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:    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!


  1. WOW...Kim is so right in her observations of this event. I am in total agreement why this event for media only? I saw about 1 minute of the bears in the snow on channel 7 on last nights news. It was not more than a minute. I am hoping there might be a photo in the newspaper for visitors to see. It was a fun event. Suzy the keeper, had wonderful,fun enrichments for the bears to indulge in. Was it on film? NO...?!

    1. @Charlene- Thank you for your comment! My apologies for being tardy in my appreciation. ... Thank you for also wondering why the Zoo continually drops the ball on letting Visitors in on the fun. Its truly awful how they are only in things for what Media attention they can get. These two wonderful and precious Bears are lucky their Birthdays are around the Holidays or the Zoo would do nothing for their Birthday like they do nothing for any of the other Animals special day. Those who work at the Zoo forget where they are and that without these Animals there would be no Zoo, hense they would have no jobs.

  2. I would have loved to have been there to see the polar girls get snow this year, I've been in the past and it's always an amazing event. Those girls are SO happy, you can see their smiles in Kim's wonderful pictures! Why is the snow for the polar bears not an event that is advertised like the march of the penguins? As much as I love the penguins, I think bears are cuter and look cuddlier, just sayin... Anyway, thanks so much for sharing with those of us who didn't know about it or couldn't be there. :)

    1. @Nica- Thank you for your comment! My apologies for being tardy in my appreciation. ... I wish you had been able to be there Nica! I know you love these Bears too. Thank you for the compliments on the photos, glad to share them. Part of why I take pix is to share them! ... Remember the last time we went together to this ( I can't remenber how we found out) but they said it would start at 10:15, so we were there at 10 and rushed back there and they had already started it, so much so that Media was already leaving. So, once again its all about Media. Its not about the Animals (although they don't care, because they don't know the BS that surrounds it) or the Visitors who love the Animals and love to see them having fun.

  3. Was the snow provided? I always thought SF Zoo was rather warm, nice for me, but warm for snow. Looks like a great event. My zoo doesn't seem to advertise the event either at least not on their site.

    1. @Photon Capturer- Thank you for your comment! My apologies for being tardy in my appreciation. ... The snow has been provided the past few years by the San Francisco Ice Company. They truck in the machine and blow the snow out to the grottos! Depending on the weather it can last a couple days. The first year I even heard about it, it was on the news. I went two days later and there was still a good portion of it left. ... Does your Zoo do a Snow event as well or are you refering to them not listing events in general as well? Either way it sucks. Do events and tell people so everyone can enjoy them! It all just makes me shake my head Tsk Tsk!

  4. I can hardly add to what Kim and charlene said. Visitors were surprised when they came by and saw the polars. I heard some ask why it wasn't publicized. It's poor business sense to not advertise and show tons of people enjoying. I hate when docents make negative comments about animals. I heard all that too. On a high note kudos to keeper Susie for the enrichments and love you put into this. I know you love your bears. I love ulu and pike. They are very beautiful and precious bears. They loved their snow and several times it brought tears of joy to my eyes. Precious polars may you enjoy many more snow years to come. Thank you kim for speaking your mind and always stepping up to be the voice for our furry, finned and feathered zoo friends.

    1. @Lee- Thank you for your comment! My apologies for being tardy in my appreciation. ... You were there so you know as stated and agreed. Not much more to add. Its just a crime to all that fun things happen and its all a secret. But the Zoo is notorious for its secrets and other BS that keeps the Zoo from being all it can be, for the Animals, the Visitors and alot of the Staff. I will always speak up about things I don't think are right.


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