Friday, April 11, 2014

New Facebook Page - Awesome Animal Enrichment!

Hello,  long time no post here, but hope all are following my other San Francisco Zoo related blogs!  
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About Four Years ago I started to learn what Animal Enrichment was. Without knowing what it was called, what it did for the Animals was something that I loved long before that. My favorite times at my local Zoo were the Halloween Events. I loved watching the Animals get Pumpkins and other "Toy" type "Presents". Watching them have so much fun, gave me Joy. Most important, the Joy and Excitement it brought to their lives, I later learned was not only Fun but Enriching. ... Over the years I have collected many Enrichment Photos off the Internet as they have come my way, either by chance or in my research on the subject. I never thought I would do anything with them, so I didn't save many with associated information like place and photo credit, so not sure if I can share those in my archive. That said, I started this group so I can share those from here on. Please share as well any that come your way, so everyone can enjoy! ... Welcome to Awesome Animal Enrichment!

Please check out my new FB Group and Join the Fun! 


Sunday, May 13, 2012

San Francisco Zoo - You Sure Have Got Some BALLS!!!



Once again, not sure where to begin.  This post like some others I've posted and noted the same, is overdue, as I've known about this for months, but it was brought to my attention right before Tunya's  (Lion) shocking passing and then I lost four more Zoo friends in as many weeks.

Before the recent catalyst for this post, I wanted to do a post about this topic (Zoo Animal Enrichment) for some time, but now I don't even remember what the goal of that was, because this current outrage has blurred all previous thoughts.

CURRENT: To synopsis this post (as I'm sure it will digress a few times and become lengthy), The San Francisco Zoo has committed yet another crime against myself and my friend Lee.  They have used photos, taken by us, without permission.  Last time I checked this was illegal.  Zoo Director Tanya Peterson has a Law degree, you would think she would know better.

DETAILS: Lee regularly checks the Zoo's website (I don't ever go there).  They have recently revamped their site and now have a section there describing Animal Enrichment (http://www.sfzoo.org/animals-enrich), more on that later. More important to this post, they also have a photo gallery with a topic link for Enrichment (http://www.sfzoo.org/multimedia-slideshows?galleryName=enrichment&title=Enrichment). In this photo gallery are two photos of Animals enjoying Enrichment Toys.  These Toys were made by Lee.  The first one pictured is of African Lion Jahari from Boneyard Day and the other (pictured last) is that of Andean Bear Wishbone.  The photo of Wishbone was taken by Lee.  We have no idea how they got that photo, nor do they have permission to use it.  The one of Jahari may be hers as well, but she doesn't have her archive from that day available to check at this time.

Wishbone with Mache Ball
Teddy Bear Festival, July 2010
Photo Property of Lee 

As it appears on the Zoo website

Soon after discovering this, I was sent a link to a part of the Zoo's website, San Francisco Zoo Director's Bulletin(http://www.sfzoo.org/bulletin/12022011)  On that page I saw one of MY personal photos being used as well.  Once again, like when I heard about the illegal use of  Lee's personal photo, I was fuming.  We have been treated horrible by the San Francisco Zoo, so this really is a problem for me.

Jahari with (remnants) of Mache Pig
Leanne's Birthday, July 2010
Photo Property of Kim

As it appears on the Zoo's website

I do not know how my photos found their way to being used illegally in this manner. Lee does not know how her photos found their way to being used illegally in this manner. 

Lee may have shared prints of her photos with a Keeper as a personal momento.  I shared my photos with a few people in a few ways.  I have given prints of my photos to Keepers.  The only two Keepers who I shared my actual photo files with, both via email and in a CD were Barb Palmer (no longer on Staff) and Debbie Marrin (now Assistant Carnivore Curator).  All shares came with instructions that these were for personal use only and not to be shared with other Zoo Staff.   Barb asked me if she could share a few with Deb Howe (facilitator of Renew the Zoo), to use as examples of the kind of Enrichment Toys we were making, as she was told Volunteers (via Renew the Zoo) would make "like" items.  Debbie shared a few with her friend who does Enrichment Seminars.  She thought the quality of what we were making was valuable and it should be be included in the Seminar presentation.  One Seminar took place at Oakland Zoo in 2010.  No other use's beyond personal were ever given.  No one was authorized to use my personal photos in anyway other than stated and all parties understood this.  What is also understood is that the San Francisco Zoo knows these photos are not theirs, yet they go ahead and use them anyway.  

Lee, if anything, shared prints only and the only other place her photo of Wishbone was shared was on her personal Facebook page.  My photos are on my blogs and my photo site.  Both accessible by anyone, yet noted that these are photos taken by me and therefore my property.  However the Zoo obtained them for use on their website and wherever else they might be using them, they know they have no permission to be using them.

There was no authorization given by myself (or Lee) for the use of our personal photos by the San Francisco Zoo in any way.

Considering the treatment Lee and I have gotten from the Zoo (with the exception if a small amount of Staff) from February 2011 on, I would NEVER allow them to use anything of mine.  EVER!

They revoked my Membership, based on untruths.  They made false accusations against me.  Spread lies through out Staff.  They stole Video tapes I lent to the Primate Department.  Now, they are using personal photo's without permission.

To this, I have to say Oh My Gosh, San Francisco Zoo you sure have got some BALLS!!!

If you don't want anymore details, please skip to the highlighted portion at the end for my wrap-up!

ADDITIONAL DETAILS:  The manner they are being used, to me appears the San Francisco Zoo is alluding to the fact that they (Staff or Volunteers) have made these Enrichment Items (Toys) through "in-house" efforts.  This is not true.  The Enrichment Items shown were designed and made exclusively by my friend Lee and donated to specific Zoo Animals via their Keeper.  Read more about Enrichment Toy Items designed, made and donated by Lee and Myself here, thebigcatnip.blogspot.com

In addition to what I wrote in the previous mentioned blog post, I want to quote some portions taken from the Zoo site regarding Enrichment, that I found particularly irksome.

I will note in part (the other part I will note later on) as this directly relates to the illusion that this is part of their (supposed) Staff/Volunteer created "Enrichment", they note, they make, "papier-mâché creatures".

If the Zoo had made any such "creatures" in any of their official Zoo efforts, why are they using three photos that highlight Items we created?

I have never seen any paper mache creatures other than the ones made by Lee.  They made one attempt at paper mache (after both Lee and I passed on teaching them how to) and abandoned that after it took too much time and effort.  I was the one who started the paper mache items (at least in recent times) with making a Ball for my precious Tony's (Siberian Tiger) 18th Birthday.

Tony and his Birthday Ball :)
March 2010
Photo by Kim

BACKSTORY- Those who have followed my previous blogs, have read mention of some of this.  You also know I'm very detailed, so I will lay it out in full, I appologize for any repeated info.  I feel that although most of this information details what we did for the Zoo Animals, knowing this information directly paints the picture of why the Zoo using our photos in anyway, illegally or to allude untruths, is bothersome.

January/February 2010.  My favorite time at the Zoo had always been the Halloween event, Boo at the Zoo.  I loved watching the Animals get Holiday themed "toys".  By January 2010, I had become friendly with Big Cat Keeper Barb and when I realized female Lion Amanzi's Birthday had passed without notice, I felt bad.  Male Lion Tunya's was the upcoming week and his son Jahari's was two weeks later.  I asked Barb if we could celebrate them all and she loved that idea.  I had never made anything for the Animals before but asked if I could.  We talked about materials, and I decided to make giant party favors using a thick paper bought on a roll, gift wrap and paper mache' paste as the adhesive.  The party was a hit with the Lions!  They had so much fun and watching them was fun for all of us.  It was an awesome feeling to have made something that was then being used by such incredible beings.  I knew these Animals from visiting them a few times a week, but seeing them interact with Items I made, made me feel more connected to them.  I wanted to do this more!

March 2010.  Male Tiger Tony was having his 18th Birthday soon, so since we did a grotto wide Lion bday party, I asked Barb if we could do one for Tony and also bring stuff for the girls, Padang and Leanne.  We discussed how Tony didn't like to open things, so Lee and I decided to just get big gift bags and I made my first attempt at Paper Mache' so Tony would have something extra and different.  Again a fun time was had by all!

In the following weeks both Lee and I started making small stuff here and there.  We had noticed that Barb had been spliting up Leannes food into 6 portions and putting it in small bags and boxes for her to hunt for it in the yard.  So, I made some mini sized party favors, I called poppers for this and Lee made some small deco'd containers she called "pace" boxes.

Starting with Easter, over the next couple months, Lee and I started making more and more elaborate Items, which Keeper Barb called Toys :)  We would pick a theme and make items of different shapes, sizes, colors.  We factored in each Cats personality.  We took Padang's physical limitations into account when making her Items.  We were doing major Enrichment for the Big Cats every Saturday.  They loved it!  They knew too.  They would see us and know it was Toy Day!  It was great for everyone.  We loved making these Toys, knowing the joy it would bring them.  Barb loved the excitement of seeing what we would come up with every week.  She said it was like Christmas when she would open the bags to see what was inside.  The Visitors loved seeing the Animals up and having fun. I even heard on gal say "They don't even do this at the San Diego Zoo!"   Not only were we doing something we loved to do for the Animals, but we made the Zoo look good.  BUT most important of all, the Animals loved it!

Around mid-June Barb said we had to hold off making stuff for a bit, there was some vague rumblings coming from above Barb.  At the time I didn't know the details, but Barb asked us to write up something about what materials we use so the Vet would have it on file.  So I wrote up Who we were, What we were doing and What we were using.  There was a few weeks wait time for the Vet to authorize.  I knew the Vet Dr Jackie (Jencek) casually, but she didn't know me by name.  I saw her on the grounds during this wait time and told her it was me and my friend (who was a former Docent) who were making the Enrichment Toys.  Soon after we got the "Ok" from her to go continue.  She had been in the Lion House office and saw stuff that hadn't gone out yet and loved one Item Lee made for Leanne she called "Leanne's Lunchbox," and looked forward to seeing it go out.



The go ahead came right before the 4th of July, so we wanted to go all out and have a big festive red, white and blue explosion of fun for the Cats!


Amanzi and her Firecracker Toy
4th of July 2010
Photo by Kim

During the above time frame, there was a change in job's for a couple Animal Staffers.  Current Carnivore Curator Ingrid Russell-White, was removed from that position and Primate Curator Corrinne MacDonald became Curator of both Primates and Carnivores.  From what I was told Ingrid's new job duties were a collection of this and that, one which included being in charge of Animal Enrichment.

Animal Enrichment covers a variety of different things, for the purpose of my position, I am specifically refering to the type of Enrichment "Toy Items" provide.  I learned about Enrichment from the Big Cat Keeper before I even started to make Toys for the Cats.  I found it more and more interesting as I got more involved.  There are many great resources online if you want to learn more about the different kinds of Enrichment and what it does for Animals in captivity.  

Once the Curator change took place, an "Enrichment Committee" was formed, headed by Ingrid.  I was approached by Keeper Debbie and asked if Lee and I wanted to join the Committee and help by teaching others how to make what we were making.  In return we would be official volunteers and get free parking (a volunteer perk).  Lee and I discussed it and declined.  Lee had been part of the Docent program but was treated so badly by some in the program she quit.  Neither of us wanted to be official anything at the Zoo as that would require us to be vulnerable to all the politics and associated drama.  We just wanted to make Toys for the Animals.  We were allowed to continue doing that as we had been in the past.

Note that what we were doing was such:  We used our own money for supplies, which included never used paper, boxes, paints, brushes, flour (for paper mache paste). We both spent approx 25 hours a week each, working on designing and making Items exclusively with each Animal in mind.   We brought the Items
(in unused plastic bags) to the Lion House every Saturday and gave them to Keeper Barb. Barb then filled them with treats and put them out for each Cat.

Note that because of our Toys, Padang (Tiger) got this type of Enrichment for the first time in her life.  It took her a bit to get the hang of it, but started looking forward to it.  One day inparticular I remember Keeper Barb carrying out three painted bowls for our Snake themed day.  Paddy was inside and picked up pace following Barb along the Lion House rooms as she carried them toward her grotto.  It was a joyous thing to see.  Paddy was so excited!  ... We were also instrumental in making Sukari (female Lion) feel comfortable.  Sukari had been transfered to the Zoo months prior but was still very shy and hid all the time.  She had been nicknamed the "cave dweller" by Keepers.  We wanted to have a Lion House wide party for her Birthday.  At this point we were not only making Toys for the Lions and Tigers, but for the Snow Leopards and Fishing Cats too :)  We weren't sure if Sukari would even be able to participate in her own celebration.  The night before I had a thought, knowing Suki liked to sit in the cave, I envisioined that putting her "cake" in front of the cave door would get her to at least see it, then she would know it was there and come back for it.  She had gotten other Toys, but only after seeing them, and sometimes that would be long after they were set out.  I relayed this thought to Barb and so Barb put the cake in front of the door.  When the door opened, Suki saw it and did a double take before starting to dash, then reached in and snatched it! 

Padang running toward one of her Snake bowls :)
Photo by Kim, Sept 2010


Sukari snatching her Birthday Cake :)
Photo by Kim, August 2010

OK i've majorly digressed.

July 14, 2010 - I got a call on my cell phone from Keeper Debbie asking if we could make Enrichment Items for that weekends Zoo event, Teddy Bear Fesitval.  This was Wednesday night.    I got another call from Keeper Deb Cano asking to "Place an emergency Enrichment order."   This was Thursday morning.  We had both already been working on our weekly Big Cat Toy Saturday, but we didn't want to let our Bear Friends down.  In 48 hours we made enough Items (Balls, Bags, Clings) so that each Bear would have something for both days of the event.  I also made window clings for the Grizzlys.  These were Bear shapes that could be stuck on the Gulch windows with honey or peanut butter.

Kachina going for a cling :)
Teddy Bear Festival, July 2010
Photo by Kim

There was one Bear "stand-up" in the Grizzly Gulch, that was the effort given by the Staff led Enrichment Committee.  I know this because I am friendly with some Docents and when the Enrichment Committee was formed, one told me,  the Docents were asked to sign up, but not many had.  In my opinion that is shameful.  For one I felt the opportunity was extremely rewarding and it still is one of the best things I've ever done.  It is also my opinion that considering the necessity of this type of Enrichment and the lack of consistant people to make these Items, the Docents should be required to help with this.  But alas there is no structure in most parts of how the Zoo is run.  Sorry for the editorial, but its true.  In addition to not many signing up, I was told that this One Item for the Teddy Bear Festival is allegedly all the Enrichment Committee ever produced.  They were never asked to make anything else for any Event or Animal.  Just last week in fact, this same Docent asked me "What ever happened to the Enrichment Committe?"  Almost Two years later AND I am not even the Staffer who's job this is.

Sadly if Lee and I had not been able to provide Enrichment Items, the Bears would not have had stuff for the event, rather the Zoo would not have had stuff for the event.  Basically, we saved the Zoo's event.

August 2010- October 2010 - Lee and I continued to have grand themed Enrichment Toy Day every Saturday for the Cats.  I made some additional Items for the Bears when we lost Andy (Polar) and Annie (Andean), so that their surviving companions had something extra to busy their days.

On October 8,2010,   Lee was emailed a letter and "formed" document from Jessa Barzelay, Education Department Supervisor.  I will detail  this, but in short it basically said, Thanks for inspiring us, but (no thanks) we don't need you anymore.

Notable quotes from the letter include:

"... your work has inspired the Animal Division and Education Department to team up to create a formal enrichment volunteer program to offer yourself, and others, the opportunity to earn volunteer hours  while creating much-needed enrichment. I am hoping that you’ll be interested in taking on somewhat of a leadership role in this new program."

"This program is taking effect immediately."  -  For comment regarding this see below ***

"Due to these new guidelines, the only way anyone will be able to participate as an Enrichment Volunteer is to join us at Renew the Zoo events."

"Thanks again for inspiring this new opportunity"

So, all I have to say in addition to the obvious Thanks, but no Thanks, and what I've written below (***)  is, this formed "Program" was designed specifically so that we would no longer be able to provide Toys for the Animals.  They knew we would not participate in their program.  They knew we could not, for it took too many hours at all given times to create what we did.  Additionally, we were the only Two people doing this, and neither of us were some random people off the street.  Having a Program is great (as I told Peterson and MacDonald) for new people.  There was no reason except for the alleged issue Corinne had with us and the alleged issue Ingrid had against us doing something that it  was her job make happen.  The only ones who have lost out here are the Animals, for neither the "Committee" or the "Program" have produced regular Items.

*** This was a Friday night.  It was well known that we worked all week creating Items for Saturday, so to send this on the night before knowing we already had stuff made was calculating and personal.  I called Keeper Debbie that night and she knew nothing about it.  She was upset by this and said she would call me in the morning and let me know if we could still bring in what we had for that day.

The Cat Keepers were all very upset by this turn of events.  They knew how much our Enrichments meant to the Cats.  Keeper Barb had said they never had this kind of Enrichment and explained it as "high yield" which meant that it evoked a high energy excitement for them, much like hunting would in the wild.

What happened after that in short is this.  We were able to bring in what we had already made.  I emailed Director Peterson (who at that point I was still communicating with) and explained our position, which was basically, that we felt this was personal, because of the wording in the email and document sent to Lee.

Director Peterson responded to both Lee and I and initiated role of liasion to have us continue doing what we had been.  

The following Saturday, while the negotiation was still being bantered between Director Peterson and Carnivore Curator Corinne MacDonald, I ran into Corinne in the Lion House.

I entered into the conversation with the intention to present the situation as I saw it, note the absence of such Enrichment would be a real loss to the Animals and relate that what we were doing, is needed Zoo wide and that the new program could work in supplement, providing Toy Items to all the other Animals that we don't have the time to cover.

The conversation offered an odd mixture of comments from Corinne, a management professional.  As I ran down the detail of the situation, she responded by making statements that called both Director Peterson and Vet Dr Jackie liars and said she "Didn't care what Barb thought."  The later most offended me, as from what I understand Corinne came from a Business background and Barb an Animal one with over 15 years experience at SFZoo alone.  Her opinion on the needs of these Animals is of top value.

She also said, "They don't need this kind of Enrichment."   Interesting.  If they don't "need" this then why are OUR photos that show OUR Enichment Items, being used on their website as part of the Enrichment they offer?

She went on to say, "Give us a chance, we just started."  She went on to say that they were concentrating on stuff for the Halloween Event first.  

I'll note a few things.  Barb said she was told she would "Receive the same type/amount of things that she was getting from us."  She never got anything, except for the Halloween and Christmas events.  I remember her saying to me the week after we were no longer allowed to bring stuff, that she showed up after lunch (when the Lion House opened) and there were no Items left for her, so she had to figure out what to give them, as they were waiting for what they had grown to expect, FUN!  I say expect, because those Cats knew when it was Toy Day!

I am not going to make any judgement regarding the necessity of this type Enrichment Item because I am not an Animal Care Professional BUT I will note in regard to my experience.  In my experience in this situation, a person with 15 plus years experience in Animal Care has said that it is a necessary aspect, I have witnessed the fun and excitement it brought to the lives of the Animals involved, I witnessed personal character growth in Sukari, personal life enrichment for Padang, and I have also since done extensive research on other similar Enrichment Items provided to Animals in captivity.  I believe I witnessed that indeed our Items Enriched the lives of the Animals.

With a negotiation between Lee and Corinne, we made Toys a few more times, but so many obstacles were created and untruths told that we eventually had no choice but to stop.  Thankfully we were able to give Padang her 21st Milestone Birthday Party and do a collective Bear Birthday Party.

 Padang surrounded with her Birthday Prizes!
November 2010
Photo by Kim

Wishbone with his Birthday Cake!
January 2011
Photo by Kim

See all the Bears with Bday Cakes

I can tell you right now, That was October 16, 2010.  Today is May 2012.  Aside for the Halloween and Christmas events, with a few one off painted boxes, apparently none of the Animals have gotten any Enrichment Toys, certainly not on a regular basis.  AND that Halloween event 2010, their new "controlled" program produced Items which not only were painted ugly and scary, but had STAPLES on them!  I was horrified when I got home and looked at this photo of Jahari holding a box with huge staples an inch from his paw!  I immediately emailed the photo to Keeper Barb and she replied that during clean-up she saw that in addition to TAPE!  Staples and Tape can seriously harm any Animals.  So much for "controlled". ...  Why don't they put photos up of the crap they make.  I'll give them permission to use this one.

Staples on Zoo provided Enrichment Item
Boo at the Zoo 2010
Photo by Kim

They note on the current website regarding Enrichment, "Zoo staff and volunteers work hard to provide the animals with something novel each day. Making enrichment is not easy; it takes creativity to make safe items for the animals that don't have tape, staples, glue, or toxic chemicals. For example, wrapping paper is often applied to boxes using peanut butter or a gluey mixture of flour and water".  

Note:  I was told by Debbie Marrin that San Francisco Zoological Society Board Member David Stanton (who has donated to Enrichment efforts) circulated a "questionaire" requesting information regarding what type and how many Items were needed for the Big Cats.

December 2011 -  We were at the Zoo less than 24 hours after getting our Memberships back and we got into a conversation with Staffer Deb Howe.  In the same breath as saying that's great, she said, "Maybe you can start doing Enrichment again?" !!!  Making statements that they have had basically nothing since we stopped making Enrichment AND that what they did have was "crap"!   I immediately said, "I would never."   My position was based on how we were treated and that I never wanted to be involved with the politics there again.  Lee felt more sentimental about it, (wanting to make stuff for Padang (Tiger) and entertained the conversation long enough that I heard things I didn't like.  

Discussed at length was both "Enrichment" efforts on behalf of Ingrid Russell-White the Staffer whose job it actually was.   I said I wasn't interested in making other people look good.  To which she said, "You know how we like to use and abuse people." !!!  I couldn't believe she would say that to us!  No thank you!  ... Lee emailed Deb as requested about this, but has never heard back.  In my opinion that's a good thing.  I wouldn't have doubted that since they blamed us for a code red because they had a faulty dispatch system and feared issue with their upcoming accreditation inspection, they would blame her if an animal got sick after playing with one of her Items.   Thankfully this opportunity never materialized.

January 2012 -  At the Zoo event Big Cat Breakfast, Deb pointed at the store bought pinatas and said to Lee "Look at the crap we had to give them."   I will also note that not only were these store bought, the materials used in store bought items like this contain dye from other countries.  This was a previous concern noted to Lee once by one of the Director's Staffers.  I guess being desperate for Items trumps such concerns, as they also provided the Cats with Chickens bought in Chinatown, when I thought all food Items went through a regulated process.

SO to wrap this up, I will go back to the current catalyst for this post and note that the Zoo has quite a wordy page on their site that details the use of photos ( http://www.sfzoo.org/Press-media-information).  In full a bit hypocritical.  

These are the parts that I found pertaining, "All Zoo visitors can grab photos and video for their private, personal use only." "The PR department handles requests to come to the Zoo for photography and videography shoots, whether it is commercial, private, or media-related. Outside companies are required to request the use of the Zoo facilities and images of its animals for advertising, film, documentary and video productions, books, consumer products, CD/ROMs, packaging, and stock photography. If permission is granted, it would involve payment of a standard licensing or location fee."

Not only is the San Francisco Zoo illegally using photos without permission, they have paid Staffers (I believe two now with Enrichment as part of their job description) who's job it is apparently to make sure all aspects of Enrichment are fulfilled and this Toy Item aspect is not being fulfiled. AND the Zoo is posting information like it is by alluding to that with posting information and photos.  AND alluding that those Items shown are ones made by their efforts.  I know full well that no such effort is being made.  The Keepers have received one-off painted boxes and otherwise bring in boxes and bags on their own to use.

This post is not to cry about not getting to make Enrichment Toys, although when I look at photos I have of the Cats and Bears enjoying our Toys, I cry that they don't have that anymore.  This post is about the San Francisco Zoo continually doing stuff that is just not right.  It is obvious that the Management team has no concern for what's best for the Animals, I have blogged abot so many things that reflect this.  This post is about me being tired of them treating me badly when I started out being a great friend to the Zoo.  I'm tired of it.


If the San Francisco Zoo does not want to provide Enrichment Toy Items to their Animals, there is nothing I can do about it,  BUT they should not allude to the fact that they do, by using photos of Items made independent of their Staff efforts, AND doing so by using photos they have no permission to use.

Notice to San Francisco Zoo.  Either cease using the two photos mentioned or cut us a check for licensing fees.

You can view photos of all the Enrichment Toys 
we made on my blog exclusively on this subject

You can view Photos from 
all our Enrichment Toy Days 
and other wonderful captures of 
the San Francisco Zoo Animal Friends here 

View Videos I made showing OUR photos 
of San Francisco Zoo Animals having FUN 
with OUR Enrichment Toys! :)

San Francisco Zoo - You Sure Have Got Some Balls!

Teddy Bear Treats! - Bears @ San Francisco Zoo

D'm Bones!  -  Lions @ San Francisco Zoo

happy birthday zoo friends! - animals @ san francisco zoo

NOTE:  This post will be cross posted to my other blogs.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A San Francisco Zoo Crime PLUS

The link to the right will take you to a one stop synopsis for all my SFZoo related sites, including A San Francisco Zoo Crime, which details the saga about the Zoo revoking the Memberships of myself and my friend Lee.


Friday, January 28, 2011

the end

i am sad to report that the bear birthday party was the last time lee and i will be making enrichment toys for our zoo friends.

the current carnivore (cats and bears) curator (not keepers) has recently created unnecessary obstacles that have made it impossible to continue. one of the things she recently said was, "i have no interest in celebrating birthdays." for me, this is a completely disrespectful statement regarding acknowledging and celebrating not only the lives of these wonderful animals, but for those without which none of the zoo staff would have a job. who doesn't like birthdays? miserable people, that's who.

each time we had enrichment "toy" day, visitors were drawn to it. people love seeing the animals have fun. unfortunately the zoo management see's no value in such activity. the animals are given daily enrichment in a variety of different forms, but seemed to look forward to saturdays when we would arrive with toys! saturday toy days became known to regular visitors who like us and the keepers, got great joy out of seeing the animals have fun with this type of enrichment, which the lion house keeper calls "high yield" enrichment. enrichment we create brought excitement with different shapes and color stimulation and creates an energy level much like in the wild. who would want to take that away from these animals? miserable people, that's who.

it saddens both of us, as this was something we found great joy in doing for our zoo friends. for me, it was incredible to see a big cat or bear playing with something i made. seeing little annie bear carry one of my toys to her bed and add it to her nest is beyond words. the joy that it brought to their day is priceless. to see animals smile like they all have done while playing with enrichment toys we've made makes me cry.

thank you to everyone who enjoyed this blog and to those who came out to join the fun in person.

bear birthday party!


a five bear birthday party! circumstances out of our control caused us to sadly miss getting to make special enrichment toys for all the bears on their actual birthdays ;( wishbone turned 24 on october 25th, pike 28 on november 25th, ulu reached a milestone 30! (read her story listed in the related sites post) on december 19th and the grizzly sisters turned 8 on january 1st! ... I'm happy to report that was have finally commenced having a grotto-wide bear party! these wonderful friends didn't care that the celebration of their life was belated, they had a great time playing with all their birthday toys! ... ... all the bears partied with three tier bday cakes with their ages at the top, made of boxes assembled and reinforced with paper mache, mache balls and party bags! ... pictured: cakes by kim. (more toy pix coming soon) 
see photos of all the fun here:
grizzly girls, kiona and kachina!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a winters ball!



winter themed enrichment toys by lee! the big cats got these on christmas! ... pictured: mache balls by lee! 
 see all the fun in photos here:  http://gooberssfzoofriends.shutterfly.com/4879

grapevines and owls









lee created some fun fall themed enrichment toys for the cats. she called them grapevines and owls ! ... pictured: toys by lee, padang, tunya, sukari, leanne, amanzi, amanzi, jahari.

padang's party!










padang celebrated a milestone birthday on november 29th, when she turned 21 yrs old! she is believed to be the oldest living tiger of any species in a north american zoo! padang and her cat house-mates all partied with toys in the pink and purple princess theme in her honor! padang got an opened ended three tier birthday cake, two mache bowls, one inscribed "princess" and the other "birthday girl", and two shortie party bags, one tiger striped and the other with a tiara. all her friends got tiger striped party bags, polka dot towers, and mache balls. ... pictured: padang, padang, padang, padang, amanzi, jahari, leanne, tunya, sukari.
read more about padang here:

see more photos of the fun here:


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

heads in the grass!















halloween month fun continued with head week. our idea was to have just heads in the grass looking like they were emerging from the ground! we made enough so all the lions and leanne would have two. padang had her bowls painted with bats to keep in theme. there were also bat themed mini tri-boxes with bats for the snow leopards, fishing cats or as they liked. was great fun for all the cats! they even got bonus jackos that were still left!

pictured: mummy heads and bat tri-boxes by kim, jahari, jahari, amanzi, tunya, sukari, leanne, leanne, leanne, leanne, padang, padang, ming wah

bears love dots!







i made some polka dot towers for the bears. luckily i ran into a keeper as i was heading to bears and he put a few of them out that day! ... pike got two! both lined with honey, one with added acacia branch, and the other with added fish, was set up on a branch. she went right for the lower one and the worked on it for a bit before going to investigate the higher one. after three looks, she decided to just wait for the treats to slip out. when i left the fish were peeking out, but she had licked all the honey off the ground! ... wishbone had his set in a dangling acacia branch, which he promptly grabbed down and carried off to bed! annie did this once before with something i made (video of it on my youtube channel). they like having their snacks in bed and adding the wrapper to their bedding! soooo cute! ... pictured: wishbone, wishbone, wishbone, pike, pike, pike.
see more photos from the fun here: