Monday, October 15, 2012

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.


  1. I have to say I agree with absolutely everything you said above. I know people reading this and knowing me as an ex-docent think I am jaded. Well, I retired my docent status because I tried to make a difference and was slapped on the wrist for it. We do not not new exhibits until all the old ones are re-vamped. I know that Wishbone lived his final days on concrete because the zoo is cheap and arent into the animals welfare as much as they are with the damn playgrounds and new exhibits. If they cannot keep current exhibits up to date, they certainly cannot handle new ones. The Lion House is historic. It should be upgraded. I feel bad for Elly the Black Rhino because she is now banished to the back exhibit where she was very depressed before. I am sure the zoo's take on it is that they want to show off a younger one. They are too lazy to switch both back and forth. This shows their (the zoos) disrespect of animals.I guess the old man's club is still alive at the sf zoo.

    1. @Lee- Thank you for your comment. Your comment is well put. Blunt and honest. As well people think you are "jaded" they think I'm a disgruntled ex-employee. I guess small minded people wearing rose colored glasses have to label people who use their brains especially when it goes against the grain. Those people in addition to closed minded are cowards. Those cowards, in their attempt to "protect" their own agenda, are the people who let down the Animals by supporting new exhibits, new Animals added to the collection (not including companions for those who are solo), and YES those damn new playgrounds that will be better areas for transient humans, rather than Animal residents. Those cowards all contributed to Wishbones death. ... You are right there is certainly a major disrespect of Animals. Time will tell a few things, one whether Elly will indeed stay banished to languish in the rear of the exhibit, and just how much the Zoo actually cares about "Wellness" by how much upgrading is a priority over "new".


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