Sunday, January 19, 2014

HOT TOPIC! - Along Time Coming! - Catching Up with My Zoo Thoughts

I know, my blogging is long over due.  For some thats a good thing, for other's I don't know, but for me its 
something that nags at me.  I have a long to-do list both in online ventures, other interests and life ventures.  
That said, not a day goes by that I don't think about something at the Zoo that I would change if I were in 
charge.  Til that fantasy is fulfilled all I can do is document the things I find of issue.  That said, I know I 
have way too many "coming soon" posts in que, and the problem is, I just haven't had the time or energy to 
dedicate to them.  Most who find issue with my blogging probably think I just pick something and rag on it, 
when that's not entirely accurate.  When I post something, I like for it to be well thought out, have back 
links, photos, anything that I can provide to make it well rounded.  That all takes time and energy.
There seems to be a big stream of things  that come to mind and with each day there seems to be another, 
or at least the sting of one I still haven't written about, but is still of issue.

Today I saw a photo of a Polar Bear Birthday party at the Alaska Zoo.  Again I was taken back to November and December when our two wonderful Polars Pike and Ulu didn't even get a Birthday mention from the Zoo.  Both Bears are Seniors and should be celebrated for the life they have had and the joy they have provided to so many Visitors thru their Thirty plus years.  It suited the Zoo to create an Event around it last year when they would benefit from it with Media attention. 

During the Holidays the Zoo tried again to present Zoo Lights.  Compared to other Zoo's this was comical, 
as it was basically just some lights.  The ironic, yet sad thing is, even in the wake of the Tiger incident of 
2007 (which had authorities roaming the Zoo at night looking for a code Red Animal), the Zoo still has no 
outdoor Emergency lighting.   

Then New Years Day comes and goes without any Birthday mentions to several Zoo Friends who turned 
another year.  One inparticular slight that spears the heart, is that of Black Rhino Elly.  Elly turned 44, 
another Animal, who like Ulu, may be the oldest of their Species living in a North American Zoo.  Elly gave 
the San Francisco Zoo Fourteen babies, yet doesn't even get a mention or a special treat.  Shameful.  Shit, if 
it wasn't for me blogging and contacting Animal Welfare, she would have went un-oiled a couple years ago 
while the dryness of her skin created a huge hole in her side.  The Zoo claimed it was "unfeasible" to oil 
her in the back part of the exhibit and that the hole was caused by her rubbing against part of the gate. Interesting how she got oiled within days and the hole healed and hadn't been seen since.Then we have the current Football hype.  So of course they toss Elly's Grandson Belozi a box with the 49er logo on it, to get some Media attention.  Why?  Because they changed a name he's had and responded to for the first Five years of his life from Belozi to Boone, the name of a 49er.  I got no problem with this Boone guy doing good for the Zoo and donating funds, ect, but I do have a problem with him supporting the Zoo pimping out the Animals and allowing for this Animals named to be changed to his in exchange for those donations.

AND while on the subject of Rhinos.  Let's touch on the fact that Elly has been banished to the rear of the 
exhibit since Belozi got here, over a year ago now.   The Zoo, always quick to pat themselves on the back for their made-up "Wellness" initiative, in the wake of the deaths of Five large Animals in 2011.  Up went a sign at the Big Cats, claiming one of the Grottos as an "Enrichment" Grottos because of its "Bamboo Forest". This only after allegedly letting Senior Sumatran Tiger Padang injure herself to the point it caused her death.  Freeing up the Grotto she lived in and labeling it for "Enrichment".  That lasted a couple months before they stopped rotating the Big Cats altogether for over a year.  Only recently changing it up again.  I guess Environmental Enrichment is subjective to personal agenda of the Curator Staff.  Read, whatever is easiest at the time.   ... I sure hope they have researched (yeah right) the fact that new Amur Tiger Bronevik likes water and should be in a Grotto that has one of the deeper pools.  As well, so does Shastyuh (Martha), who hasn't been to Grotto B in probably a year and that seemed to be her favorite, lounging in the pool everytime I saw her.  Grotto B seems to have the best pool option for the Amurs, yet they continually have the Lions in there most and they don't use the pool. Its all a big head shake in that Department, ever since Keeper Barb left.  .. Oh yea and I hear they are changing Bronevik's name to Hank.  WTF?  An Amur Tiger with an established life name that reflects his Species origin, wil now be the name of a country singer.   AND while on the subject of name change, the SFZoo is screwing these Animals up by changing their names and not using their established names behind the scenes.  Animals should have one name for responding purposes.   This is what you get when the Zoo is run by someone who doesn't know anything about Animals.

Getting back to the "Wellness" of rotation and the fact that Elly has not been in the front part of the exhibit 
in over a year.   When Mishaki was still alive (one of the curious deaths) and Elly had the hole in her side, 
she was right quick oiled and moved to the front of the exhibit.   Sadly then Mishaki, sat in the back on the 
ground the rest of his life.   Neither of them liked this set-up.  Whoever designed an exhibit with a front and back instead of side by side is an idiot.  That said, they shold have been working with what they had and these Animals should have been/should be rotated often.  Elly thrived in the front, was always up prancing about and now she just lays on the ground in the back, banished there for the rest of her life it appears.  Looks like the Zoo cares more to have the younger Rhino up front.  THIS is bullshit.  

Another rotation issue, the Polar Bears.  Their only savior from living a life on concrete like poor Wishbone 
(the Andean Bear the Zoo's concrete "home" killed), was that poor Wishbone passed (as the Zoo Director so callously stated, "freeing up the grotto") and I blogged suggestions on what to do there, essentially 
providing the Zoo with a plan.  Supposedly the Zoo built a transfer system to be able to rotate the Bears, (I 
even hear to the Grizzly Gulch) but that's never happened.  Poor Pike who hardly even got time in the 
Meadow, now has it all the time but rarely goes in there.  I suspect because she's been confused for so many years whether or not she CAN, that she doesn't even bother to check sometimes.   And the renovation that the Zoo patted themselves on the back for, ended up including a dirt mound (which wasn't in my plan) in which Ulu continually has dirt crusted in her eyes from.  Another bright idea NOT.  They seriously need to level that mound and create a meadow not a mountain.  YES Ulu loves to dig, but less dirt would mean she wouldn't have it so stuck in her eyes that they are glued closed much of the time, which I documented three visits in a row.  As well, I also have to wonder if she is allowed access to night quarters thru the concrete Grotto, or does she have to walk thru dirt, once clean, to get to her bedroom?  Which yes, means she's never really clean and constantly rubbing her eyes with dirt laden footies.  UG!

While on the subject of Animal Wellness, lets talk about the new Playground.  I've seen a commercial for the Zoo's new Playground a handful of times today.  Everytime I hear about that damn Playground my blood 
boils.  The commercial features Kids saying a variety of BS PR lines, like "getting to know how it feels to be 
a Monkey or a Polar Bear".  Ahhh NO you don't, because those Animals live in ancient homes, while you 
play in state of the art areas that the Animals themselves would love.  NOW that would be a commecial. Let 
the Chimps play on the Banyan Trees in the Playground.  Better yet SFZOO why don't you make some fun 
and new thing for THEM!  It also has them saying, "Its my City, its my Zoo."  Ahhh again NO its not.  It 
should be and its supposed to, but in reality its a San Francisco Politician and Society Zoo run by a Director 
who obviously has no regard for the Animals that live there or she wouldn't allow their names to be changed 
or for anything to be built there or new Animals brought in until everything is taken care of at home 
(current Residents).   I have written much about it so I'll try not to repeat myself, only to say that the 
Chimps are still living in basically the same area they have for over Forty Years.   WORD!

Continuing on, ... The subject of new Animals.  Don't get me wrong, I love them too and I would not change 
having wonderful little Falcor the Komodo at our Zoo, but I do think there are things that need to be done 
for the current Animals Residents first.  I mentioned making trees and other improvements for the Chimps. 
I think I did write about the thoughts I had for upgrades to their current Grottos.  I know I wrote about the poor Hornbill Hercules who basically lives in a cage.  He needs a free flight area.  This bird with a wing span of 4-6 ft has not been able to fly in years.  There is room right there next to his cage to expand his area but the Zoo refuses.   ... Let's talk Hoofstock.  Good grief I have written plenty on the Disrespect the Duikers have gotten over the past few years and it continues.  Christmas marked One year since the birth of the last Dukier babie.   Over a  year since the Zoo ripped the Dukier couple apart and never put them back together.  Although now with a yearling, maybe they will heartlessly put them together and breed poor Lily again and then take her away from Erik, who wanders the Savannah alone, the only one of his Species, just so the Zoo can have representation on display.  Disgusting.  Lily and her Daughter are back living on south gate, a path the housed three Hoofstock species at one time, before they closed the path for a variety of reasons, none that made sense or were consistant.   AND poor Pokemon the Blackbuck who continued to live there til a tree fell in his home and he was moved to a side STALL at the rear of the Savannah.   A stall I hear has no grass, so he has been living on substrate for over a year and only see's wooden walls.  Its true, as an imprinted Animal he never got along with other Animals, but he loved Human visits.  This is just plain cruel.  A favorite Friend I haven't seen for almost three years.  

After the passing (bigtime curious one) of Bubsy the Giant Eland, his area opened up, yet no renovations 
were made to have it occupied by the Dukier Family or Pokemon.  For over a year the Dukier Son, Houdini lived in the back of the exhibit (after a short stay of convenience in the old Warthog exhibit with his Father, 
until it was again convenient for the Zoo's agenda to dart them, separate them and move them).  Houdini was recently sent to an out of country Zoo for breeding, so the Zoo has now brought in pair of Bongos.  Don't get me wrong I love Bongos and look forward to being able to see them, but we still have the Dukiers living separate and Pokemon living on gravel basically and staring at wood walls, both off view.   Bubsy's huge area could have been renovated to be made into two areas to house both these Species.

All this said, I have heard there has been rumblings once again in the "Wellness" Department.  First they 
brought in Dr Maples who was going to do wonders, yet all I heard about was his suggestion of the obvious 
need at Gorillas for Glass barriers.  Two thoughts I'll say on this.  One I think I posted about already but will 
repeat.  If it was noted by Dr Maples to be in the best "Wellness" interest to add the Glass barriers so 
Visitors didn't look down on the Gorillas, why were two viewing platforms left open?  AND  with a new 
Infant Gorilla and Visitor misbehavior constant, are those platforms still closed and UnGlassed six months after the birth?  Now with Dr Maples a thing of the past, there is a new Wellness regime.  It pissed me off that they had to hire someone new to see things that the people already working there were too lame to figure out.  I sure hope with bringing new people once again, they cut some of the dead weight loose.   I sure hope this new regime can turn the priorities in this place around, for the Animals sake.  There is much attention to be made to Animals Wellness that even though its shoved down our throats as something thats been at the forefront for last couple years, really has not been.   There are certain Animals that have had subcare and have lost their lives because of it.  I call out all Vets and Curators in the past two decades at the very least as responsible for many deaths at the Zoo for subcare.  Wishbone the Andean Bear, one I have documented well, and my good Friend Wakoda the Navajo Churro Sheep, who I can barely talk about without sobbing.  I knew the Keeper Staff at the Family Farm well and thought by making suggestions I could help change his situation.  All I heard for Five years was excuses and obstacles.  He got a few changes, yes a few.  AND that isn't permanent changes, those are a literal handful of times (if that) when it was convenient to let him out for exercise and socializing enrichment for at most a half hour at the end of the day.  Approximately Five times in Five years does not exercise make.  Excuse me approx. Five times in Eleven years, because before I came about asking and suggesting, he got nothing.   Being a Un-Neutered Male Sheep he was penned up like Veal his whole life.  Never past his first year having regular exercise a part of his daily routine. Never being rotated to different "stalls".  Never having a howdy fence so he could see other Animals.  All things I suggested.  Robbed of so many Enriching things in his life.  He got premature and chronic Arthritis, which caused his eventual death last year because he fell from stiffness and couldn't get up.  This stiffness would not have been an issue if he had regular exercise, denied to him by all who were supposed to care for him.  I blame the Vets and Curators most. The Vet Staff should have given the Curators exercise guidelines.  Healthcare is THEIR job!  The Curators should have researched, asked, and hello THOUGHT to implement an exercise routine.  The Animals daily routine is dictated by the Curator, that is THEIR job!  I wish his Primary Keepers through the years would have rallied on his behalf, but I also know that Keepers have their hands tied to a certain extent.  Still someone should have done something for him and I know that no-one did anything for his long-term Wellness.   Same with Wishbone, losing his life because his bones were beaten down by living 24 years on concrete and he too couldn't get up. The Zoo knew he had back and bone problems for years, yet let him languish on concrete.  I personally witnessed him have a seizure or react to a pinched nerve, tumbling down concrete stairs, writhing in pain.  The Zoo didn't recognize this happening and downgraded it as a fumble basically.   Its disgusting, heartbreaking and damn all those involved in NOT doing the best for these Animals. 

Well, I guess I'm on a roll.  It was that damn Playground commercial that set me off today.  Lets see, what 
posts do I have down listed as "coming soon" that I just haven't gotten to.  I have a couple about Barriers.  I know its probably tired, but the misbehavior in regard to Barriers is a real issue for me.  Some don't agree, in fact I had a discussion with a friend about her perspective, which I will detail probably in my post on this.  Yes, I do plan to save the Barrier issue for a post all its own because I think its important to document this issue because of the dire consequences that can come of misbehavior surrounding it.   .. Others I've touched on a bit here, Chimps, Signs (will be apart of the Barrier post), good grief I'm back as far as not posting a review of the Halloween Event.  Well all I can say is, I had high hopes since the first day so many Animals got carved Pumpkins with treats.  BUT by the second day and definitely second weekend, the lazy set in, at least with the Animals I saw.  So many with no carved Pumpkins, which equaled no treats inside.  Jahari the Lion looked at the whole Pumpkin like What the Hell?  Where's the Beef?  Seriously, Lions don't care about the Pumpkins uncarved, they want the Meat treat people!    Kudos to Keeper Eric for doing a great job with Falcor's first Halloween!  

Ok readers, I'm exhausted and frankly getting a bit hyped up with all this.  It has been good to get out some 
thoughts that constantly swirl in my head but just haven't gotten to put down.

Thanks for reading, I know it was long.  ... My new coming soon is called Zoo-Years Resolution!


  1. Lee "a tigers best friend"January 20, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    I have to say I agree with all you said. I visit almost weekly and love the wonderful animals there. I completely feel there needs to be a clean sweep of ALL curators.... Gosh, where can I start? The Polars are seniors with no respect. We lost Wishbone because of neglect. Elly was used for breeding with no repect and just hangs in the background. I can say so much about the Big Cats.... the loss of Paddy, and loss of Tunya... the ignorant way they utilize the grottos. Also, the lack of knowledge the BigCat curators have. I don't know if it's laziness or ignorance or both. Pokemon, Lily and Wakoda.... very disrespected. The name thing is really bad too..... the zoo doesnt understand that an animal is given a name so that they can be trained to respond to that name. It' s for the safety of the animal and public. My Dad, and I know I sound like a broken record on this...was a professional dog just don't change the names the animals are used to. So, thank you for your blog and bringing these issues to the forefront..... I was just as upset about the way the zoo is run. I love these animals very much, they are just disrespected.

    1. @Lee - Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the long delay, I honestly didn't think it had been this long since I replied to comments. I do put thought into them and that is why they often aren't prompt. ... I am glad you have seen what I've seen. It is sad, that we love the Animals so much because we are helpless to help them when we see the best not being done for them. Its too bad that there is so much "back patting" between the Zoological Society and Management and no one of authority takes off their rose colored glasses and kicks some asses! Too many, need to be out of there.

  2. Where do I start? Ok I'll begin by saying thank you for doing this post with all the information summarized. The playground was built because the zoo was sued, so thats why it was built first. This will hopefully bring more kids, meaning more funding. If I am remembering correctly, the zoo is not funded by the city, which is a problem because money is big in San Francisco. The zoo must ask for this funding if it wants success. Dr. Maples is no help if the zoo is tight on budget. With the new animals and new exhibits, the duikers should move in with the bongos, as they are geographically in the same region. Im not sure what to do with the blackbuck, he should have an enclosure where he can see visitors but the zoo probably doesnt want to "waste" it on one animal. So enclosures...the great hornbill enclosure should have been enlarged like the other horbills at the end of the "bird string" (do you know what other species of birds are exhibited there? I know they have kookabura and temminks tragopan...) The enclosures for Ulu and Pike (grottos) are fine as of now, I saw lots of weeds in the enlarged grotto (weeds being perennials, are not long lasting and will die, creating the dirt problem). I think that the zoo is phasing out polar bears so they wont do much with Ulu and Pike's home. And same with the chimps and Elly the black rhino, as elder animals, new exhibits are unreasonable. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be celebrated! The animals should get enrichment (on their birthdays and on regular days as well) and be rotated, especially the big cats! I agree with you that the new names are a problem, whyis it so hard to keep the original name? If Boone (not to hate on him or something) wanted his name to be publicized at the zoo, he could have helped fund an exhibit for the animals! That would have more worth than changing an animal's name. Ok to wrap things up, as I see it, the Zoo's problems are compounded, beginning with the 1997(?) funds that were wasted for visitor amenities up to the 2007 incident...without the backing of the city, the zoo cannot progress and prove its potential.

    1. @ellicruu - Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the long delay, I honestly didn't think it had been this long since I replied to comments. I do put thought into them and that is why they often aren't prompt. ... Glad you liked the post. These posts are time consuming as I put much effort, energy and emotion into them, despite what some might think. ... Yes I think you are right, in regard that they don't get money from City. I wish I was as in tune when the Zoo was City run, so that I could see the difference. I wasn't even as in tune during last Director reign, but from what I've heard, Manuel was better. Out on the grounds, very visible. Nicer to Staff. I've heard some stories, and lets just say I'm not the only one with a Tanya Peterson issue. ... Dr Maples is no longer there. I have infact heard of many new hires in a new Wellness Dept. I have met one of the gals, who seems great. Time will tell on this venture. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to take effect, like so many other things there. Problem is, if it doesn't make a difference NOW, Animals will continue to suffer, because they need attention NOW. Since I'm writing this after that fact, new people in Wellness and Animal care, and still we lost Carolina. Still Elly is in the back, oiled sloppy, and not being rotated. ... Those poor Duikers. AND glad I am reading this, because I've been to Savannah half dozen plus times since the Calf birth and haven't see Erik (Male Duiker). And for the Bongos. they are never on exhibit. I saw them once, as they were being let into the exhibit, hours after the Zoo opened, and never seen them again. There is a sign on the exhibit saying its "closed today". Its closed everyday. That said, my heart breaks for Pokemon (BlackBuck), and for me because I doubt I'll ever see his precious face again.

    2. @ellicruu continued ... ... Regarding the Birds. I have no idea WTH is up that they can not give Hercules (Great Hornbill) proper space. Its awful. BUT yes! they continue to bring in many many new birds. They aren't taking space from Herc, but still they take energy and that energy should be used to figure out how they are going to get Herc some more space. New birds, they have several new species of parrot I think, I have heard them say Amazon, but that may be all of them and they just have different coloring? There isn't signage for all of them. You know the Graphic Dept is so very busy! There is a Himalayan Monal, and a breeding pair of small Toucan. I watch them and talk to the Keeper alot but I'm blanking on the name and can't find it on search. Something like Araceti? ... Regardless of the Zoo's phase out plans, the Senior Animals still need to be taken care of and simple things done. New exhibit for the Chimps is out of question, but enriching their lives in other ways isn't. They barely get fun stuff, same old crap day in day out. They only time I see them with any fun stuff is maybe once a week when they get the Halloween goods. I mean seriously, Target has a Dollar Aisle, there is fun containers and such every Holiday. Elly, all she needs is to be rotated, so she can have environment enrichment and get oiled properly. Ulu needs that dirt pile hauled away. These are reasonable and adoable. ... I already touched abit on the worn out Halloween stuff in regards to fun toy type enrichment. Its digusting that the Zoo doesn't celebrate holidays and birthdays and give the Animals fun stuff. Its a win-win, they get something, and people like to see it. They are just lazy. I haven't written about Jillians birthday, but she's lucky about two things, that i blogged a nudge and that she is media worthy, or else she woudl have gotten nothing, like everyone else. ... There is no problem keeping original names. All I can assume is that they just don't care about the Animals and therfore they don't care about their names. Let's face it, all of the people running the place and a good portion of the Animal Staff are just not nice people. They really don't give a shit and they probably don't even think about the Animals once they clock out. There is no reason they can't still pimp out an Animals naming for money, and just use it publically. Still using it for respectful and safety reasons by the Keepers. No reason at all. And Boone, sure that would have worked, but the Zoo Staff isn't that creavtive to have suggested that AND obviously Boone himself and his people aren't either. UG it all makes my ears pulsate! ... Well, I hope something happens to help the Zoo live up to its potential because the ship of fools there now are sinking the ship.

  3. Thank you, you are correct. A City shame for sure I am 3rd generation resident and I am disgusted by the Zoos behavior. the City spends many millions at the zoo What the Society does with that is another question. thanks again keep up the good work. I appreciate the hard work.

    1. @Lloyd Kraal - Thank you for your comment. I apologize for the long delay, I honestly didn't think it had been this long since I replied to comments. I do put thought into them and that is why they often aren't prompt. ... Thank you for the Kudos. I try, despite some within the walls who think I make stuff up and don't care about the Zoo. Why would I dedicate so much, as you put it "hard work" to this if I didn't care? ... I too get disgusted by the whole thing. It often causes me great anxiety and even as I write these replies, I can feel my ears pulsating. But I love the Animals who live there and if speaking out with my observations helps them in any way, then I've accomplished something. ... I too am a native and the Zoo tries to tell the residents its our Zoo. It ain't our Zoo or we'd all have a say in what goes on there. In fact the people working there don't even have a say, right down to those taking care of the Animals. The Keepers who have many years experience in Animals, take orders from Curators with alleged backgrounds in Business and Sanitataion. ... The Society in my opinon is just another hobby for Socialites. No one really cares. None of those people ever come to the Zoo unless theres a cocktail party.


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