Yesterday 8.28.17 marked the Cubs fourth week out on exhibit! Can't believe how fast time has gone by. As I start to post (to my Facebook Group Rescued Bear Cub Club) highlights from week two of the Cubs being out on exhibit, I've decided to keep in chronological order and put this out there now.
In addition to the Cubs having new adventures during their second week out on exhibit, on Tuesday of that week (8.15.17) there was an incident involving an accident with one of the Bear Cubs, that really upset me. I came home and actually wrote a post about it, but then decided not to publish it and instead maybe talk to some key people at the Zoo in regard to specific issues. So, like I said, I wasn't going to post about it, but then the next day after I talked to several people (both on Staff and not), I felt I should (and was also encouraged to) document what happened and my issue points and resolutions that in my opinion would better the Zoo. ... Some agreed there is room for improvement in regards to these two issues. Another (this person on staff) had the details wrong and really didn't want to hear the facts, to which I realized this person, as well probably others, really believes the Zoo operates at optimum. That it's all butterflies and bluebirds, and no room for improvement. Huh.
So here's what happened. I was watching the Bear Cubs. They were playing at the edge of the pool and the little girl fell backwards into the pool. A drop that I've been told was 20-40 ft. I immediately freaked out, as she is not only very small, but had not even been in the pool yet, and I had heard varied accounts of whether there was any water in the pool, ranging from alittle to break a fall, and none, which would just leave concrete. There was no Animal Staff there, no Security. I'll say right here that I'm just painting the picture, I have no issue with Animal Staff, or this Dept. The second I saw her fall, I ran to the side to see if I could see her in the pool, (even though with any depth seeing into the pool was impossible), maybe on the stairs, something. My phone hasn't been working right and I knew trying to make a call would take too much time. I was growing worried as she hadn't come out and little boy was pacing the edge looking into the pool. I saw a Docent and asked her if she had a radio. She did not. I pulled out my phone, which as expected was wonky, so I asked her to call for help and pointed to the sign with the phone number. I called out to little girl and no response. I started calling to the Keeper, but the way the exhibit is built it would be long shot that she'd hear me. I called to little girl again, nothing. I was imaging her laying on the cement, unable to move. Finally I got my phone to work and I called Zoo ER number that goes to Security. I got voicemail! Too much time had passed (several long minutes) so I turned to run to find someone, and saw Curator Ron walking towards me. I told him what happened, and he ran to the back, and I heard him call over the radio for all Keepers to Bears. A few minutes later, after Keepers went to the ledge above the exhibit to look down to the pool, Keepers rang the lunch bell that the Cubs are trained to come to, to call little boy in. He left the edge of the pool and ran to the den, and as soon as he cleared the doorway, little girl shot out of the pool and ran there too! I was so happy to see her run out and all her limbs working! I was so worried, I did alot of praying and crying in that short amount of time. Very thankful she was ok. I did't know if she got the wind knocked out of her, blacked out, whatever it was that prevented her from surfacing til she heard the bell, but, geez (at the time) I wondered if I wasn't there and acted quick, no one else reacted to do anything, and she could have just laid at the bottom of the pool, possibly in critical state, for who knows how long. I say at the time, because the next day I confirmed there was 2.5 ft of water in there and pool is 8-10 ft deep and she was swimming! She was still checked out by the Vet and all was ok.
I'm glad, no matter how the Zoo Director and some upper level Management treat me, that I'm still there, watching out for the Animals. They can try to make me the Villain and say things that aren't true so people think I'm the enemy, but thankfully I've been blessed to be there at a lot of the right moments over the years, to watch out for these precious Animals. I'm also grateful to those who were there that thanked me, and those that always recognize value my observations and actions.
So, my two issue points.
#1 - Calling Security and getting voicemail. Initially I was really upset by this, and immediately talked to Staffer Lamar about it. He said it was probably a service issue. If there was no service, I wouldn't have gotten voicemail. So that wasn't it. I later realized that possibly the Docent had gotten through at the same time I did which caused my call to roll over to voicemail. I thought that was a good possibility, but several people said they wouldn't count on that being what actually happened. I was also told, by a couple of people that it was when I told the Curator what happened that the call went out. Regardless, to me, having an ER number go to voicemail is unacceptable. That's like getting voicemail when you call 911. There could very well be two ERs there at the same time. People need to get through. Hypothetically, with so many people breaching barriers there, when this pool accident was happening, someone could have dropped their kid in at Rhinos, and what, call to get a voicemail? While that's extreme, why even have that happen, when the solution is to just have two phones, and the calls roll over to the second phone when first one is busy. Problem solved. ... I also want to note that I did not leave a voicemail. In previous times, when I would call and end up hanging up, one of the Security Guards always called back (caller ID) to find out if there was a problem. No one called back this time.
#2 - The Docent just standing there watching the accident unfold. I wrote years ago about the lack of awareness and initiation from the Docents. For one, the Zoo doesn't hire enough Security Guards, so they should teach the Docents how to identify situations in which they should call Security. Not that Security is all that aware either. Alot of Staff could use a lecture in being aware of visitor misbehavior and identifying Animal issues. Anyway, back to this incident. This Docent stood there and watched and would never have even thought to call for help unless I asked her to. I don't understand that. Witnessing a situation where an Animal is possibly in distress and just standing there? That just shouldn't happen. If the Zoo cares enough about this, they can ask me who the Docent was. ... If Docents are not going to carry radios, they should have the ER number programmed into their phones and instructed when to use it. If the Docents aren't going to be extra eyes on the grounds, what are they there to do? because most of the time they don't even have the facts about the Animals correct. ... I retold this incident to another Docent the next day and she said she didn't even know there was an ER number! Does anyone actually guide the Docents?
The Zoo needs to have a back-up ER cell phone, so no call goes unanswered.
The Zoo needs to educate their Docents to identify situations that would require them to call Security, or at least go and seek help.