Sunday, June 12, 2016

San Francisco Zoo UnSecure Barriers - Rhinos, Hippo, Bears & Chimps

I have posted a Series of Videos, showing the Barrier Situation at Code Red Animal Exhibits for Black Rhino, Nile Hippo, Polar Bear, Chimpanzees, One-Horned Rhino.

These Videos are not only for documentation purposes, but to Support a Petition I have planned, Calling the San Francisco Zoo to Action, to Secure the Barriers to these Animals Homes, by adding Floor to Ceiling Glass across entire length of Exhibits.

It is also Unacceptable that these Exhibits, have little to no Signage.  The Yellow Respect The Animals Sign, is too wordy to be useful.   Simple to the point Signs, need to be placed at least every Six Feet across Exhibit.  ... Until these Enclosures are Secure with Glass, these Signs need to be in place.

The Black Rhino is one Animal I have repeatedly been vocal about.  His Barrier is Abused Constantly.  My guess would be at least a dozen times a day.  That's a dozen times that this Innocent Animal dodges a Bullet a day.  It is my opinion that he is the most Vulnerable, because there is  No Secondary Barrier, the Wall into his Enclosure looks less than Six Feet tall and he can come right to it, even looking over the top of it.  You will see in the video, that there is No Secondary Barrier, and One Sign for the entire length of the Enclosure, which is well over Eighty Feet.   

The Hippo is another one I have been vocal about.  His Barrier is Abused Constantly as well.  The only difference is he has a Secondary Barrier, by Zoo Standards, but in my opinion will not stop anyone from entering his Enclosure, accidentially or voluntarily.  You will see that the wiring is primarily, if not exclusively designed only to keep him in.  There is only One Sign along this Barrier that spands over Sixty Feet.

The Polar Bear is another Hot Spot for Barrier Abuse.  As Vulnerable as the Black Rhino, as there are people constantly on or over this Barrier all the time, only difference is, there is a Moat and the time it might take for Ulu to get down there, could be the saving point for Staff to be able to call her in. That is not a given though, making this enclosure in the top three that need to be Secured by Floor to Ceiling Glass.

The exact lay-out is at the Grizzly Bears Grotto.  They are Vulnerable to same situations as at Polar Bears.  Although, not as often as for most of the Business Hours, the Girls are in the Gulch, which is Secure.

There was an incident in 2009, that had their lives on the line.  The Zoo didn't learn from that, and has continued to leave our Bears Vulnerable to date.  Please read my previous post for more details about that incident.

The Chimps Barriers have been of Issue for too long.   This enclosure is three Grotto style areas, with Moats, tall side walls and that's basically it.  Designed to keep the Chimps in, aside from the Roping, there is nothing keeping people out.  In the front of the Exhibit the Roping looks to range from about Six to Eight Feet from the edge of the Enclosure.  I have seen Kids cross the Rope Barrier many times, both while Parents are watching and while they aren't.  There is a viewing area off the Cafe Party Room, that has been breachable for years.  Please read my previous post from over two years ago. . The Exhibit side that borders the path along the Pachyderm Building is of extreme issue as the Enclosure edge is about Three feet from the Roping.  I think it being  tree-lined is why I haven't seen anyone hanging over this Barrier, but I have seen people cross it to get closer for photos.   This Enclosure is Rumored to be on the board for renovation, so I assume money won't be spent for a Glass Barrier (it hasn't even been spent to paint their house), but there needs to be a temporary fix to these Breaching Points, as well as additional Signage.

UPDATE:  I took the Videos posted during the week after the Cincinnati Tragedy.  Last week there were Barrier additions to the Chimp Exhibit.  There is now a Secondary Barrier across the front of the Exhibit.  A waist high fencing that runs across the front length of the Exhibit to the existing fencing that stems from the Cafe viewing area.  Whether it extends into the trees that pose a breachable point, I don't know.   This Barrier will keep out anyone crossing the Barrier, but not looking to actually enter the Exhibit.  It won't keep out anyone who's intent is to Enter the Exhibit.  There has also been added,  a Floor to Ceiling Bamboo fencing that runs along the side that parallels the Pachyderm Building.  This is a Secure Barrier.  They have added a viewing window, which I think is a good idea, as this was a very good place to view the Chimps.

The Asian One-Horned Rhino is a very curious set-up.  For being a Code Red Animal, he is out there front and center, with no Secure Barrier at all.  The Barrier that is there, will keep him In, but it in no way will keep anyone who wants in to easily access him.  This makes him high on the list of Vulnerable Animals.  The 100+ Foot Exhibit has a waist high Barrier of a Wooden Fence with heavy mesh.  Then there is a Flower Bed that stretches vertically about Eight- Ten Feet til it reaches the Floor to Ceiling Wire Barrier that keeps him in.  The initial Wood Barrier is Abused constantly and I've seen it a couple times even in front of Keepers.  First, I do think if anyone dropped their Kid over the Barrier,  because of the diastance to the Enclosure, unless the Kid was really a shit and not listening, it wouldn't reach the Animal.  BUT if the Kid was a shit, or it was someone who intentionally wanted to gain entry, neither of these Barriers would prevent that.  Also, in addition to the Respect the Animals useless signage, there are only two Do Not Cross Barrier type Signs, for the entire 80 Feet of the East portion of the Exhibit and Zero for the 24 Feet of the West side.                            

Added:  Will post more detailed look at Gorillas soon.  Someone asked me about the Barriers there. I didn't originally include them, as I don't think they are vulnerable to accidental breaches, so they weren't at the front of my mind when writing this.  The Gorilla viewing platforms that were built as open air, with just a singular Cement Barrier over looking the Enclosure.  A few years ago three or four of the five platforms were glassed in.  I haven't seen any Barrier Abuse since then. The other (s) with fencing indicating they were closed.  I have always thought that to be curious.  Those areas along with some landscaped areas are vulnerable to anyone wanting to enter the enclosure voluntarily.  One area may still be of issue.  Will take a closer look.

There are many other Exhibits that are victims to Barrier Abuse.  Patas Monkeys are one, I see too often.  The poor Meerkats and Prairie Dogs have people reaching into their homes.  Sea Lions, Kids Standing/Sitting on Rails.  Haven't seen much at Lemurs, but that one drops right in.  No signage about not being on Rails.  Pecarries, I see people sitting on that Barrier.  No Signs not to.  Puente, people hanging into that place where Anteater and Capybara are spending the most time.  Kangaroos. I'm sure there are others, but I'm getting overwhelmed.  I think I've gotten my point across.  I feel there needs to be a Message put forth that Informs Visitors that NO Barriers should be Sat On, Stood On, or Crossed.   Regardless of whether it is considered a Dangerous Animal or Not.  Having a Universal Message instills the basics that those acts are prohibited.   I personally feel like the Barriers are the Windows to the Animals Home.  How would you like it if a Stranger at any random time, hung over into your Home?

Please see my next Post (later today) that outlines my Petition to Keep Our Zoo Friends Safe.  Thank You.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Are San Francisco Zoo Code Red Animal Barriers Safe For the Animals?

When I went to the Zoo on Friday, my purpose was to again see if there had been any new deterrents, anyone misbehaving, and to take some photos for my blog.  I went with a purpose, rooted in Animal Safety.  When I walked through Entry Village I saw Director Tanya Peterson, and other Management Staff, sitting at a table outside the Gift Shop, having a laugh.  It appeared to be a festive meet-up, and that pissed me off.  While they sat there sharing some cheer, I had the safety of the Animals on my mind.  Minutes later I was witnessing someone hanging their kid over the Barrier at the Hippo exhibit.

I gathered photos and video of most of the Code Red Animal Barriers.  As mentioned in other posts, before the Tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo, I had blogged about Barrier Abuse (formerly I called it Breaching) many, many times.  I blogged, I complained in person, no changes, with the exception of Giant Anteater across from Lion House.  His home only got a decent Barrier last fall before the AZA came for their Accreditation Inspection.  While I don't think that the Anteater is a Code Red Animal, he could probably do some damage with those claws.  My concern about his enclosure was how Visitors laid and failed across his Barrier like it was their personal couch.  It was Disrespectful and Rude.  They can't do that now, but anyone can surely jump it if they want.  Is that considered Safe for the Animal?  Which is what we must question at every Exhibit.

Zoo Exhibit Barriers, while "acting" as walled Security designed not only to keep Animals in, but to establish a Visitor side and Animal side,  something too many Visitors forget, or more often disregard.   I liken the intrusiveness of Barrier Abuse to that of someone hanging in the window of your house while you're there watching t.v.  You are just in your home, your Safe place, going about your life and someone invades your personal space.   Tables turned, no one would like it, yet those same People will do it to the Animals without a thought.  I know this because when asked,  Why would you do that?  Noting the example, People have told me they wouldn't like it.

So, let's talk about Barrier Abuse.  This consists of several offenses.  ranging from Banging on the Glass, to actually Crossing the Barriers. Tapping, Rapping, Knocking, Hitting, Banging, Glass. Hanging On, Over, Laying Across, Standing On, Railings or Fencing.  All of it Barrier Abuse.  The Zoo has few signs, to discourage it.  I'll post below.

These are posted a fair amount, but lets face it, they are too wordy and not many People are going to read them.  Necessary, but there is a serious need for additional signage.

These are decent, but not enough of them and few in the right places.  This one at Anteater.  None at Bears. None at Black Rhinos.  None at Hippo.  None at Chimps.  In fact there is Not One Sign at Chimps in reference exclusively to not crossing the Barriers.  Only the one above and its off to the side.  BUT there is one across the path from Chimps, so you don't go on chipped wood. WTH?  Its the same show of priority that having huge signs for Only Authorized Personnel versus the size of Life Saving Signs is. ..... Also I don't like that they only use the word Behind, as that implies the only offense is if you actually go into an Enclosure.

This is one of the most recent efforts in Signage.  It too only indicates that actually going into the Exhibits is forbidden.  I'm going by memory, but I think its only at three Exhibits.  Black Rhinos, Hippo and Bears.

This one I've only seen at the Polar Bear.  It was on two at Black Rhino, but they got weathered and were finally removed right before AZA came for inspection.  Its actually not bad, but its about six inches long and is in one place on a Barrier that is over 150 feet in length.  There are three other signs, but they are spaced too far apart.  It also only covers the Standing Offense.  Make it bigger, add "Or Over", put it every six ft and we might be getting somewhere with the signage issue.  If they aren't going to put solid Barriers, there needs to at least be decent signage.

This one is just plain ridiculous.  It was weathered and has now been replaced.  Why?  I don't know. Again too wordy and only indicates the law if you actually cross the Barrier. Does that mean if someone accidentally falls in Polar Bear Exhibit, Ulu's life is Safe? ...   Again also useless in size, it appears only in two places I think, Polar Bear and One Horned Rhino.

Frankly I expect More. I've been saying this for years.  Yes, there's always the argument that People don't read Signs. Well then, Why have any at all?  So, that's a stupid argument.  At least its Doing Something.  Maybe it will deter some and the odds of tragedy go down.  Again, its doing something. Its Sending a Message.   There just needs to be More.  I've made suggestions in the past.  Sandwich Boards in path.  Text painted on Path and Buildings about Behavior and Respect.  Painting the Barriers Red. Behavior Announcement at Entry, in Cafe.  All decent and doable suggestions in my opinion. Nothing.  Here's a new one, stenciling the words, Stay Off Barrier, continuously across the Barriers? And Signs saying just that, where stenciling isn't doable.  Three simple words.  ... Additionally all Windows Need some simple words.  Do Not Knock on Glass.  

That about covers the Signage issue.  Getting the Message out.  I have made a few Videos that show some of the Exhibit Barriers.  They will be posted soon, in a separate post.  No time now to piece clips together and since I'm near done with writing this, I want to post it.

Its curious to me all the attention paid to building Exhibits to Keep Animals In, which doesn't lend to keeping People Out.  If Exhibits were built to Keep People Out, wouldn't that also lend to Keeping Animals In?   

It is my opinion that the Black Rhinos is the most Vulnerable and needs a secondary Barrier of Solid Glass.  It is the most Abused Barrier, and the distance to the edge is shortest at Black Rhinos, with the Animal able to be at the drop line.  Black Rhinos, Hippo and Polar Bear are the three Code Red Exhibits that Visitors hang their Kids over the most.   They are the ones that are most dangerous because a Kid can fall in at any time. While Parents may think they have a good grip on the Kid, accidents have been proven to happen. Parents can lose their grip to any number of things, including a wiggling Kid and someone accidentally bumping into them from behind.  

Someone Dropping their Kid into an Exhibit, is more likely, but obviously there are other circumstances.  In the most recent Tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo, the Parent wasn't even watching their Kid.  Then there's the People who Intentionally enter an Exhibit, for whatever reason.   

Should Innocent Animals Lose their Lives for any of these reason's?  I say No.  None of these are "accidents" in my opinion.  All preventable.  People need to watch their Kids and other members of their Group.  People need to Stay the Hell off the Barriers.  People need to stay the Hell out of the Exhibits.  Note to those who enter voluntarily, tell someone as you're going in so an Animal isn't Murdered because you want to Commit Suicide or try to Pet it.  

That all said, what does our San Francisco Zoo plan to do to protect these Animals in their Homes? Will there be the addition of Glass at Code Red Animals? From what I've seen a full week later nothing.   If there was even talk of doing something, why no Temporary Signs to Remind Visitors to Respect Barriers?  

I was once told in reference to Signs, "they cost money".  Is that the problem?  Cause I have to believe there is someone on staff in that place that thinks there should be more Signs.  Is the cost of paper, ink and laminating too much?  I don't want to hear them crying poor.  Like all the other things that are In Need and don't get done, why is that?  Is it on the Director and her Fundraising capabilities?  Is it on the Donors for not caring to fund In Need Animals?  I have wondered if the Director goes before Donors and says point blank,  look, while we'd love to have new Animals , new Exhibits, the reality is this is what we need?  I highly doubt it, or if she does, shame on Donors who are only concerned with funding their own preferences while In Need Animals get shafted and exhibits fail to be updated. One Word:  Chimps.

San Francisco Zoo Takes no Steps to Ensure Safety of Animals After Gorilla Tragedy at Cincinnati Zoo

I visited the Zoo three days after the Gorilla Tragedy at the Cincinnati Zoo and found nothing different.  There was no extra Security.  There was no extra signage.  Visitors still hanging their kids over the Barriers.  I wasn't surprised, but really bothered that I'm always disappointed in the lack of effort in so many ways.  

Gorilla Harambe losing his life, is a big deal.  The circumstances surrounding his death are serious. The lack of attention to how that could easily hit home, is puzzling and frustrating.  As well as being disgusting, shameful and sad.

If I was in charge, at the very least, I would have had additional Security. Signage on sandwich boards, printed and laminated attached to railings, reminding People to be Respectful of the Barriers. Docents posted through out day at all Code Red Animal exhibits that are vulnerable to trespassing (Black Rhino, Hippo, Bears, Chimps).  In my opinion its irresponsible to not have taken steps to deter similar behavior.   Granted the Kid in Cincinnati was not dropped into the exhibit, but rather fell, really makes no difference.  Both are negligent actions, both end with the Animal losing its life.

I just don't understand.  A whole lot of People working there, and no one thought to take any action in favor of deterring misbehavior to prevent Tragedy?  Again no real surprise. I've complained about it in person and in writing for years.  That's part of what's scary.  

So yeah.  I spent an hour at the Hottest Spot in the Zoo, the Black Rhinos.  If you haven't read my other posts, please do, I link to two videos showing offenders here.  In that hour, I saw Security breeze by on their bike, never looking at exhibits.  What's the point, if not even going to try to ID misbehavior?  No Docents, No Staff.  What I did see was a Visitor with her Kid over the Barrier.  I wasn't surprised, but was very disappointed.  Harambe lost his life Three Days before and this Woman thinks nothing to hang her Kid over a Rhino Barrier.   This Barrier neighbors the Hippo, who was sleeping right below the Kid about four feet away.

Me: Excuse me, Lady with your Kid on the Barrier.  Why would you do that?  Did you see the News about the Gorilla that lost its life because a Kid fell in the enclosure?  
Offender: Yes.
Me: Then why would you hang your Kid over a Barrier with a Hippo right there?  
Offender: Ok.
Me:Wonder if you drop your Kid?  That Hippo will die.  Use better judgement.

Then again yesterday.  

Me: Excuse me, You're not supposed to have your Kid over the Barrier.  Why would you do that after that Gorilla got killed last weekend? 
Offender: Don't start with me.
Me: I'm just asking you a question.  I'm not being argumentative.  I'm just asking you a question.
Offender: None of your business.
Me: Oh, none of my business?  So what happens if she falls in and that Hippo loses its life?
Offender's Granny: We're not like those other People, we're watching...
Offender: Don't start with me.  

In both instances the Parent removed the Kid when I said Excuse me.  They had no idea at that point what I was going to say, yet they retreated because they know they are wrong!

This is the Mentality of the Zoo Visitors who Abuse the Barriers and Terrorize the Animals with other bad behavior.   They think they can do whatever the hell they want.  It may be hanging over or standing on the barrier,  heckling the Animals, throwing things at them, hitting the glass of their home, or some other offense.   ... What is wrong with People?  All of these actions are Disgusting.  The Barrier Abuse can get Animals Killed, and the other stuff is not only Bullying, but Evil Minded.
.... One day last week, within minutes of each other I witnessed two different groups of Visitors hitting the glass of the Komodo Dragon, while the video plays in the background about him recuperating from a medical procedure.  Same day a group was hitting the window in front of the eight week old Anteater.  Seriously, What is wrong with People?  

Many years ago I wrote that all the exhibits with glass should have Do Not Hit, Tap, Rap, Bang, ect, noted on them.  Some time after, the ARC window where the Alligator and Turtles are viewable, has such a sign.  I thought, finally!  Not long after it was gone.  I was told Management made them take it down.  ... Last year I saw  similar words across the Anteater viewing window.  That is now gone.   No idea why, as I just noticed that day when People were hitting it.

Additionally I have written and repeated suggestions for more deterrents and nothing more has been done.  The signage that they do have is either not enough, too small in size, too much wording.  Why is it such a challenge for them to get the message out, that Barrier Abuse and other Acts of Misbehavior won't be tolerated?

Is the San Francisco Zoo Afraid to Offend People or Do They Just Not Care?