Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Goober is Mr August! - World Tapir Day 2013 Calendar!


Precious Goobie
Mr August!

Yippee!   My beloved Goober is now 
Mr August in World Tapir Day's 
hot off the presses 2013 Wall Calendar!


Please use this link when ordering.  All proceeds go to helping Tapirs in the wild and using the direct link will ensure that the World Tapir Day organization gets the fullest commission on items sold.

Thank you to Anthony at World Tapir Day for wanting to include Goober!   for choosing to use one of my treasured photos of Goob, for taking my suggestion to make him Mr August since that was his Birth Month :)  and for loving Goober from afar even though he never got to meet him.  

Please visit their site http://www.tapirday.org/ 

Thank you to all the Tapir Friends and Fans who also donated photos.   Cheers!

RIP Bali/George - Sumatran Tiger Passes

Forever Loved
Forever Missed

RIP Beautiful Bali  XO


Last night I shed many tears as I read about the morning passing of my Sweet Friend Georgie.   I loved this Tiger and have missed him.   

George's given name was Bali.  A beautiful name (that paid tribute to an extinct species of Tiger) that of course the San Francisco Zoo chose to change like they do of many other wonderful Animals that come to live there.   I came to know him as George and most of the time that stuck out of habit, but when I learned his given name, I tried to retrain myself and call him Bali.  

Bali came to the SFZoo to breed with Leanne/Skylar.  They had three cubs :)   When Bali's brother Java didn't prove to be a good mate for a female at Point Defiance Zoo, to keep that genetic match intact, Bali was transferred from SFZ to PDZ.   He has been very missed since then.

I kept up with him via social networking, even sending him a Birthday card the first year he celebrated there :)   He and his mate Jaya produced two cubs :)  

RIP Lisa Hamburger - Former Chimpanzee Keeper Passes

Former San Francisco Zoo Chimpanzee Keeper Lisa Hamburger passed away over the Thanksgiving holiday.  I never knew Lisa Hamburger, but she meant alot to Beings dear to me.   Cobby, Tallulah, Maggie, Minnie and Charlene.  This is in honor of her for you.

I read her name many times during my early research to further the passion I have for the San Francisco Zoo Animals.  She was an Animal Keeper in Primates for over three decades.  A champion for the Chimpanzee's in her care, she would be present at the Zoo meetings, being their voice and striving to get the best life for them at the Zoo.

I have also been told by my friend Charlene who is an active Docent, stories of Lisa's love and devotion to Minnie, Maggie, Tallulah and Cobby.  Charlene has been a Docent for almost ten years, but has been a  volunteer on and off since the the 1970s.   She "worked" with Lisa on many occasions during the 80s and has expressed fondness for her and noting it as one of her best experiences in her time at the Zoo.





Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Breaching Barriers at the San Francisco Zoo

Even in the wake of the tragedy of a Mother dropping her kid into an Animal exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo, our Zoo as usual continues Status Quo.   

I heard there were going to be additional signs put up about crossing barriers, but two weeks later, that has yet to be seen.   This is no surprise as the things the Zoo chooses to do for the most part are always curious.

I have been writing about Visitor misbehavior in my blogs for over a year, yet there have been no changes at the Zoo. 




I have not only blogged about this issue, but as far back as 2009 when I had an open email correspondence with the San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson, I made two significant suggestions.  One was instilled immediately (Winter hours), the other (more signage at Gorillas) has been in slight only recently at the suggestion of the Zoo's new hire of a "Visionist" for Animal Wellness.   

After the Tiger event of 2007, which took place near closing time on Christmas Day, with each time change I wondered, why is the Zoo still open til 5p?  Why are Visitors allowed to wander around the Zoo in the dark?   I found it extremely curious with a Team of supposed Zoo "professionals" that no one had thought this was a bad idea.  Clearly no one working at or connected with the San Francisco Zoo (San Francisco Zoological Society San Francisco Rec and Park), THOUGHT about this at all.  

In 2009, A man breached the barrier at Grizzly Bears.  This was in the later part of the day,  there was no Security in the area, and if our Grizzly Girls had not backed off this Human, they would have lost their lives.  I was sickened at this possibility and emailed Director Peterson immediately.  Along with stating the obvious in regards to Security, ect, I asked two questions.  Why is the Zoo open til 5p when its dark?   Are you waiting for another Tiger event?   I closed by suggesting the Zoo change its hours during the Winter and close at 4p. A few days later at the monthly Joint Zoo Committee Meeting Director Peterson proposed this exact time change to the Commission.  Winter hours started that year.  ... As I say in many instances, who's running the Zoo?  Oh yeah, me.  I should be.  Seriously, why did it take me to suggest this?  

After the Grizzly Bear incident the Zoo posted additional Security for about a week.  It was ridiculous as they had one Guard staring into the Grizzlies for days.  That said, after that week, there has not been any regular Security patrol at the Bears or any other area in the Zoo.  There is no additional signage.  There is no additional education.  There is nothing to help deter misbehavior towards the Animals.  Making this a priority in some cases like barrier breaching, would also prevent tragedies in which one of our precious Zoo Friends or that of the Human involved, could lose their life.

After the Tiger event of 2007, the Zoo was forced to make changes to the Big Cat Grottos, to keep the Animals in.  I can tell you one thing, I have never seen an Animal try to cross the barrier of an enclosure.  What I see every visit is a Human crossing the barrier of Animal enclosures.  Why is keeping Humans on the Visitor side of enclosures not as important as keeping Animals on the Animal side?  In the wake of all these events, why are exhibits (not only at SFZoo) allowed to be open aired between the Visitors and the Animals? 

Of course, having natural open aired exhibits is the "modern" (and ideal) way, but as society has also grown with the times, so has stupidity and evilness.   There needs to be a new way to showcase Animals without all Beings, being vulnerable.

I guess spending money on a new playground trumps not only updating Animals living spaces, but also keeping them and stupid humans safe.

Does the San Francisco Zoo Management not realize that the Zoo will not survive another tragedy?   

In the past two Visits (four days) I have seen Visitors dangle their kids over the barriers at the Hippo, Black Rhino, and Patas Monkey.


 @ Hippo

@ Rhino  

@Patas Monkey

& Continued breaching and disrespect @Anteater 

Granted I present my opinions on this barrier issue from the Safety side of both Animal and Human, I'm sure everyone who reads anything I write knows my concern will always be exclusively for the Animals.  That may sound awful, but I think in everything, they are never the priority.   Captive Animals especially, are at the mercy of Humans, yet the Humans who visit these captive Animals are at the mercy of themselves.  

That said, regardless of the incident at the Pittsburgh Zoo two weeks ago,  why do Humans think this behavior is acceptable at the homes of these Animals?   Whether or not an Animal is considered dangerous or not, this is disrespectful.  Would Humans like someone (or a wild animal for that matter) dangling their legs through a window in their home?   Disrespect aside, for this to even happen post Tatiana (Tiger event of 2007)  in any Zoo, is curious at best.   Did any of these people hear about the Pittsburgh Zoo incident?  Do they think that can't happen to them?  I'm sure the mother of the kid that she dropped into the Wild Dog enclosure didn't think that would happen.  Good Grief, is all sense disappearing?   I just don't get it.  I don't get the thought process of people.  

That said, what is the thought process of Zoo's like our San Francisco Zoo?  Why are Visitors allowed to behave this way?  Why is there no deterrent in the way of more signs, better barriers  more Security or Staff presence?   These downfalls lay solely within bad Management and with that irresponsible decision making and priorities. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Birthday Pike! - Polar Bear Birthday!


Pike turns 30 today!

 Happy Birthday Pike!

You are a Precious Sweet Girl 
my Friend!  XO!

 Pike was born at 
the San Francisco Zoo on 11.25.82 
& Ulu is wild born 
with a Birthday estimate of 12.25.80 

The Zoo gave both Pike and Ulu 
Snow for their "Birthdays" 
on November 15th. 
view a few of my photos here:

See photos from Pike's 28th Birthday Party!  
My friend Lee and I 
made Enrichment Toys for her :)

Learn more about Pike here:

News Article - Insuring Zoo's in the Wake of Tragedies

coming soon

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Monkey Killed by Humans in Boise Zoo Break-in

On the heels of my last post, a friend just alerted me to this sad and awful news.   A Patas Monkey was beaten and left for dead by Human intruders to the Boise Zoo.  Sadly the Monkey didn't make it.

You can read the full article at this link:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5j45HhOg24uk2qNi4i-fL3Y0XeNTg?docId=1c739f5402b04831acbc269bcfa35724

Crimes against Animals are out of control.   For me, this is heartbreaking, because of how much they mean to me and frustrating, because it seems there is no way to put an end to the disregard a majority of people seem to have against them.

It is one thing to write about how Humans treat Animals, but even my words can never truly express how things like this and everything else related make me feel.  I started another blog sometime ago that has gone through many name changes since each time I hear of something awful I feel like a different name would be more appropriate and reach more people.  The last time I posted there was in the midst of several Celebrity Animal Cruelty items.  In the wake of these stories coming to light, I never even finished my series of posts because there is so much violence against Animals, it overwhelmed me.

My outlet to express myself when I witness or hear about such things is in writing and my forum has been blogging.  That said, as a member of society that cares, I know I am not alone.  I have met like minded people, both in person and via the internet.  I also know those of us who do care are outnumbered.  Whether its in Zoo's, in Parks, Animals natural wild living space, or any place an Animal calls home.   Whether its people misbehaving in non-contact ways like verbal abuse (name calling, heckling, ect),  terrorizing (chasing, harassing, ect),  invading/trespassing (barrier breaching) into their living space,  OR by physical attack (any kind of forceful/harmful contact).   It just seems Human Beings are getting worse in their need to overpower the Non-Human Beings we share this earth with.   Its sad and its sickening.  

There is no other word for me to describe a crime against an innocent being such as an Animal except Evil.  I truly believe that there has to be something seriously wrong with the internally make-up of someone to have any disregard for an Animal.  That includes people who think its funny to makes jokes about them, funny to stand at their enclosures and yell and laugh at them, run after them (I see this daily in the Park with the Ducks), allow their pets to chase for thrill ( people who let their Dogs chase the Ducks, Birds, Squirrels), all of it, it all falls under being Evil at the core.  Anyone who has a decent soul has empathy and would not do any of these things.  All the things I've mentioned, I've seen done by Adults.  These actions don't even cover the crimes being committed by those who trophy hunt and pose smiling with the Animal they just murdered or those in other countries slaughtering Animals for profit, or the many other crimes that are committed against Animals. 

Ok, so I have gotten off the main subject a bit, but the issue is the same.  Humans against Animals.  As I said, the list of offenses is overwhelming.  That said, what can be done to at least protect the Animals that live in supposedly secure Facilities such as Zoo's?    I came up with a philosophy after the 2007 Tiger Attack at the SFZoo.    You can't safeguard everything 100% or there would be no crime.  BUT  I also have grown to believe that there are things that can be done to deter and definitely make it harder for offenders.   

With Humans becoming more and more out of control, changes in how things are done need to grow with the times.  I have blogged about this endlessly in reference to the SFZoo.   That said, this mindset should be that of all Zoo's.  There needs to be more Security, more secure enclosures (with just as much priority on keeping Animals in as keeping Humans out), and better all around practices in promoting Animal respect.  I know there are many Zoo's that let their Animals have access at night to outdoor quarters, with main Zoo perimeters not secure, this shouldn't even be happening.   I'm not saying any of this had anything to do with this incident or even that of the Monkey that was stolen from SFZoo earlier this year.  I'm saying Zoo's need to inspect and identify in general as many angles of deterrence they can, not just leave things status quo.  You can't these days and all the Human misbehavior I have blogged about, in addition to these two break-in crimes proves that.

I don't even know how to wrap this up. This made me think of so many instances I've witnessed.  Animal safety and respect is a passion of mine.  So sometimes I trail off and get wordy.  Bottom line,  I feel awful for the Keepers who took care of this Monkey, for its companion who is left and most awful for the fear this Monkey must have felt.  I can only wish for a better tomorrow for Animals.   RIP little Monkey.




Veteran's Day - SFZoo Visit 11.12.12

As usual I'm behind on my posts, but no matter when I post my experience's and thought's, they will always be necessary, since my mission is always that of being the voice of the Animals.  There is no other reason I do this.

So, last Monday.  Until I walked up to the gate and saw the line for ticket sales into the parking lot, I didn't realize it was a Holiday.  I usually spend part of the Winter Holidays with the Zoo friends, but sometimes I try to avoid other Holidays and Free Day because it seems to bring out the worst kinds of Visitors and an abundance of them.  This Veteran's Day was no different.

That said,  the Zoo continues to not hire extra Security on these high traffic days and there is no Staff presence.  If they think that a handful of Docents is going to be their eyes and ears on the property they are mistaken.  I saw Docents, but I didn't (and rarely do) see any interact with any Visitors and def not the ones who misbehave.

If you start out Visiting the Barnyard Friends, usually not much can dampen your day.  How could it when you have faces like Paddy's greeting you?!!   ...  Unless you see a grown woman try to sit on a Dwarf Goat :(

 Paddy says, "Good Morning!"

Moving on, as we went through the Primate Center to see little Romo (Langur babie), on our way to check on Lily (Duiker) babie watch, we ran into Keeper Percy (?).   As I have often done recently, I asked her if Lily had her babie and she said, "I don't know, I'm not working over there today".   Plausible but unlikely as word of a birth would have spread.   Completely unlikely since she was walking ahead of us on our way to the Giraffe Barn (where Lily has been  corralled) and went into the Barn, not a foot from Lily!   Would have been better for her to ignore my question rather than lie about it, but hey, nothing up in that place should surprise me at this point lol!

Moving on we arrived at the Black Rhinos.  There is a sign there with the universal "shoosh" as well some words about being quiet.  I have posted similar photos, and again this is just to say, Why can't these type of signs be at every exhibit?  There is too much excessive human noise around the Animals.  This is their home, it should be a place of peace, people need to observe them in quiet.


In light of the tragedy at the Pittsburgh Zoo earlier that week, I decided to take photos of some of our exhibits breach-able barriers.   Below is the barrier to the Black Rhinos.  These Animals can come right to the barrier almost, making them very vulnerable to people's misbehavior.


In my post about the PZoo incident, I noted our Anteater's exhibit.  I know the Zoo peeps read my blog, one would think they would pay special attention to these breach-able areas, and not only prepare to upgrade them so the Animals aren't vulnerable, but post signs not to breach the barriers in anyway.  But alas, as usual the Zoo does not make the Animals safety and Well Being a priority.

Not only did I see at least a handful of people physically breaching the barrier at the Anteater, but people also use this barrier to lay all their crap on, purses, maps, food, drinks, whatever.  It would be very easy for something to fall into the exhibit and for Angelo (Anteater) to get it.  


Guy leaning over barrier INTO the exhibit.  Is this photo going to be that much closer because of this?  The real question is, why would someone think this is acceptable behavior?   Is the photo more important than the Animals security level?   Would this guy want someone leaning into his window to take a photo?   


Same rules apply as above.  Hello, Animal comfort levels.  If your kid isn't tall enough, lift them up but in no way is it acceptable to sprawl across a barrier and dangle your legs into it.





And finally, I guess this parent didn't hear the news this past week.  The kid who fell into the exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo was being held this exact way.  Granted I don't think an Anteater would cause the same harm as the Wild Dogs, but regardless, this is unacceptable behavior.  

While at the Big Cats, ironically specific the Siberian Tiger exhibit (shown below) I saw a kid standing at the fencing area, then walk over to the landscaped area and pick out specific items, sticks and large rock sized bark, and walk back over the barrier to the fencing.  I knew exactly what was going to happen next.  I said, "Don't you throw that stuff at the Tiger!"   Without facing me he dropped the items and then turned and walked away.   WHAT is wrong with people?   I don't care if this was a kid, kids should be taught that this behavior is not acceptable.   Good grief, how hard is it for people (since the Zoo isn't going to educate people who enter) to tell their kids to Respect the Animals before they come in.  Oh yeah,  its usually the Adults who are worse.

When will the San Francisco Zoo start protecting its Animals and become a Zero Tolerance Facility?  They need to make barriers not vulnerable and start educating people as they enter and have tons of signs everywhere reminding people what not to do.  

I'd like to see people throw stuff at the Tigers again without a barrier.  See how brave they are then.  This behavior boils down to Bullying.   Karma is a Bitch as they say and in this type of instance, that kid just might get bullied at school and have sticks and rocks thrown at him. 



Tiger/Big Cats barrier upgrade after the Tiger attack in 2007.   One would think this was enough to keep people from harassing the Animals, but its not.  Unfortunately I think all Zoo's need to have complete glass barriers between the Humans and the Animals, in order for the Animals to stay safe.

On the subject of Bullying.   Why is it Humans take pleasure in verbally assaulting the Animals with insults?  I hear this all the time.  I heard it today at the Anteater and although what people say has no barring on my life, it hurts my heart to hear such things about innocent Animals.  Its disgusting and again, Humans sure don't like it when their behavior is turned on them.   Even when its a verbal insult.   I hear it and comment on it often.

I'm sorry but i just don't understand how society got littered with so much Human Trash.   



Thankfully the Animals always make me smile.  As we headed out, we saw precious Tallulah daydreaming.  She is also lounging on a blanket that my friend Lee had given to Padang (passed Tiger) on her 21st Birthday.  I'm glad Miss T is getting use and comfort from it.

Another heart warming moment as I left the Zoo, there was a family at the sign on Sloat.  The Father was taking a photo of his two kids posing with stuffed animals they bought in the gift shop.  One was an Anteater, the other a Tiger.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Polar Bears Get Snow! - Thursday 11.15.12




Kudos to Keeper Susie who did a wonderful job on providing Enrichments for the Polar Bears.  

Both our lovely girls Pike and Ulu had a wonderful time!


 *~*~* Pike *~*~*

                                     






*~*~* Ulu *~*~*   







Love to you girls, my precious Polar Friends!  I'm so glad that I got to watch you have a wonderful day!

I put the happy the first.  Actually the Bears happiness was as it always is, pure and maintained, as was mine in being able to share in their happiness.   

As indicated by the above sentence, there of course is something surrounding this wonderful experience that is cause for a frown.  That frown is directed towards the Marketing Department at the San Francisco Zoo.

Thankfully I heard about this wonderful treat for my loved Zoo Friends,  but unless you were part of the Media, you were not invited.   Typical to many Holiday fun Animal Enrichment displays, they are done for Media attention photo ops only.   Why?  I'd like to know that.

Seeing the Polars get snow is a wonderful thing.  Something that I'm sure many would like to be there to see.    When they got snow in 2009, I heard about this in the News and lucky the weather was ideal and the snow lasted until I got there the following day.  No thanks to the Zoo Staff, who when I called to ask if it was still there said No.   Lucky I somehow I had a sense for lameness even that far back and went out anyway.  Seeing the Polars making snow angels and smiling is still one of my life highlights.

Since then there have been many instance like the one yesterday and in 2009, where the Animals have gotten fun treats and no one is there to see it, because no one knows about it.  In addition to yesterday, another that sticks out is a Halloween Media event involving the Chimps.  I was the only one there who wasn't a part of the Media.  Like yesterday, it took place at opening, but even Visitors passing through the gates aren't told its going on, so little to no one is around.   I have also seen the tail-end of such fun, just by happening to be there, as often these events happen during open hours, like yesterday, they just aren't  publicized.   Why?  I'd like to know that.

I have always loved watching the Animals get out of the ordinary Enrichment.  If you have read any of my posts, you know my history and passion about this.  If not, please search this blog or visit my Enrichment blog:   thebigcatnip.blogspot.com    In my opinion and experience, other people love it too.   Who doesn't want to see the Animals having fun?   ( As I typed that I realized that was a loaded Q!  Of course I have a sarcastic answer to that, but I'll refrain).   My point is, Why doesn't the Zoo get that people like this kind of stuff?  Why, do they not find value in letting their Visitors and Members know when these things are happening?   Why do they not get that this kind of fun for the Animals, feeds the public's need to not only see the Animals having fun, but also some needs for "entertainment"?   While I don't view this as entertainment and I do not think that is how the Animals should be viewed, I use that word as more of an "action" sense, versus "performance".  

So, as I stood there smiling at my precious Polars, I heard a Docent ask the Marketing guy Danny Latham, why this wasn't advertised.  As usual from the mouths of many SFZoo (mostly Management) Staff, nonsense flowed.   He said and I paraphrase,  "That was for Media.  ...  The Ice Truck was getting there early, before the Zoo opened."  There was some other nonsense, I just can't remember, but this is enough to smell the crap.  What time the truck was getting there has absolutely nothing to do with posting the information on their website and other social media outlets that the Polars would have snow on Thursday morning when the Zoo opened.  Plain and Simple.  Also plain and simple, the Zoo just doesn't care if people come to see such things, they only care about getting their name in the Media.

He also agreed, "It is a good event".   In my opinion, something is not an "Event"  unless its allowed to be.  

That said, there was a sign there that this "event" was in celebration of the Polars Birthdays.   That even more begs the question, Why was this not advertised?   Outside of a handful of Visitors, everyone else was Media or Staff.

If you want to wish the Polar girls a Happy Birthday, Pike turns 30 on November 25th and Ulu will turn 32 on December 19th!

I will also note some other thoughts that crossed my mind.   

For me, anytime, for any reason the Animals get to have this kind of fun  (which if you read my Enrichment posts you will know doesn't happen that often), , you would think that Staff would  love to see that.  Sadly, only those on Keeper level seem to care and take joy in seeing such things.  There were a few Guest Services Staff who came over, but in general the other Staffers who came out for the initial hoopla of Media attention, faded quickly.  Even the Carnivore Curator Corinne MacDonald just walked by without even stopping to see the joy that the Animals in her Department were getting.   

Someone else who was MIA for the "event",  Zoo Director Tanya Peterson.  Maybe she didn't get the Memo.  Seriously, does she work full-time   What exactly does she do all day?  Why is she never present for these kinds of things?  She sure hauls herself and her overboard Animal print wardrobe out for the big society events and cocktail parties.  AND I'm sure she will be present when the new Playground opens.   ... For those who haven't heard, the Rec and Park Commission voted to allow the Zoo to proceed with building a new playground for Humans while Animals like the Polars continue to live (and die) in ancient exhibits in dire need for upgrading.   But hey, the Zoo has never made the Animals a priority.  Sadly there are also so called Zoo lovers (Visitors/Members/Donors/Zoological Board/City Officials) who think this is okay as well.

Lastly, I heard Docent Chris Shuttlesworth say in reference to the Polars, "They are old and we don't know how much longer they will live",   OMG!  Nice words.  I heard something similar from the mouth of an Education Staffer whose name I don't know.  I don't know why I still get aghast hearing such things, but I do.  It hurts my heart, as well I just think its unprofessional, not to mention uncaring coming from the mouths of anyone who represents the Zoo.   The thing to say would be along the lines of noting that our Polars have surpassed estimated age spans and that we are lucky to have them!  ... A Docent also breezed by me and said, "He's having fun!"   Both the Polars are girls.  UG.

When will the Zoo get it together?   When will the Management Staff, in this case Marketing, get what will draw in Visitors and endear them to the Zoo to make repeated Visits and not just one-offs?  When will the Director really become the face of the Zoo and be out on the grounds showing she cares what goes on there on a daily basis?  When will the Staff that are there to teach people not only learn about the Animals that live there, but gain some professional tact in how they present information? 

When, when, Why, why, Ay Yi Yi!

That all said, I had a great time, because I got to see my precious girls have a great time!

*****************************



ADD:  Forgot I to post this photo.  It contains some information about Pike and Ulu :)  ...  I love that  these precious and special girls Birthdays got recognized and I surely hope that Animal Birthdays become something the Zoo embraces to celebrate the lives that make the Zoo what it is.  That said, I have to wonder if their Birthdays didn't fall during a time when the Zoo gives them Snow anyway, would they have even had a Birthday celebration?

Pike will turn 30 on November 25! 
&  
Ulu will turn 32 on December 19!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

San Francisco Zoo Management = Humans Priority over Animals

I wrote a blog post on this issue (again) that has sat in draft form for quite some time.  You can find it below the dotted line.

Today the issue is as such.   The San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission will vote this Thursday, whether to grant the Zoo the go-ahead for this project.   This information comes today as part of an Examiner article you can view here:   
http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2012/11/next-zoo-habitat-kids-san-francisco-zoo

It is my opinion that this plan is a slap in the face to the Animals that live at the Zoo and once again shows that the SFZoo does not put the Animals first.   So much for their new "Wellness Initiative"  which claims to put the Animals first.  

I do not have time to write in detail all the reasons this is wrong, but I have blogged about it before, I will next include in part my letter emailed to the Commission this morning (that includes the points I think in short are  most valid), as well below are photos and text that made up my post in draft.

If you value the Zoo as the Animal Park it is supposed to be, and visit because you love Animals, I have to assume you to share my feelings on this.  I try to present information in my blog that is of my opinion and such the readers can form their own based on that, but I have to say, if you think that a new playground for Humans is more important than providing optimum living spaces for the Animals, that is sad.

If you are moved to do so, please email the Commission at:    recpark.commission@sfgov.org

My letter:

Dear San Francico Recreation And Park Commissioners, Mark Buell, Tom Harrison, Paige Arata, Gloria Bonilla, Meagan Levitan, Larry Martin, and Commissioner Low,

I understand that this Thursday there will be a vote regarding the proposed new Playground at the San Francisco Zoo.  

The Zoo is a place where Animals live.  If you care about the well being of any Animal, I urge you to vote against this.

As a lifetime Visitor and current Member of the San Francisco Zoo, I visit the Zoo at least twice a week.  Admittedly I have alot of issues with the decisions current Management makes adn this is a very big one.

My heart and passion is for Animals.  I have strong attachments to the ones that live at the Zoo.  

As you know, the Zoo is over 80 years old and many areas are in need of upgrades, primarily many of the Animal enclosures.  These are enclosures to us, but homes to them.  

It hurts my heart when the Zoo proposes "New", when "Old" isn't helped.  

Earlier this year our beloved Andean Bear Wishbone died from injuries related to living his life on concrete.  The Management may tell you different, but that would not be the truth.

The Polar Bears continue to live 50% of their life on concrete.  The Chimps have a third living space that was closed down for maintenance issues over two years ago and never worked on.  These are just two examples of dire needs for these Animals.  

In addition to the new Playground the Zoo has a whole new region in the plan, while the Bears, Chimps and other Animals languish in their old homes that need serious upgrading.  These two Animals I have mentioned are Senior Residents, so complete new areas for them would not be advisable, for upset and displacement reasons, but that doesn't mean there isn't upgrades that can be made to improve their lives.  Frankly the Zoo Management team appears to be just waiting out their lives before they plan on anything for them, and that is not right.   The Andean Bear had known leg, bone, joint issues for many years and was put down while still having all it all mentally, but just never recovered from the last in a long list of injuries to his mobility issues from living on concrete.

Are Animals living in these conditions less important than Humans having a new play area?

Please remember when you vote that the Zoo is a place where Animals live.  They give their lives so Humans can view them and learn about them.  This is a place the should support the Animals first.  It is not an Amusement Park.

The Zoo has recently rolled out their new slogan of "Wellness" for the Animals.  Claiming that the Animals will finally become a priority.  Building a new area for Humans is not putting the Animals first.  Kids should come there knowing they are there to see Animals, playing is secondary.  There is no need for a new Playground.  If they want to do something, there are many ways to bring new things to the current Playground, that are not of such a cost both monetary and at the slight fo the Animals.   

I understand that these funds were raised or donated for this use, but with that I will also add that is because the Zoo team only seeks funds for "New", never proposing to donors the serious needs.

If this project gets the go ahead, your message will be that Humans having a better play space is more important than the Animals having  better living conditions.  Building a "naturalistic" playground while Bears walk on concrete is unacceptable and disgusting.

Thank You
Kim ...
San Francisco

*********************************************

Does the San Francisco Zoo really need new 
AND elaborate playgrounds?


The following "models" were on display near the Carousel for the recent ZooFest. 





 It appears that soon Humans will have 
better play areas than 
the Animals have living spaces.

 In addition to four, count 'em 4 new playgrounds in the Playfield area,
there is a "playground" in the plans for the new Squirrel Monkey enclosure.

In addition to these play areas, the Zoo also has multiple Statues which Kids play on more than they do the actual Playground.  As well there is a huge grass area (while some Animals have no grass or soft surface at all in their homes) for playing.  People can bring their own play gear, or the Zoo can rent a bouncy house or other such rotating kid entertainment items.  There is no need to spend money while Animals live on concrete and have little other Enrichment in their lives.

Taken of current playground area during 
the Zoo's Hawaiian Hertitage Event.

Note the abundance of children making use of the playground.  AND this is during an Event.  I again ask, why is the Zoo spending money on building playgrounds for humans when the Animals who live there need upgraded homes and other Enrichments?


Monday, November 12, 2012

San Francisco Zoo Knowingly Upsets its Senior Chimp

I will start by saying that I find what I'm about to write about very disturbing BUT not surprising as the San Francisco Zoo while promoting the hell out of their "Wellness" Initiative, in my opinion continue to not make the Animals who live there a priority.

Last Monday (November 5, 2012) I finished up my visit at the Chimps.  Before I even approached the area I could hear very (VERY!) loud electric equipememnt sounds coming from that area.   I saw they were working on the Bird cages directly across from the Chimps.  Photo below taken four days later on Thursday.


Work being done
photo 11.8.2012

I know they want to expand some cages to create better flight areas, so I assume that was what was being done.  The loud metallic grinding sound appeared to be coming from an electric saw cutting the metal.  It was very loud, and prolonged.  Really awful sound to hear if you are sensitive to that sort of thing.  I'm not, but Cobby (the male Chimp) is.

As I walked closer to the Chimp enclosure, I viewed Cobby coming out from the night quarters.  He was Stumbling and at first I thought there was something wrong with his legs, because the stumble was such that he couldn't walk properly, in fact he was close to falling down.  In hindsight because of the situation I wonder if there wasn't something else medically attacking him.  

Once he got off the "bridge" and onto to grotto, he was visibly VERY upset.  Already in full bristle (hair standing up on end)  and swinging his arms back and forth, he pounded his feet all around the structure, eventually rolling up magazines and throwing them in the direction of the offence.   

These photos are from Snapshots taken from the Video I took.   You can view the video at length here:

Cobby visibly upset 
Video Snapshot 11.5.12

Cobby ready to throw magazine
Video Snapshot 11.5.12

While Visitors often mistake this behavior as something else and always proceed to laugh, heckle and continue to upset him, anyone who works at the Zoo KNOWS that this is Cobby in a very agitated state.

This is not new behavior for him, he is easily upset by loud noises and harassing Visitors.   The problem with this particular situation is that the Zoo knows this and yet this construction was allowed to happen while he was out on exhibit.   One Staff Member stood across the path overseeing the construction, with his back turned away from Chimps = no concern for how this might upset them, especially Cobby knowing his sensitivity.   AND  four days later when I visited, there were magazines on the Visitor side again, which means Cobby had been out throwing magazines again that very day.  So, I am to conclude that this was an upset that he endured for at least four days.  Awful.

Magazines that had been thrown
Photo 11.8.12

The Zoo's Chimps are all Seniors.  They have lived at the Zoo since the 60s and are all well into their 50s.   Consideration should be taken for their "Wellness" and they should not knowingly be subjected to this level of upset.   There is no reason the Zoo could not either shorten their hours "on" exhibit and do this in the morning before and in the afternoon after such hours, OR like they did for the Gorillas (when their new glass was installed), leave them inside while construction is being done.  They love movies and would have sat inside watching one having popcorn while this was going on.  There is absolutely NO reason Cobby and frankly his Heart had to be put through this.   

I find this extra disturbing as I have witnessed Cobby upset many times before. There are  "shoosh" signs at the enclosure, yet not only do the Visitors ignore the signs, obviously so does the Staff.  As I have stated these are not young Chimps.  They are always targeted by Visitors, heckling them, laughing at them, making ape gestures, its disgusting.  I don't know why people come to the Zoo sometimes.  BUT for the purpose of this post, I am concentrated on the Zoo Staff (excluding Keepers).

That all said, the Zoo needs to not only check their own behavior, but post more signs to keep quiet at Chimps, as well as one that includes an explanation of Cobbys behavior and not to laugh, heckle, or gesture at him, to further upset him.

I will include two links to previous posts I've made about this situation.

An incident, when I witnessed a group of Visitors upset Cobby and when he threw something at them, the Visitors threw it back AT him and the Zoo did nothing about it.


A continual sound issue surrounding the Zoo's annual Lunar (Chinese New Year) Event.  







Friday, November 9, 2012

San Francisco Zoo Then and Now - New Article


I love San Francisco history and of course I love the Zoo, so anything combined is a bonus!  ... I'm also a freak about the TV Series Streets of San Francisco and put up some clips on my first Zoo blog from an episode filmed at the Zoo!  


Great new article (that states it may turn into a series!) on the Zoo's History.  A Then and Now, with some great photos from the past.  


One of my favorite history book series is put out by Arcadia Publishing.  A couple years ago they put out a San Francisco Zoo one, bringing my total books in their series to over Twenty.  Check it out if you are interested in more great photos and info bits about the Zoo's beginnings.

During the Zoo's 80th Anniversary in 2009, the Zoo put up these beautiful and fantastic signs at certain points around the grounds, featuring historic photos and information.  Unfortunately they took them down.  Big FAIL I think embracing the Zoo's past with present is part of endearing people to the Zoo.

I can't remember if it was while I had an open and favorable communication with the Zoo's Director, that I made this suggestion via email to her or if it was in one of my blogs, but my feeling still stands on this as I think it is a brilliant idea.  In fact, I think it would be a richer experience for Children than a new Playground.

I would love to see the Historic Mother's Building, renovated and turned into a history Museum. I would love to see old Photos, Video, Memorabilia  ect.  One Keeper told me there is Video footage of our Chimps.  I would love to be able to see that footage.  I love our Chimps, who have lived at the Zoo for over Forty Years.  There is no reason to horde this wonderful history away when it would be shared with the people who really love the Zoo and possibly make more people appreciate the Zoo.   It would be a wonderful tribute to the Fleishhacker Family for their vision to open our wonderful Zoo.  

While making a note on history and embracing the Zoo for its longevity, I want to add a few more things.  

It would be a WIN in every way to include the word "HISTORIC" above the current wording on both the Lion House and the Pachyderm Building.  As well, inside the Lion House there used to be two poster sized photos of passed Lion House Residents.  Old George and Trouble.  These were taken down during this year, I thought because they were going to paint in there, but that hasn't happened and the photos are still down.  I have always loved those photos and they paid tribute to the wonderful souls who have lived there.  I always thought it would be wonderful to put up a nice framed photo of each of the Big Cats who have lived there.  It would celebrate them and make the space warmer.  That said, taking down the two that were already up and never putting them back up is senseless and disrespectful.

Another big part of the Zoo's history that is under celebrated, is that of Monarch the Grizzly Bear.  While Monarch never lived in the current Zoo, he lived in the City's first actual Zoo in Golden Gate Park and was the inspiration to expand that Zoo into the Zoo we have today.  Monarch is a state symbol, his silhouette the model for the Flag of California.  

A fundraising idea I have had for many years was inspired by the Festival of Fish I saw in New Orleans in 2000.

http://www.amberle.com/FestivalOfFins/

Much like the more well known New York Cow Parade, as well as other like efforts, including a Heart based one the City of San Francisco did some years ago.  The collection of sculptures that are decorated and displayed, later sold as part of a fundraiser.  There is already a statue form that can be used, its on display outside the Grizzly Bear Gulch.This would be an awesome fundraiser for money to be specifically used for upgrading our Bears.  I say specifically because the Bears (Polar and our precious passed Andean) are the most in need Animals at the Zoo, yet continue to be at the bottom of the priority list. ... Another brilliant idea by me :) 

Please post a comment and tell me about your past memories of the Zoo.  

I remember so many things, but the two that stand out most as repeated favorites were getting fish from the cart to feed the Sea Lions and the Bears sitting on the edge of the Grotto's waving!  Also, all the babie Goats that used to jump about the Farm!   

As always, if there are comments, please click on them to expand them and hear what others have to say!

October Birthday Wishes! (Belated)




Four Zoo Friends had Birthdays in October!

 Happy Birthday Angelo!
Angelo the Giant Anteater 
turned 14 on the 26th!

Happy Birthday Snickers!
Snickers the Nigerian Dwarf Goat
turned 11 on the 30th!

Happy Birthday Milky Way!
Milky Way the Nigerian Dwarf Goat
turned 11 on the 30th!

You can visit these wonderful Twin Goats
and their Mama Maroudi on the Farm :)

Happy Birthday Wasabi!
Wasabi the Rooster
turned 9 on the 31st!

I was there for Wasabi's Birthday Party!  After the Birthday song was sung, Wasabi had some cake with his lady friends :)  Here are a few photos :)  Thank you to Keeper Amber for celebrating Wasabi's special day!

 the Cake :)

the Guests :)  ... Wasabi and his lady friends
Buffy, Stella, Snowball, and Diva!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Toddler Killed at Pittsburg Zoo by African Dogs


I am really behind on many posts, but this recent event is relevant to many things I post about.

I will lead with a paragraph from this article


> "A 2-year-old boy visiting the Pittsburgh zoo was killed Sunday morning when he fell off a railing that his mother had put him on top of to view a pack of African painted dogs, who pounced on the child and mauled him, police said." <

When I first read this, my immediate thoughts went to misbehavior I see at the Zoo (SFZoo).  Specifically the new Anteater exhibit came to mind.  I have given the Zoo kudos for the exhibit, but I have also raised issue in many posts in regards to Angelo (Anteater) being so vulnerable to Visitors.  I've noted how people lean, lay, stand on the barrier.  There of course are no signs not to, which doesn't always stop people, but is an added way to deter such actions.  There are such signs at the Asian Rhino, yet people still prop their kids on the barrier.  In any case, when the Zoo renovated the exhibit next to Angelo's for Inti the Bobcat, they of course had to put of a "fencing" because of the type of Animal he is, but additionally they have put up metal police style barriers, adding plants and bamboo barriers as well.  Where are Angelo's protective barriers?  No where that's where!



I have witnessed countless instances where Visitors are breaching barriers.  You don't have to jump a barrier to breach it.  Barriers are just that.  They are meant to be a wall between you and the Animals.  They are not meant to be stood on, sat on, ect.  I am not insensitive to the tragedy this is for this Family, but for the purpose of my post, I must point out the cause of this tragedy.

I am in a constant stupefied awe (among other emotions) at the things I witness people do.  That said, in relation to breaching barriers at Zoo's, I am in fear for the Animals.  I fear their safety from people gesturing towards them, heckling them, throwing objects into their home, and yes, even entering their home, whether voluntarily or by accident.  For the sake of this post I will concentrate on accidentally. 

Another quote from the article:

> "When the boy fell, other visitors immediately told staff members, who responded along with Pittsburgh police. Zookeepers called off some of the dogs, and seven of them immediately went to a back building. Three more eventually were drawn away from the child, but the last dog was aggressive and police had to shoot the animal, officials say."<

This is one of my fears when Visitors misbehave and it involves contact with an Animal.  The Animals are in jeopardy of losing their lives.  In regards to our Tatiana (Tiger), she lost her life because of Visitor misbehavior.  I could write more on that, but have already (search on gooberssfzoofriends.blogspot.com)  Thankfully our Grizzly Sisters didn't meet the same fate when someone entered their enclosure BUT if they had not backed down, they would have been shot.  In my opinion no Animal should be killed as the result of misbehavior on the part of a Human.  But, that's just me.

A more recent article had some quotes I had thoughts on.


>"Federal officials, police and the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums will review Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium’s procedures because of the fatal mauling of a 2-year-old Pleasant Hills boy on Sunday by a pack of African painted dogs."<

I have maintained from the point of the Tiger event, that you can't safeguard every aspect of deviance in a person's mind.  That reflected the misbehavior of the Visitors that caused the Tiger event.  That said, since then, more stringent precautions should be in place in all Zoo's to prevent and deter.  Unfortunately that requires changing the rules of how barriers are designed.  With that I mean how they are designed to keep Visitors OUT!  ... In this instance, sure, the Zoo could have put up a better barrier, but the Zoo is not at fault for not doing so.  There was a sufficient barrier in place to keep the Animals IN.  The Zoo did their job.  The rest is up to the Visitor.

I will also not that I think the AZA needs to have a better system in place.  Not only can they walk the grounds of the SFZoo (and others I'm sure) and note breach-able exhibits, but from personal experience, they can't always believe what they see and are told from scheduled inspections.  My friend Lee reported someone who breached the barrier at Bears and the events that followed included both she and I getting blamed for calling in a false alarm and getting our Memberships revoked.  It is my opinion that with the Zoo's upcoming AZA inspection for safety that we were used as scapegoats to hide their Security pitfalls.  (sanfranciscozoocrime.blogspot.com)

> "Zoo officials said the boy apparently slipped from his 34-year-old mother’s arms on a 4-foot-tall wall and tumbled off a 14-foot-tall mesh barrier and into the dogs’ enclosure."<  

I'm sorry, but this is just plain stupidity.  In the light of such a tragic event I hate to simplify things, but I must. 

> “Considering that 75 million people visit accredited zoos every year, they have a remarkable safety record,” he said. “This is obviously a terrible, terrible tragedy, but I do want people to know that zoos are safe.” <

Of course Zoo's are safe.  Its the People who create unsafe situations.  Stupidity and Evilness seem to be an epidemic and in the case of what I'm most passionate about, its the Animals who end up suffering.  I apologize if in respect to this situation sounds awful and insensitive, I don't mean it to be.  I am pointing out that this type of misbehavior (barrier breaching) whether based on stupidity or evilness,  is not isolated.  Something needs to be done about deterring and educating people to behave in a manner proper to the environment they choose to enter.  In this case its a Zoo.  A place where wild Animals live.  

I have blogged about how the San Francisco Zoo in my opinion drops the ball in regards to Education, which is a word they use in their Mission Statement.  There is little to none in regards of educating people (from gate paying Adult, Zoo Camp Children, even Members) about how to respect the Animals that live in the Zoo.  A message that would also extend to how Animals are treated in general.  I spend most of my time outside the house in places where Animals live.  There is a constant (daily) stream of people misbehaving around and towards Animals.  I am in the process of re-working a blog dedicated to this subject.  There are so many aspects of disrespect/misbehavior its been hard to make it solid.

Recently I noted in a blog post that I thought glass barriers should be at every exhibit in every Zoo.  Sure I would love to see all Animals in open air exhibits, but with the misbehavior I have witnessed over the years, I fear for the Animals safety constantly.  You are probably wondering how an event like this has turned my focus to Animal safety.  Before I continue with that, I want to note that in my opinion, the "open air" style of exhibits, is only Visitor perception   From the Animal side, they are still in open air, they barrier protecting them is just more solid.

In regards to this particular event, all I can say is, I'm not surprised.  Of course this is a tragedy for this Family, but hopefully a wake-up call for not only others who do this very thing when visiting Zoo's, but for Zoo's to really think about how to educate Visitors on behavior AND how exhibits are now designed and changed to reflect this epidemic of misbehavior, to not only deter this type of behavior, but to make their Animals less vulnerable to Visitors, which keeps both Animals and Human safe.


I find it disappointing and upsetting to constantly see Animals a target for misbehavior, whether its verbal or physical.  To me its a form of Bullying.  As I mentioned, many of my blog posts contain multiple suggestions and pleas to the San Francisco Zoo to have more Education, more Signs, install Video Messages, but up better barriers, have their Docents/Volunteers spreading the Message of Respect, but to no avail, you barely see or hear anything of the such.  What you do see is continued disrespect toward the Animals and their homes.  I've only seen answer to this call to action a few times.  Once was after the Grizzly Bear incident, another was when they hired Terry Maple as their touted new "Visionist".

I do not understand why there is such a Zoo wide slack on something that is so important.  Safety.  The safety of the Animals who live there (which takes the back seat) and the Visitors (who create the unsafe instances themselves).  I noted the Tiger event in which I have never held the Zoo accountable.  Until then I hadn't thought anything of the way exhibits were designed.  I still don't believe there is anything that could have changed the outcome of that event other than Visitors behaving properly.  It is only in hindsight of that incident and my subsequent sensitivity to people acting the fool, have I formed a more stringent thought process to how Zoo's should handle barriers, security and putting forth the message of respect.

In all the blogging I do in regard to the Zoo, the main thing that is the common catalyst is that I want what's best for the Animals.  Not only in our Zoo, but all Zoo's.  Not only in Zoo's but for all Animals.  Disrespect of Animals hurts my heart.

That all said, I have also said in a few fantastical manners how I should be running the Zoo.  I'm sure those who are actually running the Zoo are laughing at the very thought, but I will say this, I have written in posts both suggestions and critiques and many of those have come to fruition at the Zoo.  My words have changed some things, so I'm not full of BS as some within the walls think.  With my blogs and other online outlets, at one time, I was doing more Social Networking than any Zoo Employee.  It was fueled by my passion to endear others to the Zoo to help it thrive in the wake of the negativity surrounding the Tiger event.  With the joy I got from watching the Animals have fun, I (along with my friend Lee) learned about Enrichment and made Toys every weekend for most of 2010 so the Animals could have some fun.  We did this when Staffers who job it was to do so, did not (and still do not).  I have made suggestions in regard to Animal safety, when Staffers turned a blind eye to things or didn't have the "cells" to notice.  The Zoo has a payroll of people who should being handling (thinking) and they obviously don't.  They had to hire a "Visionist" to tell them there should be glass at the Gorillas.  Good Grief  I suggested that and other things prior.   Its not always the Education (not scholarly, but by being in the profession) that fuels the right thing, its the Empathy.  Cowards don't care, and there is alot of that going on at the Zoo that prevents things getting done.  At the end of this you may ask, how did this become about the San Francisco Zoo?  Here are a few more photos from my archive this year.  What happened at the Pittsburgh Zoo can happen anywhere.  


 One of many Visitors I see 
standing on the barrier at Tigers!!!

 At Sea Lions

Wide angle that includes a Docent 
walking right past the offending behavior!!!

Sure the two open air exhibits (Anteater and Sea Lions, not Tiger) I posted are not that of "threatening" Animals, BUT the point is, this is not acceptable behavior at any exhibit.  Regardless of the danger level of an Animals nature, this is their home, that should be respected.  And if it is an dangerous Animal,  what's wrong with you if you think its ok to behave this way?

I had planned to include links to posts I've written previously pertaining to what I've written here, but right now i don't have the time.  If anyone reading this is interested in more, there is a search box for this blog, you can search "misbehavior" and other such terms to pull up more posts.  There is also a link to the left that will allow you to access my other Zoo related blogs.

As always please remember to expand any comments for more information.

Afterthought:   After several hours of this post being published, in hindsight I feel a bit guilty for my bluntness in blame.  I feel awful for this Family, but I also think the circumstances causing this event need to be addressed because of how common this behavior is.  It obviously doesn't always (and maybe has never before) end this tragic, but once is all it should take for Zoo's to think of exhibit barriers that reflect how the current populous of Visitors behave.