Saturday, January 17, 2015

San Francisco Zoo Steals Money for New Chimpanzee Home

In 1997, the Voters of City of San Francisco Elected  a Monetary Bond,  for upgrades to the San Francisco Zoo.  Part of the Money was designated for the construction of The Great Ape Forest.   Seventeen Years later, no such Exhibit has been built.   Additionally, not one bit of upgrade has been made to the exisiting Chimpanzee Exhibit.  

When the Zoo opened the new Playground in Fall 2013,  the hypocritical Zoo Officials put out a TV Commecial, stating what has long been overlooked by the same Zoo Officials when making any descisions.  Boasting its "Our Zoo", meaning the Zoo belongs to the City and Citizens of San Francisco.   A truth that is non-existent.  What else is non-existent is that the Zoo should also belong to the Animals that live there, with them being a priority.  Instead the Zoo has become a  "pet project" of a mob of  Society folk.

In the wake of the KGO-TV Safety investigation, I think its time that some kind of investigation into what happend to the money for the Great Ape Forest take place.  Where did the Money go?  Who was responcible for the misappropriation?  Isn't this some legal issue regarding misuse of these funds?  Was it a Director at the time descision?  Was the Society involved?  Was the Rec and Park involved?   How and Why did the City of San Francisco let this happen?  These questions can start to be answered by asking long time Finacical Manager Wayne Reading.  When I first met him, he introduced himself as "The Money Man",  SO,  Mr Money Man,  you hold the check book,  WHERE?  is the money that the Citizens of San Francisco voted to be allocated for a new home for the Chimpanzees?  

I guarentee you, when the money was donated for the new Playground, not a penny went elsewhere.  In fact, additional funds needed to be raised.

Ten Years later, at the end of 2007, this news article was published.


Snips of relevance:

>"Meanwhile, plans were quietly killed for the Great Ape Forest exhibit, highlighted in a $48 million city bond measure approved by voters in 1997 to upgrade the zoo. And four would-be inhabitants - aging wild-born chimpanzees- are still living in a concrete grotto while their handler continues her lonely quest to make sure their rare and invaluable genes are passed on through breeding.

The chimps' longtime zookeeper, Lisa Hamburger, has occasionally appeared at monthly meetings of the Joint Zoo Committee, a city panel that oversees the zoo, to plead her case. As she prepared to speak one afternoon, Mollinedo got up and walked out of the room." <

Sadly Lisa left the Zoo and has since passed.  Her obituary noting her love and mentioning her Friends, Tallulah, Cobby, Maggie and Minnie, among her survivors.

Since Lisa, the Chimps have had no one champioining for them.  Not one of the Curators or Keepers since have cared enough to be their voice.

In the spring of 2008, this article was published:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Critics-blast-S-F-zoo-s-use-of-bond-funds-3220164.php#photo-2362866

Snips of relevance:

>"Flyers distributed to voters showed pictures of the primates' exhibits, which bond backers called "awful cement islands." Officials promised that two-thirds of the aging facility would be rebuilt, moving the zoo "from concrete to grass." Included in the list of projects was a new Great Ape Forest, a "natural habitat with climbing vines, trees, a stream and high nesting areas for these magnificent, intelligent animals." 

Eleven years later, the orangutans are gone, the chimpanzees are still living on those awful cement islands - albeit with a bit more shrubbery - and the lions and rhinos haven't yet been given their new digs. While the zoo has added new exhibits, including the African Savanna, critics charge that the zoo has placed more emphasis on visitor amenities than animal welfare. They also argue that the zoo has spent millions of taxpayer dollars on inadequate new exhibits."<

While the Rhinos did get a new home, even if with an odd layout and not much of a landscape upgrade to what the location was previous to the renovation.  The lions are still in the same place, but their homes are not of issue in my opinion.

What is of issue is the continued slight the Chimps have gotten.  Literally less than D-listed, they aren't even on a list of priority and apparently they haven't been for 17 years.  
The question is WHY?   


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