Sunday, February 16, 2014

Zoo-Years Resolutions! Part One - Make Exhibit Barriers Safe for the Animals

I will work on this post in full soon.  I mentioned it in a previous post and had intention to get it done by end of January.  

I want to once again, document even further the issues at the Zoo regarding Barrier Breaching and Visitor Misbehavior.  As people were posting New Years Resolutions on Facebook I thought, The Zoo needs to make some Resolutions to keep the Animals safe.  That's when I thought to not only synopsis my previous Barrier issues, but expand on them AND make this post a Call to Action that the Zoo make improvements to Exhibits and Visitor Behavior Guidelines that protect the Animals.

I have noted many Barrier issues.  I have made many suggestions.  I have more, and will definitely post them.  Til the time I can finish this post in full, I will note a couple things.

I have posted and am very vocal about non-glassed in Exhibits.  Don't get me wrong,  I do love the open air and naturalistic aesthetics of Exhibits like our Savannah and other smaller Exhibits like the Puente, Peccaries, Kangaroos, Mandrills, Patas Monkeys, Anteater, as well as all other open aired Exhibits.  That said, I don't think any of them are safe for the Animals.  I do think that when Exhibits like the Savannah were built, over a dozen yrs ago now, Exhibits like this were what all Zoos aspired to have and have built since.  Unfortunately, as the better designed Exhibits grew, so did the amount and degree of Visitor misbehavior.   While all Zoos mentality is to keep moving forward with these type of Exhibit designs, such a future for Zoos in my opinion endangers their Residents.  The Animals who live in these Exhibits are vulnerable to threats of dangerous objects being thrown in and trespassers, who might cost them their life.

In regard to trespassing, our Zoo has finally posted a few (literally) signs about this.  I have posted them here previously.  They are useless as they are worded.  More on that later.  The reason I note this here is because of how valid the issue of trespassing is.  In 2009, our own Grizzly Bears were in danger of losing their lives as a Barrier Breach led to a Man entering their enclosure.  With Rifles pointed at them, they are lucky they didn't touch the Man or they would have been shot.  Dead, because a worthless Human was able to enter their home.  I have seen Visitor constantly dangle over the Barriers.  I saw a Woman, arms outstretched extend her babie over the Rhinos and say "Here Rhino"!!!   While this was not a move of Evil intent, this was a move by a complete Moron.  THIS on the heels of a Woman dropping her kid to its death into an exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo.  If you haven't read about this and want to, google it or search my blog I posted about it.

In regard to objects being dropped or thrown into Exhibits, curiously I have only seen a sign at Sea Lions (I think). Sadly, this can happen at any open air Exhibit.  I have seen many items in Exhibits over the years.  Last year, the Gorillas had a plastic pacifier that after being shared between three of them, finally got to Five yr old Hasani and he was eating the broken pieces.  I also heard allegedly that both one of our Sea Lions and one of our Snow Leopards had to have surgery to extract foreign objects from their insides.  Just last week a Polar Bear at a Zoo in Germany, died from eating a coat and handbag that were dropped into his enclosure.  The information in this article is heartbreaking.  No one even alerted Staff that something was dropped in.  There is just no relying on Humans to do the right thing.  It also notes other objects thrown in over the years at this Zoo. Thankfully I haven't seen anything this scale, but it only takes one time.  Our Sea Lion and Snow Leopard could have easily lost their lives.

Both these issues pose a threat to the Animals.  The first also poses a threat to the Visitor, which is the Zoos priority, so you would think they would do what they can to safeguard the Public, which would then safeguard the Animals, who are my concern.

I find it curious, and I have had this discussion with a friend, that people are opposed to glassing the Exhibits based on viewing and photography issues.  Yes, it does not lend to the best of either BUT if it keeps the Animals safe that is all that matters.  At least to me.  No view or photo is worth having the Animals vulnerable or at risk of losing their life.   I maintain that safety glassing all the enclosures should be the future of the Zoo.

This was intended to be a brief note about what I intended for this post.  Turned out to be more.  Will continue this in a Part Two, which I will post some additional thoughts as I'm sure Ill have them, as well as documentation of offences, and suggestions for improvements.

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