Sunday, October 28, 2012

Boo (Hoo) at the San Francisco Zoo - Halloween Event

The Zoo's Halloween Event, Boo at the Zoo is an event that has been a favorite of mine for many years.   My love for Animals and Pumpkins fused together!   Over the years, seeing the Animals not only have fun with Pumpkins, but with other fun Halloween themed Enrichment, was a fun time both for me and especially for the Animals.  

In the past the Animals would get both un-carved Pumpkins to play with and carved Pumpkins with food treats in them.  The "fun" part of the events has dwindled through the years, down to this past year.   I went to the Event yesterday and in my opinion the "fun" was none (for the Animals) except the Chimps.   I will say that I didn't see all the Animals who were scheduled to receive treats, but I saw four of the big attraction Animals and two were a complete letdown.  The Animals may not know, but I know for them.

I went to Chimps first and their area was decorated and had carved Pumpkins with treats in them.  Keepers Amy and Dana did a great job!   Special mention to Cobby who quite enjoyed tossing a Pumpkin lid outside the enclosure!  He didn't seem upset and sat there peacefully after seemingly pleased with his fun :)  ... Next I saw Asian Rhino Gauhati.   When Gauhati saw his Pumpkin he ran!   Only to get there and be disappointed by it being, just a Pumpkin.  Sure a Pumpkin is something different and he could and probably would play with it (eventually), BUT I have seen his Halloween Enrichment before and he has had a few Pumpkins and some were carved with his Celery and other treats put thru holes and sticking out of the Pumpkin.  THAT is how to do a fun Enrichment.  I'm not sure whose responsibility it is to think up the Enrichments, so I won't point any fingers, but I do know the Keepers work with what they get, and there is at least one Staffer whose job is Enrichment.  So, in my opinion, this boils down to plain laziness on someone's part.  That said, poor Gauhati had little Holiday fun, and enjoyed his shower more.  I never saw him touch the Pumpkin.  (update monday 10.29 - big thank you to Keeper Ingrid who gave him a carved one with treats in it yesterday!)  ...  Then I went to Big Cats.  The only thing they had was a carved Pumpkin.  They did have treats in them, so I'm not faulting this effort, although you can see by photos, past efforts were "more".  Laying out a theme on hay (scented hay even better) would have made it special for them.  ... Last I went to see Tucker the Hippo.  In the past I remember one of the best sights was watching them chomp on whole Pumpkins and I'm pretty sure Tucker had a Pumpkin last year.  This year,  Tucker got a couple Apples and what looked like a Bell Pepper.  Seriously??  Three pieces of produce that he probably gets everyday anyway?   Awful.  

I had planned to go again today, but honestly, aside from being able to eat a dozen pieces of candy and see hundreds of kids in costumes, it was barely more than just another day at the Zoo.

 Tallulah reaching for treats

The girls "undecorating"

Cobby post Pumpkin toss 

Gauhati says 
"Is this it?"

Kita 2002

Jahari 2007

Tunya 2008

 Tiger Cubs 2008

In 2010 my friend Lee and I were making Enrichment Toys from Feb-Oct.  Some of the last things we did on a regular basis were Halloween themed.  We made them for the weekends prior to the Zoo's annual event, as we didn't want to interfere with what they had going on.   ....  Horrifically, what they had going on, turned out to be a mess that included giving one of the Lions a box with huge staples and cellophane tape.   More information about Enrichment Toys here:

Here are some photos of the Toys we made.  ...

Ming Wah 2010

Leanne 2010

Halloween Toy Bonanza!

You can see the Big Cats 
having fun on 
"Heads in the Grass" Day

All the photos shown here, both the Zoo's previous efforts and the ones Lee and I produced, are what this and all Holiday Events should reflect.  An event should be a celebration.  Enrichment items given should be different  than something they would get any day.   Something they could have fun with.   Toys and Pumpkin WITH treats, THAT = a Halloween Enrichment presentation.

Welcome Belozi! - New Male Black Rhino

Welcome Belozi!

 Belozi = Adorable!

Belozi actually means "Ambassador" and that he is!  One of our (SFZoo) Elly's Grandkids!  Produced by one of Elly's many babies (I think Fourteen!), who have gone on to other Zoo's as well as having been released back into the wild (according to the Zoo's former Vet).   Belozi was born at the San Diego Zoo in July of 2008.  At 4 years old, he is still a little guy, with several years of growing yet to do!  His mama Lembi (studbook name Susan K) is the Daughter of Elly and her second mate Mishaki.  His papa's name is Jambia.

He has his Grandma's cute pink lips!

Bittersweet, he lounges in the sun
in his Grandpa's favorite spot :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Joint Zoo Commission Meetings

coming soon

Animail - Zoo Monthly Newsletter

If you follow my posts, you know that I almost always have a thought (or two, three...) on what comes out of the Zoo in writing, either via the News in Press Releases/Interviews or from the Zoo directly in Social Media efforts such as the Monthly Animail Newsletter.  I know,  its seems like I have a comment on everything, and you're right, I do.  When you have a working mind, that's what happens, but that doesn't mean its always a bad thing.

Excerpts taken from the last two Animails.   Full Newsletters can be found on the Zoo's Website, where you can also subscribe to receive them via email.

From September 2012

>Room Modifications in Lion House
The indoor holding areas for the lions and tigers in the Lion House are getting a remodel! A couple of dividers will be removed making two separate super rooms with the addition of new benches. One room has been completed with three benches at different levels. All of the old high benches will come down and be replaced by new lower benches. These new benches will provide better options for our cat’s wellness and better public viewing. ... <

My only comment about this, is that at least six months ago,  the Zoo had it in writing someplace that they had actually installed multi-level platforms in the Lion House "rooms", which at the time they had not.  ...  I also think its in bad taste to refer to indoor quarters as "holding areas", but thats just me.

I realize this is probably a funding issue, but it would be nice if the Lion House got an exterior and interior paint job.  Maybe reaching out to places like Home Depot/Lowes, ect for a donation in exchange for some on site signage advertising would be an option.  ... A previous Keeper had a great idea to paint the inside of the Lion House and the individual rooms to reflect Lions and Tigers native living spaces.   She never got support on that, but allegedly its typical for a Keeper to get veto'd from above.   While I think that would be the ultimate paint job, even something as simple as leaves and bamboo background in the rooms, would go a long way in making the aesthetics less cage like in appearance. The Lion House is a wonderful place because it allows you to see the Cats up close, but in this day, it also needs to look less "captive".  Some big palm trees/leaves, ect in the main area of the LH would make it have a warmer feeling.   I noted in a previous post that painting the exteriors of the buildings (the reference was to the Pachyderm Building) with a landscape would make them seem natural.  Doesn't need to be elaborate, but a few big palm trees would be appealing.  

>Fall Docent Training Class Starting!
Do you want to teach people about animals and the San Francisco Zoo? Become a Docent and do just that! As a Docent, you will represent the Zoo as an "Educational Ambassador" and will conduct Zoo-wide tours, talk about all the amazing animals on exhibit, answer visitor questions while on "Ask Me" stations, assist with children's classes, and participate in many other educational activities and events. Your 10-week training will include topics like public speaking, conservation, zoo history and operation, animal care, taxonomy and behavior. ... <

OK.  You all know I have a major issue with the Docents.  Again, I will start by saying, its not all the Docents, but a majority of them.  Since this is about Training, its directed toward those who are doing the training, since that is the root of the issue.  Either Train them right or don't proceed with the program.  Well, the later will never happen since the Zoo charges for these classes.  Unbeknownst to the probably well meaning people who join,  they think they are going to learn about our Animals and end up with either no information, old information or false information.   Too many of the Docents don't know anything about the Animals that actually live at the San Francisco Zoo.   Those many also do not approach people and volunteer information, they do not act as additional "eyes" on the grounds for misbehavior, infact I have seen Docents walk away from people who are harassing the Animals.  The Zoo should be teaching the Docents about the Animals that live at the Zoo and about educating the Visitors about Respecting the Animals, and intercepting them when they see them acting the fool.

>ZooMobile Program Goes Back to School!
The ZooMobile, our education outreach program, is ready to roll to a school near you! ... The ZooMobile will bring five animals into the school while teaching engaging lessons on topics such as habitats, food webs, life cycles and more. ... <

Again my comment on this turns to Respecting Animals.  I have asked if part of the ZooMobile Program talks about Respecting Animals and never got a definite answer.  I have also listened to Childrens Zoo presentations and never hear anything about Respecting Animals.  There are a few things I write about alot and this is one of them.  I spend most of my time around Animals, not only at the Zoo, but daily in the Park.  I see a constant stream of misbehavior towards Animals.  It is not just by Kids, but by Adults as well.  Not sure how to Educate Adults, but at least with access like the ZooMobile and other presentations, making Respecting Animals (not just the ones the live at the Zoo) a part of those presentations might go along way in preventing Animals, both Wild and Captive from harassment   The Zoo does not want to put up more signage, video messaging, or other like ways to help educate and deter this ever growing issue, but they should be stressing the point in their labeled "education" presentations.

From October 2012

>It's a New Black Rhino Arriving in October
Elly, our female black rhino, will soon have a companion again ... her grandson! ...<
I noted in an earlier post, that I hope Elly is not put in the back of the exhibit, where she doesn't thrive.   Elly has recently been off exhibit and where I thought the new barrier was so her Grandson Belozi could quarantine in the back, I now fear the Zoo will put him up front, and Elly will be banished.  I sure hope not.
>Our Dedicated Docents
At the Annual Members' Meeting, SF Zoo Docents presented the SF Zoological Society with a check for $15,000 for the wolf exhibit and its interpretive graphics, which is part of the Americas Capital Campaign. These enterprising volunteers raised the funds by selling calendars, lemonade and cookies. We're so grateful and inspired by our amazing docents. <

I think its great that the Docents take part in fundraising, and $15,000 is wonderful effort.  When I first heard about their Calendar sale last year and that it was for a "new" exhibit,  it really upset me.   It amazed me and still does that a group of people who I assume became Docents because they care about Animals, would band together to help fund a new exhibit, while Animals that Already live there need so much.  Yes, I'm going to bring up Wishbone (Andean Bear)  again.  (  No one cared that he lived on concrete and eventually died from doing so.  $15,000 could have brought grass and other soft surfaces to his home and not only enriched his life, but prolonged it.  Its disgraceful the priorities some of the Staff and Volunteers have, as well the ability to wear rose colored glasses or close their eyes completely to the real needs of some of the Animals.

I heard that it was one Docent who pushed for Inti (Bobcat) to get a new home.  Not sure why it took so long (not a slight to the Docent, (who deserves the kudos), but to the Zoo Staff).  Poor Inti was living in a series of cages for his whole life of ten years.  They don't put that on the sign outside his new home.  They only put the glossy version that they gave him a new/better place to live, not that they let him languish in a cage for a decade.

>Dinosaurs at the Zoo New in the Aviary
Learn the amazing link between birds and dinosaurs at our temporary dinosaur exhibit now showing in the Koret-Taube Aviary. Come see for yourself how today's ostrich resembles these ancient beasts. <
Interesting timing.  Dino's come to the Zoo.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Happy World Farm Animals Day!

I just read that today October 2 is World Farm Animals Day!  

 The San Francisco Zoo Farm Animals are my besties, 
I LOVE them!
so Happy Day to all of you, my Special Friends!

Please view some awesome photos and 
videos of these Wonderful Animals at the links below :)

A Barnyarder video with alot of the Friends!

Also search my youtube channel for vids of:

Kune Kune Pigs
Sheep Shearing

Lots of photos here, 
names included if you want to learn 
who's who on the farm!