Saturday, May 28, 2011

NEWS for today - Zoo Management Lets Visitors Abuse the Animals!




Before starting an on going posting thread of issues as they happen, I had a series of topics I wanted to address in this blog that have been outstanding for some time, BUT I witnessed something at the Zoo today that I'm still shaken about.

Evidently (from what I witnessed today) The San Francisco Zoo Management and Security, allow Visitors to Abuse the Animals without any repercussion.

Before I relay the chain of events, please note that if this is your first read of something I've written San Francisco Zoo related, please read the Welcome post on this blog, which will link you to some information about my connection to the Zoo.

When my friend Lee and I arrived at the Zoo today, we stopped at the Chimps as we usually do. Cobby (the male) was the only one out and he was lounging in the sun enjoying himself. We always stop to see the Chimps on the way out as well, and Cobby was still the only one out. There was no sun now, but he was lounging peacefully, with his head tilted up and back to where you could see his eyes.

At first it was only Lee and I, but then a "family" group strolled up and stopped at the center of the enclosure. One of the men came and stood near me, on the side Cobby was. The man, yes a grown man, immediately started making Ape sounds at Cobby. He then heckled back and forth with the other man in his group about whether it was an Orangutan or,... Once that nonsense was over, they both continued with the Ape sounds until Cobby noticed them.

Once Cobby noticed them, the man next to me moved over to the center to join his group. I could see Cobby grab a blue plastic goblet, that is probably an item used as part of a food enrichment. I knew what was going to happen next, because I know Cobby. He can get very upset.

Note that all four Chimps that live at the Zoo in this enclosure together are between 50-60 years old. So, upsetting them is like terrorizing a Senior Citizen.

Cobby then looked my way and then looked to the center. I know he knew I didn't make those noises at him. He zero'd in on the abusers and started vocalizing and swinging his arms from side to side, which is a sign of agitation. His gesturing and vocals increased, to the delight of the abusers, who kept laughing at him and heckling. At this point there was a crowd growing, as Cobby threw the goblet at the abusers! Much like the Tatiana (Tiger) event, these animals know who is the ones abusing them.

After giving Cobby a mental high-five, I was walking away from the area, but there was such a commotion with the crowd which had grown to about 30+ and Cobby screaming, that I stayed to make sure he was ok.

The abusers and the crowd were further delighted by the throw.!? Then the one who was standing next to me who had gotten Cobby upset to the point he retaliated, picked up the goblet and threw it back, at Cobby! I was appalled! I didn't think THAT was going to be the next move or I would have video taped it.

Ever since, the Zoo revoked our Memberships and slandered us, I deleted the reporting number off my phone and I don't say anything about anything that people do there AND I see alot! Lee reported a barrier crossing at Bears and we were both nailed to the stake and branded public enemy number one for following the Zoo's request to report such sightings. We say nothing! BUT once that man threw something at Cobby, I could not, NOT say something!

I told Lee to stay there and take photos of the abusers and situation, in case they left before I could find someone to tell. Note that since the Zoo has ruined our reputation there, we get the stink eye from everyone in Management, Security and other assorted followers, so approaching anyone on their team that is not still a friend (which really only includes a handful of Keepers) is a big deal for me to do. I don't even like looking at these people who have treated us so horrible, but one of my Zoo Animal friends was being abused and I couldn't stand by without saying something.

I stopped the Cafe Manager (Kim I think) and asked her to radio Security to Chimps, someone had upset Cobby and when he threw something out, the abusers further abused by throwing it back at him. She jumped into action and let me say that of the four Staff Members who were eventually involved, she was the only one who seemed to really care about Cobby.

I went back to Chimps and the crowd was even bigger and the abusers were still laughing and heckling! Now, the three Chimp ladies were out screaming too and trying to calm Cobby down. Amazing how a crowd of adults who paid to come into a place where animals live, found such humor in seeing the animals in distress.

When Security Staffer Eddie arrived I told him what happened. I stood there while he just glanced around looking at the crowd. I pointed out the abusers and showed a photo. Still he made no attempt to approach them AND they were all still laughing.

When the abusers started to leave the area and walked by us, I said to Eddie, "Them." He still said nothing to them, until the guy who started the whole scene, turned and looked at me as I was pointing out all the people in his group. He said something to me that indicated a questioning of why I was pointing them out. I said, "You started this whole thing. You got Cobby so upset that he threw something and then you threw it back at him." To which the abuser said, "Well what was I supposed to do?" !!! I replied, "Um, act like an adult and let someone know." He responded that I was "disrespecting him." Disrespecting him? He's an adult who just threw an object at an Animal Resident in its home. I said, "You started it when you were over next to me, making Ape sounds that got him upset. There's a sign right there with a finger to the lips, that means to keep quiet." At that point, knowing how the Zoo twists truths, I said, "I'm not saying anything else to you, Security will talk to you." I then went and stood on the side.

Guest Services Staffer Walker and IT guy Robert, joined Eddie and (Kim). After barely words, the abusers walked off!!! I went up to Eddie and said, "So, they throw something at an animal and they just get to continue on their way?" He said, "I gave them a warning." !!! A warning? Is he kidding me? These abusers should have been thrown out. I asked him further about this, to which he said, "I don't make the rules." SO, once again the San Francisco Zoo FAILS!

I have been privy to other instances where offenders haven't been thrown out AND if they are, the Zoo gives them their money back! Which makes me feel like its sending the message, Hey, come abuse our animals and we'll pay you to do it! Today's message was, "Hey come abuse our animals and then we'll point you in the direction of even more animals for you to abuse." Nice going San Francisco Zoo!

This was sickening. I was sad and horrified! I was so worked up by the episode, I had palpitations, my chest was tight and felt like crying, that Cobby was abused in this way while lounging peacefully in his home. AND that the Zoo Team did nothing about it.

How is it people who work in an animal environment can condone not being more strict with people who abuse the animals who live there?

Last year Supervisor Sean Elsbernd was instrumental in pushing the amendment to legislation regarding the animals who live at the Zoo and in our Parks. I had a copy of the full Law as Code, but will have to search for it and post another time. This is a snip from an article regarding the new law.

You can read more details on my Zoo Friends Blog
http://gooberssfzoofriends.blogspot.com/search?q=elsbernd

That documented, HOW can the Zoo just let those abusers continue on with their visit?

Note: Please expand all comments that follow this post. The type appears small and sometimes important information is added by myself and other posters, that can go unnoticed. Thank you. ... Please read the accompanying post titled "Why us." ... In light of some people having a posting issue, please know that I have published all the comments submitted. If you have a comment and are having trouble you can contact me via the about.me link on the right hand side.

34 comments:

  1. I think the signs should say that people who are caught provoking/teasing/etc. the animals will be escorted out of the zoo immediately. And then it should be enforced. This disgusting behavior should not be tolerated.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lee (Andiecattt)May 29, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    It's late Saturday nite and I am still upset with the incident today at the zoo with visitors tormenting Cobby. The story Kim wrote is word for word how it happened and exactly how I felt and feel about the situation. I was so upset to see this happen. The zoo clearly sent a message today that it's fine to upset senior animals to a frenzy and then go on your way to continue the tormenting. It appears that the 3pm hour is the prime time for big trouble to brew at the zoo. I guess these visitors have nothing else to do and decide at the last minute, "hey, we can go to the zoo and tease animals". Cobby was enjoying a day in the sunshine...not a care in the world. These people got him so violently worked up that the female chimps came out to calm him after they also got very worked up. The crowd got huge and I remember a mom conforting her daughter and telling her that the lady (cafe mgr) said they are older animals and got upset. Why would security say "we gave them a warning" and then let them go into the main part of the zoo unfollowed? I can only imagine they continued on to whistle, holler and roar at the rest of the animals. Is the zoo afraid they'd lose a customer? Well, these kinds of customers, no one needs. They didnt even know Cobby was a chimp. So, obviously they arent regular zoo patrons. I say, shame on you zoo!!! I hope and urge folks to please put your thoughts and feelings on this in this blog. You can make a difference. Sitting quietly by thinking someone else will, won't and doesnt work. You don't have to use your name. Precious Cobby, I hope you are calm now and are sleeping well this evening.

    ReplyDelete
  3. @birdbuddy - Thank you for your comment. In regards to Signs, there should be more Signs everywhere in the Zoo. I have a post planned (this blog is like a novel with all the chapters planned out lol!) regarding signage, I'll work on having that posting ready asap. I'm really not sure what the Zoo's problem is for reprimanding offenders like this. I wish someone would take a stand and do something. They have a City Law backing them, why doesn't someone in Management get a backbone? They sure figured they got had one in Lee and I's situation, except that was all based on lies, so I don't think that qualifies. There will be people who agree that this event is horrifying and there is a problem with Zoo's, ect. The problem is with who is running THIS Zoo!

    ReplyDelete
  4. @lee - first of all YES! anyone who reads this in disgust, should voice their opinion, as it is disgusting and the Zoo should know about. They read all my blogs, so your voice will be heard. There is an anonymous comment option. ... Glad you pointed that out about the Cafe Manager gal. Like I said she was the only one who seemed concerned and who SAID anything to the crowd, the rest of them all stood around in my opinion, like cowards. If I hadn't basically stopped the abuser in his tracks, NO ONE would have said anything to them. They were leaving the scene. (This sounds familiar.) ... I also remembered while stirring about this late last eve, that before any Staffers got there, the crowd, led by the abusers (I have a photo to prove this) were still laughing and heckling Cobby (and the girls now) to the point where they had thrown additional items, including one of their magazines that was twisted in the shape of a stick. So that proves the heckling continued long enough for Cobby to get the magazine and twist it into a shape necessary for the occasion.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Still upset the next day but I betcha the zoo staffers and security slept well. The crowd was frenzied... Yes, the zoo mgt are cowards of the county for sure. The signs do need to say the person(s)causing these disturbances will be excorted out WITHOUT their money back!!! Thank you Kim, for your tireless crusade to help our zoo residents. Shame on the zoo for thinking this behavior was ok. and.... Security saying, "I'm just following rules", rules by who? I can only guess the Director...who felt that you and I should have and took our memberships away because we called security when someone was in the polar bear exhibit. So, zoo management picks and chooses who they want to deal with. This group, they didnt want to get involved... you and I as middle-aged ladies, got picked on...we were easy marks for them and they thought they got one up on us. I will continue in the fight for the zoo friends and back you in this crusade... please... animals lovers.... MAKE COMMENTS... the zoo mgt does read these blogs, something, just something, MIGHT sink in someday!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm a primatologist and have worked in/with zoos for many years. I agree completely that the people who yelled, threw items, etc., at the chimpanzees should have been denied zoo privileges immediately. If they did it once, they might do it again, elsewhere in the zoo, unobserved. The animals' safety (psychological as well as physical) must come first.

    ReplyDelete
  7. @lee - Bottom line, the Zoo will continue to be run (and ruined) unless someone with the authority to make major changes in who is making the rules there. What happened yesterday to poor Cobby should never have gone unpunished.

    ReplyDelete
  8. @Barbara J King - Thank you for your comment and for reading my blog. Those abusers had no remorse or even offered an apology for their behavior. The words of the one who started it and threw the item at Cobby, "What was I supposed to do?" proves that. This Animal was attacked in his contained environment, and was not defended by those who are supposed to be keeping him safe. I'd like to see those same people do something like that out in the wild, a Chimp would have ripped that guy's face off.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have a friend who is very active and savvy in Animal Advocacy, but not so much in cyberworld. She has been relentlessly trying to post a comment after about this really disturbed her. Her words MUST be heard, so I'm posting them for her.
    ***********************************************
    Anonymous - Unfortunately, yesterday's incident with Cobby is not unique; there have been numerous incidents since Ms. Peterson was appointed to her position that should have resulted in immediate action that ensured the protection and welfare of the zoo residents - the animals - but instead these animals were reduced to second place priority for the sake of, I am forced to believe, the money generated by a visitors outing to the SF Zoo.

    Zoos, much like animal shelters, are run as a business primarily and the welfare of the animals it is their mission to care and advocate for and protect is not a priority, at least this appears to be the case with the SF Zoo. In PR campaigns and donation drives the public is told that the zoo management cares about the animals first and foremost, but these are empty words if there is no action to support the statement.

    The problem is the mindset of management but more-so with the Board of Directors. They have the ultimate power to appoint leadership, set goals and guidelines, take stands. If the zoo's BOD is aware of shortcomings of management, policies, staff and training procedures, it is their responsibility to do something about it. If they don't, they are proving themselves to be in it for the prestige and bragging rights of being a board member.

    I feel sympathetic to zoo employees who care deeply about the animals and give them the highest standard of care and consideration they are able to. It must be infuriating, frustrating and heartbreaking for them to operate within 'business as usual' policies while being powerless to affect meaningful change.

    I believe the Supervisor of that District, at this time Sean Elsbernd, must receive constant updates on the state of things at the SF Zoo. He seems to care.

    I will not comment on the behavior of the visitors to the zoo who disrespected and incited Cobby; it goes without saying that their behavior was unacceptable they should have been ejected.

    It is just as unacceptable that zoo employees, with the exception of the cafe worker, are lazy, lax and uncaring and rely on the just following procedures excuse. If that is true, if their training has resulted in such flippancy and laziness, then training needs to be overhauled.

    It is absolutely unacceptable that a visitor to the zoo who has the welfare of the animals at heart is ignored or even chastised for taking action when they observe suspicious or obviously wrong behavior. The attention and care such people exhibit are what Zoo management and staff should also embrace.

    It is laughable to post signs asking people to be quiet, to let the animals be, not to harass them or to post signs inviting a visitor to call a number to report unacceptable behavior if their is no immediate response, or if the response is apathetic and dismissive. If there is no back up then you discredit yourselves and your words, your signs, carry no weight.

    In the end, as is too often the case, it is the animals who are the biggest losers.

    ReplyDelete
  10. @anonymous - Thank you for your words and support of the stance I take. ... Since my words to the Chairman of the Board and a Member of, went without response, I have little faith in them as I have written in other blogs. I do believe Sean Elsbernd cares, he proved that with the work he did to get the Law amended. If I were him I would be offended by the San Francisco Zoo's Managements lack of upholding that Law. Its a clear slap in his face for all the work he did to make sure these Animals are protected.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You obviously mean well, but you are causing trouble at the zoo. You should probably not go to the San Francisco Zoo, as it is a lousy zoo and has many problems.

    You should go to the Oakland Zoo where people are much more respectful of the animals.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haven't been to the SF zoo in 18 years and I will absolutely never support it ever!

      That's sick what they're doing with the chimpanzees i the SF Zoo Just my two cents but I prefer the Oakland Zoo a lot more

      I've got nothing against the OP I can tell he really loves animals from getting involved right away so good job to the person who runs this blog

      Delete
  12. Thank you for your comment. Although I disagree with it, I published it so I could respond, as maybe there are other misguided opinions out there like yours. ... It is curious that in all that I've detailed about what happened, you think that I am causing trouble. How is coming to the defense of Animals is causing trouble? How is making public the faults of the people who make the rules at the San Francisco Zoo, causing trouble? I am not abusing the Animals, as well I am not the one letting Visitors do so. I am outraged that this is allowed to go on at the Zoo. ... I go to the San Francisco Zoo because I have formed a passionate caring for the Animals who live there as individuals. I have been to the Oakland Zoo, but that is not where MY Zoo friends live. ... The behavior problem is not geographical. There are evil humans everywhere. It how they are dealt with that makes the difference. That is the point. ... It is not fun for me to go to a place I loved and feel unwelcome like I have been made to feel in recent months. It is not fun for me to witness humans terrorizing animals. It is not fun for me to have so many thoughts that stem from the love I have for these animals, swirling in my head that I am drawn to put them in writing and make them public. I would love nothing more to be treated with respect by the Management Staff of the San Francisco Zoo for my passion about the place and the Animals who live there, and have the Management Staff actually care as much as I do, and work to prevent this kind of thing from happening. ... At least I do more than write a five line comment that doesn't even pertain to the issue.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hal S. Cassidy and familyMay 30, 2011 at 9:27 AM

    My wife and I are regular visitors at the zoo. We bring our grandkids there a lot, but reading this and reading your blog? I don't know if this is a zoo we want to continue going to. You must have been horribly shaken seeing this go on. I read the comment someone "anon" put it telling you that "you" were the problem. They must be a disgruntled ex-zoo employee. Why would you put yourself in harm's way and confront unruly adults when security should be there? Whenever we have been to the zoo it appears security is more concerned about finding parking places for people and not in the red alert areas at the zoo where problems do start. My wife and I are horrified also that the zoo has not made your membership and your friends membership right again. How can they treat people who clearly love the zoo animals so much so badly? It's a disgrace how the zoo has treated you ladies. I hope the upper ups on the zoo staff read these blogs and get a clue. They need to make sure security does their job, actually enforce that law...which I believe was a flimsy law that was made just for the AZA to think they are on top of things, and they need to reinstate with a huge apology to you ladies. My family thanks you Kim for your hard work on this blog and your tireless efforts because of the love you have for these wonderful zoo animals. Hey Zoo Management, get a grip and do what you are getting paid the big bucks to do.

    ReplyDelete
  14. A major part of the problem here is the San Francisco Zoo has a truly horrible chimpanzee exhibit that allows people to throw things at the animals.

    It sounds like you did the right thing. It sounds like San Francisco zoo management sucks. However it sounds like you are not taken seriously. Part of the problem may be "boy who cried wolf" syndrome. I know that you do not see it that way, but management obviously does.

    I think you documentation of the problem is the right way to go. I know that you feel angry about your membership situation and treatment by zoo management, and that is understandable. You do need to realize that some people reading your blog will find it alarmist because your tone is very shrill (ANIMALS BEING ABUSED). I would recommend that you keep documenting animal problems and get it touch with Pat Derby at PAWS. She can probably help you figure out how to get people's attention about the problems at San Francisco and organize some positive action to get it stopped. This blog is a good first step, but you need some help from people who know how to publicize these problems.

    ReplyDelete
  15. PAWS contact info: http://www.pawsweb.org/contact_us.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. @Hal S. Cassidy and family - Thank you for your comment and for reading my blogs. As well, your thoughts and support regarding other issues. ... If you enjoy going to the Zoo, then that is what you should continue to do. I love my Zoo Friends and would never abandon them, because of the way their house is kept. These precious treasures are taken care of very well by their Keepers, in fact if I were a Keeper, I would be very offended by Management letting someone who abused an animal in my charge, just walk away. I am not sure where anyone who suggests I am somehow in the wrong can form that opinion, but nothing I can do about that. And, if I thought there was any validity to it, I wouldn't publish it. In my opinion, it shows the mentality of the masses and here-in lies most of the problem. I post the truth and the facts. How people interpret them is individual, but especially in a case like this, it seems more than obvious who was in the wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  17. @Anonymous - Regardless of the way the "exhibit" is, there is no excuse for those abusers to not have been escorted out. PERIOD. The Chimps have been throwing crap literally at people since I was a kid, and these are the same Chimps. People should know better than to throw stuff back at them or any other animal. That said, I don't have a problem with the Chimp Grotto's. Sure, they are old, but its an old Zoo. They aren't state of the art and they aren't going to be. There isn't the money for it AND even if there was, there is no way that those four Chimps at their age should be relocated for a renovation. The Grotto's they occupy have had major landscaping improvement in recent years and it seems fine. People taut Oakland Zoo as better in many ways, their more "modern" Chimp enclosure makes me very uncomfortable. ... I do appreciate you saying I did the right thing, in addition to other positives so please don't take anything I write as negative towards your comments. As well thank you for the point towards PAWS, I would hope that making stuff public in the way that I have, would call enough attention that someone associated with the Zoo might someday have the thought "Hey maybe there are things that need to be worked on." They don't like outsiders opinions at all and I was told that very early on by a Staffer. So, unfortunately and since I seem to be the only one being vocal, not much will change. ... Saying that using the word "abuse" in my subject line is alarmist, well it should be! It was an alarming situation and I do consider the actions by that man as abuse. Regarding "the boy who cried wolf", Management (and anyone else) can think what they want, bottom line is THIS isn't about me! Its about the Animals. For me, its always about the Animals. I report misbehavior as I see it. Part of the problem Management has in my opinion, is its ability to prioritize and several things come before the Animals and in my opinion personality disputes is one of them. That said, regardless of how anyone perceives anything I say or do, I'm confident enough that I know I'm doing what's right. I can go to bed every night and wake every morning feeling good about myself. Frankly I don't know how any of the three Staffers standing there doing nothing while watching this event take place can say the same thing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I would like to see what rules security personnel are given that permits giving warnings only for such egregious behavior.
    I do have problems when people read this and then say they might not return to the zoo. That is exactly the wrong thing to do. The zoo needs the support of well-meaning people.

    ReplyDelete
  19. @Anonymous - First, I would NEVER suggest people not or stop visiting the Zoo. I still go to the Zoo, even though I'm unwelcome there and I pay for a ticket every time now and I get the stink eye from all, but I still go. I support the animals that live there, so they can continue to live there. Doesn't mean I can't find fault with the way some things are done and say so. If you have ever been, you certainly have witnessed misbehavior, the thing is, do something about it. Be a well-meaning person and contact a Staffer or fill out a comment form available in the Office at the front. ... I'd like to see those rules too. I once walked into the Lion House, and there was a gal hoping over the barrier from the Animal side to the Visitor side AND Leanne the Sumatran Tiger was standing up on her back legs, growling down at this girl. Security was in the far corner, wearing sunglasses and texting! This was over a year a go and I felt confident taking matters into my own hands since there was no one of authority doing so. Then I went out and stopped the Vet who was passing by. I left it up to him and Security, BUT again, this girl wasn't booted out either. What does it take to get kicked out? It doesn't seem like offenses against the Animals is cause.

    ReplyDelete
  20. How disappointing that a zoo of all places won't stand up for the animals they take care of. If they aren't going to then WHO is? Animals in captivity rely on PEOPLE to take care of them for all of their needs including protection. Essentially those animals are their "children" and I would bet that if some adult came and threw something at their own REAL children that they would protect them! Shame on the San Fransisco Zoo!

    ReplyDelete
  21. @Anonymous- I'm sorry I didn't lead in with a thank you for your comment. I think I'm getting punchy lol! trying to make sure everyone gets a reply.

    ReplyDelete
  22. @Dawn Banks - Thank you for your comment. Your words are exact! I have to say, I have seen Keepers go after offenders, but anyone above that only on a rare occasion, have I seen more that passive words flow. It is disappointing. Visitors are just that, so those in authority positions should be taking such a stance. ... I once saw a grown man with his family, carrying a 6-8 foot stick, and one of the Polar Bears was sleeping with her back to the Visitors. This man was leaning over the barrier and making a poking motion towards her. Now, there was no way he could reach her, but that isn't the point. The point is why would someone do that? I said to the guy, would you like someone reaching in your living room window with a stick and poking you while you are trying to take a nap? People don't view the situation these Animals are in as this is their home. In the same vein as you said, those are their kids. Its all a very personal situation if you put yourself in the place of the Animals. Anyway I'm getting off track and more into why do people behave in such a way. But yes, its very disappointing that those who have the authority AND a law backing them, stood there and did nothing.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hal S. Cassidy and FamilyMay 30, 2011 at 8:08 PM

    Please folks reading this.... please support the animals and keepers at the zoo... I mentioned in one of our family's comments that we might not go back...My family still will. We have a family membership and my grandkids are young and just getting into photography, plus we live close to the zoo. I just think this situation shows that the zoo has not put problems in their place since the christmas incident in 2007. The zoo is a wonderful place to see these incredible animals but it's not good for kids to see adults behaving in that way...with the chimp incident. So, in conclusion, support the zoo's animals and keepers and if so inclined, please write your feelings down in this blog. I hope the zoo uppers have been reading these comments.

    ReplyDelete
  24. @Hal S Cassidy - Thankx again. Your words are a must for those to understand and take away from here. Nothing is perfect, there is always room for improvement. Learn from mistakes. Are these not life lessons we are all taught? The Zoo can and should strive to follow these old tales, and not frown on constructive criticism. They must know how that was handled was wrong. They also have experience in people behaving badly, so those people should have never been allowed to continue on. That is why this is such an issue for me. That said, the Zoo is a wonderful place, because its home to wonderful Animals. Express any displeasure you might have with the Zoo, to the Zoo and not deny the Animals your visit and by that your contribution to them continuing to thrive there.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Hello readers, another friend who's opinion I very much value has also had trouble posting a comment, which I will post now.
    ************************************************
    Anonymous said, I too am a zoo goer of many years (at least 25). I have witnessed every sort of awful behavior by zoo visitors over those years, particularly toward the gorillas because that is where I have spent most of my time. And it seemed that the keeper, who should be allowed to have better things to do, was the only enforcer available toward these many obnoxious people. I too saw the rare security person and even docents just stand by or turn the other way. Though I was there to do some purely observational research, I would walk around with a clipboard trying to look official, and sometimes just my presence seemed to be a mild deterrent, or sometimes explaining things about the animals to them would turn people's attitudes around. Confronting the bad behavior directly usually would only cause the offenders to talk back, because they seem to think the zoo is their playground. Parents sure didn't like to have any comments about their children either, even when they were literally dangling them over the rail of the enclosure!

    What is the solution? I too think the zoo needs to establish a solid policy of enforcing better behavior. ALL staff need special training in this regard. If the zoo would take control as it should, then there will be no need for people like Kim to feel they need to take on the problems themselves. Since it would undoubtedly be too costly and impractical to have security staff in the quantity necessary to patrol everywhere at once, the zoo should be reacting with THANKS to people who call in such behavior. Kim probably feels she has to confront the behavior herself now because she and her friends have only been scorned when they did call for help. She obviously feels deeply for the animals but knows she will get no help from reporting bad behavior to the people who SHOULD be taking care of it. This is a sad situation. I hope this blog discussion will be seen by people who CAN convey this to the Zoo, even if they won't listen to Kim any more.

    ReplyDelete
  26. @Anonymous - Thank you for contacting me to post for you. You are so right about the Gorilla's being a hot spot for misbehavior! I have seen much there! In fact there was a time frame when Jonesy (Male) was having real problems with people, certain regular Photographers and Docents. The Zoo added no extra Security, instead just sent out a scolding email to Docents not to go there. I sent the Director Tanya Peterson a detailed list of several ways to better the situation. None were used AND even Docents continued to go there and upset him! Thank you for doing what you could to deter. It should not be left up to other Visitors though to do the job of Staffers and/or Docents. Up until recently, I had no problem confronting people and if that didn't work calling for Security. I know very well that there isn't enough funds to hire enough Security and I know they don't utilize the Docents in a way that could be beneficial in regards to this issue. I was thanked repeatedly for being "eyes where they couldn't be." That my friend is a joke now. Just to be clear, since the events of my personal situation with the Zoo, I do not confront anyone. I pointed out loogy man to someone as he walked by, but this situation was actually the first time since I was "scorned" that I've gotten involved, but the severity of the situation demanded that I do. Thank you for supporting my efforts to keep my Zoo Friends safe.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I am not a zoo owner, but I am a farm owner who breeds the "Threatened" American Mammoth Jackstock breed of large American Ass and mules. We do an incredible amount of volunteer community outreach with our animals at schools, universities and libraries to educate children and adults about the plight of this most American of Heritage breeds (it was started by George Washington). When groups visit our farm for tours - free of charge, I might add - we have had to tell people that "Our animals are well-behaved. If members of your party are not, you will be asked to leave the property immediately." Fortunately, we have not had too many problems, but we are responsible for our animal's saftey and well-being and as a retired police officer, I will NOT tolerate the kind of behavior that you have reported Kim...I am so sorry that you had to witness this event and keep up your observations, my friend! Deb and the longears of Lake Nowhere Mule and Donkey Farm

    ReplyDelete
  28. @Deb and the longears - Thank you for your comment. I am glad to hear from you, not only about this situation, but about your animals. I will check them out :) ... Thank you for being proactive in protecting the Animals who live at your farm. It seems like a no-brainer to me. I'm not sure what the Zoo's problem is. Maybe they are afraid of offending people? Who cares I say, these aren't the people you want around your Animals anyway. Unfortunately I witness misbehavior (this was the most extreme though) every visit, as well as in public parks. I wish that those who didn't Respect Wildlife would just stay out of the places they live.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Another concerned reader contacted me as their post would not take after repeated attempts.

    Elizion wrote: Doesn't the San Francisco Zoo belong to the American Zoo and Aquarium Association? If the SF Zoo is not acting properly to protect their animals, they could potentially lose their accreditation. This is something that should be brought to the AZA'a attention.

    ReplyDelete
  30. @Elizion - Thank You for efforts in attempting to post a comment on your own. I don't know why some folks are having problems. ... I hadn't thought about this being an AZA issue, but you may be right. I'll take a look into it further, as well I should know what their guidelines are anyway. I certainly wouldn't want the Zoo to lose accreditation, because I don't believe they do things that aren't an easy fix. I just think for whatever reasons the Management Team doesn't strive to be the best they can be and there are people on Staff who believe this is just a job and in my opinion those types of people don't really care about anything and don't do or think more than necessary.

    ReplyDelete
  31. The San Francisco Zoo staff love their animals and security stops anyone seen misbehaving but they can't babysit all of the guests. Besides, it is grown people acting like beasts so how does that reflect how the staff treat the animals? All of you really need to find something better to do than to gossip about things you know nothing about. I've seen how the management and security respond to all incidents and they truly do a great job.

    ReplyDelete
  32. @Anonymous- First I will note that any reference I make to Staff falls outside of Keeper level. That said, yes the Keepers love the Animals, and in my opinion most not part of the Animal Staff don't seem to care what really goes on in the place to be perfectly frank. In fact when I told one of the Chimps main Keepers about this incident, she was outraged. ... Regarding Security, unfortunately I've seen different. I've witnessed misbehavior and pointed out the offenders to Security and they have often done little or nothing as in this particular situation. I have no problem giving kudos for handling situations properly, but I'm not going to pretend things are done right when they aren't. ... Of course this can be seen as "my opinion", well, its my blog and that is where my opinon is posted. People can agree or disagree and as you see, I will publish comments from both sides. ... That said, I see more misbehavior towards Animals (in the Park and at the Zoo, both places that I spend much time at) than can stand sometimes. And, when there is a Law to back up having these peopel held responcible for their actions, I'm offended that more isn't done. At the very least, escorting the offenders out (and not refunding their money). ... It is all over this blog what steps can be taken to help deter some of this action and yes, people will always act the fool, but that should not be an excuse for not trying to deter and in cases like this instance with Cobby, throw these people out. That in answer to your question is how it reflects against the Staff. When Staff stands there after an offender is pointed out by a witness and does not even say one word to them, that is wrong and on the Staff.
    ... I wouldn't make assumptions that I don't know "nothing" about things there. I know plenty. More than I want to. ... Lastly note the meaning of the word "gossip". All my postings are from first hand experience and my opinion. Neither makes anything I have written gossip.

    gos·sip- 1.idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others: the endless gossip about Hollywood stars. 2.light, familiar talk or writing.

    ReplyDelete
  33. @Anonymous- Sorry I didn't start by thanking you for your comment. I usually thank anyone who has taken the time to read what's I've wrote and respond to it. Thank you for your comment.

    ReplyDelete