Sunday, June 11, 2017

Membership Posts and Why It's Important

I apologize to those who read my blog to learn what is going on at the Zoo, for what will probably be more than a handful of posts on the subject of my membership issue.  This blog has the most traffic, so I must post about it here.  I guarantee it will not be pity me posts, but documenting the situation and putting forth information about Zoo Management that reflects the situation, so it will still be about the wrongs at the Zoo.

Every weekend I sit down to attempt past posts in progress, and except for a few entries, I haven't kept up on posting here about the things that just aren't right at the Zoo.  Its very weighing on me to think about these travesties, and energy zapping to organize thoughts to post about them.  Some are the same old topics, like the on going barrier safety issue, which is at the top of my list, as I see barrier breaching issues every visit and fear for the Animals lives.  Some of it new stuff that comes up unexpectedly, like the Patas Monkey tragedy, that I had to write about, there are other awful things that I just never get to, that don't get media attention.

Last weekend I started a post that I abandoned.  The post was meant to reiterate for those who don't know me and/or are new to this blog, a brief history.   I had run into someone I've known along time, someone who knows the Zoo, Management and Politics.  Someone who knows me and what the Zoo Animals mean to me.  The subject of the Zoo always comes up.  They ask and I always rattle off my frustrations and how behind I am with putting all my thoughts to paper here on my blog.   I was encouraged to get it all out.  I try every weekend, both to free it from my mind and most important, as a Voice for the Animals.  For me, it has always been about the Animals.

So much that isn't right goes on at the Zoo and I used to be able to write about everything, then it became overwhelming. Each time I don't put something out and document it here, I feel like I'm failing the Animals.  I am without a doubt, the only person outside the walls of the Zoo who pays attention to what goes on there, and is a Voice for the Animals.  I never used to identify with labels, but I am an Advocate for those precious Zoo Friends.   Inside the walls there few, as most Staff including Security who pays zero attention to what's going on, and those who do are reprimanded, and often fired.  Its a sad and frustrating situation for anyone who cares. 

I am a San Francisco Native, life-long Resident of the Richmond District.  I grew up going to the Zoo and have been a Member most of my adult life.  As a teenager, my Mother sent me and my friends to the Zoo in the 70s for Summer Volunteer Orientation.  Learning that we wouldn't immediately have hands on experience with the Animals, but instead cleaning, we opted to continue our goals of meeting teen idols instead.  I believe everything happens for a reason, but in hindsight I wonder if I had chosen the Zoo as a teen, would I be in Management by now and having a hand at making the Zoo the best place it can be.  Who knows, as there are some who have worked there and still do, who started as teens and made the Zoo their life career choice, because they care about the place and the Animals in their care.  Sadly things haven't been easy during this current reign for those who care.  

In 2008, I started to visit more often and learn more about the Animals, both from the Keepers and my own online research.  I wanted to share what I had learned.  I started my first blog to do that.  I was there on Christmas Day the year before and was heartbroken over the events that took the life of Tatiana (Tiger).  I was also bothered by the dark cloud it left over the Zoo, a place that was dear to me.  Part of sharing my knowledge was to hopefully endear people to the Zoo Animals and change peoples minds.  I wrote to the Director Tanya Peterson and put forth that goal.  I also included other suggestions, as being there so often, I could identify things that were in need.  One Keeper warned me that the Director didn't like suggestions/comments, and I'd have trouble.  As I became more involved emotionally to the Animals and privy to other things that went on, I felt there was so much the Zoo could do to be better.  I continued to share those ideas regardless of the warning.  Director Peterson always replied and thanked me for my suggestions.  I had also been lucky to have my idea to make Enrichment Toys for the Big Cats accepted by the Keeper and Vet Staff.  My friend Lee who was a Docent at the time, and I made toys for most of 2010.  In October politics played into it a few times and we finally opted out of continuing under the impossible guidelines the Zoo decided to put forth in order to squeeze us out of something we created.  By Feb 2011, Untruths were fabricated and Director Peterson revoked our Memberships.  Six years later,  its happening again.  

When this happened in 2011, my friend Lee was given a reason via email from Director Peterson. Untrue as it was, it was a reason.  That reason had nothing to do with me.  So, why did I have my Membership revoked?  Over eleven months, I contacted the Zoo, including Director Peterson and Zoological Board Chairman David Stanton, requesting a reason and was never given one.  After my second letter to Stanton, I received a condescending letter from him, noting that I had been given reason, and listing several untruths, all from the mouth of Director Peterson.  I responded that had I got a reason I would not be continually seeking one.  I let him know that he had no idea what goes on there, since he or anyone else on the Board ever goes there, only taking Director Peterson's word for everything.  I then asked him if he wanted to be the face of Director Peterson's words?  ... Our Memberships were reinstated within a week, complimentary. 

Now, again I have been given no reason other than, "past circumstances".  Since "past circumstances" were based on untruths, what exactly does that mean?   This came out of nowhere.  I had not been warned of any misconduct.  So,  I am waiting for the answer.  Tuesday June 6, 2017,  I sent an email to Steven Haines, VP Strategic Growth and Marketing.  I relayed that I had been advised not to speak to Management and requested my Membership Fees be mailed to me, along with a letter, detailing the reasons for denying my membership renewal.  I noted I had not received one the last time and I have been told it is their responsibility to provide me with that.   I said I would be expecting that by next week.  Once I receive that I will post it here.

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