Sunday, October 2, 2016

HOT TOPIC! - San Francisco Zoo Animal Welfare - Vistors Assault Animals - Get a Pass Again

If you Assault, Harass, Taunt, Terrorize, or Throw Objects at the Animals, San Francisco Zoo Management will allow it, as long as you don't do it again.

Oh gosh, where do I begin.  This post has a catalyst issue, but so many other things factor into the whole picture.  Ironically I had planned to write a post today about the same subject, concerning the Andean Condor, but then decided to leave the house and then went by the Zoo to check on a pipping Flamingo Egg.  For those of you who are interested in the Flamingo Chick Hatchings, please check out my Facebook Group, San Francisco Zoo Animal Friends.  Until today, I have been tardy in keeping up with my Zoo Awareness efforts. Its been months on one blog ( ), and a year on another ( ).  Its very draining to write about Zoo issues. The Zoo, because of the Animals, is a passion point.  I used to post regularly about everything that I found issue with. As the months have passed, I have decided to narrow my issue points to the Chimps situation, and to Animal Safety.  After the death of Harambe Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, I started a Petition and Facebook Page aimed not only at our San Francisco Zoo, but at the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) as the governing office of all North American Zoos.  I haven't done much to promote it after the initial posting, but still hope to.

So today...  While at Flamingos, I overheard the male in a couple (both holding Beers) say, "I want to grab an Egg".   Now, whether jokingly or not, I don't find it funny and it left me on alert, as I profiled them trouble.  Some find that funny and think I'm nit picking, but I've heard and seen too much disrespect to the Animals, that I'm easily irritated, and frankly I don't think that's a bad thing.  

A few minutes later, I was looking at my phone and saw the female bend down to pick up something off the ground.  I knew what was coming next, so as she was in motion, I said, "Don't throw that in there" and "What is that?"  I was met with, Its none of my business. I don't work there, and then name calling, and she went ahead and threw the object at one of the nesting Flamingos.  I was outraged!  Not only throwing something into an Exhibit, but at a Parent sitting on an Egg/Chick? That's just Evil.  I said I was calling Security and going to have them thrown out.  They continued name calling and mocking.  Security came by on a bike and I stopped them and relayed what had happened and requested them be thrown out.  I added that I was tired of this shit and nothing happening.  Security told me that Management would make that determination.  I noted that if they weren't thrown out I would make a big deal of this, which I completely plan to try doing.  Allowing behavior like this is epidemic at the Zoo and I'm sick of it.  

On the way out, I stopped into the office and asked who in Management makes the decision to throw someone out.  I was told the Manager on Duty today and that was Bob Cooney.  Within seconds Bob Cooney rode up on his bike.  Perfect!

Before I dictate the conversation, I think I'll note a few things about Bob Cooney.  Now, I got not grief with this guy as a person, I don't know him enough to make that judgement.  What I do know is instances in regard to the Animals, that has him on my list of curiosity called, How do these people have jobs?  of which there are sadly many at our SFZoo.   Here are my issue points, you be the judge. Earlier this year Cooney was down at the Farm and I had heard he was the one in charge of making signs.  I heard he had been asked a few times to make certain signs that never materialized, one was about feeding the Farm Animals and minding belongings such as Maps, which the Goats will steal and eat.  I had just seen a Goat eat a Map so I noted that to him and asked if he could get a sign put up about that.  He mumbled something that could have been a yay or a nay who knows.  What I do know is there is still no official sign, and the Staff had to make some of their own, and yesterday I tried to pull a Map out of a Goats mouth.  Fast forward to two weeks ago, after the first Flamingo Chick hatched only hours before.  Cooney comes by and I asked him if he could make a sign telling people not to hang their kids over the barrier, which is about 4-6 feet from the Nests.  He says to me, "That hasn't been an issue."   Ahhh, excuse me < (I think), I just spent 6 days watching this Egg and seeing a constant stream of people hanging into the exhibit, are you kidding me?!  I said, it really has been.  He says, there's no place to put a sign.  I gave a few suggestions, that he poo poo'd.  So folks, I guess because he and maybe others in Management can't figure out how to secure a sign some place that people are allowed to Abuse Barriers and hang into Animal Enclosures?  Good Grief.

Back to today.  So I go over to Cooney to find out what happened to the Offenders at Flamingos.  I asked if they were thrown out.  He told me No.  I asked Why?  He said that they were asked not to do it again and unless they ignore that, they don't throw people out.  I said, so people are just allowed to throw stuff at the Animals and that's ok?  He said it was just a Cracker.  (I did photo it and determine it was a Goldfish Cracker).  I said, but still, they threw something AT an Animal.  He said, "Its a judgement call."  So I said, fine, let's then talk about the person who threw Rocks at the Tiger a few months ago.  He said, they were thrown out.  I said, No they weren't.  He  said he wasn't there, but if that did happened, it was a "judgement call."  I said, can you explain to me, just so I understand the situation, because this person threw Rocks, at an Animal and was not asked to leave, as well if a Member,  they should have their Memberships taken away.  He said, Oh No, we can't just take someones Membership away.  Well readers, who have followed my blogs from the beginning, you have to know where this is leading and those who haven't I'll explain later.  So, I then ask Why?  He says, because of the Membership Bylaws, there is a process to that, several steps and can't just be done by one person.  You don't say!?  < (I'm thinking).  So I then ask if he can give me details about the Bylaw, he sorta laughs and says you're a Member you can look it up.  I said, well you know Tanya (Peterson, Zoo Director) took away my Membership once based on lies, and before I could continued about how no Bylaw protocol was followed, Cooney says I'm not talking to you anymore Kim and rides off.  Comical and Shameful.

Now, I don't offend easily, so my point is not that I'm offended, my point is that this behavior is unprofessional.  It doesn't surprise me, but I always find it curious that I seem to stump so many people there with logical dialog.   Here is a person who is in a professional role at the Zoo and yet cannot hold a conversation with someone and was at a loss for words at several points.   Additionally I think it's pretty disrespectful regardless of whatever the situation for anyone in Management to be dismissive.   Now, maybe Cooney has taken the position same as those who bought Director Peterson's slanderous words against me, but fact remains, I am a paying Member there and if I have a question, I can most certainly ask it and Management needs to answer it (or at the very least, officially decline to answer it),  like they would do with any other Member as I guarantee they would not treat any other Member or Visitor in such a dismissive way.  He or anyone else, may not like the questions I ask, but I'm not breaking any Zoo Rules, or Constitutional Rules by asking them.

Before I continue on, for those who do not know my history with the Zoo, in short, I am an SF Native and I've been a Zoo Visitor my whole life.  In 2008, personal grief and the flexibility of my job allowed me to visit the Zoo more often.  I befriended Keepers and learned about the Animals as individuals. In 2009 I became friends with a Docent and in 2010 we began to make weekly Enrichment for the Big Cats.  During that time we both had an open dialog with Director Peterson. One Keeper cautioned me not to share my suggestions or ideas with her or Management because they don't like outsider opinions.  After a couple of political issues, we stopped making Enrichment.  In 2011, Director Peterson slandered both my friend and myself and based on those lies revoked our Memberships without warning.  After near a year of seeking justice, we were both reinstated complimentary, which I think says it all.  You can read more details as I documented the entire event in a blog,

I also want to go back to today's incident and document that these Offenders were let off the hook for throwing something at an Animal, as well as calling me names.  I could almost guarantee if I had thrown something at a Visitor or called Visitors names, I would have been thrown out.  But its ok for Visitors to throw stuff at Animals and call me names.  Just to clarify.  

So back to this issue of Animal Safety.   In regard to today's incident.  I don't care if it's a Cracker, or if it's a Rock, its Assault. You don't throw things at the Animals or into the Animal Enclosures!  This is their Home. They should be Safe.  Its the Zoos responsibility to keep them Safe.  Its that Plan and that Simple.  Why is this something that has to be told to anyone?

Let me update on the Tiger Rock event.  If you haven't read my tirade of that day you can do so here:

On my next visit I asked Security if these Offenders were thrown out.  He said, No.  Unbelievable to me.  Well, not really in the sense of the word, anything is possible in that place, but still hard to believe that with the Zoo's History, that an offense against a Tiger of all Animals, would go unpunished by even a simple ejection.  Shameful, Disgusting, Disturbing.  I was told that the Protocol they follow comes from Management.  An example should have been made, a Message sent publicly, the San Francisco Zoo will not stand for this kind of behavior from Visitors against our Animals. BUT I guess that's just fantasy for if I was the Director.  Under the current Directorship apparently the Zoo does stand for it and I'm told that unless people are repeat offenders, they don't get thrown out.  Sad.

I'm offended by this for the Animals.  You have no idea the offenses I see every single time I'm at the Zoo, and multiple times in a visit.  I have posted about it on my blogs endlessly for years.  I have been vocal to Management.  I have Tweeted.  Nothing seems to get anything changed in the Animals favor.  The Zoo Management takes a nonchalant approach to Offenses Against the Animals in their Care.  IN THEIR CARE! < Operative words!

Why is San Francisco Zoo Management Afraid to be Strict with Offences Against the Animals In Their Care?   ... Are they afraid to offend someone who's spending money there?  News flash, these aren't the kind of people we need at the Zoo.

At the start of this post I mentioned that prior to today's event, I was going to write a post.  That post was about another Animal Endangerment issue I had been hearing about.  There has been a Member repeatedly feeding the Andean Condor.  She has been talked to several times and told not to do it, but continues, as she claims she has a relationship with the Bird.  Finally she was asked to leave one day, but her Membership was not revoked.  WTH?!  After several offences, she is still allowed to come to the Zoo, and this Bird is still vulnerable to this offence.  

These offences of objects entering Enclosures intentionally is not new.  The female Snow Leopard, a Sea Lion, and one of the Female Gorillas have all had to have intestinal surgery to remove foreign objects.

Other repeated offenses against the Animals include banging on Exhibit Glass,  Species specific mimic vocalizing to the Animals.  I have reported the constant stream of Visitors Howling at the Wolves, to no avail, there is still no signs not to.   These may not seem like issue points to some, but to me, they are offensive, disrespectful and harassment towards the Animals.  Just last week, two Members and their combined five children stood at the Wolves windows, banging on them and Howling.  Disgraceful.   They were not thrown out either.  

I have for years posted about the Barrier Abuse issue that is epidemic at Code Red Animals.  Code Red Animals are considered the most dangerous if in contact with public.  Code Red Animals are on a Shoot to Kill list regardless of whether Human is at fault for incident or not.  Not Fair, so in my opinion any steps possible to deter any incident should be taken.  Again, Zoos do not take this seriously and our San Francisco Zoo is no different.

That all said, my Petition in regard to this has been up for months.  The Zoo knows about it, the Zoo has seen the photos and video showing offenders and nothing has been done at the three hot spots, Black Rhino, Hippo and Polar Bear.   Not one new sign, no additional barriers, nothing.  Not one thing.  Additional barriers were put up at Chimps and Gorillas, in the wake of Harambe's death. Needed but odd choices for first concern, since neither have been much of an issue, unlike the three I mentioned previous which are an issue multiple times a day.  There continues to be small, limited or non-existent signage at Exhibits.  The signage is inconsistent and selective.  There needs to be signs at every exhibit in regard to objects and people in Exhibits,  backed up by a sign at the Gate House that plainly says, Do Not Throw Anything into Animal Exhibits or you will be asked to leave.  Do Not Stand On or Hang Over Animal Exhibit Barriers or you will be asked to leave.  That's it.  I think the Zoo thinks they have done their job by neatly tucking the Rules in the corner on the side of the Gift Shop.  NO being in people's faces about Respecting the Animals in their Homes is doing your job!

I have always had an issue with signage.  The size, the wording, that lack of.  The Zoo for whatever reason seems afraid of signs, that is unless they are for advertising something they are selling.  I'm offended to see sandwich boards in the middle of paths letting you know where you can buy Beer, when there isn't the same for Respecting the Animals.  AND I'll note that the whole group with the Flamingo offenders today had Beer in their hands. It seems the Zoo is more interested in money passing through their hands than keeping the Animals Safe.

Another issue is that while no one seems to get reprimanded and tossed for their offences, outside of Animal Staff, there doesn't seem to be that many people actually paying attention to what Visitors are doing.  Last week alone I witnessed a Security Guard watching Animals never noticing a kid in front of him throwing stuff into the Exhibit, and someone hanging their kid over a Barrier in front of a Docent.  Why aren't these people more aware?  

So where does this leave us with Keeping the Animals Safe?  Not enough people watching for Offenders, and when we do catch Offenders, they are nicely asked to stop it.  Only when one finally harms an Animal, oh wait, that happened when the Woman threw Rocks and hit the Tiger, so shit, you got me, when are Visitors going to be held accountable for their actions against the Zoo's Animals?


I recently got a comment submitted for an old post I did on Visitors throwing stuff at the Chimps.  I didn't publish it because it was nonsense and Anonymous.  So, let me just say this so that nobody wastes their time, if you're going to comment something that reflects you thinking any of what I've outlined here is acceptable behavior don't bother unless you sign your name and it's a verifiable name. Its not getting published because I want to be able to respond to you because you are part of the problem.

Facebook Users please comment on the San Francisco Zoo UnCensored Page if you don't mind your Identity known.  Would be great to start a comment community for the posts.  Those who want to remain Anonymous or do not use FB, please continue to comment on the blogs.  Thank you for your comments.

If you are inclined to,  
you can reach San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson at

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more about the obnoxious visitors and signage for the animals safety. Cooney is a joke and made a cowardly decision. If they had better signage it would help in throwing these people out. Thank you for being the voice for the zoo animals.


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