Thursday, September 13, 2012

September 13, 2012 - News Article for Today

As you can see by the date of my last post, I haven't made a new post here in almost a month.  I apologize to anyone who follows my blog and looks to it for updates on our wonderful Zoo Friends, as well as to keep aware of what's going on at the Zoo, that you won't get from any official Press Release.  

Two and a half weeks ago I lost my precious friend Goober, who this blog is named in reference to (as well my previous blog carries his name).  Since his passing I have not even been able to do his RIP post.  As well in the wake of this heartbreaking loss, my mind has almost stopped reeling about all things Zoo (I will make another post on that at a later time).   That said, my need to post as an outlet has been zero.   

The reason for this post, like one I made the other day on my blog
is there is relevance.  That post was in reference to an article that quoted my words within the article.  This article is another spin on a previous article posted on this blog.

My question is When will the patting of the backs end and the fixing of our Zoo start?

San Francisco Zoo retains psychologist to improve animal wellness

S.F. Examiner File Photo
Housing crisis: The San Francisco Zoo’s 1930s-era enclosures pose some challenges for officials and animals alike.
Few local tragedies resonated so widely as the deadly tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day 2007. But that horrific incident appears to have sparked a new push for updated infrastructure and other methods to increase “psychological wellness” among The City’s captive creatures.
The zoo has recently solicited the help of trained psychologist and former Atlanta Zoo director Terry Maple — a real-life Dr. Doolittle of sorts — although he isn’t so sure that’s the nickname he wants.
“I would like to be Dr. Do-A-Lot,” Maple said.
Given the zoo’s variety of animals — many living in 1930s-era enclosures — Maple has his work cut out for him. He said the zoo has started on the right track with at least one simple principle.
“Animals are really better off if they work for their food,” Maple said. “If you just throw it to them, you’re creating a dependent couch potato.”
Tigers should have their meat hidden so they can track it down, and polar bears could find their meals frozen in a block of ice, for example. Grizzly bears currently get a daily fish feeding in which they have to snatch their prey out of the water, something Maple said is “what every bear exhibit should look like.” One of the zoo’s anteaters is showing irregularity because he wants to dig, so more dirt might be in order for his habitat, Maple said.
Animal whispering also is not something to be scoffed at, Maple believes.
“That’s not a crazy idea,” Maple said. “I’ll bet most of the keepers have a certain ability to communicate with the animals they take care of.”
Maple plans to join other zoo officials tonight at The City’s Commission of Animal Control and Welfare to discuss a variety of new ideas for the zoo. Commissioner Sally Stephens said the tiger attack, although terrible, spurred a new tone of cooperation between animal advocates and the zoo.
“Having the zoo administration behind these ideas is 75 percent of the way there,” Stephens said. “If people could be more convinced that the animals are as happy as they can be in their circumstances at the zoo, they’d be more willing to contribute money.”
Still, animal-rights activist groups like PETA remain staunchly opposed to the very idea of zoos and attribute animal unhappiness to their captive state.
“What we see at zoos is animal well-being sacrificed just so they can breed more animals to exhibit,” said Ashley Byrne, PETA’s manager of campaigns.
Even so, Byrne acknowledged that her group works with the Detroit Zoo’s “welfare center” on behalf of animals. “Zoos really are animal prisons,” Byrne said, “but to be practical, there are so many animals living in zoos that it’s important to understand more about their psychology and the impact of their captivity.”

Stephens said while zoos could always use improvement, they do serve an important purpose.
“You look into the eyes of a gorilla, and it’s kind of a profound feeling that comes over you. You don’t get that stuff when you just watch on Animal Planet,” Stephens said. “So these animals perform a service to their species to allow people to connect with them and really care about what happens to them in the wild.”

I posted a comment which is "awaiting moderation", so who knows if it will see the light of day, so I will post it here.   ....   This is the second time a news forum has noted that it moderates comments.  To me, it is understandable on someone's personal blog or website, but on a news source site, freedom of speech should be in play.

My comment:

July Press painted this guy as a "Visionist"  ( ) , now he's an Animal Psychologist.  Interesting, since some on the Zoo Staff seem to make decisions regardless of empathy toward the Animals.   The Zoo continually fails to be all that it can be, as it is held back on many counts by those currently in charge.  There are wonderful Animals that live there, but in the minds of Management they are secondary to Visitors and future plans of grandeur.    Time will tell if this guy will change the minds of the current Zoo Administration OR join the ranks of their stagnant mentality.  


  1. this article makes it sound like terry maples is on the cutting edge of zookeeping, but he's really talking about enrichments, which the keepers have known about for the last 20 years.

    lori made a giant "zebra" back in 1996 for the lions and they all attacked it and "fed" on it like it was real prey. barb single-handedly made a ladder for the snow leopard cubs to use and with the help of others created ponds for the fishing cats, and deb made fishsickles for the bears and discovered ulu likes stuffed animals!

    unfortunately, the keepers were never given the time or resources to do as much as they wanted to do and were never given credit for coming up with new enrichments. i guess they weren't paid enough.

  2. @hazel- Thank you for your comment. Yes you are right! I'm glad you are here to point out things that took place even before I was able to visit as often as I have in the last four years. I have blogged before on Enrichment, and will again. Bottom line in this case seems to be, they have hired one guy who is being touted as the "fixer", and I hope he does fix things, BUT then why are all the people who obviously don't have the smarts to figure things out, still there?


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