Juvenile Male Patas Monkey "Bernardo" (originally named Jesse-Patrick) has passed away. His recent death is the subject of a today's news article.
I haven't been posting consistently to my blogs, for various reasons, mostly because its emotionally draining. I just read the above article and I'm sick to my stomach. Heartbroken about this loss, and a bit shaky from rage, because I know too many things, and sadly poor Jesse-Patrick is not the last victim of disrespect at the Zoo.
Hopefully Zoo Staff along with their Union representative will finally band together and make sure every little thing that is wrong at the Zoo, is reported to proper authorities and made public. Too many things, for too long have been kept inside the walls. I know if Director Peterson hears about them talking, they lose their jobs. I know she has allegedly "made life miserable" and "threatened" Staff who go against her. I'm sorry these things happen, but these are lives of Animals who depend on Humans there, this stuff can't continue to go on.
For anyone who has followed my efforts on behalf of the San Francisco Zoo Animals, you know that I started out posting on every little thing I find questionable. My main points of issue are Animal Welfare, Barrier Abuse, Animal Disrespect, and lack of Enrichment. Every time I visit the Zoo, I encounter the later three. I take photos, make notes and rarely get to posting.
The Barrier Abuse issue is out of control. I have posted for over six years about this. I've called to action via a Petition for the Zoo to take this Animal Endangerment issue seriously. People constantly hanging their kids over Barriers into Animal Enclosures, including those of Code Red Animals. I tweet photos of offenders to the Zoo and AZA every time I'm there. Nothing changes. Security is rarely around to handle the incidents, Management lets people off get away with this behavior, and does nothing to deter it. I have a longer blog post about this in the works, so so now I will leave this subject, and let you search this blog for more if you're interested. Use search word "barrier".
I have also been documenting issues with how San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson manages the Zoo. You can also do a search using her name on my blogs.
When I first became aware of things that weren't right at the Zoo, I addressed them with Driector Peterson. I formed at open and valued (at least I thought at the time) correspondence with her. I expressed my concerns and submitted suggestions to help the Zoo, as seen from a Visitor's perspective. At the time I was told by many Zoo Staff that she allegedly didn't like "people with opinions" and that wasn't going to work in my favor there. I am not one to keep things to myself or shy away from difficult conversations. I continued to put forth my thoughts. It turned out, what I was told was accurate and I eventually had a major situation at the hands of Director Peterson, who slandered me and tried to keep me away from the Zoo because she allegedly didn't like that I knew too much.
Under Director Peterson, the Zoo has had many problems. Mostly kept internal issues, some that have gone public. You can do a News search using her name for more. The internal issues stem from Management being a dictatorship. Director Peterson is both Director and President. There is no checks and balances. What she says goes. The Zoological Society, plays no real role in the Management of the Zoo, although they are listed as the Managing group. The San Francisco Recreation and Park, while who the Zoo is responsible to, plays no real role in Management. In fact it appears they and the City just don't care. Once a month, Members of the Rec and Park and Board of Society meet for the Joint Zoo Committee Meeting and basically listen to what Director Peterson says and takes that as word. Within the Zoo Staff, whoever says anything against her rule, gets fired, or has their time there made so uncomfortable that they quit. Over the past couple years the Zoo has seen too many long time and good Employees leave, because of one of these reasons.
In a facility that is based on the lives of Animal Residents, one would assume that those working in Animal Care, the Keepers, would be one of the highest regarded positions, expert to the primary part of the Zoo, the Animals. If you assumed that, you are wrong in relation to the San Francisco Zoo. Management under the reign of Peterson, does not value the knowledge, observations or opinions of the Keepers. As a result, there have been too many Animal Welfare related issues. Some public, most not. The Chimps were vulnerable to losing their lives because of her. Kabibe the Gorilla did. While I also blame several on the Animals Care Staff, Peterson was allegedly well aware of the issues with doors and shifting staff.
I noted that there is no checks and balances with the Managing groups. I want to also note that often National Organizations like the AZA and USDA have ignored concerns. I have contacted them in regard to a few issues in the past, only to still see these things an issue point. The article I posted in regard to the recent death of the Patas Monkey, notes that both the AZA and USDA have become involved. Maybe they will take notice and start listening.
Zoo Management needs an overhaul. For one, Director Peterson needs to be demoted to Fundraising if anything at all. She has no Animal background, lucked into this position because of Social connections. She is Not an Animal person. She has No Regard or Empathy for the Animals that live there, their position, or their history. That is growing in evidence for years, culminating with her decision to kick out the Chimps. She should not be making any decisions on when to end an Animals life, yet she has final say. As noted in today's article, that was not in the best interest of this Patas Monkey.
Additionally, there needs to be a Director and President. Otherwise we have the Dictatorship that we do. As well, any Zoological Society Board Members need to be active with the Zoo and knowledgeable about what goes on. There also needs to be Recreation and Park officials who do the same. There is serious problems at the Zoo and no one has paid any attention to what really goes on there for years.
As the article also mentions, the lack of Animal Care Staff. This is one Department that needs full staffing, yet has been the Department most slighted. I have known for sometime that they lost members of the Vet Staff. That is just unacceptable. The Keepers are stretched thin. This is a facility that is home to living Beings who depend on the best care possible. I'm not saying they aren't getting good care, I'm saying that the department is run on the most limited Staff, yet has Staff in Animal Care Management employed full-time that does hardly anything to contribute to actual daily care. If you are going to commit to having Animals, you must commit to providing care for them.
I understand that Zoos are businesses, but they are foremost homes to living Beings who need attention, compassion and respect. If you can't provide that to the Animals, then you should not be running this as a business. The current Management is failing to put the Animals well-being before the dollar. It has been apparent in so many things. From the lack of improvement of Animal enclosures (homes of the Chimps, Komodo Dragon, ...) Barrier upgrades Zoo-wide, Signage to deter misbehavior towards Animals, Security to recognize misbehavior, Management to enforce repercussion of misbehavior, the building of areas for Humans before Animals, Bringing in New Animals before taking care of Current Animals, all these things and more, are big issue points in Management fail, and contribute to the Well-Being of the Animals.
I often say, when I win the lotto, I'm going to buy my way in and fix the Zoo. Some may think that's comical, but frankly I think I can do a better job at running the place than most of the Management Staff. At the very least I can identify issues on a daily basis, I have empathy for the Animals, and I can listen to those with expertise in their departments. Too much stuff that goes on there is a joke and sadly, many Animals have lost their lives because of it.