Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mt Ulu - Polar Bear Grotto Renovation = Head Shake

The continuing saga of the Bear Grotto renovation.  I still have one post in draft, but I must post about what I saw during yesterdays visit.

First I will note that I started writing about the Bear Grottos in 2010 when I crusaded for the Andean Bear to get some grass.  No one cared about him.  After he died from complications from living on concrete, I wrote a blog post that included the photo below.  You can read the post in full here:
http://iamnotananteater.blogspot.com/2012/06/what-to-do-at-bears-not-question-but.html  As well, I wrote one last month that contains updated information.

 Detroit Zoo Bear Grotto 
Photo courtesy of Valerie Abbott
View her wonderful Animal Photos 

In the above mentioned post, I suggested the Zoo knock down the wall (as the Detroit Zoo did) between the Andean Bear Grotto and the neighboring Polar Bear Grotto, to make a double sized LANDSCAPED home for Ulu.  That would then give both the Polars daily access to landscaped areas.  Ideally when that was done, landscaping could be added to Pike's concrete Grotto.  The photo is pretty straight forward.  

Last week I saw the soil in huge mounds in Ulu's former home.  They had filled up Ulu's pool, which to start my gripe, I think was the wrong thing to do.  During this construction Ulu has been in the neighboring Meadow (the only shared natural landscaping the Polars have) for near two months.  If I was planning the renovation, I would have kept "her" pool so that she had something that was familiar and not just a completely new area.   BUT I care about the Animals on an empathetic level and the Zoo does not.

So, imagine my reaction yesterday when I saw the mounds of loose soil still there, but with seedling trees and newbie plants.  Apparently THIS was the extent of the landscaping!!!  Seriously???  

Sure its better than concrete BUT again, Seriously?  I'm sorry but this is outrageous.  They knock down a concrete wall to make more space and then basically put up a dirt wall.  I hate to be a hater, but this is the stupidest thing I think I've seen them do yet.  AND I heard it was a collaboration effort lol!  What it was, was a lazy effort.  Do they think Ulu needs to go on an expedition?

There is almost enough soil in there to cover the concrete surface of BOTH Grottos which I thought was the obvious whole idea.  To make a natural living space.  Not to make loose dirt mounds in one Grotto and leave the other concrete.  Ridiculous.  

As well, having mounds all over instead of flatter terrain, it creates obstacles that chop up the space, voiding it of the point of expansion. You can see from the view of this photo the mount smack in the middle of the yard.

From what I hear, the concrete Grotto will remain :(
When it should have been
completely landscaped with grass.

^ AND the Mt Ulu yard ^
Should have allowed for her familiar pool to stay
and the surrounding concrete be landscaped with grass.

Even with them not leaving her familiar pool, the reverse should have been the finished renovation.  there should be landscaping around the pool in the concrete Grotto.  The whole thing just looks a mess to me.  A real botched effort.
I can't believe that something so simple and obvious is such a brain drain for the Zoo Staff.  I just don't get it.  It's really upsetting.  Poor Wishbone died on concrete, because no one would give him grass.  And now they can't even get it right when they venture into a renovation.  What is the problem with landscaping these Grottos in a natural way?  Ulu don't need to be knee deep in dirt, she needs a grassy Meadow.  The only Bears to get anything that appears natural are the Grizzlies.  Thankfully the former Bear Keeper got that Meadow put in or the Polars would have NEVER seen grass in their life.  

This is pure laziness and being cheap.   AND its bullshit because they just spent money on a friggin' tiki hut above the Mandrills and a new exhibit for the Komodo Dragon, but they can't give Bears who have lived there for Thirty years some grass.  Makes me want to throw up.

UPDATE July 3, 2013 - Ulu is in the Mt Ulu home now.  Will post photos and info asap.  Please check back.
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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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  1. What a horrible thing to do as Ulu has probably never been in Wishbone's enclosure. The zoo should have kept Ulu's familiar old grotto un-landscaped with the pool but I guess it must have been more convienent (for the zoo) to landscape that grotto. Hopefully the dirt mountain will grow more lush as Ulu attempts to adjust to her new space.

    1. @Anonymous- Thank you for your comment. I think at one time Ulu may have lived in Wishbones Grotto, I'm pretty sure Pike and Andy did as I remember seeing Polars in that end Grotto long ago. She seems to be fine with Wishy's pool, but I think it would have been nice and empathetic to have left her something recently familiar.

  2. So sorry to see that the zoo has taken a fantastic idea that had the potential to enrich the lives of the polar bears and managed to make such a small improvement. I can't believe that a pool has been removed and a concrete area will remain.


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