which is lush and green = natural, is not the priority fix.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Skylar! - July 10

Sumatran female Skylar (aka Leanne) turns 9 today!

Happy Birthday Skylar!

Lee and I were lucky enough to provide Enrichment Toys 
for her special day in 2010.  
She got a cake and party favors!  
Additionally all her Lion House-mates got Enrichment Toys too :)

You can view a video I made from her party!

You can view this link to see photos of Skylar as a Cub, 
along with her Sister Chelsea and Brother Kougra!

and from her first Birthday at the Toronto Zoo where she was born :)

Happy Birthday Cobby! - July 10th

Cobby turns 54 today!

Happy Birthday Cobby!

In 2009 when I was doing Animal Resident Biography posts for my goober's sf zoo friends blog, I was researching the Chimps and saw that Cobby's estimated Birthday is July 10th, 1958.  Since he was wild born his age is estimated at +/- two years.  Most Studbooks list wild born Animals this way.   At the time I didn't know this and was very excited that it would be Cobby's 50th Birthday!  Yes, in hindsight I realize I was so excited that I obviously couldn't count either ;)   Anyway, I emailed the gal who was in charge of Member's Mornings which at that time were focused on celebrating Birthdays!  I asked if there would be anything for Cobby and she said she would check with Primates and see if they had anything planned.  A couple days later she said Yes there would be something, so my friend Lee and I proceeded with our idea to make Cobby a Birthday Card.  She did the card and I did the balloons on the photo :)  

You can read more about the festivities here

In hindsight, I believe that the only reason Cobby's Birthday was recognized was because I inquired about it.  No Chimp Birthday has been recognized since.  We made gift bags and mache items  (by Lee) for all the Chimps in April of 2010 and gave them to a Keeper the day before Chimp Girls Birthdays and the day of there was nothing put out.  It really is awful how the Animals special day is not celebrated, especially ones who make it to milestones and even surpass expectancy.  As well Birthdays are a celebration of ones life.  

See the video I made of his 2009 Birthday Party!

More on Enrichment

coming soon

i apologize.  i see this is getting hits, yet i haven't had the time to post.  if i draft it, it will lose its place in the flow.  :(  i'm trying.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Saturday July 7th - Awesome Apes!

Thankfully before getting to Cats and being very upset by the state of Grotto B (see previous post), we had a   very sweet visit with Zura, one of the female Gorillas.

Zura is my favorite, and I have taken to calling her Princess Zura and referring to the Gorilla area as ZuraLand :)  She is a silly girl with lots of personality.  She loves attention and will stick her tongue out and wiggle it from side to side and then smile :)  She will also give people the finger which she has done at a couple appropriate times ;)  She is a character.

She was sitting on the rock near the window and making eye contact.  There were people all across the length of the window, but she looked at us a couple times.  She got off the rock and came over to us and tapped the window and then hugged the area in front of us!  I had never seen her (or any of them) do this.  It was very sweet, and she did it twice.

The Primate Curator Corinne MacDonald once told me that they (Gorillas/Animals) don't feel things like we do.  I know about those who buy into the term anthropomophize, but in my opinion anyone who has a relationship with any animal, knows they have feelings and emotions similar to ours.  They may process it differently, but its there.  That said, someone who specifically works with Primates should not be saying such.  The proof is in the picture.

The Chimps were having a great time yesterday as they had an assortment of items out.  There were painted boxes Red and Blue, maybe these were left over from the Holiday?  Could it be that there were actually 4th of July Enrichment Toys?   Not sure but they did have stuff to play with yesterday.  One of the items was a mirror and Maggie was very entertained with it.  Not only did she check herself out many times (as seen below), she also had a rat tail comb and combed her hair, and then checked her teeth.  After all this fancying up, she literally ran to the neighboring grotto over to Cobby and gave him a kiss!  It was very cute.

Hopefully the Chimps getting fun stuff doesn't end with the Holiday, because Cobby celebrates his Birthday on Tuesday and for a Chimp whose estimated age is 54, he deserves a celebration!  ... Sadly deserving and getting are two different things at the San Francisco Zoo and none of the Chimps have had a Birthday celebration  Since Cobby's in 2009.  Read more about that in a post Tuesday July 10th.

See more photos from yesterdays visit (coming soon)

WHAT is up with Big Cat Grotto B?!!!

When I arrived at Big Cat Grotto B yesterday I almost cried and now pulling photos of reference is making me feel sick to my stomach.  As you can see there is a major difference in how this Yard now looks. 

 Taymor standing in front of the Bamboo

The wall the Bamboo formerly lined

From my perspective, this is just another way the Animals are disrespected.  This Yard has been home to Taymor, the Zoo's recent addition male Sumatran.  He has been out of quarantine just over a month and seems to be doing very well in his new home.  I have witnessed it take others longer to get comfortable, and think he has progressed much faster.  That said, he still does like to seek refuge in the Bamboo that lines one of the walls.  That was until it was slaughtered and removed!  WHAT?  is going on?  

From the distance and from photos, other than some dryness near the bottom, there does not seem to be anything wrong with this Bamboo, so why it was removed is among all the other curious things the Zoo does.

I have been noticing the past few weeks there are many areas in the Zoo that are overly dry and wonder why they aren't being watered and kept up.   This was not one of them.  In fact after seeing this yesterday I took photos of many other Bamboo plants in worse shape that are still intact.  

I will also note that after the passing of Padang (Tiger) the Zoo put up a ridiculous sign proclaiming an existing Yard as and "Enrichment Yard", and noting that the Bamboo there created a forest, yet soon after the sign went up, about a third of that enriching "forest" was cleared out.  

So now we have a new Tiger who has by many actions has claimed the Bamboo in his new home as an area of security, and now that secure comfort zone is gone.  Awful.  Note to Zoo Staff, this is what Tigers do in the wild, so you have also taken away something that is an Environment Enrichment.

Taymor, seeking security of a sheltered forest.

Is this one of the new Visionist's vision?

OR is this the vision of the Animal Management Staff?

After a few years the Lion House has recently changed what happens while its open.  It is open from 1-4p daily, and until recently there was most often one of the Cats inside not only out of necessity (lack of yards for number of Cats) but so visitors can see the Cats up close.  There no scheduled feedings but sometimes you could catch a training session where incentive treats are given.  Now, no Cats are inside except when the Keeper Talk (Summer only) is going.  I have heard that having no Cats inside is allegedly because "of complaints about them being in cages."  This seems ridiculous, because they don't live in cages, and that's obvious to anyone with half a brain.  Visitors do come in and I've heard them make comments about the caging, but again half wits who don't put together the whole picture that this is the inside) night quarters and they have access to the Yards thru the doors right there in the caging.  These perceptions could all be settled with a well made video stating as such, and more.  A video about the Lion House History, thru the years and the procedures in place there now, in addition to a bit on the current residents and respectful behavior.  This would go along way, in the Lion House as well other areas (I've suggested similar for the entrance and cafe). There is a TV already sitting unused for seven months.  Providing information would help the Zoo in so many ways, but they seem to be afraid of doing so for the much needed things, while alluding that they do by giving instead puttng forth carefully worded statements.  That said, this reasoning sounds a bit curious and I have to wonder if its not just another untruth to get at what they really want and that is to force the Animals to always be on display.

Note, that at the front entrance there is a sandwich board which states "All Animals have access to inside areas."  This is not true, otherwise many of the Animals did not get that memo.

That said, there was a time a couple years ago when Goober, was not allowed access during the day and sometimes it would be could and drizzly and he was out (with a compromised health issue).  I constantly complained about this until he finally got access all the time.  BUT at one point a Keeper told me to complain to Management because "They want him on exhibit."

So, I have to wonder, because Taymor is new and he has been hiding in the Bamboo, did they deliberately rip out his comfort zone so he would have no choice but to "be on exhibit"?  

Anyway you slice it, this is awful.  There may be a "reason" for this,  but to the Visitor and someone who keeps close watch on things there, what I've written is how it looks to me.

I surely hope they have some fresh new Bamboo ready to plant there, but who knows, they had almost a dozen nice Banana plants that were left to die and still in their dying state sit by the train tunnel.  Ironically, Wishbone once got a Banana leaf and loved it, but not once was one of these trees ever brought over to him.

July 2nd - The Week in Review

I had a few things I wanted to post about and now only remember a couple.  I was lucky to be able to visit the Zoo friends several times this week and have alot of great photos to share.  I hope to finish uploading them soon.

On Tuesday, I stopped in for the Keeper talk in the Lion House as I had seem Taymor (male Sumatran) inside once during that time and thought I might get some video of him.  After Debbie, the Assistant Carnivore Curator gave her pre-talk, she opened the door and called out to Shastyuh (female Amur) to come in.  "Martha."  In case you are just joining my blogging, Shastyuh is "Martha's" real name.  Shastyuh has always had this name.  She was 11 years old when they changed her name.  Awful.  I have a real problem with the changing of the Animals names and refuse to call them by their donor names, with the exception of Leanne who I first knew as Leanne and the habit is hard to break, so sometimes I refer to her as Skylar and sometimes Leanne.  "Martha!"  The continued calling out to "Martha" was at the eight count since the point I decided to start counting.  Ridiculous.  If they actually used the Animals real name, the one (in this case) she grew up with, maybe she'd come sooner.  When "Martha" finally came in it was probably because she woken up by the continual calling and knew there would be a treat involved, not because she is responding to this ridiculous new moniker.  Likewise, they have changed Taymor's name to Larry.  Dumb and Disrespectful.

Post I did about name changing.

Once back outside,
I said "Hi" to Shastyuh and she smiled :)
Pretty Girl!

 I also asked her what she thought
about being called "Martha"
She disapproves.

I also saw this cute action from Tallulah.  Keeper Dana was putting up a 4th of July banner outside Chimps and Tallulah saw her and came over.  Maggie was above and gave it a quick look, but Miss T was very interested in what was going on.  

I think Tallulah would like to be in charge of decorations :)

The curious things I saw were with barriers.  I've written before about barriers I'd like to see both immediately doable (barriers at glassed areas/fencing/netting) and some that would take a financial backing (more glassed in areas WITH additional barriers to keep people from the glass).   I have also written that Inti  (Bobcat) needs a "Shoosh" sign since he has been used to peace, not people running up, screaming and making sounds at him.  I have also written that Angelo (Anteater) would benefit from the type of fencing/netting barrier that Inti has, since his area is so wide open and people constantly hanging over the barrier, laying across it and putting stuff on it that could easily fall into the moat.

That all said, its curious that they have gone the extra distance to keep people back from Inti (still no "Shoosh" sign), yet Angelo still remains vulnerable.

Angelo's area on the left.  
You can even see someone leaning
over the barrier in the photo.

Also curious was that there are five viewing areas at Gorillas, yet only two of them have Step Back Barriers.  

Yes these two areas are at a closer level to the Gorillas, but they are no more vulnerable to Visitor Misbehavior.  Theses should be at every viewing area at Gorillas, in addition at Angelo's (as well as putting a fencing/netting up), and at all the glassed in areas where Visitors can tap on the glass.  Snow Leopards and Cat Grotto A, are the biggest targets for this behavior. 

See More Animal Photos on the Photosite!

*Apologies again for the odd highlighted portions.  Not sure why this happens.

"Wellness Initiative" - Really?

coming soon

"Exhibit Visionist" Thoughts Continued...

After writing the previous post, my mind was still circling with thoughts about it.  Too many thoughts, that I haven't been able to lay them out.  I'll attempt to now, because I have had a few comments posted that I haven't yet replied to and need to.  I appreciate everyone who leaves a comment and in that appreciation, I want to respond to each.  I think I want to write this post before doing that.

Overall my feeling is that hiring this new guy is great for only one reason, no one currently on Staff seems to be capable of this kind of thinking as yet.  BUT that doesn't mean it is the right way to go.  That said, its probably the only way to go as of now.  Spending money for an additional "mind" is borderline ridiculous, because there is a whole Staff off people already on the Payroll, that should already be minds there with the "sense" of what is the right thing to do for these Animals.  "Should be" is the operative term,  so apparently, what else can they do?

I think what makes me shake my head and turns my stomach is that to me so many things seem obvious.  I've written an endless stream of comments, suggestions, observances, ideas, ect.  for almost every aspect of the Zoo.  Some are taken at value and I've seen acted on.  Others specifically where Animal enclosures are concerned, like with Wishbone's habitat condition, are ignored.  The information and ideas are out there, both from me, from the position of someone who is there all the time, as well as endless research available online in regards to other Zoo's and natural habitat guidelines.  This one specifically ( ) was forwarded to me by my friend Hazel, another longtime San Francisco Zoo Visitor and Friend to the Animals.  I never got to making this post on my site to bring a natural surface to Andean Bear Wishbone's home ( ), but the information is out there.  

Bottom line, the Zoo needs to employ thinkers and doers and get rid of those who don't fall into those categories.  There is too much not being done and its holding the Zoo back from being the best that it can be.      This slack starts at the top with the Director.  There needs to be a Director who cares about Animals, and is therefore Animal minded.  I'm not even talking about someone with an Animal Care educated background, just someone who thinks with the Animal in mind.  I often have a vision of Director Peterson at a Guardian Member Reception showing photos of the drawings for the new Squirrel Monkey exhibit, an awful exhibit full of what looked to be white laminated faux trees.  She kept saying, "Think modern."   Clearly someone who doesn't get that modern is not a word that is used for natural spaces.  Nature is natural. 

I'm going to continue my thoughts by pointing out things about this article in reference (see previous post).  

The quote by Director Peterson 
"As we build new exhibits, we're putting the animals' wellness first and the visitor experience and other things secondary,... It's kind of a new look at exhibit design."  ...  Does this even make sense?  To me no.   For one, any new exhibit being built, upgraded, renovated, ect,  in the last twenty years should be following this.   Additions to existing exhibits should be following this.  I'm not quite sure why there is a whole Staff of people there, including her that don't know this on an compassionate and empathetic level.  Its common sense.  I surely hope that those plans for the Squirrel Monkey exhibit are being redone to exclude the modern white trees AND since the Animals are being considered first, I assume the children's play area adjacent to it will not be a part of the end product.

Now as for putting the Animals first.  I was told a couple years ago by a couple Keepers that Management never puts the Animals first.  There were some things where that was apparent but as time went on it became absolute, and now here we have it, right from the Director's mouth.  How is it that at an Animal Park, the Animals don't come first?

<The zoo has come under fire in recent years for its old and rundown exhibits and charges that animal welfare has not been a priority.> ... If this has been going on for years, why have they only now decided its time to make changes?  Why (and yes I'm forever going to refer to this) was Wishbone's left to break down on concrete til he died?  There is more to it.  The timing is curious in the wake of too many recent deaths, including Wishbone's.

Terry Maple is quoted, "He hopes to have a similar impact on the gorilla exhibit here."  .. WHAT!?  The Gorillas already have a nice space.  Keeping people from hovering over them is the most that should be done there in the near future.  If this is where the new guy wants to start then money is being wasted.  Giving priority attention to areas that are decent is wrong.  The Polar Bears live in excess of 50% of their lives on concrete and this guy wants to put his efforts of Welfare with the Gorillas?  Outrageous.  

Also note that nowhere in that article are the Polars mentioned.  Or the Chimps for that matter.  Their third Grotto could use some help so they have access to it again, expanding their living space.  I truly think the Zoo is waiting for the senior Chimps and Polars to die before they will put anything into those areas.  Wishbone is proof of that long thought theory.

"Just having a lion sleeping in the corner isn't exciting for you or the lion," Maple said.  ....  No shit!  At least when the Big Cats were getting weekly Enrichment Toys, they were up and active for a nice period of time.  They get nothing now but the same old Plastic Toys put in different areas, with a bone in them.   

Also note, nowhere in this article does it mention how bored the Chimps are.  It only mentions about an Animal who by nature sleeps twenty hours a day.  What about an Animal who by nature is closest to a Human and needs constant stimulation but doesn't get it?

<The zoo has raised about half of its $10 million goal to fund a new squirrel monkey exhibit, updates to the South American Tropical Forest building, and additional renovations to its North American region. No funding has been found yet to retrofit the gorilla exhibit.>  ... So, the Squirrel Monkeys have a decent home, at least the Zoo must think its decent enough to keep the other Monkeys in, YET they are fundraising for a new exhibit.  Now, I heard money for this was already in place and as such designate by a specific donation.  If that were true, why is there continued fundraising?  If they have 5 million dollars, that could go along way to upgrade existing exhibits.  5 million sure could have bought Wishbone alot of grass.  GRASSHOLES!   The way money is spent makes me sick.  "Renovations" for the North American Region?  From the Master Plans I saw this was to be a whole new area bringing in new Animals.  This whole thing should be put on the very back burner until existing Animals have updated and landscaped areas to live in.  PERIOD.  And funding anything more than a better barrier situation at Gorilla's is criminal.   ... Bottom line, fundraising should have been in place for upgrades for Bears and Chimps way before anything else.  But, it has been noted in many places that fundraisers are not happening for those or any other thing that needs actual attention, but more for new stuff, like the No. American Region and those stupid plentiful playgrounds.  Are donors ever presented with stuff that needs attention?

Vice President of Animal Care David Bocian is quoted, "We can achieve better, and we have achieved better in just these past few years,"  noting that a new lemur exhibit features the high trees and spacious environment that Maple endorses.  ... Are you kidding me?  The Lemur exhibit was a decade and two Directors ago, natural Animal habitats are not a new thing.  Actually do it at the San Francisco Zoo is a new thing.  OR will be.  What happens with the Polars and Chimps will be the true test.

It appears the Zoo is once again patting itself on the back and trying to pull the wool over the public's eye.  To the occasional Visitor/Member, heck even to some of the Docents/Volunteers that may work, but to someone who actually cares and takes an interest in what goes one, most of what comes out of the Zoo doesn't fly.   They sure got alot of Media attention on this one, I certainly hope this guy comes through and does more than play with hedgehogs and have fantastical dreams for the Gorillas.  There are Animals there who really need help.

One thing mentioned several times in this article is Welfare and Wellness.  Their whole new "Wellness" thing is curious as well.  I will be writing a post about that next.  Welfare and Wellness should be a given.  I wasn't aware keeping and Animal healthy was a new thing.

I know there are people on Staff there who have the sense for what the right thing to do is.  I know there has been people there, previous Director's included who have had the right sense.  Unfortunately there are too many people wearing the hat of authority and from what I hear it changes at whim and sometimes the Director is who can make the call, sometimes the Zoological Society is where the buck stops and sometimes the City Park and Rec holds the reigns.  I know for a fact, there was a plan in place to make changes at Bears many years ago, that never materialized because too many hat wearers didn't have the sense to let those who knew the right thing to do, do it.  

I've been trying to call attention to the curiosities for over a year now.  I have alerted all the appropriate players in regards to different issues, City Officials, Park and Rec, Board Members, AZA, USDA, no one seems to care.  I can only assume they either think the current Management team is doing a bang up job and just let them have free reign, even when its obvious they have no clue (and hiring someone with supposed clue, cements that theory).   All i can do is further assume that all the appropriate players don't care or dont have the time or energy to care.  The city needs a Zoo and as long as its getting by without calling too much attention to bad stuff they let it ride. 

*I apologize temporarily if there are any flow issues.  Evidently I'm more pissed about this than i thought.  I have a headache now after this and didn't proof read it.  Will check it later.

** Again not sure what is going on and why certain parts get highlighted.  Sorry but I don't have the time or energy to figure it out and fix it.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Zoo Hires Exhibit Visionist - Alittle Too Late For Wishbone

Last Night an article was posted to

Copied and Pasted:

Terry Maple could sense that Jasper the hedgehog, whom he cradled in his arm while posing for a photo, was uncomfortable with his surroundings.
"I think his stomach is making noises - this could be trouble," he said.
Sure enough, the spiny creature urinated on his crisp blue dress shirt hardly a minute later.
It is Maple's knowledge of the environments animals need to thrive that led the San Francisco Zoo to hire him as its first professor-in-residence. Maple, a former zoo director on the East Coast with a doctorate degree in psychobiology, will advise the zoo on how to put its animals before people when redesigning some of the outdated animal habitats.
"As we build new exhibits, we're putting the animals' wellness first and the visitor experience and other things secondary," said zoo Director Tanya Peterson. "It's kind of a new look at exhibit design."
The zoo has come under fire in recent years for its old and rundown exhibits and charges that animal welfare has not been a priority. Voters approved a $48 million bond in 1997 to rebuild most of the zoo, but critics allege that the money was used to improve the experience for visitors instead of animals.
Bringing in an academic tasked solely to think about how new exhibits might affect animal welfare is an approach no other zoos are taking, according to Maple.
In 1984, Atlanta's mayor asked Maple to take over the city's zoo, which had just been named one of the 10 worst zoos in America after several animal deaths and was described by the Associated Press as an "animal concentration camp."
"The zoo in Atlanta was an embarrassment to the city," said Maple, who served as director in Atlanta for 17 years. "The gorilla was in a terrible cage of bars, steel and cement. He looked like he was in prison, and he was."
Redesigning the exhibit to more closely resemble the wild by adding four habitats for the gorillas to roam proved wildly successful for breeding, and Zoo Atlanta's gorilla collection is now the largest in the nation.
He hopes to have a similar impact on the gorilla exhibit here.
"The gorillas are good, but they're not fully exercising the opportunities that we would give them if we could retrofit that exhibit to make it more natural," Maple said of the more than 30-year-old pit that allows visitors to look down at the five gorillas from a 360-degree perimeter. "That's considered to be just too much looming on the gorilla."
Maple's goal is to make the gorillas and the rest of the animals more active. When talking with architects, he's looking for exhibits that encourage the animals to reach, stretch and jump.
"Just having a lion sleeping in the corner isn't exciting for you or the lion," Maple said.
Building or reconfiguring new exhibits is not cheap. The zoo has raised about half of its $10 million goal to fund a new squirrel monkey exhibit, updates to the South American Tropical Forest building, and additional renovations to its North American region. No funding has been found yet to retrofit the gorilla exhibit.
While serving as a professor in residence, Maple will continue living in Florida, where he is an affiliate professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University, and come to the zoo for about a full week each month. He will consult for the zoo for six months, with consideration for another six months, Peterson said. She declined to say how much the zoo will pay Maple because his tenure is being supported by an anonymous donor.
It's been almost five years since the zoo's reputation and financial status were imperiled by a fatal animal attack on Christmas Day, when Tatiana the Siberian tiger leaped out of her enclosure and mauled a 17-year-old San Jose man, killing him and injuring his two friends. There is evidence, however, that the zoo may finally be emerging from the tragedy's shadow. Peterson said attendance this year just surpassed 800,000, a number not seen in five years, and that the budget is operating on a "slight surplus."
Local animal activist and zoo critic Deniz Bolbol, who said in an online statement shortly after the tiger incident that "animal welfare problems are at the heart of the San Francisco Zoo's troubles," is not convinced that Maple's hiring will help. In 2008, she was unsuccessful in her efforts to make the zoo a rescue facility.
"They're not interested in changing things at the zoo, they are just interested in keeping the status quo," she said.
Vice President of Animal Care David Bocian, who worked as a keeper at the zoo in the 1980s and was the first to approach Maple in August at a conference on zoo welfare, said animal wellness "is a higher priority than it used to be."
"We can achieve better, and we have achieved better in just these past few years," he said, noting that a new lemur exhibit features the high trees and spacious environment that Maple endorses.

<End of article>

Of course I commented, even though I try not to get too involved with sfgate commenting anymore.

>I'm not sure what to think about this. Of course its a good thing, but why didn't the Zoo management seek help sooner? I was on a crusade to get the Andean Bear some grass in his home for over a year before they let him die on concrete. Its awful that the management team there over the past two decades has not recognized the needs of some of the Animals living spaces, instead paying architects to draw up plpans for new areas when existing areas are suffering and the Animals like Wishbone (Andean Bear) along with them. They have been starting to do some much needed things, like finally get Inti the Bobcat out of the cages he'd been living in for ten years. I just hope they are now putting building any new exhibits to bring in new Animals on the back burner until upgrades are made for the existing Anmals.<

My comment says exactly how I feel in short.  I could go on and on, but readers of my blog know how I feel.  I will add that it does seem curious (I was going to do a post about this)  that all of a sudden I see the Zoo fixing things up.  It is also curious that this comes after they let poor Wishbone pound his bones to a literal death in that concrete killer grotto.  AND only after Wishy passed did they finally get Inti out of the cages they had him living in for ten years.

The Zoo patted themselves on the back once again for that move and sure got alot of press out of their new home for Inti.  Yes it looks great, but its years overdue.  Poor thing was living in a series of cages for a decade.  They don't put that in the press release.  I think it was about time they gave him a proper space to live in.

Next up will be Wishbones areas.  I'd bet they will only being doing something with it so they can bring in a new animal to house there, when the focus should be something similar to what I suggested in a previous post so that Pike and Ulu the Polar Bears can live on a natural surface 100% of the time, not less that 50%, which is what they get now rotating between a meadow and a concrete space.