Monday, March 25, 2013

A Different Kind of Barrier Breaching - Foreign Objects in Animal Enclosures

I have written several posts on Humans breaching barriers.  I've showed photos of Humans standing on and hanging over barriers.  The only thing to change at the San Francisco Zoo in relation to that is a few 5x8 signs telling people not to do either, posted at the Black Rhino.  

I have also posted that in this time in society, sadly a different approach to how (and why) barriers secure Animal enclosures should be taken.   My suggestions in past posts note that I'd like to see all the Animals behind glass barriers.  

My above suggestion is probably not the popular option, especially in a time when Zoo's and other Animal facilities are trying to make the enclosures Animals live in while in captivity as close to a natural habitat as possible.  That said, as noted above "this time in society", is such that the Human population  sadly can't behave themselves for Animals to be safe in open air enclosures.

I was the first person who missed the open air at Grotto's when the Human taunting of Tiger Tatiana got her killed and forced the Zoo to enclose the open air viewing with glass and mesh.  BUT it had to be done.  Public perception is this is to keep the Animals in.  Personally, I feel like its to keep the Humans out.

Sadly, five years after the Tiger attack, I have still seem Visitors taunt the Big Cats, with verbal heckling, banging on the glass, and even throwing stuff thru the mess and over the glass.  These actions aren't isolated to just the Big Cats.  This type of behavior and more happens at every Animal's home.

That said, even mesh is not a good barrier.   I have noted in posts over a couple years that I have seen foreign objects in Animal enclosures.  Countless times there has been different types of plastic bags in the Lemurs, small toys in the Puente, and other assorted choke size items.  

Last year alone, Henry the Seal and Niya the Snow Leopard both had surgery to remove foreign objects from their intestines.  ... Two weeks ago, food items were thrown into both the Gorillas and the Mandrills.  Last week, another food item went into the Gorillas and the following day when I was there,  Zura one of the female Gorillas was chewing on a pacifier!  After her Nneka took it and broke it to pieces and then Hasani the four year old took the smaller pieces and chewed on them.  

Broken record on repeat:

*Why are there no big signs telling people what not to do?  

*Why hasn't my suggestion of having a video of how to behave in the Zoo not been taken to fruition?

*Why doesn't Zoo Staff/Docents/Security stand at the Gate House and give a speech to Visitors about behaving?  They do this now for school groups, but the worst perpetrators are adults.  

*Why aren't there Docents assisting the Security in patroling the grounds AND watching what the Visitors are doing.

AND lastly, if the Zoo is so bent on patting themselves on the back for providing "Wellness" why aren't they being proactive in protecting the Animals?   When they hired their "Wellness" Guru, he suggested (which I did already) that a glass barrier go up at Gorillas, so people couldn't (hang over) and look down at them.  Curiously, only three of five viewing platforms is glassed in.   Half-assed I say.  I mean really,  It makes no sense.  BUT then again the barriers at Bears that were put in after an alleged escape attempt by one of the Polar Bears are downright ridiculous in their own right.  Two of three grottos have the barrier.  Again???

Yes it would be costly to glass in all the enclosures, but if the Zoo can spend 3.4 Million Dollars on a new playground, they can surely ask donors to help keep the Animals safe, considering the donors are supposed to "care" about the Zoo, which should equal caring about the Animals safety.  In addition it would cut down the constant flow of misbehavior.  Including fools who try to enter the enclosures and put the Animals lives at risk.

Yes, it would be cause for complaints from the public who want to see Animals open air, but those complaining would only be the ones who misbehave.  Those who actually care about Animals would get it.  Sure I don't like taking photos behind glass, but I care more about the Animals safety.

Additionally, there needs to be some at-a-glance (BIG lettered) signage at the Family Farm entrance, telling people not to bring in food, not to feed the animals anything but food they sell there, not to bring in any plastic bags to hold the food in or have hanging out of pockets/purses, not to sit on the animals, not to pull on their horns, not to chase the animals.  Good Grief I have recently and constantly seen people do all these things, which included an adult try to sit on a Dwarf Goat, put a Lollipop w/stick in a Goats mouth, and watch a Sheep throw up a plastic baggie.

Come on SFZoo get your Graphics Dept doing their job and making some decent sized signs displaying behavior rules bluntly.  Then work on enclosing the exhibits to protect the Animals.

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  1. I heartily agree with leo811's suggestions. As another longtime zoo visitor, I have seen many appalling human behaviors potentially endanger the animals. I hope the zoo director has some brainstorming sessions with her advisers. I know none of this comes cheap but in the long run it would be a life and money saver.

    1. @Anonymous- Thank you for your comment. I know that Zoo Staff reads my blog, so hopefully having comments like yours show them that these issues I write about are not just one individuals opinion and at some point this constistent barrier issue is remedied.


*Thank you for your comment. All comments are appreciated and I try my best to reply back in a timely manner. Sometimes "timely" isn't possible, but I will reply to all comments at some point. Please check back.
*As with all posts, please expand comments for additional insight and information.
*If you have a problem commenting, please contact me via the link on the sidebar.
*Contact the San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson if you want your voice heard within the walls
*Thank You for taking the time to read about things that matter to me.