Thursday, February 28, 2013

International Polar Bear Day at the San Francisco Zoo - NOT!

As you can tell from the title, another fail on the part of the San Francisco Zoo.  There was not a hint of Polar Bear Day recognition anywhere.  I knew there wouldn't be, but one can always hope that the Zoo Management will someday start Celebrating the Animals that live there.

I just looked up the Zoo's Mission Statement to post in full.  I could swear it used to include the word "Educate".   It reads as such:

> At the San Francisco Zoo, it's our mission to connect people with wildlife, inspire caring for nature and advance conservation action.  <

Not to sound the way this will sound (for lack of a better way to describe it) but as most of what is written on their site sounds like, this is much of the same, a bunch of words that sound wonderful but in my opinion are empty on action.

That said, regardless of whether its (still) in their statement, they do continue to tout themselves as participants in education and are an Animal facility.   So, they should be recognizing these important "Days" and doing something to educate those who visit the Zoo on these days.  I have been there not only on Polar Day, but other International/National Days in support of the plight of other threatened Animals, including Tapirs, Rhinos and Tigers.  The San Francisco Zoo has not recognized any of these days.   There was a post with a link on their Facebook page that's it.   They must think everyone visits their FB page and that's the extent of it.  Myself I only visit it once in awhile (up from never) to see what they aren't posting about.   Funny, they recently started following me on Twitter (I don't follow them) so I guess we are keeping an eye on each other lol!

I went to the Zoo, wearing a pin I made last year to celebrate our girls :)

I hung out with each of the girls for sometime, chatting with them and watching them have some fun.  Ulu was eating some food that was placed on the ledge of her enclosure, so standing up :) and Pike was playing in her pool :)  
I wished them a Happy Day :)

A Docent came by and stood for a second, said a few words to me and then moved on.  I was already bothered about the lack of recognition and then to have a Docent there and not offer anything about the Day topped it off.  I guess she is personally not to blame, because obviously the Zoo Staff didn't inform them, and if someone is not on the internet they might not have access to such information.  That said, my consistent general thought is there are some Docents who should take a more proactive approach in what's going on, not only in the Zoo they Volunteer at, but in what's going on with Animals in general.

Why does the San Francisco Zoo not only recognize these Days, but use the opportunity to make it a visit draw?  There were other Zoo's promoting their participation in celebrating the Day, Chicago's Brookfield Zoo for one.  Check out what they had planned:

The length of all three Polar Bear exhibits was bare with information about the Day.  There were people there who could have been educated.  There are Bears that live there that deserve to be recognized as Ambassadors for their species.  Their wild counterparts are facing a plight that threatens the survival of their species and yet there is nothing, there is no one, out there to bring awareness on this Day.

Why is there no one on Staff at the exhibits to Educate?  There should have been someone there.  A designated time frame, a Staff rotation, What's everyone so busy doing?  Seriously, I don't blame the Keepers or the Vets, all of whom I see always doing something.  Everyone else, the Education Staff, the Docents, Corrine MacDonald Carnivore Curator, Debbie Marin Asst Carnivore Curator, David Bocian Vice President of Animal Care, where are all these people that not one person could be out there at any given time frame to talk to Visitors?  What's the Graphics Dept doing that they can't make signage at the very least?  Where's Director Tanya Peterson?  You rarely (I'd say never but I did see her not long ago, which I'll mention in my Churro Sheep post) see her out on the property.  For someone who is supposedly the face of the Zoo where is she?  She comes to the big events and cocktail parties but she's not out on the grounds.  Many have told me how former Director Manuel Mollinedo used to walk the grounds daily.  I'd like to know what she does full time, I'd like to know what all of them do full time, but I digress.  The whole lack of effort on the Management Staff in so many areas is really sad.

This and all the other Days, even choosing to make their own spotlight days, all of it would help educate people.  I'm pretty exhausted now so I'll wrap up echoing something I've said before and will say again.  More Staff on the grounds, whether its Educating people, or monitoring Misbehavior, is key to keeping Animals respected, both in Captivity (at the Zoo) and in the Wild (our Parks for one).  
I give the girls the news :)
As with all posts,
please expand comments
for additional insight and information.
Check back as I reply to all comments.
Contact the San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson
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Thank You for taking the time to read
about things that matter to me.

Happy International Polar Bear Day - February 27, 2013

This post should have been done yesterday as THAT was International Polar Bear Day, but I thought I was going to include this photo and the following link in my next post, but as I started to write I decided on doing two separate posts.   

My Happy International Polar Bear Day 
greeting :)  Celebrating my precious
Polar Friends, Ulu and Pike!
I love you pretty girls!

Please visit Polar Bear International's website to learn more about the plight of the Polar Bear's who live in the wild.  There is also a challenge that the link will take you to.  This challenge was for yesterday, but the plight is dire and making a difference everyday would help to Save these Bears.  Thank you!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Wakoda says WHAT!? - Bring the Churro Girls Back Home!

Once again the San Francisco Zoo Management Team has made an Animal decision that is in their best interest, NOT that of the Animal.   This time the Animals being disrespected are the female Navajo Churro Sheep.  Sadly, this is not a surprise as they have disrespected many of the Animal Residents before, in many ways. To name a few:  They let Wishbone the Andean Bear pound his bones to a literal death living on concrete.  They let Elly the Black Rhino get a literal hole in her skin because it wasn't "feasible" for them to oil her.  They shuffled other Hoofstock around like they are playing pieces in a game: 

SFZOO, do right by these girls and 
like Wakoda says,
"Bring the Churro girls home!"

There are two issues to this situation.  The first is WHY and the other is LIE.  

WHY move these girls?   

The Navajo Churro Sheep live at the Family Farm in the Children's Zoo.  These five females have lived as a group there, with all their other Barnyard friends, for over four years.   Their daily routine consists of socializing with the other Sheep and Goats, as well as the Visitors, many of whom are regular visitors and fans of many individual Animals that live there, including the Churro girls.  Their social interactions are not only part of what they know, its part of their Enrichment.  

Moving them to another area in the Zoo was an awful idea anyway you look at it.  They are not "exhibit" Animals, they are social Animals.  Their routine now exists of being penned up behind bars, not having social contact with their Animal or Human friends.  Not getting the exercise that panhandling for Petting Zoo Treats in the yard provides them.  Basically leading a boring existence unless one of the Keepers comes up to tend to them.   

There aren't many people who visit them here.  The Zoo hasn't put up a sign at the area entrance that says what's back there (not everyone reads the map)   So they are without social stimulation most of the time.  This is one of many photos I've taken of them with their heads slumped on the ground.  They are bored!

Thankfully they know me and 
will get up and come over to greet me.
I can provide them a break in their boredom. 
Heartbreaking, as they seem 
like they are saying "Free Us!"

In addition to it not being the life they have been used to, it may also being leading to a health detriment.  I visit them often and have noticed a difference in their mobility.  First I thought a couple of them were limping, which could be due to the different type of ground they are walking on.  A grassy "field" is much different that the Farm yard.  The uneven landscape is not what their used to.  The argument could be made that Sheep in general live on such ground, but these girls have not.  Also, being in a penned in area, where they aren't free roaming for treats, they are laying down most of the time.  When they get up, they are always hobbling a bit. I believe the stagnant sit is causing them stiffness.

Moving these girls was wrong.  Leaving them there beyond the two months that was initially (supposedly) planned is just cruel.  What is Wrong With You San Francisco Zoo Management?  Why do you continue to make decisions for Animals without Empathy?  Please let the Churro girls go back to the Farm NOW!

There has also been a change in the other Sheep, 
who wonder what happened to the Churro girls.

Now for the second part of WHY and LIE.

The whole move was suspicious from the beginning.  Whoever made this decision above the Family Farm (Childrens Zoo)  Department, did so apparently (allegedly, whatever you want to call it) masked with untruths.  As I was told by several sources this move was supposed to be temporary, for only a couple months.  They wanted to have something in the area where the Reindeer had been over the holidays.  Now, word has it, they will be staying there until the new playground is finished.  AKA indefinitely.  There was also something about them being part of the new North American area.  Going by that, they may never get home, as who knows when the North American area will get done.  Frankly, a North American area shouldn't be done until other Animal needs Zoo-wide are taken care of, but hey, we are getting a new playground before that, so that there shows where priority lies at the SFZoo.  BUT I digress. 

A note about the alleged "playground" reasoning.  The Zoo has created some natural play structures in this area as well.  There aren't many people who trek back to this area, but those who do and who have kids, the kids are more interested in playing on these structures, including taking sticks from the piles and beating the ground and tress, as well as taking these sticks into other areas of the Zoo and beating things.  

Let's talk about this new map.   Regardless of the fact that the Zoo has spend money yet again on new maps (when I'm told there are boxes of unused ones in storage), here you can see that these maps have the Churro's as a listed exhibit.  In my opinion this shows that the Zoo Management knew very well the whole time that their plan was to keep the Churro's there past the time frame they originally presented.

Oh, AND if they are going to make the area inviting to people by having picnic tables and such, they need to put a garbage can up there, there is trash on the ground and most of it plastic bags all over the place.  I counted 7 pieces alone, the day I took this photo.  

I saw Maintenance building more seating into this structure, so they continue to have plans that include having Animals on exhibit here indefinitely.  This appears to not be the temporary situation they presented.  

San Francisco Zoo, STOP doing things to suit your own needs and whims.  Do what's right for the Animals. You seem to forget this is an Animal Facility.  It is because of these Animals that there is a Zoo, which also translates into the reason you all have jobs.  You talk about Wellness, take care of their Wellness and let them go home to the Farm.

As with all posts,
please expand comments
for additional insight and information.
Check back as I reply to all comments.
Contact the San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson
if you want your voice heard.
Thank You for taking the time to read
about things that matter to me.

New Additions! - Births and Arrivals :)

Another post I just didn't get to and I apologize to all who have been checking back.

Please look for a post in the next few days (week of May 6, 2013)  for a post about the Joint Zoo Committee Meetings.  That post will link you to the Meeting Minutes which include a detail of the Zoo's Animal Aquistions (new and by birth) as well as Dispositions (transfers and sadly deaths).

Welcome Cubbie! - Tiger Gives Birth!

Congratulations to Sumatran Tiger mates, Skylar/Leanne and Taymor/Larry on the birth of their first Cub, born one week ago today, Sunday February 10.  It was not a surprise as I have been on babie watch for weeks after seeing physical signs that she was pregnant :)  When the Lion House was closed on Monday, I knew we had a babie!  I look forward to seeing your little one and watching it grow!  It will be an honor :)

Seeing adorable photos of Leanne's newborn via Zoo released photos, sparked memories I had of watching her previous litter with Bali/Georgie grow up.  Being able to see a Tiger Cub from its second day out in public, until it was full grown at one year plus, was one of the most incredible and valued experiences I've had.  I have some friends who didn't get the chance so I picked some of my favorite photos from that time frame and posted them.  Enjoy!  and taste what you have to look forward to with our new arrival!

Now, let's talk names. 

I will start by noting that in my posts as well as in person I flux between calling Leanne by that, her donor name and by Skylar, her given name.  I have written much about how I feel about name changing, so I want to explain.  Even though I have been a lifelong Visitor and as an Adult a Member of the Zoo, it wasn't until 2008, just after these Cubs were born, and I suffered the loss of my kitty of Twenty years, did I start visiting the Zoo almost daily and began to learn about the Residents as Individuals.  I first came to know Skylar as Leanne and even though I eventually learned of her given name, out of habit I often call her Leanne.  That said, until the long time Big Cat Keeper Barb left in December 2011, the Cats (at least) were given the respect of being called their given names by the Keepers.  Names they have been used to their whole lives.  Things changed with Barb's departure and new Management, and the Cats are called by their donor names.  Disrespectful and confusing.   I have posted about this, and you can search for those posts within the blog.  In relation to the Tigers making the news, last night I read something that bothered me even further.  

When Taymor came to the SFZoo from the Jackson Zoo, he came with a name he had his whole life.  Of course the San Francisco Zoo could not leave him to own his own name, changing it to Larry.  In a couple articles on the Cubs birth, it noted that "Larry" was on temporary loan for breeding and where he'd be going next was unknown.  I had no idea the Zoo didn't plan to keep him (as often breeding loans are indefinite), so to change his name and call him by something other than what he knows for almost a year, then send him off someplace else is really disgusting.  This poor Cat is going to be really confused.  No wonder he has had stomach issues since he got here.  Buts thats another curiosity, for another time.

That all said, what name will the Zoo bestow on this precious little innocent Cub?   I can only hope the trend of naming after ball players is over.  I would hope the Zoo would think hard and give this special little one a special name.  A name that means something.   I for one have already started calling it little Padang.  Whether its a boy or a girl, I would love to see it named after its Auntie Padang!   The Zoo's Sumatran Tiger Padang passed away last spring, reaching a milestone 22 years old, making her the oldest of any Tiger species in a North American Zoo.  Padang's Brother Rengat is Leanne's Father.  It would be an awesome tribute to an awesome and classy Cat.  It is also the capital city of West Sumatra.   ....  Unless the Zoo sells the naming rights at Zoofest (or another cocktail party) or has a naming contest, in which then a liquored up Donor with a fat checkbook or a five year old could pick a name ranging from Brian Wilson (donor name Tucker the Hippo ended up with) or Russell Brand (name a precious little girl Penguin almost ended up with).   Hopefully the Zoo will give this little one a dignified name.  If not Padang, maybe Valentino or Valentina since its birth was so close to Valentines Day.  My vote is still Padang.

Since I've gone on about names, I'll shelve my curiosities about pregnancies in the Lion House. I'll move on to a concern, just so its noted in print.

When Leanne's last litter was born, they lived in Grotto E, which is now occupied by the Snow Leopards, who at the time were still living in the Feline Conservation Center.  Grotto E unlike all the other Big Cat Grottos is flat.  Currently the Big Cats rotate the other Grottos, although Leanne's nest box area is within Grotto A, so I assume that is where she and the Cub will be on exhibit.  My concern is the moat.  I certainly hope the Zoo plans to put up a barrier to prevent the Cub from falling off the ledge.  A fence was put up to keep Padang from going down during her senior years.  Cats climb so not sure if a fence could be made tall enough or what.   That said, two other concerns even with a barrier.  I know the fence was only usable for Padang, as it was feared that more agile Cats would attempt to leap over it and fall into the moat.  I would hope any type of barrier would be positioned farther back to avoid that with Leanne.  Also the edge of the Grotto that borders the moat is only one ledge concern.  Grotto A also has the hot rock ledge at the viewing window, that I'm not sure how could be barriered.  I do know that when Jahari and Kimani were about six months old I saw them in that exhibit with no barrier, but I also know Leanne started bringing her Cubs out at 6 weeks.  Hopefully this will be well monitored.

Happy Birthday Monifa! - Gorilla Birthday

Monifa turned 15 on January 3rd!

Happy Birthday Monifa!

In the swirl of life, I missed the actual day of some Birthdays, Monifa's being one. I feel awful when I let one pass without recognition.  Hope you had a day with special treats!

Monifa is four year old Hasani's birth mother.  She came to the SFZoo from Seattle on a breeding recommendation with the troop male Jonesy.

Happy Birthday Jahari! - African Lion Birthday

Jahari turned 10 on February 7th!

Happy Birthday Jahari!

With all that's going on,
I'm sorry I missed posting this sooner!

Jahari was born at the San Francisco Zoo along with his sister Kimani who now lives at the Tautphaus Park Zoo.  His parents were Tunya and Kita who came to the Zoo along with Amanzi as yearlings in 1997.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chinese New Year - 2013 Year of the Snake :)

I apologize to those who follow my blog, that I have slacked in recent weeks on posting.  In addition to some computer issues, I haven't had much time.  I have been working on building the Floats for the San Francisco Chinese New Year Parade that will take place next Sunday.  Its a very crafty gig which I love and working on large art projects like the Float items, reminded me of the Enrichment Toys I made for the Zoo Friends in the past.  I recently made some Paper Mache balls for a group of Sanctuary Chimps (they had them for a Birthday celebration and loved them!), but other than that and my own crafts, I haven't done large projects and miss it.  If I was in charge of Enrichments for the Zoo Friends, they would have wonderful Toys for all the holidays (at the very least!).  The San Francisco Zoo continues to miss these wonderful opportunities to bring joy not only to the Animals, but to the Visitors who appreciate seeing the Animals have fun.

I've been trying to get to posts (I have a growing list) for some time now and here we are the night before the Zoo's Lunar New Year event, which I wanted to post about, and I am doing so in the "eleventh hour" as they say.  I guess since this is more an informative rant than something I think the Zoo Management Team would do anything about, I guess the timing doesn't matter.

I love this holiday because its festive, its colorful, it celebrates Animals as symbols, ...  I used to love this event, but as you will read, it became an issue for me and since the Zoo could care less about the Animals, I didn't go last year and will not again this year.  I can't enjoy it, knowing that there are aspects of it that are upsetting to the Animals.

From a post I made dated January 14, 2012

>As I was leaving I noticed the Zoo now has up their banner for the annual Lunar (Chinese New Year) event.    As a San Francisco native I love the Lunar events.  As well I used to love the one at the Zoo.  A few years ago I was in the Children's Zoo, which runs along the side of the Playfield path where the Lunar event activities take place.  I was standing at Prairie Dogs when the Lion Dance started and the drum banging sound level was insane.  All the Dogs (Prairie) and Kats (Meerkat) were going nuts and running for underground cover.  I asked the keeper about it and he said that he had told Management and they didn't care.  The next year, I wrote to the Zoo and noted this story, requesting they rethink having the Lion Dance, which really is unnecessary as so many places in the City have it and it has no place at the Zoo because of how loud it is.  The Zoo is supposed to be a quiet environment for the Animals who live there.  Anyway I got no reply and was there at Chimps right before the first Lion Dance show was scheduled.  A Keeper was there and I had told her about the previous year, as well my email.  She said she asked to be told when it would start so she could call the Chimps in.  It started out of the blue and the Chimps went insane.  Needless to say, last year which was the following year, nothing had changed and the animals just had to suffer through the noise. <

Well, the Zoo still has the Lion Dance as part of their program, so considering the unavoidable level of noise, nothing could likely have changed.  The Chimps are now three years older than before, with one recently passing from heart complications post-op.  Yet, there is not only continued acceptance of loud noise and voices on a daily basis around their home and through-out the Zoo, but with the knowing scheduling of such disturbance.  There are ways to have a successful event without the Lion Dance (and other loud performances for any event), but someone would have to care, and apparently no one does.

I'm not a "rain on the parade" person, I just think the Zoo is the home to Animals and empathy for them should come first and there are so many instances that stem from Management where the Animals are not a priority.  For the instance of living in peace, the whole Zoo should be a quiet zone for the sake of the Animals.  Its not too much to ask, but like other instances, it seems the Zoo doesn't want to offend anyone.  I say it would only offend the type of people you don't want visiting anyway.  The Oakland Zoo has multi-lingual sandwich board type signs all over the pathways requesting that Visitors keep the areas around the Animal exhibits "quiet zones."  

Everyday, Visitors of all ages run amuck and act the fool all over the San Francisco Zoo.

I recently saw a sign on a business that said (paraphrasing) "Out of respect for our neighbors, please keep your voices down."   The Zoo needs similar signs, out of respect for their Animals.  

Happy New Year!

Sweet Lemon Drop lives at
the California Academy of Science :)

As with all posts,
please expand comments
for additional insight and information.
Check back as I reply to all comments.
Contact the San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson
if you want your voice heard.
Thank You for taking the time to read
about things that matter to me.