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?
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.
& 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.