Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Security and Docent FAIL During Urgent Animal Accident

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.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bear Cubs on Facebook! - New Group for Fun and Facts

I apologize.  I posted last Saturday that I would have another post later that day.  That didn't happen. I have been working on a new Facebook Group, and didn't get all the info sorted that I want to include so I put it off, planning to launch and post about it by mid week.  During Tuesdays Zoo visit, there was an incident that was upsetting on several points.  I got home and spent the evening writing about that, but at the end, decided to hold off on posting it.  Will get back to it.  The rest of the week was busy, and I've been sorting through 1000+ Bear Cub pix the last couple of days!  And that number doesn't include the hundreds of videos.  

Today I will launch my new Facebook Group, Rescued Bear Cub Club!  I know, I already have so many online ventures I can't keep up with, but I start each of them out of passion and intention of making them all they can be.  Often, time and energy drain get the best of me.  I do try my best and its always for the Animals, that's what keeps me going.  So, please visit my new Group!  Join, Contribute, Share or just Lurk.  I think you will find it informative, and fun. Hopefully together we can add a bit to much needed awareness about how so many precious Cubs end up losing their Mothers and left orphaned.

The San Francisco Zoo's recent acquisition of two orphaned Black Bear Cubs, Juneau and Valdez, has created excitement and joy for me, as I have never known Bear Cubs.  I've wished for the experience of not only seeing a Cub, but the experience of watching one grow-up.  Now I have the gift of seeing these two precious babies grow and thrive.  I have been endeared to these babies from before they got here.  I am drawn to their story, and the plight of other abandoned Cubs.

The news of their impending arrival reminded me of the first Bear Cub plight I followed online. Sadly that Bear didn't have the opportunity these two will have.  I don't remember how I came across the story of little Bear Cub Makoon, but I followed his journey from early start to finish. A journey that was frustrating and a finish that was heartbreaking.  Makoon was found near death on the side of the road in Manitoba, Canada.  Rescued by a member of the public, a Sanctuary offered to rehab him until he was old enough for release.  They were denied by the Government, who instead allegedly placed him in the Assiniboine Zoo.  Despite public outrage, and opposition of experts, he was allegedly released into the wild at five months old to fend for himself.  This is younger than the two Cubs currently at SFZoo.  There was never any proof provided that Makoon ever made it to the Zoo or to the Wild. It is speculated that Manitoba Government killed him. His sad story is documented on the Facebook Page linked below, which also serves as an advocacy platform, for Bears and other Wildlife.   

The woman who started this Page for Makoon was instrumental in advocating for him every step of his journey.  She kept track of all the details put forth by the Assiniboine Zoo and Manitoba Government. When something wasn't right, she asked questions.  Her name is Judy Allen Stearns and she rocks!  I'm lucky to have met and remained friends with such a driving force for Bear Cubs.  I learned alot about Government interference, and cried alot over something simple as doing right by a vulnerable and in need young Being.  She and her Husband Roger are in the process of opening their own Bear Cub rehab facility on their property in Manitoba.  

San Francisco Zoo has provided forever homes to other Wild Born Animals in need, including three Bears.   

The first Bear rescued was in 1980.  Wild Born Polar Bear Ulu, came to the San Francisco Zoo at approximately three years old.  She and her Mother, along with two other siblings (all who are thought to have found homes in other Zoos), were repeat offenders in the town of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.  Its common for Polar Bears to head into town in search of food.  The ones lucky not to be involved in a direct Animal/Human conflict and killed on sight are caught and taken to Bear jail, then released by helicopter far from town. They are marked and if they return, the three strike limit applies even to Bears and Ulu had reached hers.  Thankfully her life was spared, when a forever home was offered by the SFZoo.  We were lucky to have her.  I loved this Lady and I am honored to have known her.   She lived a long, happy life, passing in April this year.  At 36, she was the oldest living female Polar Bear in a North American Zoo and estimated to be one of the oldest in the World.  
The two Grizzly Sisters, Kiona and Kachina, have lived at the SFZoo since being rescued in Montana in 2004.   They had lost their Mother, who was euthanized by State officials after an Animal/Human conflict situation.  Orphaned, they were rehabbed and released at a year old. Fending for themselves they eventually ended up coming into human populated areas in search of food.  Like Ulu, they ran out of strikes and at almost a year and a half, they too were set to be euthanized before being offered a forever home at the Zoo.  

How do all these Bears end up in peril?  The information we have on SFZoo Bears, Ulu, and Kiona and Kachina, has been attributed to Animal/Human conflict, with these Bears repeatedly coming into human populated areas in search of food.  The case with Makoon, our Valdez and Juneau, along with the other seven Cubs rehabbed this season at the Alaska Zoo, is unknown. Cubs can become Orphaned, for reasons of conflict that results in Mother's  being killed for nuisance,  abandoned because they are weaker and can't keep up,  and being illegally or legally murdered.  Yes, it is legal to Hunt Bears in many places.  Our current disgrace of a President has also made it legal for blood thirsty Humans aka Hunters that Murder for joy, to legally kill Mama Bears and their Cubs in their dens.  This Bill includes the same parameters for Wolves.  The allowance of these acts of violence are in my opinion, barbaric, horrific and downright evil. 

It is thought that the Bear Cubs who have come to live at the SFZoo, became abandoned as a result of Animal/Human conflict.  The specific reason is unknown.  These Cubs were rescued by the Alaska Wildlife Dept. and rehabbed at the Alaska Zoo.  It was determined they were not candidates for release because they had been too habituated by Humans.  Releasing them would only cause them to wander into a town and be at risk for being killed.  Homes for all have been found in North American Zoos.

Interviews with the Alaska Zoo Director, in regard to these Cubs,  have him urging for more Bear Awareness.  If you live in or are traveling to Bear Country, few tips include, keeping trash inside, don't put trash out until day of pick up, take down bird feeders, don't leave pets or their food outside. Helping to reduce interaction will help to reduce the number of Orphans.  So, while our disrespectful President and other evil demons are out there murdering these precious Beings, there are kind souls who do everything they can to help these babies who are desperately in need.   

I have learned these basic tips, but there is more information out there.  You can visit:
https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go/bears  or a simple google search will turn up many results for those who want to learn more on Bear Awareness and Orphaned Cubs.

This Group will document the growth and life of the San Francisco Zoo's two Black Bear Cubs, Juneau and Valdez, along with other Cubs the Alaska Zoo has rehabbed this season and sent to forever homes at other North American Zoos, three Black Bear Cubs to Greater Vancouver Zoo and four Brown Bear Cubs to Oakland Zoo.  I will also post related stories about other Orphaned Cubs as I come across them.  

Hope this has been interesting and informative.  In an effort to spread the awareness and information, I may also post this to the Group in full and/or in parts.  Sorry for the repeat of info if that happens.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Bear Cubs Debuted This Week!

I've been trying to get this post done since early last week, but with seeing the Cubs most of last week and my Birthday yesterday, I'm just now finishing it and posting.  

So Yes!  The Bear Cubs are out!  I can not even express the amount of cuteness that's going on with these two!  They are a complete delight and and joy!  I am so happy to be able to know these babies and be able to watch them grow up.  I feel very blessed.  For as long as I can remember I have wanted to see Bear Cubs and following their journey has and will be an incredible experience.

The Cubs were let out into their enclosure for public viewing last Monday and were on view from 10a-noon and 2-4p, with a bottle and nap break in between.  That will probably be the schedule again this week, unless they choose to extend or shorten times, pending the Cubs needs.

I watched these babies both viewing times Monday and in the morning Tues, Wed, and Thurs.  I seriously can not get enough of them (and I'm not the only one)!  I'm still going through my photos and video from Monday. The babies were very active, exploring their new home, running and chasing, rolling and playing, climbing, they were all over the place and it was great fun for them and me!  I think I captured alot of their "firsts", and look forward to sharing them.  Check back for my next post later today.

By the end of the day on Monday, the babies were showing signings of tuckering out.  They had too much fun and excitement!  This low energy moment came just near 4p, and I was lucky to capture them sitting side by side. 

I had been referring to them as Dezi and June, in relation to the areas they were found in,  Valdez and Juneau.  I was surprised and very happy to learn the Keepers were calling them the full names.  I hope the Zoo allows these names to become official.  With every new arrival, whether born there or transferred, I fear the worst in naming, ever since poor Tucker Hippo was named after a ballplayer and that trend took off.  So sad and disrespectful.  Animals deserve names that mean something to them, their species, or at the very least a name that fits. 

I have posted a few videos so far.  I'll link the first one, if you want more Cub Cuteness, you can click on my user name you can view the others.  I'll also add more today. ... The Cubs first order of play was the trio of tree trunks! So much action on these, they showed them attention all week!   Little Girl Juneau was quick to start stripping the bark off everything she could lol!  They had a ball!   

Here's the initial fun  https://youtu.be/AW3TdslxLV4

Sharing these Cubs is one reason for this post, the other is I have found it very curious that the Zoo has not taken the opportunity to talk about these Cubs in detail.  What I mean is, not only is it exciting they are here, but their journey is one that should promote awareness.  They should have posted about their acquisition, as soon as it was secured.  I finally posted about it two weeks after reading news articles out of Alaska.  The Zoo first mentioned it, that same day, most likely after getting wind that I had broke the news.   

I haven't looked at the Zoo Facebook since last week, but as of Monday evening, there was still no mention of the Cubs, since that day more than two weeks ago (after my blog post), and the Cubs were now out.  In my opinion they have really dropped the ball, following these Cubs journey, from the Alaska Zoo, to quarantine, to their first day out. They are going to be popular and posting about them every step of the way and about their story would have been wonderful for visitors to follow and a great way to spread the message they represent.  I'm not surprised, but it saddens me sometimes the missed opportunities to share and educate people.  

Education is something the Zoo puts forth as part of their Mission, yet they fall short in doing so.  For years I blogged about Awareness Days that I'd visit the Zoo and find there is no information being put forth, either in display or talks. In the last few years, they have seemed to step it up a bit, but not enough in my opinion compared to the plight of so many Animals.  They did a good one for Rhino Day a few years back, but then on Thursday, there was no evidence at the Zoo that it was World Lion Day.  Lions are having a really tough time these days with poaching, canned hunting, and other evils that threaten their species, and nothing to build awareness about that.  Maybe at the Keeper talk it was mentioned, but what, those talks reach a couple dozen people, when an average of four thousand walk through the gates each day?   There needs to be some displays at Entry Village circle, appropriately outside the Education Building. 

As I expected, these babies are very popular.  Not only did a see a few of the same people come by to see them, there was a continued heavy stream of visitors lined up along the barrier for extended time watching with smiles and more comments of how cute they are than I can count.  Also as expected, there were too many people dangling their kids over the barriers.  The first one within ten minutes of the Cubs being out for the first time. UG.

Anyone who know me, or is familiar with my blog, this issue is something I write alot about and did in regard to the renovation of this exhibit.   

I have watched and called attention to this issue for over six years now, and the Zoo fails to do little to keep the Animals safe.  I have yet another post in detail about Barrier Abuse at the Zoo, so I won't digress too much here, other than to say, the Zoo had the opportunity before these Cubs went on view to secure this barrier railing with a deterrent and they didn't.  I pray these babies stay safe, because no one at the Zoo seems to care about safety.  You can see that by the photo I posted, the person over the barrier is in front of the Zoo Security Ranger and he wasn't the only Staffer who this happened in front of.  There was one Docent on Thursday who said something to someone, but that was after three previous days of nothing. I have heard that Management allegedly tells Staff not to say anything about certain misbehavior, so I have to wonder if that applies to dangling over the barriers of code red Animals, because I see this every visit.  The times I have reported it and Security has got there in time, they and Zoo Management seem to make light of the issue when talking to visitors. I don't know, I think its as serious an issue as I make it out to be.  Anyway, I'm not trying to hate on the guy (Ranger), he's nice to me, as are the Security Guards, Docents, and many Staffers, but MY mission is to document issues, and if anyone is not putting forth their best to be aware of misbehavior that could endanger the lives of any of the Animals, I'm going to be vocal about it.  I'm sorry, but the Animals safety and well being is MY priority.  

Anyone, especially those employed by the Zoo should have their eyes on barriers at all times when near exhibits.  If they aren't doing that simple thing to keep the Animals safe, they need to ask themselves, ? How would you feel if you missed it or didn't say something and someone fell in resulting in the death of an Animal, when the target team shoots to kill in an effort to save a human? Because that is exactly what would happen.