Three Dot Lounge for November 16, 2014

Three dot lounge is a mostly-weekly collection of things that deserve more than a retweet. Stay tuned for fascinating opinions and pithy commentary. Also keep an eye on my Twitter feed for more interesting stuff.

Probe finds San Francisco Zoo gorilla pen unsafe

Probe finds San Francisco Zoo gorilla pen unsafe

Laurie and I were donors of fairly large donations to the SF Zoo for a number of years. We finally moved our donation money elsewhere for a a number of reasons, some of which included it being far enough away that we simply didn’t get up there very often, and when we went to member functions like night tours, they were so crowded they weren’t worth it.

But the big reason we pulled our funding was how poorly the facility was handling the upkeep and upgrading of its facilities (to be fair, at that time, the zoo was under the control of the City, which did an incredibly bad job of funding and a worse job of allowing the zoo to work around the city’s poor funding — since resolved by spinning the zoo out of City control). The zoo seemed to always have great plans to upgrade the facilities and poor ability to actually implement them.

The San Francisco Zoo is infamous for the Siberian Tiger escape that killed one person, but there have been cases of handlers injured during feeding, and now this tragic death of a gorilla.

Baby Lowland Gorilla, San Francisco Zoo. Isn't it cute? Shot at the San Francisco Zoo, here's a nice "awwwwww, CUTE!" shot. What isn't seen here is the 20 minutes I spent chasing for a position to get any shot at all of the kid, and two minutes after getting this one, it took off into the sleeping area in the keeper's building and out of sight completely. But for that one short minute, we have cute on a stick. This is Hasani, who was about 18 months old at the time of this image.

Baby Lowland Gorilla, San Francisco Zoo.
Isn’t it cute? Shot at the San Francisco Zoo, here’s a nice “awwwwww, CUTE!” shot. What isn’t seen here is the 20 minutes I spent chasing for a position to get any shot at all of the kid, and two minutes after getting this one, it took off into the sleeping area in the keeper’s building and out of sight completely.
But for that one short minute, we have cute on a stick.
This is Hasani, who was about 18 months old at the time of this image.

This was shot at that facility on my last trip in 2010. There’s a common theme among all three of the problems I mention: the two Tiger attacks both happened in WPA-era facilities that were planned for upgrades but never were; the Gorilla facility was built around 1980 and is 30 years old; the cause of death of the baby gorilla seems to be a combination of some operator inattention and a door without basic safety equipment (no beam alarm like every garage on every house has had for 25 years) and poorly designed and operating door mechanics.

I felt the facility the gorillas live in looked shabby on my last visit; state of the art clearly has moved on and the Zoo hasn’t updated the facility to match that. This lack of investment in facilities now has led to the death of their gorilla.

And unfortunately, given the people who have led the zoo over the years and the board that backs them, none of this surprises me. Which explains why they don’t get any of our money any more, and why my last visit there was four years ago…

this is an incredibly sad event, should have been 100% preventable, but wasn’t, and that just reinforces my belief that this zoo needs a complete reinvention starting with their executive and leadership teams. I don’t blame the handlers and the people on the ground, it’s not their fault the facilities at this zoo are so far behind state of the art.

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