Monday, August 31, 2015

Joint Zoo Meeting - 7.23.15 - Primate Expansion, Chimpanzees Shafted!

This meeting was the first opportunity I would have to ask about a Chimp Update. As noted in a previous post, Director Peterson would no longer entertain my correspondence and suggested I, "bring it up at the Meeting."  Unfortunately, Director Peterson was not there, but I was prepared to bring it up anyway.

Deputy Director Joe Fitting, did a presentation called Primate Update.  This presentation focused specifically on the plans for the Sifaka Lemur, Chimpanzee and I'm pretty sure he mentioned Orangutans.  Note, we do not have Sifaka Lemurs or Orangutans in the current Animal Collection. He went through the layout of the exhibit using a photo that I think was a repeat of this one I've posted before.  

At the end of this presentation, I asked What the Timeline for the Chimp Upgrade is.  He answered that he thought it would be Spring of 2016.  I was about to question further, but then VP of Animal Care, David Bocian interjected and said that the projected completion for the Sifaka's was Spring and the Chimps, Fall 2016.  

I was pretty livid at this answer, but didn't go further in the Meeting time.  After the Meeting I approached Bocian to question further.  The next text I add will be a share of what our conversation covered.  I apologize for not formatting it in a dialog, but I don't have time for that.

I asked him Why the Chimps were being done after an Animal we don't even currently have?  He said that a Donor came forward with funds for the Sifakas.  I said, but the Chimps are in need, and without doing the upgrade to bring in more, they are still vulnerable to being moved, if we lost one.  He said, that they are all healthy.  I said, that's great, but my concern is still, if something were to happen and we got down to two, and no place to house additions, they could still be sent away.  He said, that the Zoo was committed to keeping them, and that it was "something" that they were even staying.  I reiterated that the Chimps should be the priority.  He said that when a Donor comes forward, you don't say no. I said, you don't have to say no, but you could say, thank you and when we finish for the in need Animals that already live there,  we will look at building for new Animals.  He again repeated, that is was something that they were even staying.  

I then questioned him about the suggestions for the state of the current enclosure that I had sent to Director Peterson, who said she forwarded them to the Curators.  He didn't seem to know what I was referring to, so I went over two things I felt were most important.  The addition of a tree lined barrier, to filter direct eye contact from the Chimps viewpoint and a foraging mound.  He didn't think a tree lined barrier was necessary, and denied that Cobby is upset by Visitors.  I described many instances, and supported this idea by quoting the AZA habitat guidelines.  Mr Bocian's opinion was that I didn't know the difference between Male displaying and being upset.  I assured him that I indeed knew the difference, as one example is when Zoo Shitheads are heckling him and another is when he see's the Keeper coming.  He then noted that Visitors complained once (seriously how many years a go was this?) that the tree's were in the way of viewing the Chimps.  I noted that I don't believe that to be true, as the Chimps are rarely on the ground which would be the only part of the enclosure that would not be directly visible, but yet not completely shielded.  I used the potted bamboo plants at the Snow Leopards as an example.  I then challenged him to bring down some of the many potted plants in holding and give it a try.  Moving on I asked why they still use that old metal twigging box, when several foraging mounds have been fabricated for other areas.  Why can't they have one?  Didn't really get an answer on this.  

Those suggestions and others were noted in a previous blog post, if interested in further details.

I very much appreciate that he took the time to talk with me about these issues and some other things, but there were a couple things that irked me.  I don't think I've ever directly spoken to him, but in light of the News story on the Chimps, I'm pretty sure he knows who I am.  So it was a bit odd that a few minutes into the conversation he asked me who I was.  The thing I had to bite my tongue on was when he twice said, that is was something that the Chimps were even staying.  I'm sorry, I don't in anyway mean to sound pompous, but I literally felt like saying, No thanks to you or anyone else on the Animal Staff.  I don't need accolades, but those Chimps would be gone, and possibly dead if I didn't launch a Crusade to save them.  Not one person on the Zoo's Staff who knew about this, especially at Animal Management level, that is he and Primate Curator Corinne MacDonald, did anything to help them.  I was their sole savior. Yea, there will be nay-sayers, but a fact is a fact.  My Crusade and the public outcry it generated with the help of the KGO I-Team, are why those Chimps did not have to leave their home. I know from my Media adventure in that effort, that there is an open Anonymous communication between Staff and Media.  At any point, anyone who knew about this could have contacted Media anonymously and done exactly what I did for them.  And the fact that I just happened to get wind of the situation, and it was late in Director Peterson's game to kick them out, they should be ashamed of themselves for not doing a damn thing.  Sorry, but I'm not going to sugar coat the fact of it.

Two other topics covered at the Meeting that I want to comment on.  

Fitting was all a glee about the high attendance for Zoo Camp this Summer.  Why is a Zoo representative more excited about Zoo Campers than the Animals?  I'm sorry but I understand the need for all these other things to bring in money to the Zoo, but not at a higher priority than the Animals.  

Fitting also brought up the Terrace Cafe renovation into a Pizza Place.  I questioned how much this renovation would cost and was told $30k.  Before I could ask, I was told that the Zoo was not paying for it, that the Concession Co. was.  I don't know if this is true, as I did ask several Employees in Concessions about this and was told, they were sharing the cost with the Zoo.  Regardless, I don't think this is a priority.

So, there you have it.  Chimps will not see a Upgrade until Fall 2016 at the earliest.  Nineteen months after Director Peterson made promises to them.  Were those actual promises or just smooth talk to calm public outcry?

If anything you read moves you,
Please contact the SFZoo Director
Tanya Peterson

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