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.

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  1. Interesting situation, I would like to hear the zoo's side of it. I still don't understand their "why" at all. Anyone with any acquaintance with sheep and goats knows they are very social animals and distinct individuals, who also become attached to their herd, and it sounds like their herd is composed of lots more than just their species/breed mates.Thanks for writing about this.
    Joanne- who has to post as anonymous because of the profile choices.

    1. @Anonymous (Joanne)- Thank you for your comment and appreciating this issue. Your points are THE points, their "why" like so many things they do and don't do, does not make any sense. I can't follow the thought pattern of those making descisions there, or for that matter, of those who give these people (the Director included) jobs of authority. And since their "why" seems to change, like in many other situations at the Zoo, you never know if you're getting the truth.

  2. Another great post, Kim! It's super sad to see these ladies so far away from their friends and barnyard fun. I love seeing how happy they are when you visit them, they all come running over, but it's still sad to see them so bored. This spot is out of the way and hidden, which might explain why the only people we saw back there the last time I went were a breast feeding mother and her children. And, I'm confused, what does the playground have to do with anything?!?! Bring the Churros back to the barn!

    1. @divanicachica- Thank you for your comment and the post kudos :) With the posts about issues, of course I choose things that I personally find a problem with, but I try to present it in a way that not only includes my opinion, but supportive information and photos. I'm glad you have been there to see the situation. ... In their curious way of thinking, I can only guess they think that by providing another "play" area that will be an alternate play for children since the playground is closed. Bullocks! There are other areas to play in, plus the Zoo should be an educational place, not an amusement park. BUT the playground thing was not their only reason as it also was ladden with this being the "start" of the North American area. Who knows, there's so much inconsistant babble that comes from upper Staff, they could have a new reason by now to add to the mix.

  3. Excellent addition to the blog. My heart feels so sad for the girls being away from all the other Barnyarders they have known their entire life. Their personalities have changed as they are bored and don't have the enrichment of the contact with treats, goats and other sheep, and the human touch they were used to. I also worry about them being so secluded. There isnt enough security and just walking by the lion fountain you cannot see whats going on up there. The zoo keeps saying they are all about "wellness" and then they do this to the girls. Wakoda is right, bring the girls back!!! It cannot be healthy to be taken away from a home you have always known and be put in an unfamiliar area with no stimulation whatsoever. I miss getting to hug Chipotle and having her show me her teethies!!!! Do the right thing SF ZOO, you have goofed up enough already, let the girls come back to the barn.

    1. @Lee- Thank you for your comment. You are right. The Zoo claims things and then does the opposite. They really are just awful to the Animals on an empathetic level. Thing is they think they are doing a bang up job. If it wasn't so horrible it would be laughable. Those girls are continually bored. There is no one to watch them, AND i just realized, during the holidays they sure had a Staff memeber there keeping eye on the Reindeer, didn't they?!


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