I've been trying to post this for a couple weeks now. Big News regarding to New Zoo Friends! Interesting thing is I read about them on one of my Google News searches. There were several news reports out of Alaska, but still no mention on this side. Why hasn't the San Francisco Zoo mentioned anything? Nothing in local media, and no mention on the Zoo's Facebook or Twitter. Surprised because I consider this a big deal, but not surprised because non-disclosure is typical of the Zoo, in too many areas. Too many secrets there is one of my issue points. In my opinion being more transparent, shows that you are secure in what goes on there, in the job that you're doing and the care you're providing. Maybe I'm digressing in topic, because I do have Animal well-being in my mind relating to this foremost. No relation to that issue in this News!
I'm overjoyed to report that the Zoo has rescued two American Black Bear Cubs! One of the good things the Zoo has done, is provide homes to Animals in need, who otherwise might have no where else to go. Here is a link to the original news article I read:
Big Smiles as I read this through! A couple of weeks before, I read about the Oakland Zoo getting a Mama Bear and her three Cubs. So excited that I would finally see Bear Cubs, only to read they weren't going to have them out on exhibit until next summer. I thought I would never get to see Bear Cubs. A few days later, I said to someone, Oh I bet Tanya (our Zoo Director) is pissed that Oakland got Bear Cubs and she didn't. ... I'm always thinking of things I'd do if I was in charge of the Zoo, one of those things is, what direction I'd like to see the Zoo go in. I would want to see the Zoo not do as much captive breeding but focus more rescuing. So, this rescue is an interesting and exciting chain of events, especially after those recent pre-thoughts.
When I read this article, I assumed that these Cubs will be going where Ulu used to live because I saw them working on that exhibit the same day. I assumed that they would eventually try and put another North American Animal in that exhibit because it kind of goes with the area now that they have the Wolves there. I just didn't think they would be allowed more Bears in the the current Bear Grotto as is (with concrete). .... I made a video of the work being done and some editorial comments about barriers:
If you have read my blog before, you know that one of my main issue points is barrier abuse. If you haven't you can search word barrier in the upper left corner of the blog. I plan to write yet another detailed account of this, but until then I want to make a note in regard to the "renovation" and future use of this Bear exhibit.
Barrier abuse has long been a problem at the Zoo and one they refuse to do anything about. I guess they are waiting for someone to lose their life because of it. I for one do not want that life to be one of the Animals. The Bear barriers have been a constant point of abuse, Ulu's was the worst with offenses in that area. I have constantly pushed in writing for all enclosures of Code Red Animals to have glass, which would prevent both accidental and intentional entry to Animal side of enclosure, and at the very least to have better signage and (not or) barriers that are not vulnerable to abuse, but the Zoo has done nothing. I do not want to see these Cubs vulnerable to losing their lives every time someone stands their kid on the railing or sits them over it. If someone accidentally falls in, the Animals are shot.
One of countless times I've seen kids hung over
the barrier. This one (of many) at Ulu's home.
After years of pointing out the barrier abuse at the Anteater exhibit, it took an impending AZA Accreditation Inspection for the Zoo to install a bamboo fencing barrier along the Anteater and neighboring Bob Cat. The staggered effect allows for all heights to see over but prevents people from standing on or sitting over the barrier.
One of many abuses I've seen at
the home of Angelo Anteater.
Glass would prevent access both accidentally and intentionally, but this bamboo design at the very least would solve the daily abuse, and go along way to keep the Animals safe. SO, why has it only been done at this one exhibit area? The Black Rhino and Hippo remain vulnerable all day, everyday. Ulu rounded out that trio, also constant victim to people abusing her barrier. Thankfully she was able to live out her life naturally as intended.
Bamboo Fencing at Anteater/Bob Cat
This all said, at the very least, this type of bamboo fencing should be installed at the railing barrier at Bears, to serve as a deterrent to the eventual abuse at the Black Bear Cubs home. Please San Francisco Zoo, do the right thing to keep these Bears safe. While you are at it, show some like love to the Black Rhino and Hippo barriers.
As I said, I was surprised the Zoo was allowed to have Bears in this enclosure again. It was Ulu's home and at her age, worked well for her to live out her life in. I'm really happy that they've chosen to put a rescued animal there and that these babies will have a place to live. That said, these Cubs are less than a year old and with Bears living into their late 20s-30s, I hope that there will be a future plan for a more appropriate long-term home for these precious babies.
Its unfortunate that the Zoo didn't think ahead and after Pike (Polar Bear) passed away, instead of renovating her home for the Wolves, didn't move Ulu into her home, (which included the meadow she was already familiar with) and renovate Ulu's home for the Wolves. If that had been done, then having the Cubs side by side with the Grizzlies, would have allowed for the never used alleged "phantom" shifting system, that would allow shifting/rotating all Bears into the Grizzly Gulch exhibit. That way, all Bears would get the Enrichment of that natural habitat, not just the Grizzlies. This was something former Bear Keeper Deb Cano pushed for. She wanted all the Bears to have that experience to enrich their lives.
Sadly the Zoo never activated that option and our Andean Bear Wishbone literally pounded his bones to death living on concrete his whole live. I bring this up in posts from time to time, because his death still weighs heavy on me as one of the most tragic Zoo deaths. Preventable, and I tried to help him and no one cared. Not Zoo Management, Not the Zoological Society, Not the Rec and Park, Not the City. Not even two of the main Zoo Donors who I wrote to, The Hearst Family, who funded Grizzly Gulch and are the Taube Family who had been quoted in a news article of wanting to do more for the Animals. If you're interested in learning more about Wishbones plight, you can read my blog dedicated to my crusade for him:
So, back thoughts for the future. I do hope that a new home will be eventually built for these Cubs. But, I'm also not going to hold my breath, as under the current administration, I don't have much faith. Just ask the Komodo Dragon. I'll do another post after this one about Resident homes, highlighting precious Falcor.
Next to the Grizzly Gulch, there are two old enclosures that have been boarded up since the Black Rhinos moved in 2009 I think it was. Those two enclosures could be used as a site to build a new home for the Cubs. It would sit side by side with the Grizzlies and there is plenty of room, almost mimicking that natural "valley" appearance of the Oakland Zoo's Sun Bear enclosure. ... Creating a new future home for these Cubs would Enrich their lives, mentally and physically. It would also allow for an eventual extension of the Wolves home, if the plan to breed future Wolves comes to fruition.
In 2010 (I think) the Zoo closed off many paths to public access. Most have reopened over the years since. One that hasn't is South Gate, which has several enclosures that have previously housed three species small Hoofstock. This path runs from Hippo to Grizzlies. Also available to provide an extended area for current Residents in need of a better home.
Looking forward to seeing our new adorable Bear Cubs, who I've dubbed Dezi and June (as they were found in Valdez and Juneau). They are quarantining on exhibit and are supposed to be on view next week.
Thank you to the Zoo for giving these Cubs a home and please don't allow someone to name them after Ballplayers. Something meaningful or native like the Grizzly Girls, would be both appropriate and respectful.