Sunday, February 26, 2017

Chimp Updates - Series Part Two of Three



So, what has taken so long?  What's been going on at the Zoo in the past two years?  I'll tell you.  A whole lot of nothing, ... for the Chimps.

I realize that there has been no update for over a year.  The reason for that, other than the energy it takes to write about every issue point, is that there really hasn't been anything to report as far as Our Chimp Friends getting what's been promised to them. ... Till now :)

For the sake of keeping in somewhat Chronilogical order, since I'm a bit obsessive about it, I'm going to post the link to the Timeline I wrote in July 2015.  I just found in my notes additions to it that I hadn't added. So if you've already read it, you may want to read the new entries, starting in July 2015.


So yeah, here we go.  So let's recap.  At the February Joint Zoo Meeting, after the airing of the News Story and public outcry, Zoo Director Tanya Peterson committs to keeping the Chimps. She showed a photo of an exhibit that would cost $10 Million and no money for it.  She noted adding Sky Trails to Pachyderm Building as a start to creating more space, which would be needed to bring in more Chimps, which as we know is key to the situation. She admitted (as I had been posting about) that this was a time sensitive situation, in regard to our group size being a factor point.  She further noted they would be launching the biggest fundraising effort they've ever done (for her 10 mil dream of grandeur). ... Shortly after this Meeting the Zoo set-up a Donation page to Help the Chimps.  This page was only promoted by the Zoo once, and side mentioned a second time. From what I've learned, allegedly no other great efforts towards the Chimps Needs was taken, even though there has since been two ZooFest fundraisers. ... Director Peterson came into the March Meeting with words of encouragement and diagrams of plans.  Yet when I questioned her on a timeline, there wasn't one, and when asking if our group number reduced, were the remaining two secure, her response was first no, they could be sent away, or yes, they could rescue additional Chimps.  The later would mean they would possibly lose AZA accreditation. ... Over the next couple months, I read 250k had been marked for upgrades to current Grottos, yet nothing much changed.  One old structure got repainted, one got repaired.  Both not an upgrade, but over due maintance. ... By the July Meeting, there still was no further mention of the Chimps. I asked at the Meeting what the timeline was for the Pachyderm/Sky Trail expansion and was told it would be done in Fall of 2016.  ... Upset and Frustrated with that timeline, I questioned Director Peterson at the August Meeting as to why the Chimps were on hold while building for new Animals when they are current Residents in need.  She had no valid answers.  

Ever since she said if our numbers reduce the remaining two could be sent away, I have not felt secure in their place, being able to live out their lives here.  Knowing that she was trying to kick them out basically in the dark of the night, in favor of allegedly bringing in Orangutans, I wasn't convinced she wasn't "waiting them out".  I hate to think that, but let's look at the above facts, together with her descison to bring in new Animals and build them new Exhibits, before starting anything for the Chimps.

By October 2015, with still nothing different for the Chimps, I wrote a detailed letter to the AZA, as the Zoo was up for an Accreditation inspection.  It was not as an intention to prevent them being accredited, but to alert to certain things that go on there, as well as call attention the needs of the Chimps, as well as the poor Komodo Dragon.  I will write a post soon about him.  It will be posted to my other blog, please look for it there.  ... My letter included noting that their home has chipping paint and hasn't been painted in over a decade if not two, their lack of Enrichment, and links to four videos I made that included suggestions to expand/improve the Chimps Environment.  Doable solutions to the situation.  That being, the need for the Chimps home at the Zoo to be secure, need to add more Chimps, lack of large funding.  In my opinion, grandeur is uneccessary at this point.  The Sky Trail/Pachyderm Expansion and my other ideas, including painting their home, would be sufficient to give them what they need.  Sure more would be wonderful, but my main concern has always been securing their future and bringing more Enrichment to their life.

Here are the links to the videos I made:
San Francisco Zoo Chimp Expansion - Sky Trails to Pachyderm Building
San Francisco Zoo Chimp Triple Grotto - View and Idea
Idea for Expanding San Francisco Zoo Chimpanzee Home 
Fabricated Structures at San Francisco Zoo - Chimp Content 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGp3aoGxy2U

Between Fall of 2015 and Summer 2016, I continually asked most of the people I know, in various departments, about the Chimp plans.  Every said, "It's happening", but no one knew what or when. And there were allegedly no work orders for the Chimps yet.  Very upsetting as time ticked on.

Someone asked me, what happened to all the money that they got for the Chimps and why it was taking so long for them to get what they needed.  I said, I don't know.   Its been two years since the News story and the launch of their Help the Chimps donation page on their website.  There has been no updates coming out of the Zoo.  They have not even provided an update to those who donated to the Chimps via their website.  In my opinion they have an obligatation to keep people in the loop.and I find it really irresponsible to the donors not providing updates and I find it irresponsible to the Chimps for not taking care of their needs in a more timely manner. 

In June, the new Exhibit for Mexican Grey Wolves opened.  In August, the new Exhibit for Sifaka Lemurs opened.  Don't get me wrong, I love these Animals and feel lucky to be able to experience them and any new Animal.  That said, I do think there are ways to prioritize that our Director and Management team do not consider.  I think considering the Chimps have lived at the Zoo almost fifty years and have been waiting thirty for a new home, are the longest and oldest Residents at the Zoo, that should count for some position of priority.  One they have shamefully, never recieved.  When I questioned this, I was told that a donor came forward with money specifically for Sifaka's.  Basically they took the money and said Yes, and made it happen pronto.  Me, I would have said, Thank you, we would love to have Sifaka's but we have a current situation that needs immediate attention, after that, we will plan to add Sikafa to the collection.  Same with acquiring Wolves.  I don't know for a fact, but I can only guess their fast tracking of them was to use the Exhibit area that was left vacant after Polar Bear Pike passed away.

Last Fall, 2016, a crew started working in the side path entrance to the Pachyderm Building, the site where the new Chimp Rooms are going to be built.  Finally it looked like something was happening. At the same time, barriers were being renovated at Flamingos.  The side path re-opened and the Pachyderm Building doors were closed, and crews gone.  It wasn't until the week the Flamingos were to be done, that I would get any further information about the Chimps.





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