With the airing of this News piece tonight, this will mark the most exposure I've had, being a Voice for the Animals.
My first blog was about My Zoo Friends, gooberssfzoofriends.blogspot.com This blog grew out of my love for the Zoo and the Animals who lived there. This was 2009, in the wake of the Tiger Event, and I was just starting to learn everything about the Animals as individuals. I defended the Zoo at every turn in the Tiger Event, and started the blog in an effort to dispel some of the darkness over the Zoo after that. I felt if people were endeared to the Zoo Friends as I was, the Zoo would thrive to its potential.
My history with the Zoo Management since then has been Good, Bizarre and Disturbing. I'm writing about this tonight, as yesterday one of my longest friends, who happens to be a journalist, called me and said, "Be prepared, that Tanya will try to discredit you." I replied that I had thought of that of course, considering past instances, but that I didn't think that was possible in this situation. As with all the things I write about, I'm taking from personal experience. Its all what I see and hear myself. I don't make this stuff up. I always provide photos, links, whatever to make it a well rounded post. I don't just bang out words of anger (at least not without the other stuff included too ;). I do write from a place of emotion, but I try to present the information in a controlled way. In the case of this issue, this is the one time that I have used third party information, but I was told that this information was not a secret. This is a very upsetting issue and it was time sensitive. So I posted what I was told, noting it as alleged, what I knew to be true to support that, as well as information from my own investigation.
Today I went to the Zoo. Several of the Staffers (from different departments) that I talk to regularly, even on a friendly basis, were noticeably short in conversation. This leads me to believe that once again a gag order about talking to me has been reiterated. This made me think about my friends word, "discredit".
So, because of my past with them, I thought I would write a short, Who am I to the Zoo, in the event that my name does get tossed about, since many of you may not know me.
As I said, in 2008 (after a lifetime of visiting the Zoo) I started learning more about the Animals and posting to a blog the following year. For a short time in 2009 I worked for an outsourced company at the Zoo, which allowed me to spend even more time there getting to know the Animals and Staff. It was during that time that I struck up a welcomed (by her) email correspondence with Director Peterson, submitting ideas and suggestions about the Zoo based on my observations. For ten months of 2010, myself and a friend who was a Zoo Docent, had the awesome opportunity to make Enrichment Toys for the Cats and on occasion Bears. thebigcatnip.blogspot.com We were asked several times to become official Zoo Volunteers and to teach others how to do what we were doing. We declined each time, as we were doing it for the Animals and being that involved as we had come to learn would be too wrapped up in politics. By the Fall of 2010, Zoo politics and school-yard games, indeed kicked in and made it harder and harder for us to continue providing fun for the Animals. After several tries at making it work, we bowed out. Continuing to Celebrate the Animals, we turned out craftiness to making party hats to wear on the Zoo Friends Birthdays. On a busy Saturday in Feb 2011, while wearing party hats for Jahari the Lion's Birthday, we went from the Lion House to Bears. As usual, no Security Guard in sight. So we both made a call (for different issues, one being someone over the barrier at Bears) using the number posted on the grounds to report. The Zoo's continued faulty protocol for taking ER calls, allowed for the Staff to not take any of the four caller's info, leaving them with only our contact info (because we were so well known there). After being thanked by much of the Staff for always being extra eyes and ears on the grounds, a week later we had our Memberships revoked (the only time in Zoo history!), after Director Peterson slandered us by saying, we made "a false alarm code red call". I later found out that the following week, the Zoo would be having their AZA accreditation review for safety and if they didn't have a reason for this Code Red, they may not have gotten their accreditation. After that, I stopped questioning within the walls and started to blog about issues instead. I felt there were too many things that weren't right and that I should document them.
I review all this now, because today at times had a bit of the same feeling as it did at that time in 2011. Staffers turned on us, like we were public enemy number one. My character was questioned, all based on an untruth. There are still some who think I'm there to ruin the Zoo, or that I make stuff up. Then there are those who know me well and know I love the Animals and I am vocal about things for one reason and that's The Animals.