Last month I literally wrote up the update from the previous Month Joint Zoo Meeting, on the eve of the next one. Time sure does fly as here it is the day before the next Meeting again. I posted the March Update on my Chimp blog, because I wanted to keep up to date on the development of that situation. Just realized I never got back to a fuller Meeting report for this blog. I hope to remedy that soon.
For the purpose of not only documenting my comments on the Joint Zoo Committee Hearings, but as a place to link the Zoo & the Rec and Park, when I put forth my comments to them. Anything with suggestions I think is good to post here, as both "Offices" tend to ignore suggestions and keep on with their protocol status quo, which for me isn't working at the optimum.
I had gone to every Meeting for years, until I was slandered by Director Peterson and had my Membership revoked for near a year, before Zoological Board Chair David Stanton intervened and it was reinstated, with a year Complimentary from guilt. That said, I have now started attending the Meetings again since my Crusade for the Chimps.
At the February Meeting at the height of the Chimp Crusade, I was happy to be present for the inaugural Keeper "Coalition" (I can't remember the exact name they are calling their group). An except taken from my post:
> Aside from the Awesome News of the Chimps Staying, I was very proud to see a large group of Keepers present at the Meeting. Thank you to Dave, Corey, Dayna and Collette who spoke. I was happy to hear they have formed a Keeper Group (I forgot the name, even though I asked Dave for it) that will bring up Animal Care issues to the Commission each month. KUDOS to them for banding together and coming forward publicly to do what's best for the Animals. NOT KUDOs goes to Rec and Park Commissioner Mark Buell who told them that while they would follow-up on these issues, he essentially reprimanded them for using the Meeting forum to address these issues. Shame on him! I will be writing a letter to him. Does he know how much guts it took for the Keepers to do this? Maybe he isn't aware that by speaking up they are often ignored, reprimanded, or fired for doing so. Its really disgusting that he felt he had to get that dig in. People like that on the governing panel of the Zoo are why we have a Zoo with the issues it has. ... I was disturbed by the issue that Dayna spoke on, that indicated the doors at Gorillas have still not been repaired! What!? ... and Corey spoke about a disease that is infecting a portion of the Lemur population, while the Zoo continues to bring in additional species of that Animal. So awful his description of what is happening to them. I will have to get the name of the issue and post it. .. I am saddened and disappointed yet not surprised when I hear these things and I have to wonder, why aren't the Vets and Animal Care VP David Bocian speaking out about these issues? <
At the March Meeting, Keepers Cheyenne, Corey and Tom spoke. Once again I was disgusted to hear a "grumble" from the Panel. Dr Spinelli, a Vet that has held a panel seat for many years, made it a point to "put down" and almost reprimand, when while speaking Keepers addressed the panel as "the Board". Dr Spinelli made sure they knew they were not the Board, and basically that the Panel has no voice on these matters.
At the April Meeting, I was disgusted that the Panel, seemed to rush through the Agenda, so to adjourn before any Keepers could be present. In under the wire was Keeper Irene. She brought up two issues, one in regard to the postponement of hiring an HR leader. The previous appointment's duties included working as an Liaison between Staff and Management. In the absence of someone holding that position there is no on-site person to do this. The only person they seem to have in their corner is their Union Rep. ... She also requested the Meetings be move to a start time of 5:30p as the Keepers clock out at that time. ... My take from watching the faces of the Panel, is that they are annoyed to have to listen to Keepers, especially that of Rec and Park Commissioner Eric McDonnell, is that he didn't care what was being said and just wanted to move along and wrap it up. Disrespectful and Rude.
After the February Meeting, I emailed Director Peterson, suggesting that with the addition of the Keepers now speaking at Meetings, the should look at Live Streaming the Meetings. There is alot of information that is only available by being at the Meetings in person. I closely followed the Meeting Minutes the years I did not attend Meetings in person. There are people who just can't get out to the Meeting, but are interested. ... I suggested the Zoo look at the fee free UStream as all they would need is a Webcam. They already bring a Laptop to the Meeting for the Presentations.
I always found that the Meeting Minutes were not complete and I inquired to the Rec and Park Commission and was told that the Zoo keeps the Minutes and submits them to the Commission and then they are posted to the Website.
WELL! Now it makes sense! Below is the except in regard to the Minute documentation for the Feb Meeting.
> Public Comments: SFZS animal keeper David Carroll stated that a “professional practice committee” has been formed by some of the SFZS animal keepers. Meetings are held on their own time not during work hours with keepers reviewing conditions at SFZ and coming up with suggestions for improvement. SFZS animal keeper Dayna Sherwood stated that two doors in Gorilla World are in need of repair (ED1 & ED8) and requested they be fixed with particular attention being given to ED8. SFZS animal keeper Corey Hallman stated concern on two issues in the Lemur exhibit: (1) repair the pump system or moat to allow for water recirculation rather than a constant inflow; and, (2) that the hotwire around the exhibit be raised to keep raccoons from entering and to not bring in new animals until this repair is made. SFZS animal keeper Collette Chiparo recommended that SFZ add an additional keeper to the Bird section now rather than wait for the new exhibit to open. Former SFZ animal keeper Ms. Sylvia Stewart complimented the keepers in attendance for standing up for the rights of the animals in their care. Commissioner Buell stated that he recognizes it takes courage for SFZS keepers to come forward with concerns but feeling this is not the forum for such and recommends that the Zoo Director report back to the Committee on the progress of these issues. SFZS Board Member <
Looking at this, Members of the Public do not get a full picture of what goes on, and of the issues that are now being brought to attention.
This all said, I Call to Action the San Francisco Zoo and the San Francisco Recreation and Park to analyze to Joint Zoo Committee Meeting protocol.
* Change the start time of the Meeting to 5:30p. allowing time for Keepers to attend and present their issues. Anything earlier would be making a statement that you do not want the Keepers to attend these Meetings. Therefore saying you do not care what they have to say.
* Provide a Supportive Environment for Keepers to present Issues. If this isn't the Forum or the Panel as it exists can not be helpful, make changes. Create the right Forum or have more Board Members attend, because right now, it just seems like a couple show up and these Meetings are all about paper shuffling and patting each other on the back. Interest in the Zoo Issues should be part of the deal with being a SF Zoological Board Member. Its not just about Cocktail Parties and making monetary donations. There are some serious issues at the Zoo and everyone wants to cover their eyes and ears. The Issues Keepers are bringing up have to do with Animal Care. The Zoo is an Animal Facility, these Issues should be Priority!
* Have someone document the Minutes more accurately. If they need to audio tape them and transcribe, then do so, but whats being put out there to date are not actual "Minutes".
* Live Stream. The Commission Meetings when they were downtown were filmed, there is no reason why this can't be done, other than the Zoo wants as little Public as possible or just plain Lazy. These Meetings need to be seen by anyone interested, either in real time or the archive that Streaming provides.
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