Sunday, February 26, 2017

Chimp Update - Series Part Three of Three



I was told, the Chimp work would start the day after the Flamingos were done.  I was anxious to see, and I was completely surprised, as that is exactly what's happened!  Work on the interior of the Pachyderm Building started February 15th!

A couple months ago I heard a few ideas about what was going to happen, but a few days before construction started, I got details as to what exactly was going to happen in this first phase of the project.  I was So Happy! for Our Chimp Friends, I cried after hearing the plans.  I'm just so happy that they are here and they will get this new experience, because I was able to be their voice and didn't give up on them.

I made a video on the spot, that will walk you through what the plan is.  

In the video you will hear me say, "a few years" in reference to how long it would be for the current phase of the Project.  I may have been confused with that timeline.  I had just gotten this clarity of the plan, and I decided to make this video on the spot.  I was working out the timing, as I was narrating, considering past timelines for Sifakas, as well the previously predicted start of Chimps, and how those estimations were pushed farther out. So, I really have no idea how long it will actually take, but in hindsight, I'd think the estimation for the whole project, both Pachyderm inside/outside and Triple Grotto renovation, shouldn't take more than three years.  That is providing the Zoo does not (and should not!) acquire any new Animals that will require new Exhibits.  If they do continue that trend after finally getting to the Chimps Needs, then there is something seriously wrong with their compassion for these long-time Residents.  There will be no excuse.  The only excuse I would find acceptable would be for a simultaneous build of the much needed new Komodo Dragon Exhibit that was promised to him within two years of his arrival, which was over three years ago and/or a Rescue that had no other option than being Euthanized. 

So, as I understand it, this is a Three, possibly Four Phase Project.  
First, Pachyderm inside remodel.  Visitor Viewing and Indoor Playroom.  Multiple Room Housing.
Second, Sky Trail from Pachyderm into North Grotto exhisting Housing..  
Third, Pachyderm outside (pending).  Possible outdoor area, along west side of Pachyderm.
Fourth, Triple Grotto Renovation.  


Sky Trail envision.
Pachyderm Bldg to North Grotto Housing.
(behind tree ;)

I'm no artist in drawing, 
but I thought I'd do an ariel view of how 
I imagine it will be from the info I got.

So there it is folks, FINALLY!  After exactly two years today, something is happening that will ensure these Precious Babies will be able to live out their lives in the only home they have ever known.  They will have new Friends, and new Environments.  So much to Enrich their lives!  I can't wait!  ... Tearing again!

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I tried to post links to all three parts of this Update Series, but for some reason they didn't work. They were posted in succession, if you are new to the story, please check them out.  Thank you for your interest. 

Chimp Updates - Series Part Two of Three



So, what has taken so long?  What's been going on at the Zoo in the past two years?  I'll tell you.  A whole lot of nothing, ... for the Chimps.

I realize that there has been no update for over a year.  The reason for that, other than the energy it takes to write about every issue point, is that there really hasn't been anything to report as far as Our Chimp Friends getting what's been promised to them. ... Till now :)

For the sake of keeping in somewhat Chronilogical order, since I'm a bit obsessive about it, I'm going to post the link to the Timeline I wrote in July 2015.  I just found in my notes additions to it that I hadn't added. So if you've already read it, you may want to read the new entries, starting in July 2015.


So yeah, here we go.  So let's recap.  At the February Joint Zoo Meeting, after the airing of the News Story and public outcry, Zoo Director Tanya Peterson committs to keeping the Chimps. She showed a photo of an exhibit that would cost $10 Million and no money for it.  She noted adding Sky Trails to Pachyderm Building as a start to creating more space, which would be needed to bring in more Chimps, which as we know is key to the situation. She admitted (as I had been posting about) that this was a time sensitive situation, in regard to our group size being a factor point.  She further noted they would be launching the biggest fundraising effort they've ever done (for her 10 mil dream of grandeur). ... Shortly after this Meeting the Zoo set-up a Donation page to Help the Chimps.  This page was only promoted by the Zoo once, and side mentioned a second time. From what I've learned, allegedly no other great efforts towards the Chimps Needs was taken, even though there has since been two ZooFest fundraisers. ... Director Peterson came into the March Meeting with words of encouragement and diagrams of plans.  Yet when I questioned her on a timeline, there wasn't one, and when asking if our group number reduced, were the remaining two secure, her response was first no, they could be sent away, or yes, they could rescue additional Chimps.  The later would mean they would possibly lose AZA accreditation. ... Over the next couple months, I read 250k had been marked for upgrades to current Grottos, yet nothing much changed.  One old structure got repainted, one got repaired.  Both not an upgrade, but over due maintance. ... By the July Meeting, there still was no further mention of the Chimps. I asked at the Meeting what the timeline was for the Pachyderm/Sky Trail expansion and was told it would be done in Fall of 2016.  ... Upset and Frustrated with that timeline, I questioned Director Peterson at the August Meeting as to why the Chimps were on hold while building for new Animals when they are current Residents in need.  She had no valid answers.  

Ever since she said if our numbers reduce the remaining two could be sent away, I have not felt secure in their place, being able to live out their lives here.  Knowing that she was trying to kick them out basically in the dark of the night, in favor of allegedly bringing in Orangutans, I wasn't convinced she wasn't "waiting them out".  I hate to think that, but let's look at the above facts, together with her descison to bring in new Animals and build them new Exhibits, before starting anything for the Chimps.

By October 2015, with still nothing different for the Chimps, I wrote a detailed letter to the AZA, as the Zoo was up for an Accreditation inspection.  It was not as an intention to prevent them being accredited, but to alert to certain things that go on there, as well as call attention the needs of the Chimps, as well as the poor Komodo Dragon.  I will write a post soon about him.  It will be posted to my other blog, please look for it there.  ... My letter included noting that their home has chipping paint and hasn't been painted in over a decade if not two, their lack of Enrichment, and links to four videos I made that included suggestions to expand/improve the Chimps Environment.  Doable solutions to the situation.  That being, the need for the Chimps home at the Zoo to be secure, need to add more Chimps, lack of large funding.  In my opinion, grandeur is uneccessary at this point.  The Sky Trail/Pachyderm Expansion and my other ideas, including painting their home, would be sufficient to give them what they need.  Sure more would be wonderful, but my main concern has always been securing their future and bringing more Enrichment to their life.

Here are the links to the videos I made:
San Francisco Zoo Chimp Expansion - Sky Trails to Pachyderm Building
San Francisco Zoo Chimp Triple Grotto - View and Idea
Idea for Expanding San Francisco Zoo Chimpanzee Home 
Fabricated Structures at San Francisco Zoo - Chimp Content 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGp3aoGxy2U

Between Fall of 2015 and Summer 2016, I continually asked most of the people I know, in various departments, about the Chimp plans.  Every said, "It's happening", but no one knew what or when. And there were allegedly no work orders for the Chimps yet.  Very upsetting as time ticked on.

Someone asked me, what happened to all the money that they got for the Chimps and why it was taking so long for them to get what they needed.  I said, I don't know.   Its been two years since the News story and the launch of their Help the Chimps donation page on their website.  There has been no updates coming out of the Zoo.  They have not even provided an update to those who donated to the Chimps via their website.  In my opinion they have an obligatation to keep people in the loop.and I find it really irresponsible to the donors not providing updates and I find it irresponsible to the Chimps for not taking care of their needs in a more timely manner. 

In June, the new Exhibit for Mexican Grey Wolves opened.  In August, the new Exhibit for Sifaka Lemurs opened.  Don't get me wrong, I love these Animals and feel lucky to be able to experience them and any new Animal.  That said, I do think there are ways to prioritize that our Director and Management team do not consider.  I think considering the Chimps have lived at the Zoo almost fifty years and have been waiting thirty for a new home, are the longest and oldest Residents at the Zoo, that should count for some position of priority.  One they have shamefully, never recieved.  When I questioned this, I was told that a donor came forward with money specifically for Sifaka's.  Basically they took the money and said Yes, and made it happen pronto.  Me, I would have said, Thank you, we would love to have Sifaka's but we have a current situation that needs immediate attention, after that, we will plan to add Sikafa to the collection.  Same with acquiring Wolves.  I don't know for a fact, but I can only guess their fast tracking of them was to use the Exhibit area that was left vacant after Polar Bear Pike passed away.

Last Fall, 2016, a crew started working in the side path entrance to the Pachyderm Building, the site where the new Chimp Rooms are going to be built.  Finally it looked like something was happening. At the same time, barriers were being renovated at Flamingos.  The side path re-opened and the Pachyderm Building doors were closed, and crews gone.  It wasn't until the week the Flamingos were to be done, that I would get any further information about the Chimps.

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I tried to post links to all three parts of this Update Series, but for some reason they didn't work. They were posted in succession, if you are new to the story, please check them out.  Thank you for your interest. 


Friday, February 24, 2017

Chimp Updates - Series Part One of Three



Today marks two years since the News story on our Chimpanzees aired.  If you aren't familiar with what led up to this, my first in the series of update posts will synopsis it and include some links.

The San Francisco Zoo is my hometown Zoo.  I grew up going to the Zoo.  In early 2008, my handful of visits a month, turned into a handful of visits a week.  I made aquaintance with Staff and through that and my own extensive online research, I learned as much as I could about the Animals as individuls as I could.  I started my first blog to share what I was learning.  I became further endeared, I became involved in Enrichment, I became a champion for them.  If I saw something questionable, I asked about it.  I had an open dialog with many there.  That changed in 2011 and at that point I started documenting those questionable points in another blog.  

I was behind in updating my blog, and had several posts about the Chimps in the works.  They had been slighted by the Zoo for decades.  Their home was in desperate need of a make-over.  They sat in the same structures for almost thirty years.  Paint chipping on those structures and their night quarter building.  They had little Enrichment.  They were the longest living Residents of the Zoo and basically got nothing.  My heart broke for them everytime I saw them.  I grew up with these babies and they are special to me.  

In the later part of 2014, I was contacted by Filmmakers from Australia who grew up watching our Cobby Chimpanzee's television show.  After extensive talks, they decided to make a Documentry about his life and planned a trip to visit Cobby.   I didn't want to call attention to the Chimps in anyway, until after their visit, so I held off posting about their situtation.

By the New Year 2015,  after I published my posts, I got wind that the San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson was kicking the Chimps out, allegedly in favor of hoping to bring in Orangutans.  I was outraged and sickend that these babies who had lived at the Zoo their whole lives, nearing fifty years!, would be darted, crated and wake up in surroundings they were unfamiliar with.  They shouldn't have to, they gave the Zoo their Life, the Zoo needed to give them what they deserved.   

One Staffer asked me point blank, What are you going to do about it?  I said, "Everything I can, because these babies are not leaving on my watch!"  If it turned out they did, it would have not been without the loudest Roar I could make.  I'm crying thinking back to that moment and what it would have meant if they had to leave the only home they ever knew.   I felt they would not survive a change and journey like this.  One Staffer later thanked me, "You saved their Lives."

What I did:  

I posted all information to my blog   http://savesfzoochimps.blogspot.com/
In addition to their prior situation, as I saw it from the prespective of a caring visitor, I learned that a factor in their current Chimpanzee social groups consist of varying ages, to maintain soical diversity and longevity.  In 2013, we lost our beloved Tallulah, leaving the group at three. With them all being seniors, would present a senario that have seen the group reducing to a single Chimpanzee and that would not have happened as they would have been removed at two, but the thought of a social Animal like Chimpanzees reduced to that, is heartbreaking.  Was this their fault?  Should they be punished for the governing managements of The San Francisco Zoological Society, San Francisco Recreation and Parks, and the City of San Francisco failing to give them them what they needed?  Hell No!

I petitioned, I tweeted, I flickr'd, I youtubed, I reached out to media.

One of my contacts, had a contact at KGO (SF local ABC affliliate)  and they were interested in the story.  I gave them all the information I had, and people to contact for interviews.  I was interviewed for the piece as well.  

The exposure of the News Story was invaluable to Saving Our Chimps.  I am the only Member of the Public that is a Voice for the San Francisco Zoo Animals.  I am a pretty loud voice, but the Chimps and I, needed this outreach to create public pressure.  

If you haven't, please review the post list and read what interests you for more information.  I put alot of energy and time into my blog posts and really worked hard on this crusade.This was just a short synopsis for those who are reading this for the first time.  If you only have time to read one post, the Timeline I did was praised by some as being concise.
http://savesfzoochimps.blogspot.com/2015/07/san-francisco-zoo-chimpanzee-timeline.html

The plight of Our Chimps at the Zoo illustrates a trend that continues there.  The San Francisco Zoo continues to have a habit of slighting current Residents in need, for bringing in new and shiny pets, before taking care at home.  Thankfully, I was able to be the foundation for Our Chimps finally getting what they deserve, a future with the Security of living out their lives in the only place they know as home, and that home bringing them, new Enrichments, new Environments, and new Friends.

Thank You for your interest in Our San Francisco Zoo Chimpanzees. 

Stay tuned for more update information over the next few days!  You won't want to miss it, I guarantee!

Links to both the News Stories.

February 24, 2015 - Original Story

February 26, 2015 - Chimps Saved! 
http://abc7news.com/news/i-team-officials-say-chimps-will-stay-at-san-francisco-zoo/536427/


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I tried to post links to all three parts of this Update Series, but for some reason they didn't work. They were posted in succession, if you are new to the story, please check them out.  Thank you for your interest. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Another Habitat Expansion Idea! - Video View

At the February Meeting where Director Peterson proclaimed her Commitment to allow Maggie, Minnie and Cobby our three Senior Chimpanzees, live out their lives at the San Francisco Zoo, the only home they have ever known, she boasted about all the things that were in sight for them. *Upgrades to the Current Triple Grotto.  Something they have waited 30 years for. Nothing has happened to date.  *Expansion to the Pachyderm Building.  This would allow for additional Chimps to increase their Group size, something necessary to ensure they have a secure future here.  This project has been back-burnered in favor of a New Exhibit for New Animals that don't even live at the SFZoo. *Fundraising for a 10 Million dollar Chimp Forest.  I have heard nothing except the one mention effort on their Facebook Page.  

Let's face it, there are two obstacles in the Chimps situation.  First, Director Peterson.  Is she really committed to doing anything for the Chimps?  Their home still having peeling paint on it, indicates they are still low priority.  Is she doing everything she can to raise funds for their Need?  Does she even care?  Did she only bow to Public Pressure when she committed to letting the Chimps stay?  Or is she waiting for the opportunity to still Kick them Out?  These are valid questions as she moves forward with building the New Exhibit for the Sifaka Lemurs, while the Chimps sit by and watch.  

The other obstacle, is the reality that there isn't funds for even smaller scale projects, Allegedly some of the recent additions haven't even been fully funded, even though there has been go ahead and completion.  So, where does that leave the Chimps?  There was the Million Dollar donation to complete the first phase of the Expansion from the North Grotto to the Pachyderm building.  When, Where, Who, How, will funding for the rest of the plan happen?  

My post from the other day detailing the plan including a photo:

The reality is, while having grand plans for state of the art Exhibits like this Primate Expansion and the proposed Chimp Forest is a wonderful thought, it is a dream of grandeur.  We have an old Zoo and no Money.  And in the Chimps case, they are not in the position to continue waiting for these dreams to come true.

A couple weeks ago I was thinking about the unused space and how it could be put to use.  Then with the intention of making a video about the area that runs along the north side of the path that leads from Chimps to Wolverines, I had an idea that in theory seems doable, but again, this is from a Visitor point of view, there may be reasons it would work, but there might be reasons it would.  

Here's the video I did make:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0zY6U8973w

With this idea, I've shown the use of what we already have.  There is an indoor and outdoor area that could be connected via a Sky Trail from the North Grotto (maybe even an off shoot of the one going to the additional Night Quarters in the in plan plan).  Here's another one of my fancy drawings :)


I changed a bit of my vision from the video narration but still basically the same :)  The glassed in barrier that would run along the path, could be lined with trees or bamboo planking from either side (I think inside), to create a very dense visual barrier from Visitors.  The area near the door to the building could be a glassed in area framed with fabricated trees, much like the Anaconda exhibit, where Visitors could view the outdoor area.  Likewise framed viewing at the west-end of the indoor area.  There could even be a chain linked fence that runs the length of the indoor area from east to west, creating an area that Keepers could go into to provide treats and show training.  Of course removing the windows to create indoor/outdoor access for them.

Seems like a cost effective and functional idea to further expand the Chimps Habitat.

I say that the Donors who have given to this other Dream of Grandeur for the proposed Americas region, which would Build New Exhibits for New Animals,  should step up and actually give to Animals currently living at the Zoo that are in Need.


If anything you read moves you,
Please contact the SFZoo Director
Tanya Peterson
tanyap@sfzoo.org

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Comments and Replies
May Contain Important
Additional Information.

Triple Grotto Upgrade Suggestions and Idea

I'll start by saying, of course thoughts are based on a Visitor point of view.  There may be reasons this wouldn't work, but you never know so I'm tossing it out there.  Just like I did with the Bear Grotto Expansion idea and they did pretty much what I suggested.  And hey, they pay outside consultants, so they are getting me for free!

If you're interested and missed this one:

The basic thought for this is, there is too much unused space.  There should be a way to fill it in and still contain them.



So, I have always thought that the Chimps could use a larger surface area.  They way the Triple Grotto is set-up, there is too much wasted space with the Moat.  All they have is what looks to be about five feet of surface grass around each climbing structure.  All they can do is come out, walk around the perimeter of the island, forage for whatever food might have been tossed there, and then go up and sit.  Sit for the rest of the day.  Likewise when the South Grotto had a climbing structure.   I heard there was some damage to it and it was taken down several years ago and that Grotto was closed off to them for awhile.  When it reopened, a huge log was placed in there.  I've seen them sit on the log, but not sure how attached they are to it.  That Grotto isn't accessible, but from every perspective I have, it seems the log is in the middle of the island, so again, they don't have much surface space.

Here's a video of an overview of the whole area:

For years I have thought a great idea would be to fill in the moats and connect all the Grotto's to create a huge surface area for them.  Taking construction disturbances into consideration, I think just connecting the Middle and South Grotto might be a better idea.  ... The distance from the island to the edge looks to be about 8-10 feet.  So, by doing this, that would give them an extra 30+ feet surface area across at the least and extend the distance from the Grotto's out by Eight feet. Eight on one side, 16 between the two and another Eight on the other side.  I'm not an artist by any means, but I did this little piece that might help (or it might not!).


So, in my mind, the Middle and South Grotto could be enclosed (shown with the Orange outline), using a glass barrier?  So they have the same visual as they are used to.  They would also still have open air as they are used to, when they are on structures.  The Yellow area is the Moat that can be filled in and landscaped over (the Light Green overlay).  

This idea would also fix the Barrier Issue that has been a problem at the Middle Grotto.  As you can see below, the only barrier that extends past the metal barrier around the Moat, is that flex fencing behind the signage (which wasn't even there a couple years ago when I witnessed kids beyond the fence).  That fencing ends and does not connect to anything that would prevent a Breach.


I wrote a blog post about it two years ago.  It also contains other Barrier stuff, but there's some good details and photos pertaining to the way the Barrier is set-up and how Breachable it is.


Only thing I would add about a new barrier, is that the metal barrier around the Middle Grotto, especially in that area at the back of the Cafe and connecting to the North Grotto should remain in place.  Not only for Safety Reasons, but the Peahens nest in that area and a place they are comfortable should not be disturbed.

The South Grotto is not accessible to Visitors, and I'm leaning toward thinking that's not a bad idea, so the Chimps have an outdoor area where they aren't "on exhibit".  I have another idea for viewing from a distance, that would involve some tree trimming and possibly adding a Viewing Scope, from the Stairway to the upper part of the Primate Center.

When envisioning the enlarged surface area that extends from the base of the Middle Grotto structure to the end of the South Grotto, I see a habitat that mimics nature.  Fabricated Trees and a Termite Mound. ... I did some research on my idea and found this photo of the Houston Zoo Chimp exhibit, which is similar to our Gorilla exhibit.  Looking down at them is not a good thing, but I'm looking at the Fabricated Trees and that one big one is exactly what I'm thinking about.  Its pretty awesome, many branches to climb and sit and what appears to be scooped out areas.


This video, is of the Fabricated Trees and Termite Mounds at the Zoo.  None are at or have ever been considered for the Chimps.  Why?

Could this idea work as good as it seems?

There is also still the idea I put forth to Director Peterson about having a tree lined barrier to distract direct view from the Chimps perspective to the Visitors, to possibly eliminate some of the visual Visitor disturbances that often upset Cobby.  Visitors could still view the Chimps through staggered trees and when they are on the structure.


If anything you read moves you,
Please contact the SFZoo Director
Tanya Peterson
tanyap@sfzoo.org

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Comments and Replies
May Contain Important
Additional Information.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sky Trail Project - Video View - Project On Hold

Many have asked me about the photos in Director Peterson's presentation regarding the proposed Expansion from the current Chimpanzee Exhibit, Triple Grotto, using a Sky Trail into the west side of the Pachyderm Building.

SFZoo photo showing area in the Pachyderm Building 
to be used as additional housing, 
allowing Zoo to increase the size of our Group.

You can read my post about this here:

http://savesfzoochimps.blogspot.com/2015/04/upgrade-update-joint-zoo-meeting-32615.html

I took this video a few months ago, and never got to posting it.  Now I have a series of them, so I think its actually better timing.


Hope this helps understand what the Zoo plans to do.  

Note that this was presented at the March 2015 Joint Zoo Committee Meeting, one month after Committing to Keeping the Chimpanzees to Live out their Lives in the only home they have ever known.  Committing to Upgrading and Expanding their Current Home to provide them more Environmental Enrichment and to Expand their Group Size Securing their Future at the San Francisco Zoo.  

Further note that five months later, plans to back burner this project in favor of building a New Exhibit, for Sifaka Lemurs, an Animal the Zoo Does Not even Have yet, were revealed at the July Joint Zoo Committee Meeting.

Not one Person on the Joint Zoo Committee Panel questioned this.  One of the responsibilities of The Joint Zoo Committee Panel is to Yay or Nay proposed Acquisitions.  They Never question anything.

Minnie, Maggie and Cobby continue to Wait.  They have Waited Thirty Years.

This shows the level of Priority the Chimps still have in the Minds of San Francisco Zoo Director Tanya Peterson, the San Francisco Zoological Society Board and Members, and the San Francisco Recreation and Park Joint Zoo Committee Members.

I questioned Director Peterson about her decision to back burner the Chimps in favor of the Sifaka Lemurs.  The "conversation" is detailed in this post:

http://savesfzoochimps.blogspot.com/2015/09/joint-zoo-meeting-82715-chimpanzees.html

If anything you read moves you,
Please contact the SFZoo Director
Tanya Peterson
tanyap@sfzoo.org

Please Expand Comments.  
Comments and Replies
May Contain Important
Additional Information.

Joint Zoo Committee, What Are They Good For?

Coming Soon!

I have some ideas for this and several other posts.  Putting them in Coming Soon status, as I need a link done for a correspondence.  Please keep checking back or follow leo811 on Twitter for when they go live.

Thank you!