Wednesday, March 7, 2012

RIP Wishbone - SFZOO Bear Dies After Years Of Living On Concrete

please see my tribute video to this special day-dreaming boy XO


I write this post heartbroken.  I learned of the passing of my dear Zoo friend Wishbone.  I am not surprised as he had been suffering from a back injury for four weeks and I knew a descsion was being made early this week.  Even in the last days, I still prayed he would get his Miracle.  Sadly he didn't and he died never feeling grass under his feet again, like his companion Annie did almost two years ago.  

Regular readers of my blogs, particularly my Project Get Wishbone Grass will know that I have crusaded for him to get a patch of grass added to his home, so he didn't live out his days like he had everyday for the past four years, exclusively on concrete.   This FAIL on the San Francisco Zoo's part, make his death even more heartbreaking and personal. 

I wanted the post I wrote yesterday morning to be posted last night, before any descisions were made, as I thought after would be disrespectful to Wishy.  After hearing this news yesterday afternoon, in addition to heartbreak, I am very angered that the Zoo let this happen to him.  I make this post at this time, out of respect FOR Wishbone.  I seem to be his only voice.

I remember not too long ago, I was speaking to a Staffer about getting Wishy grass and was told, "I asked (Management) and they told me he didn't need it. ... He told me he didn't want it."  I replied, "He told me he did."  And was told "That's your opinion."   ... Is it my opinion that this Bear lived on a surface that might have been state of the art in 1930, but was considered cruel in 2012?     I kinda think that is fact.  In 2007 when they built the Grizzly Gulch, did they make the surface concrete?   No, because that is not an acceptable surface for animals to live on in this century.

As I live and breath the empathy of Animals, I guarentee you, he did want it.  HIS BACK WANTED IT.  He needed it.  HIS BACK NEEDED IT.    

Saving his back may not have been something possible in recent times, and should have been a priority years ago, but having a softer surface to live on, to walk on, to sleep on, would most definetly have gave his bones some cushion and comfort, preventing the constant jarring from being on cement and from possibly causing further damage that ended up taking his life.  He died from a back injury, that left him unable to walk, but still completly there mentally.  How awful must that have been for him.  The people at the Zoo with authority to have made changes for him, failed him.  Unforgivable. 

The following is what I wrote before learning of his passing.  I will note where it ends and add more of my final comments following.

I sit here finally starting this long overdue post, as I have woken up from a nightmare, knowing that fate of one of my precious Zoo friends is looming.  In the wake of losing four Animals who I care about and visit at least twice weekly, another faces losing his life and in my opinion because of negligence on the part of the Zoo's Management team.  I ask myself, do the people that make up this team, the people responsible for the lives of these Animals lose sleep over them?  

I appologize if my thoughts end up digressing and all over the place, but as I wrote, this is long overdue and I have been making notes about this post in part for months.

The post is months in the making, but the issue is years.  That issue, Wishbone the Andean Bear, having spent most of his 26 years living on concrete, the last four exclusively.  

I have detailed much on this blog, but since I'm big on backstory, there will be some repeating which i'll try to keep to a  synopsis.  I appologize for the length.

About ten years ago, after visiting the Zoo on many recent occasions, I wrote an email to the Zoo.  I had always been outspoken and confident in doing so, but I think with the recent ease of internet correspondence that grew. So, after all these years of visiting the Zoo, I needed some answers about certain things.  The one thing in particular I remember addressing was the Polar Bears.  I had been avoiding them because they made me sad.  I'm not sure at the time I was aware of the barreness or more of just how depressed I perceived these Bears to be.  Yes, I empathize on a human level with these Animals, which some folks don't agree with, but they feel, and it may not be in the same ways, but they are the same core feelings.  I got a reply from then Director David Anderson, that was much more than I expected.  He not only told me about the Bears, but about plans for the other Animals.  This reply if printed out would have been at least three pages.  Not long after that, I was at Member's Night and I went to Bears and one was in a new grassed in Meadow!  I cried.  I  felt my words may have played a part in that.  Probably not, but I felt very connected to voicing my concerns and then seeing a change. ... I have since learned that it was not the Zoo's idea to landscape this concrete grotto, but it happened because of the dedication in the face of resistance, of one of the Keepers tomake it happen.  ... The photo of that Bear (who I now know is Ulu), smiling in a patch of grass, is till hanging in my home.

I will also note that at the time I was not as informed as I am now, and what I took as depressed, were not accurate.  This is part of the reason I started my first blog in which I shared all my knowledge of the San Francisco Zoo Residents, so others could learn and be endeared to them, like I had become.  

I see the same behaviors in the Polars now and understand them.  I want to relay those, since I think there are many visitors who, like me at that time, do not know these Bears or as individuals.  The thing that bothered me most was one Bear would sit on the edge constantly biting at its arm.  The Polars Bears (at least in recent years from my observations) are not depressed.  That Bear I have since learned was Pike.  She was born at the Zoo and hand raised, so she has the habit of suckling her arm, much like she would have done to her mother, if she had been raised by her.  She still does this and its usually right before she slips into a nap.  The other behavior I have come to understand is the pacing.  While it still makes me uncomfortable, I have been told it is because its in their nature to walk, as they would in the wild.  It makes a bit of sense as I notice Ulu who was wild born does it more.

Ok, I digressed into backstory, so let's bring this to present.

In the past four years I have gotten to know the Animals at the Zoo very well.  So much so that Keepers have said I know more about them (their history) than they do.  I have also watched them to the extent that I can sometimes identify out of the norm behavior, that has helped Keepers.

On October 15, 2009, which is now almost two and a half years later, I sent a letter (http://projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com/2011/05/andean-bear-grotto-letter-to-zoo.html) to the Zoo Director Tanya Peterson noting concerns about the Andean Bears living exclusivley on concrete and some suggestions on adding some grass to their home.  There was no responce.

In November of 2010, I was at a Zoo event where photos of their Master Plan were revealed.  I was disgusted that these Plans included whole new areas, which would then be filled with newly aquired Animals (not rescues who face euthanization) , while the Animals who already lived there had areas in need of upgrading.  I was equally appalled for the same reason that the plans included four new childrens playgrounds and that money had been spent on designs for all these new things, while Wishbone (his companion Annie had recently passed) was living on concrete.  I will also add he is the only Animal exclusively on concrete.

In March of 2011, I sent a letter, along with photos (http://projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com/2011/05/andean-bear-grotto-letter-to-vips.html) to many Zoo VIPs, again noting my concerns and suggestions.  There was no responce.

I soon began my online campaign to Get Wishbone Grass.  I felt that by bringing attention to the situation, the Zoo might be forced to make some changes.  A year later, he still has no Grass and the situation has become dire and at this point might be moot.  Regardless, of whether there can be anything to help Wishbone now, I feel I must still present the facts of the situation AND in his honor, call out those who have neglected him and his passed companion Annie for more than two decades.

The original gist of this post was a copy and paste from a site that described guidelines for the habitat for Andean Bears in captivity.  After a friend had sent me that site information, I had recently been to the Oakland Zoo and had photos and suggestions to add, based on what I saw in their Sun Bear exhibit.  Note that I have always maintained in my crusade to bring some landscaping to Wishbone's home, that I do not expect or want a complete renovation, because that is obviously out financially, plus more important I would not want him displaced. That said there are many ways and I've detailed them in other posts to bring grass to his home. 

So, to date the situation with the Bear Grottos is such, there were five concrete grottos built in the 1930s.  In 2002 one grotto was turned into a meadow, and in 2007 Grizzly Gulch was built as an extention to one.  There is a small patch of grass in the Grizzly grotto, but I do not know when that was added. Two grottos are landscaped. Three grottos are completely of concrete surfacing.  

Similar type exhibits were built on the outside of the Lion House, four concrete grottos.  These grottos were updated with landscaping, at least twenty-five years ago.  25 years, 25!   So, WHY is it that aside from the two prior mentioned updates, is it that three grottos have remained as they were since they were built over eighty years ago?  80 years, 80!  The Big Cat grottos got landscaping, why not the Bears?  

This frankly makes me sick.  It infuriatates, frustrates, disgusts, and hurts me.  In these times, (and I include the past couple decades in that), when Zoo's have been striving to make captive animals habitats more natural, why has the San Francisco Zoo let these Bears continue to live in ancient exhibits?  Again, there is no need for complete renovation.  As seen with the Big Cat grottos and the one grotto with a meadow, landscaping is all thats needed.  Now, with the current meadow that is shared by the two Polar Bears, I ask, WHY has there not been at least a partial addition of a landscaped area added to the home of the Andean Bear (Wishbone)?  WHY?

This is not only (and foremost) a disrespect to Wishbone, but the Bear area has been a constant target of negativity, why wouldn't the Zoo want to make it more asthetically pleasing?  If not for the Animal, (who they clearing have no regard or respect) for the Visitors, so people aren't so judgemental.

That said, let's start the calling out now.  I will note that I don't have a problem with anyone (for the most part) on Keeper level.  It is infact the Keepers and the Vet Staff over the years that so many of the Animal Residents have lived long lives, some past expectancy statistics.  It is Management and the Zoological Society Board Members, those with authority to make changes who I mostly take aim at.

I'll start at my own level, why is it, I seem to be the only Visitor who is vocal and trying to do something about this?  I hear and read people's comments but do these people just complain to hear themselves or are they letting their voices be heard?  I doubt it.  

One such Visitor whose blog I read recently wrote:
(http://blog.sfgate.com/parenting/2012/02/01/new-zoo-review-a-return-trip-to-the-san-francisco-zoo/)
"My least favorite thing about the zoo: The polar bear space...
I get angry every time I hear about a shiny new animal or exhibit at the SF Zoo, while the polar bears continue to just pace back and forth waiting to die — not the least bit fooled by the rocks around the pools painted white to look like a glacier. (Someone please go to the zoo director’s house and paint a big screen television on the wall instead of the real thing. See if they notice the difference.)  The absolute top priority of the zoo should be to update these facilities." ...  To you I ask, "What are you doing except complaining?  Are you expressing your concerns to the Director and Society Board Members?  I doubt it.

Docents, what are they really there for?  Most of them not for the Animals.  Most don't even know which animal is which.  There is a wide age range in the Docent Program, so I can understand that my outspoken nature is a sign of my times, as well as just who I am.  So, that is not something everyone embraces, but there has to be someone.  Why isn't there anyone in that program, crusading for the better?  There are many my age range, who are plenty able to be vocal yet they seem to prance about the place, like everything is the best it can be.  

Now for those who can really make a difference, the people with Zoo attached titles, those are the truly evil people in this whole situation.  Anyone who had had the authority to make changes in the past couple decades, you should be ashamed of yourselves.  

I will note that I have identified that who those people are seems to have been quite revolving in this past decade.  Responcibility at times layed within the San Francisco Zoological Board's hands and tied that of the sitting Director, and at times it lay in the Director's hand, over that of the Board.  Right now, from what I have heard, the buck stops with Director Tanya Peterson.  I put the direct blame on her right now.  Before her, I heard there were plans for a Bear grotto upgrade, but those plans got lost in the changing of the guard and the new guard didn't see a need to follow through.

I still see her face, while I was talking to her about the Bairds Tapirs mouth bleeding (in reference to his medical condition), she stood there both her hands one on each of my shoulder's shaking me saying, "He's going to bleed" while laughing with the Hoofstock Curator and saying, "My priority is getting my Hippo!"  A Hippo may I add that has been disrespected since the literal minute he got here.  That's another issue.  Bottom line, her priorities as a Zoo Director are not in the best interest of the Animals who already live there.

Along with San Francisco Zoo Director Peterson, those who can have input and won't, are the people I have personally contacted, San Francisco Zoological Society Board Chair David Stanton, San Francisco Zoological Society Board Memeber Nick Podell, Park and Recreaction General Manager Phil Ginsburgh, Park and Recreation Commissioner Larry Martin, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. 

I also hold responcible, anyone who sits on the Joint Zoo Committee Meeting panel, including Animal Care and Control Chair Sally Stephens, and Vet Dr Spinelli.  Both these people visited the Zoo a couple years ago and suggested the immediate need for the Polar Bears to rotate in the meadow (which was the initial intention that they do, along with the Andean Bears and was not happening).  In doing this, they presented themselves in my opinion to be in the position of some delegation for the Animals sake.  Why was there never a delegation of need for a landscaped surface for the Andean Bears?

I am very disappointed that I never got a responce from two Donors I wrote to in regards to the Wishbone situation.  I appealed and presented to both Dianne and Tad Taube and the Hearst Corporation.  I have read so much on the Taube's in reference to the Zoo and they project a love of animals, that is why i targeted them. Also, the Zoo should be fundraising for upgrades, not new areas.  Maybe if we had a Director that did that, the Donors would know there are Animals in need.

One would think all these people of influence and money, with Zoo associated titles could get one Bear a patch of Grass.

DISGUSTING.

In November 2011, I made a video (http://projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com), that many have told me is heartbreaking and makes them cry.  It does me.  I know the Zoo Management staff reads my blogs, so I know someone has seen it.  How can anyone with authority to give this Bear a patch of Grass sleep at night?  Heartless people.

In early December, I witnessed Wishbone have what I and others who were there consider a Siezure.  He was sitting on his shelf bed, an area that is raised from my perspective at least four feet off the ground.  He was moving around the hay making his bed and then stopped and looked up at the sky.  He is a daydreamer :)  All of a sudden he screamed and howled several times and twisted about, falling to the hard concrete ground, bouncing on each cement step as he fell.  On the ground he continued to flop around, trying to stand-up and for a few minutes his feet slipped from under him and he could not.  It was horrifying to watch.  Being helpless to help him was very hard.   He eventually regained use of his legs and seems alittle cautious but moved about as usual.  Of course I ran to alert the Keeper.  One of the people I relayed the episode to, I felt downgraded what I had witnessed, saying "He's fine, he just hurt his back."

I later learned that Wishbone has had existing back problems for years.  This really pissed me off.  If this has been a known issue WHY has this Bear been forced to live on concrete exclusively for four years? WHY?!?!?!?!?!  If he had a softer surface many years ago he may not have developed back issues, he may not have had this episode and he surly would not have fallen and bounced onto cement.  Modifications should have been made years ago AND even if this was not on anyone's mind then, when I started my crusade someone should have taken notice.  Especially when Wishbones, companion Annie, passed away the year before because of back issues and the eventual loss of the use of her back legs as a result.  

After the event I witnesses, knowing all this, still no modifications were made.  No soft surfaces added, no plans for grass, no barriers to prevent him from going downstairs to the moat, no barriers to keep him from accessing the pool and having an episode in which he could drown, no NOTHING!

Four weeks ago, Wishbone again suffered a back issue.  Whether he has been having them all along and recovered from them before anyone noticed, I don't know.  What I do know is he had one four weeks ago and has still not recovered.  This is heartbreaking not only because I love this little guy, but because of everything I have just written here.  Because no one who has the authority to have instigated these changes did.  Those people just don't care.

It makes me sick.  They make me sick.  I'm sorry that's harsh, but this Bear is now dead and its from years of living on concrete.  

So, here I sit the morning after hearing that Wishbone passed.  You must imagine how I feel.  Knowing all I do, having tried so hard to get the attention of VIPs, begging for someone to give this poor Bear a soft surface to live one.  Now, he is gone.  Wishbone was a happy daydreamer, so he may not have known the difference or remembered the time when he felt grass beneath him, but the people with authority know there's a difference, I know there's a difference.  The difference between those people and me, I cared.  I cared that his life could have been more enriched and his bones not taking a beating.  The Zoo's new thing is keeping up with the Jones of other Zoo's and touting their dedication to Enrichment.  What about Wishbone's life Enrichment of living on a natural surface.  This disrespect is criminal.  They should all be jailed and then they will know what its like to live exclusively on concrete.

The Andean Bears had access to the meadow at some point in 2008 and that streak should have never been stopped.  And in that same time frame Director Peterson has not only been in authority, but has spear headed the new Master Plans.  She should have made sure those Bears had a decent and natural surface to live on.  Shameful.

I have yet to finish posting the saga chronciled on my blog (sanfranciscozoocrime.blogspot.com)  but I will make a note here that in a correspondence I recieved from Zoological Board Chair David Stanton, in reference to my Membership being revoked (it was recently reinstated) he wrote: "Your conduct was thus deemed to be detrimental to the interests of the Society,..."  I ask you David Stanton, What are your interests as the Chairman of the Society?  Is it not yours and other Members interests to provide a proper habitat for the Animals for whom you are responcible?  How dare you.  You people let this Bear live on concrete to the point that his bones finally gave out.  Hypocrites.  

This post will not make anyone I've called out happy, and in fact they might find that it "is detrimental to the interests of the Society" and revoke my Membership again.    Know that what I write is the truth.  You can see the fact for yourself, right there in the gray cement.  If the Zoo folk don't like what I write then they should do the right thing.  I would prefer not to be so passionate about such things, because it makes me physically sick, but I do and I can't just sit by and let this kind of stuff happen without at least noting it.  Its not right.

What happens next?  Management seems feverish in filling up exhibits.  My bet, they will now landscape that grotto and try to aquire a new Bear.  

I guess there really is nothing more to say.  Wishbone is gone.  My blood pressure is at stage 2 hypertension as I write this, as Zoo related issues in the past year have caused my BP to rise.  The Zoo mucky mucks are probably having a cocktail party and patting eachother on the back for all the great work they do.  

Thank you to his primary Keeper Susie and her relief Sandy,  for I know they love him and did all they could to make his final days as comfortable as possible.

RIP my sweet precious boy Bear.  You will be forever loved, and forever missed.

UPDATE:  3.8.12  I assume this article contains information from the Zoo's official press release about Wishbone's passing.

http://blog.sfgate.com/cityinsider/2012/03/08/wishbone-s-f-zoos-last-andean-bear-dies/

This is my comment in reference to what was stated.

RIP precious Wishy, you didn't have to die this way, if you had a proper surface to live on.  ... to say they won't know why his legs failed, in my opinion is a crock.  his legs failed because of a back injury (which they posted on a sign in front of his enclosure a couple weeks ago.  he has had an existing back issue for years and his companion passed of the same thing.  these bears were forced to live exclusively on concrete most of their life, even after his last witnessed episode in december. ... i also question the wording of "suspected" neurological issues.  does the Zoo contact outside experts for advice? just like with human health care, there should be specialist contacts for every species of animal at the zoo, in case its necessary.  as well, outside necropsies should be mandatory.

PLEASE EXPAND COMMENTS AS I HAVE REPLIED TO SOME WITH ADDED INFORMATION.   IT MAY SEEM A BIT RANT-Y, BUT I AM STILL VERY ANGRY ABOUT HOW WISHY'S LIFE PLAYED OUT AND THE ZOO IS TO BLAME.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wishbone Remembers Grass!


When I found a few more old photo's 
of Wishbone and Annie the other night,
I almost cried.
I knew I would share them here in a blog post,
but I didn't know when or how until this morning when this idea popped.

If THIS,
these photos and the music
doesn't make the Zoo feel anything about the way
they are forcing this poor Bear to live,
they are truly cold-hearted people who shouldn't be in animal care.

I made it, so I've seen it over and over
and it still makes me cry, every time.
Will the San Francisco Zoo?


UPDATE 12.7.11 I have recently learned that sweet Wishbone has experienced back problems for a few years. I actually saw him take a tumble off his outdoor shelf bed last weekend, falling from the distance what appears to be about 4+ feet onto the concrete below. It was horrible to watch, and I'm sure even more horrible for him to experience. ... I ask the Zoo, how can you with good conscience have let and continue to let a senior animal with bone issues walk on concrete exclusively? ... It would seem for not only his enjoyment, enrichment, right to a natural surface, but that for health and safety issues that he should be provided with a soft surface, such as grass.

UPDATE 12.8.11


Please view the video on the last post projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com

If you support this crusade, please email San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson - tanyap@sfzoo.org

Thank you!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Season of Giving ... Christmas at the Zoo ... Who Will be Wishbone's Santa Claus?



Where do I begin. I'm very disappointed that the San Francisco Zoo has continued to ignore this crusade to Enrich the life of Wishbone. I have heard that they do not believe it is necessary, even going as far as saying "He doesn't want it." How is that for nonsense?

As we are less than three weeks until Christmas, Wishbone continues to be denied the most basic and natural gift a captive animal can have, and that is as natural an environment as possible to live in. These Bear Grotto's were built 70+ years ago. Natural wasn't a concern, but in recent years Zoo's strive to make the homes of captive animals as natural as possible. Why does the San Francisco Zoo not want to do the same and provide their existing animals with such mental and physical comforts?

I have another post (in progress) regarding one of the photos above, but will add a note about it here as well. The new sign posted at the Polar Bear Meadow (which I'm now calling it as the Polar's are the only ones who have access to it) flat out states that Grass is an Enrichment! It even goes as far as calling the Concrete Grotto's that they live on, the Wishbone lives on exclusively, ROCKY!

The Zoo recently posted this to their Twitter, an FYI in regards to their "giving tree", in which you can buy an ornament with a specific enrichment need for a specific animal. This is great! and in fact was an idea I submitted to Director Peterson over two years ago. The problem I have is, although I have not seen the tree, I am most certain there is no ornament for Wishbone's Grass! I even tweeted back asking if there was, of course there was no reply.


Ironically there is a wreath on a Bear Grotto for the Zoo's annual campaign to "Give the Loving Gift of a Zoo Membership." LOVING? Can't they Give a Bear the Loving Gift of some friggin' grass?

SO in this season of giving , I ask, Who will be Wishbone's Santa Clause?


UPDATE 12.8.11

Please view the video on the last post projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com

If you support this crusade, please email San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson - tanyap@sfzoo.org

Thank you!

Rotating Bears



When I started this crusade, it was all about Wishbone, because he has no access to Grass. That did not take away from my feelings about the situation that Pike the Polar Bear was in. In short, there is a meadow next to her concrete Grotto that she can have access to. In length, please read the post titled "Polar Bear Enjoys Rare Visit to Grass."

In recent months I have questioned this a few times, and most recently (prior to the above sign being posted and my continuous blogging about these two Bears lack of daily access to natural landscaping) was told that Pike (and Andy when she was alive) had regular access to the meadow. Noting that the access was a daily rotation. In my opinion, from the amount of days I had been visiting, that was just not true. Also note that in the same breath, it was added that "They don't like it as much (as Ulu)."

Soon after, I did begin to see Pike in the meadow! Interesting that, for all the other supposed time she was there on an every other day basis, I hadn't seen her in the meadow, in over six months.

About a month ago the above sign appeared. Interesting.

An added observation I recently made, is that the Keeper board sign above (handwritten one) that has been at Ulu's Grotto for I'd say a couple years, but I'll go with at least a year, states "If you don't see her here, she may be in the yard (meadow)." There is no sign that this is a Polar Bear Grotto, but there is a sign about Polar Bears at the meadow/yard (Grotto). There is the same species sign at Pike's Grotto. To me this shows that the meadow has always been considered Ulu's home. Which does not indicate that Pike had previously been regularly rotated to the meadow.

I am grateful that this now seems to be a priority, as it is much needed. I don't know if its daily, as I have been trying to keep track from my visits. I would hope it is. Since blogging seems to be having some effect on what's going on there, I will throw this out there. It would be more beneficial to the Animal if they have access to the landscaped areas daily. Rotating these two once a day so they BOTH have daily access is not a huge task. The Big Cat Keeper manages to rotate 7 animals several times a day, rotating 2 is not a drama from what I can see.

NOW if we can just get Wishy some friggin' Grass, all the raggin' on this blog would cease. Wouldn't that be great? YES it would!


UPDATE 12.8.11

Please view the video on the last post projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com

If you support this crusade, please email San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson - tanyap@sfzoo.org

Thank you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

San Francisco Zoo Hosting an Enrichment Lecture - That's Rich!

note to zoo, its green but its not grass!
(yes i can read wishy's mind :)

The San Francisco Zoo hosting a Lecture on Animal Enrichment is to me a curious thing. Don't get me wrong, the Keeper's do all they can within the guidelines dictated to them by Zoo Management. There is always more that can be done, but their hands are often tied.

The topic of Enrichment is very close to me, as I became involved in making Enrichment toys for the Big Cats and on occasion the Bears. My involvement started out of my love of seeing the Animals having fun. My favorite Zoo visits have always been the Halloween events when the Animals would get Pumpkins and other Halloween themed toys. Also there was a time, when Members Mornings were actual events (and not just letting Members in an hour earlier), when one species was highlighted and their Birthdays were celebrated. Those fun times (and Birthday celebrations) ceased when they fired the gal who was in charge of the fun.

Once I started visiting more often, and learning about the Animals more, including Enrichment, I asked if I could make some items for the Lions upcoming Birthday. From then on for most of 2010 my friend Lee and I made toys every Saturday. It brought priceless joy to us, the Keepers, the Visitors and most important, the Animals. The Cats had a great regular Enrichment that their Keeper considered necessary. That ceased when the Carnivore Curator decided the Animals "Didn't need that kind of Enrichment" and was "Not interested in celebrating Birthdays". These are quotes she point blank told me.

I could go on about this and will in another blog post I've been working on. The point of this post is to note, that there are many different kinds of Enrichment. You can learn alot about it online and thru video's on youtube. What I've learned is its anything that brings a change and/ or challenge to a captive animals daily routine. It can range from something that stimulates their natural instincts to something fun to an environment change. The later encompasses the whole goal of this blog.

The Big Cat Keeper rotates the Cats between four outside yards. It gives them environment Enrichment. They get a change of scenery, they get to sniff out the other Cats scents, ect. She does this at least twice a day if not more often.

I have long had a problem with the Bear situation, which I've detailed in other posts. So, I won't repeat myself. I will just make this one statement.

GIVING WISHBONE GRASS WOULD BE THE ULTIMATE ENRICHMENT!!!



from the sfzoo website:

Lecture: Animal Enrichment Today!

15-Nov-2011 - 15-Nov-2011

Please join us for a Free Lecture on:

Animal Enrichment Today!

with Dr. David Shepherdson,
Deputy Conservation Manager
and Conservation Scientist at the Oregon Zoo

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011
Presentation: 3:00 P.M.
Osher Great Hall of the Lurie Education Center
San Francisco Zoo

Please join us as Dr. David Shepherdson, a widely published expert on animal behavior and Deputy Conservation Division Manager and Conservation Scientist at the Oregon Zoo, discusses animal enrichment. Dr. Shepherdson is a founding member of the AZA's Animal Welfare Committee, a board member of “Shape of Enrichment”, and member of the International Conference on Environmental Enrichment (ICEE) conference committee. He also co-authored the definitive text on the subject, Second Nature: Environmental Enrichment for Zoo Animals, used by zoos worldwide. Come hear his fascinating experiences pioneering the animal enrichment field!


UPDATE 12.8.11

Please view the video on the last post projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com

If you support this crusade, please email San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson - tanyap@sfzoo.org

Thank you!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Happy Birthday Wishy!


Today marks Wishbone's 25th Birthday!

and 23rd year at the San Francisco Zoo.

For the most part AND the past three years exclusively, Wishbone has lived in a home that only has a cement surface.

One of his previous Keepers tried to get he and his passed companion Annie access to the Grizzly Gulch for some fun time on grass. The Zoo Management Staff was not helpful in making that happen.

Why can't grass be added to Wishbone's home? While Ulu seems to be the favorite for getting access to the Meadow between she and Pike's Grotto's, then why can't Pike have day access to the Grizzly Grotto (which has grass) while the Grizzly's are in the Gulch all day? WHY?

I have recently re-read my San Francisco Zoo History book, put out by Arcadia Press a couple years ago. In it there are photos of a few of the Bear Grotto's taken in what looks to be the 1940s. They look exactly the same as the Andean Bear (Wishbone) and the two Polar Bear Grotto's. 70 years!!! and not one upgrade to landscaping these Grotto's to bring a natural setting to these Bears lives has been made.

It 2011 San Francisco Zoo, wake-up and start respecting the Animals that live there BEFORE building new areas and bringing in more.

Disgusting. Disrespectful. Outrageous. Abusive.

I ask the San Francisco Zoo, how much longer will this go on?

UPDATE 12.8.11

Please view the video on the last post projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com

If you support this crusade, please email San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson - tanyap@sfzoo.org

Thank you!


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Zoo Docents Raising Money, but not for Grass! FAIL!


"i found a piece of grass in my moat that i can fit all four feets on!"

IF YOU'VE ALREADY READ THIS POST
PLEASE VIEW 10.29.11 UPDATE
(at the end of main post)


From the October Issue of the San Francisco Zoo Animail:

Calendar For Sale for a Good Cause!

A dedicated group of docents and photographers have lovingly put together a beautiful 2012 calendar featuring some of our favorite Zoo residents. Calendar sales will raise money for our campaign to expand the Americas region of the Zoo, including bringing in wolves. The price is $12 for Zoo Members and $15 for non-Members. Treat yourself and those you care about to this gift that keeps on giving!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

From May 2009 to January 2011, I had a welcomed and open email correspondence with the Zoo Director Tanya Peterson. During which time I submitted many ideas, suggestions, comments and observations. One idea to both establish endearing Visitors to the Animals as individuals and raise some funds, I suggested a Calendar. Note that I was thanked for all my ideas and suggestions, even though they weren't used at the time. I have slowly seen some come to fruition, like this one.

Don't get me wrong, I am glad to see my ideas being used, at any time, as well that there are any new ideas being put into production. The Animals need funds to help enrich their lives, which is what is stated at the new donate by cell phone signs posted at some exhibits. I hope that is what the money raised is being used for. So, please do take advantage in any monetary way you can help, whether by donating by cell, buying a calendar, or any other way.

The purpose of this post is to show that in my opinion, not all monies being raised are for the right reason. When I say "right" you may think, why is what I think right, right. I can only give my point of view, from where I stand as a Visitor, person who cares about the Animals who live at the Zoo, Animals in general, and someone who can not just stand by and watch when something just doesn't seem right.

If you have followed this blog, you know what the crusade is about. You also know that one of my biggest irks shall we say is the fact that the Zoo has a Master Plan that includes a whole new North American Region. An area that they have fundraised for and continue to with major Donors.

Now, with the proceeds from this Calendar benefiting this new region as well, I am deeply offended not only as a regular Visitor, but for the Animals who live there. The San Francisco Zoo Management and Docents should be ashamed at the way funds they raise are used. Making new exhibits, while ones that are over 80 years old, house Animals that have lived there their whole lives, some like Wishbone over 20 years, is a disgrace. Its disrespectful, and soulless.

As I've stated I completely understand not having funds to renovate, but to not even think to update is disgusting. I wouldn't support a renovation, as it would mean displacing these Animals, but updating needs to be a part of the Master Plan, not building new areas that these Animals aren't even a part of. The only new Animals that should be brought into the Zoo are rescues that would otherwise be euthanized.

San Francisco Zoo, help the Animals you already have live the best life they can in captivity.

Wishbone desperately needs grass in his home. He doesn't have access to any grass, or sand, or any soft surface. This is outrageous.

Pike (Polar Bear) could use grass as well, or daily access to the Grizzly Grotto while the Grizzlies are in the Gulch. Currently she is supposedly sharing access to the meadow that is in between her and Ulu's Grotto, but I don't see that happen regularly, and in that I mean several times a day. So, both she and Ulu could use grass added to their Grotto's as well.

Seriously, all the Bear Grotto's should look like the Grizzly Grotto, with grass. These are the oldest looking and most negatively targeted enclosures. Why not add some landscaping to the three existing concrete only Grottos and make them more natural? WHY? Can't hear you SFZOO, please let the public know why?

UPDATE: 10.29.11, I tweeted this post out to the Zoo (@sfzoo) several weeks ago now and still I have heard no rumblings of any plan to add grass to Wishbone's home. BUT I was approached my a Docent I know who proudly told me of the Docents Calendar sale (which had a booth on site during yesterdays Boo at the Zoo event) to raise money for the Wolf exhibit. I said, "We don't have Wolves. Why don't you raise money for Animals we do have to get some upgrades."

AGAIN I ask,

WHY San Francisco Zoo, does this Bear continue to live exclusively on concrete?

WHY are you using funds to build exhibits to bring in new Animals when you haven't done justice to upgrading for the ones who already live there?

WHY WHY WHY???

UPDATE 12.8.11

Please view the video on the last post projectgetwishbonegrass.blogspot.com

If you support this crusade, please email San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson - tanyap@sfzoo.org

Thank you!