Once again the Zoo is in the News regarding their new appointed fairy godfather Terry Maples. Believe me, I have no grief with this guy, I don't even know him, but so far the information put forth has not given me much hope that the priority of "fixing" is as it should be. I certainly hope he does become the much needed leader in directing attention to dire issues.
You can read the actual blurb here:
Terry Maple, the former director of Zoo Atlanta, said the 30-year-old gorilla exhibit has recently been altered to give the public more viewing space at ground level, while certain sections of the upper perimeter have been closed so that visitors are no longer "looming down" on the gorillas.
He also said the zoo plans to conduct physical exams on the animals in front of the public in the coming months, a better way for people to see the animals up close instead of the old, but popular attraction of tossing hunks of meat into a big cat's cage at feeding time.
"I'm very confident that this zoo will become a leader in this forward-thinking wellness concept and design," he said.
The commission has a history of contention with the zoo on animal welfare issues, proposing in 2008 that it be turned into an animal rescue center following accusations of mismanagement and a fatal tiger attack in 2007.
"The commission took a very critical look at the zoo and had some serious concerns," said commission Chair Sally Stephens. "In the time since then, I think there has been some changes at the zoo; this (wellness program) is quite encouraging."
Commissioners questioned Maple about how the zoo would measure the success of wellness initiatives and wondered if some of the zoo's animals weren't meant for captivity regardless of attention to their welfare.
Maple said he is suggesting that the zoo undergo a complete evaluation of its collection and said quality, not quantity, is his philosophy.
- Neal J. Riley <<<
For me, everytime I read another news item about this guy, I feel like the Zoo is just trying to get media mileage out of something they should have already been doing.
First, the Gorilla's have a wonderful area, updating their home should not have been a priority, while the Polar Bears are each living 50% of their lives on concrete and one of the three grotto spaces the Chimps have (had), has been unusable for almost two years.
Don't get me wrong, I am pro-glass at all the enclosures. I don't like how Visitors behave arond the Animals and glass is a protector. I just don't think starting at Gorillas is taking care of the most desperate of issues.
As far as doing medical exams in front of visitors, why is that necessary? I'm sure the Animals don't want to "see the Doctor" in front of an audience as much as they didn't like eating in front of one. I thought Zoo's aren't supposed to be circuses? The message being put forth should not be for Visitors to expect to be entertained by the Animals. If they happen to see any of the Animals getting Enrichment treats or happen upon a training session, that's one thing, but this other stuff, unnecessary to the well being of the Animal. That said, the training with the Big Cats for them to present themselves for exams and blood draws without being anethesized is not a new thing. Its been in the process for a couple years. As well, it has been part of the public display in the Lion House periodically for at least a year.
So far, the "Wellness" concept is a crock in my opinion. Wellness is something that should have already been in place. If not, we have to ask, What kind of care have the Animals been getting to date?
I planned to write a whole blog post on this but never got to it. Some of the issues I had with even using this term was like stated above, I personally would have thought Wellness was a given.
When Terry Maples came on the SFZoo scene, I googled "wellness" in regards to Zoo's and found not much, except what is associated with him and our Zoo. Using this term to me felt much like the Zoo's prior frenzied attempt to make public all they do in regards to Enrichment, since that was the big thing other Zoo's were concentrating on, even though they were lacking in that department (literally). Now with tossing about the word Enrichment on the back burner, the new word is Wellness, which again I must repeat, should be a given.
As well, I will repeat, if we now have Terry Maples, why do we still have those on Staff whose job it was to already be doing this kind of thinking?
I will end this with the last quote of this blurb, "Maple said he is suggesting that the zoo undergo a complete evaluation of its collection and said quality, not quantity, is his philosophy."
Let's see if all that the current collection (Animal Residents) get what they need before their plans for the new North American area are fulfiled.