Sunday, June 28, 2009

happy birthday 80th birthday san francisco zoo!

this weekend marks the zoo's anniversary! you know i love the zoo that is one of the main reasons i'm doing this blog. i also love sf history and sfzoo history is the perfect combo for me! i hope along with getting to know the residents, that also learning about the zoo's history will make my goal of bringing people's passion for the zoo to a higher level. ... the zoo did a nice job in posting signs at key historic sites within the park. i hope they keep them up from now on, its a very nice touch. i'm all about educating people about the zoo and its residents, as to me, that's key in making people feel like they are a part of the zoo rather than it being just a place to go . ... in case you couldn't be there here they are. expand photo to view the bit of history.

today's newspaper article

i was going to make an anniversary post today and woke up to surprisingly a very positive article viewable on for once after reading something about the zoo on that site, i came away feeling like there was a positive message. i hope folks who read it end up realizing what a dire situation the zoo is facing and do even the smallest thing (visiting) to help keep the zoo alive for the residents. that is what i hope to accomplish with this blog. getting people passionate about their welfare, which i think is key to getting past the feelings anyone may have personally had over the past couple years and making sure the zoo not only survives, but thrives! ... happy 80th anniversary san francisco zoo and many more!

big cats sleep too!

"george's hangover!"

"isn't this what i'm supposed to be doing?"

"so many naps, so little time!"

so, i often hear people say "they aren't doing anything" in reference to the residents, mostly the big cats. well, two things. first, the residents aren't there for entertainment purposes, they are there so you have the amazing opportunity to see them in person when in most people's lifetimes they only see such beautiful creatures on tv at best. second, domestic cats sleep 20 hours a day, big cats are no different! i can tell you, i'm a leo and a master lounger, so even zodiac cats love to sleep!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


like her cub playmate tunya, amanzi and kita came to the sfzoo from a south africa breeding center (i believe). i have read that up until the trio came here as part of a new breeding program for pure african lions, that most of the captive lions were an african/asian mix. before kita gave birth to jahari and kimani fathered by tunya, amanzi gave birth to a litter fathered by tunya. sadly they didn't make it. i hope jahari gets the go ahead and gets to breed with her, it would be nice for her to get the chance to be a mama and for jahari to carry on tunya and kita's genes.


jahari's early story is the same as kimani's. jahari lives mostly in the big cat grotto between his papa and sister and usually one of the sumatran tigers. sometimes the two lion prides rotate grottos. you can tell jahari by the dark spot on his nose. he has lived with amanzi since he was a juvenile, in hopes that he would breed with her. his mama and papa were six when he was born and he will be six this year, soooo.... i have been told that may still happen, once its been ruled out (by examination this week) that he hasn't inherited his papa's medical condition. yeah! we may have lion cubs again someday!


kimani was born at the sfzoo in 2003. she and her brother jahari had to be hand raised by keepers when sadly their mama kita died a few days after they were born. kimani looks alot like her mama! just realized it when i found and posted a photo of kita i took in 2002, in the "missing" entry. kimani can often be seen in the window giving cat kisses (blinking eyes) to visitors.


tunya came to the sfzoo in 1997 with amanzi, an unrelated female. a month later they were joined by kita. the three of them came to the zoo, as sort of a lion pride for the future, as the remaining lions were seniors. while still cubs, the three of them lived in the enclosure that padang is in now. tunya fathered jahari and kimani with kita, but because of a health issue can not breed again. he lives with his daughter kimani, most often in the first big cat grotto.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

missing those that have passed

taking a break on big cats to give a mention to a few past residents that were standouts for me. writing about the tigers made me remember prince charles, a white tiger that was a zoo resident for many years. i remember him vividly from the time i was in my teens. like most of the past residents i regret that i don't know as much detail about them. ... sabrina the black leopard who was here for years. before moving to the fcc she was housed in one of those horrible old time medium cat cages. thankfully those were demolished many years ago. ... i miss all the elephants and at the time we still had them, unfortunately i didn't know their names. i do now and miss them all. sadly calle and maybelle passed. since one was asian and the other african, that left their companions alone, so tinkerbelle and lulu were moved to the PAWS sanctuary. sadly maybelle has passed since, but you can view photos of lulu and her new friends on the PAWS website. photo of maybelle boo at the zoo 2002 ... since i'm reaching back to my youth, a shout out to the sun bears who used to sit upright on their butts at the edge of the grotto's and give what seemed to be a wave greeting! ... puddles and cuddles the longtime hippo residents. i always thought their pool was too small for their size, but when i found out they were in their 40s, i thought changing their environment might not be the best idea i had originally wished for them. sadly i was semi right as papa puddles didn't survive the move when construction started on their new home. mama cuddles passed last year. they lived a long life and were blessed with many babies, i want to say 14 or so! ... last year we also lost jaho the male mandrill. he was the most beautifully colored animal i have ever seen. the colors on his body were incredible. you couldn't take your eyes off him, even if it sometimes felt wrong to be staring there! a keeper told me that he "loved the ladies" and would wave to female passers by. ... we recently lost gorgeous chamois, the angora goat. she had the sweetest face and most beautiful white coat for living in a barnyard! i brought in this photo of her and the keepers put it in her stall on top of her brush for the week after her passing. ... lastly i'll mention kita, the female african lion. mama to current residents, jahari and kimani. i felt kita's death most as i remembered her arrival here in 1997 with papa tunya and female roommate amanzi. these three came here as cubs and were housed in the space padang now lives in. at the time there wasn't as much barrier and you could basically get as close as the fencing. i used to visit them often and one time i was talking to one and it ran over to a small red ball and batted it with its big cub paw all the way over to where i was standing. it looked at me, then gave the final bat to me. the ball rolled back from the fence in front of me and baby stood there and i know was saying "play with me!" i said, "i would love to play with you (if i could)!" i remember going to the lion house just after jahari and kimani were born to find out kita died soon after giving birth. i felt sick and began a boycott of the zoo for a bit after that, becuz i thought with emotion only (i had no facts) and felt her death could have been prevented. it was only my loss, becuz i missed a major part of getting to watch jahari and kimani grow up. i feel it even more in hindsight now that i love them and knowing the joy i got from seeing the tiger triplets grow. i eventually talked to a keeper and got the facts and her death was not something that could have been prevented. at the time i wondered if kita was my playmate, but have since possibly ID'd as baby tunya!

skylar (aka leanne)

leanne, aka skylar (given name). she's been mentioned a couple times now, so you know she's a female sumatran. she's six years old and the cublets were her first litter. she was born at the toronto zoo 7.7.03. she and her littermates (sister chelsea, who is in atlanta now and brother kougra, who is in dallas) were the first captive born tigers in canada. her parents brytne and rengat are still in toronto and have since had another litter.

bali (aka george)

george, george, george of the jungle! georgie aka bali. i would actually like to call him bali more as that's his given name, but i was first told his name was george (sfzoo given) and that's what i'm used to, so habit. i like bali as is represents his tiger heritage, in that he was named along with his brother java after two now extinct tiger species, the bali around 1935 and the javan around 1960. i think the names are a beautiful tribute. i read that java is now at a zoo in washington and their sister (and litter mate) delta is at the san deigo zoo. they were born on 5.22.98 at the henry doorly zoo in omaha. george came to the sfzoo after a stopover in denver. george is an eleven year old male sumatran, mated with leanne and father of the cublets. while separated from mama and cubs, he was sometimes housed next to padang and they became friendly as well. they can sometimes be seen looking for each other at the window, when he is rotating the enclosure with tony.


tony, tone, tone! come on, we all have nicknames for our companion animals, why not our zoo friends? tony is a big ( take a look at the size of his head and legs!) gorgeous siberian boy tiger. he was born on 3.21.92 at the reid park zoo in tucson along with his sister, emily. they came to the sfzoo together in 6.93. sadly he has lost both his companions, his sister (2004) passed and tatiana (2007) when she tried to defend herself, him, and their home. thankfully he has found some affection in padang. when i saw that window between them open for the first time i almost cried. i just wish they connected more, as often you see them teasing each other with vocals or missing one another. expand the last photo for a rare moment! most often i see padang who is more consistent, passing by the window, while tony or george is sleeping below the it, out of sight.


i ended on a feline note, so i'll continue with big cats. mentioning the cublets, i mentioned padang, who lived in the enclosure the cubs grew up in, prior to their birth. when they outgrew that area she reclaimed her home. padang is a nineteen year old female sumatran. she lives in this enclosure solo as she had an early (before she came to sfzoo) injury to her front paw, which may prevent her from properly defending herself in an aggressive situation. i mention this and her age (as aging cats do thin out), as even though her story is posted outside her enclosure, every time i visit her, i hear people say with negativity "why is she alone?" and/or "why is she so skinny, don't they feed her?" the latter a clear ignorant comment propelled by the tatiana event. padang seems to be a sweet and happy girl. since she has been back home, an old fenced window to the neighboring enclosure has been opened and a special podium made for her to have viewing access to her neighbors. while in lock down (during the grotto construction) in the lion house after the tatiana event, padang and tony, tatiana's companion became sweet on each other and can be seen greeting each other at the window and giving an affectionate head butt! i've had the joy of being a recipient of such as well. one day i was bent down to her level when she saw me, came over and stopped. as she came closer to the glass, i met her with the same. she tilted her head down and rubbed the glass against where i had met hers with a head tilt as well. i got a head butt from padang! make that a head butt from a tiger! incredible! she then continued on her perimeter rounds, checking the window for her boyfriend, but the next two times she rounded and stopped. my head butt talley for the visit was three! ... photo of padang celebrating her birthday last november.

babies,babies, babies!

who doesn't love a baby animal? if you don't there's something seriously wrong with you and leave my blog immediately! will do babies next in honor of meeting those beautiful ocelot cubs yesterday. the zoo highlighted all the babies through the month of may as a mom's day spotlight. i noticed the printed list left off a couple, so if you haven't seen all the babies, you will want to check them out soon! in no particular order ... newest is the francois langur, born less than two weeks ago, you can see him clinging to his mama, who surprising to me is usually at the front of the enclosure (make sure to go upstairs). you can spot baby easy as unlike the adults who are primarily black in color, the baby's are bright orange! ... in the neighboring enclosure is baya, the female howler monkey born on thanksgiving day last year. i had been stopping by doing a birth check for what seemed like a couple months, as sometimes due dates with animals just can't be predicted that closely. thanksgiving morning i wondered by, corn dog in hand and saw keeper corrine behind the fencing. i said "baby yet?" and go the good news of the am birth! and was lucky to catch a glimpse of the little thing! i was surprised to see how big in size relative to the adult the baby was compared to the baby panda i had been viewing daily via the atlanta zoo's panda cam. baya brings the family total to four, mama diamond, papa bosko and sister lupe. ... speaking of the amazing difference in not only size, but the get up and go factor right after birth, are baby giraffes! the zoo currently has two! i don't remember there ever being two babies at the same time. papa to both, sam has been a busy boy! mama bititi gave birth to female camilla in january and mama kristin gave birth to male niklas in april. ... neighbor to camilla and niklas is probably the most media attentioned baby of all, hasani, the baby gorilla born in december. the story of his birth, his mama's (monifa) disinterest, and his eventual partnering with a surrogate mom (bawang) has continually made the news. his thriving and the progress made involving a surrogate, is a testament to the care the residents get. ... sticking with primates, both tamarin species have recently expanded their families! the pied tamarin had two births in recent months, one in march and the other in may. so you will see two sized babies riding on the backs of their mama's. next to them, the most recent birth is of the emperor tamarin, maybe just about under three weeks old. i saw them a couple days after they were born and their heads looked the size of a quarter and unlike the adults they have no beards. pix are near impossible becuz of the glare on the enclosure glass. i will work on adding a link to zoo friends with high powered cameras. ... keeping with the tiniest babies, in late april/early may there was a prairie dog litter of five born. this was the first time i'd seen prairie dog babies. so small and cute zooming around. my quick fav became the apparent runt who i nicknamed small fry! ... december of last year also brought java the baby dukier. this little guy was quite elusive to me and it was prob a couple months before i caught a glimpse of him! .... last fall the most recent baby kangaroo was born. i realize now i don't know its name, but will try to add that soon. i hadn't even heard about it til keeper allison told me (thankx!). evidently it had just started to peek out of the pouch, so i went over to hopefully get a peek myself and luckily allison wandered by on break and pointed it out or i'd have never seen it! note to self, bring binoculars to the zoo! a babie who i have yet to see is the aye-aye, who is just coming into his first birthday. this birth is significant as it is (i read) the first one born in a north american zoo. ... all the babies are sooooooo cute and must see's on your zoo to do list! but i do have a special affection for two, unfortunately both have been recently transferred to other places. ... first is bulldozer, giraffe son of (you guessed it) sam the big man on the savannah! and bititi. he will be two next month and shares my birthday of august 11th. i watched him grow up and will miss my dozer do, but he has gone to safari west in santa rosa, near enough to visit. he has been paired to breed with a young female there who coincidentally i have a video of from animals planet's series "growing up". so its like i've seen both grow up and i can't wait to see their offspring! ... second is the sumatran tiger triplets, born in march. i was anxiously awaiting the chance to see the cubs, when i wandered by the big cat area one tues in mid april. i turned the corner to visit padang who resides in the corner enclosure, and there was a gathering at the glass. i thought it was unusual as there aren't that many visitors there, especially gawking so intently and oohing and awwing (not that padang isn't fantastic enough to warrant that!). corn dog in hand (do you see a pattern to my route?) i squeezed my way to the glass and saw a beautiful thing, a tiny tiger cub! i was told mama skylar had starting bringing the cubs outside one at a time the day before. i had missed the first cub in the rotation, but after about 20 minutes mama picked the second one up in her mouth and carried it inside, returning with the third one! from this day on i upped my zoo visits to 2-3 times a week. for the next 8 months, i was lucky to watch the cublets (what i call them) grow. it was an amazing experience. you just never know when, if ever you will get a chance like that. often while watching them play as babies i would think what a godsend they were on the heels of our tiger loss and wonder if tatiana's soul was now in one of those babies. unfortunately the cublets were moved to the akron zoo in may. will miss seeing them, although they had gotten so big, it was sometimes hard to tell them from their mama! word is skylar and papa george may get the go ahead to breed again soon! ... he isn't a zoo baby, but the most important baby to me, my little lion cub (who's been trying his hand at blogging!), 11 week old miracle, baby meep! ... zoo babies photo note, giraffes are baby niklas at 3 days old and dozer giving sister camilla a kiss!

feline conservation center

since i mentioned the fcc, the residents there are next up. i don't have alot of photos from there for one main reason, the enclosures there are so well landscaped for natural habitat, often when it was open i wouldn't see any of the residents. the photos posted are from my two recent visits and mostly of ming wah. ... ming wah is the female snow leopard. she is seventeen and was born on 5.19.92 at the sfzoo. she was an active and successful member of the species survival plan (ssp) for many years, but becuz of age she is no longer breeding. ... her neighbor is rigel, a male snow leopard who was brought there as an intended mate. i actually saw him out for the first time yesterday, he is a beauty too! his fur seems to have a more tan coloring, where ming wah has the traditional white. he seems very into her and playful. he was watching her closely and doing a bit of play stalking from his enclosure which is adjacent but divided by a fence. ... the three fishing cat siblings are, sunfish, angelfish and goldfish. they were born at fcc on 6.14.03 ... the ocelot family includes the female inca (b. 12.19.04 at sfzoo) and male diego (b. 11.17.03 in florida), who are the parents to all four of the male cubs there. one pair, gustavo and ricardo born 5.19.07 and the other pair, santo and frisco in april. ... photos are of ming wah, one of the fishing cats and the juvenile ocelots.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

today's newspaper article

i can't write about my love for the zoo without at some point commenting on the tiger event that happened christmas day 2007. with the publishing of today's article, (viewable on, it presents the perfect time to say a few things becuz the gist of it basically outlines how the love i have for the zoo is in jeopardy. i'll assume most people who have happened here are familiar with the tiger event. i do not want to make this a forum like that on sfgate where readers who have uneducated opinions about the purpose of zoo's in general, who don't take the time to educate themselves about zoo's, animals, or even the tiger event specifically or those who have never been to the sfzoo, get a public say. they can make their own blog. i also don't want to put forth my opinion about how that event came to be. i want to say, for 78 years there had been no big cat escapes from those grotto's, that i know of. my main problem with the media attention and ignorance its bred, is that its focused almost exclusivley on the height of the wall. when reporting the word as it appears from the associaltion guidelines states "reccomended" height, not "required". meaning seems obvious to me and blameless. ... i was there that christmas day two hours before the event that took tatiana's life and this may very well be, the last photo ever taken of her (above). she was not displaying any negative mood, she was enjoying a winter day's sun. ... the events of that day in my opinion were laid by humans. the aftermath has left a stain on the zoo's reputation and financial stability. my fear is the residents who have called the sfzoo home, some for over forty years, may not have the chance to live out their lives there. if you believe in the zoo, please make an extra effort to support it in even the simplest way, by visiting and visiting more often and by sharing your feelings with others. maybe you will touch someone who has never visited the zoo or hasn't in along time. its a small way you can do something for the very animals on these pages that i'm hoping you'll come to love too.

june member morning

my blog plan was to do resident profiles before going wide publicly, but i haven't gotten that far and i want to comment on this am's event held in the feline conservation center. the fcc has been closed for about a year/half now and it really is too bad for all the cat lovers, becuz you really do get to see some beauties in a great environment. the fcc was established as a breeding environment (i believe). the current residents include two snow leopards (once intended mates), three fishing cat siblings and and an ocelot family that includes parents, two juvenile brothers and a pair of ten week old boys. i was lucky enough to get a private visit a couple months ago (thankx! to katheryne) and see ming wah (female snow leopard) get fed by keeper allison (thankx!). that was a treat, but as the fcc is a special place, i was given another treat today. after the event was over, my friend andie and i, along with another pair were invited by keeper hilary (thankx!) to stay and get a peek at the ocelot cubs (who weren't visible during the event)!! she brought us into the outer enclosure and opened the nesting box where mama inca and her two babies were! there is fencing at the opening and they were about three feet from us! these are my best shots (open full view for best viewing) as we weren't allowed to us flash (even though mine went off accidentally once! sorry!). it was very special and i'm grateful for the experience.