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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Zoo Insider, Longtime S.F. Animal Welfare Advocate Can't Recall Any *Other* People Jumping Into Animal Enclosures Over Past Four Decades

Posted By on Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 5:30 AM

click to enlarge 'No Solicitors' sign effective until quite recently...
  • 'No Solicitors' sign effective until quite recently...
Yesterday, we ran a story noting how San Francisco Zoo officials weren't sure if any patrons had ever entered an animal enclosure prior to this weekend's close call in the grizzly bear lair.

We haven't gotten any calls back from the zoo's media relations department, but one of the city's most veteran animal welfare advocates told SF Weekly that if anyone has wandered into an animal cage at the zoo since 1970, it's news to him.   

Carl Friedman is the zoo's director of special projects; prior to that he ran the city's Animal Care and Control from 1988 to January of this year. And prior to that he ran the SPCA from 1970 to 75 and then served on the Animal Control Welfare Commission for the 13 year interregnum between his city jobs. So if anyone had traipsed into a zoo habitat over the past 40-odd years, he'd have heard about it. And he didn't.

Government Code

"I think with any issue regarding the welfare of animals, my department would have known about it," he said.

Far from the days of his youth when zoo-goers were encouraged to interact and even throw food to the animals, San Francisco Zoo patrons are asked to leave the animals alone. There are even sections of the zoo "where we ask people to lower their voices a little bit." Earlier this year, Friedman implored a company that runs blimp tours to avoid buzzing the zoo, as it scared the hell out of the chimpanzees. So, yes, the days of tossing peanuts to the elephants are over.

And while the zoo is best known of late for the bear breach and the Christmas, 2007 escape of Tatiana the tiger -- who killed a teenager and mauled two others after allegedly being taunted -- Friedman said incidents of zoo-goers teasing or mistreating the animals are rare. If anyone has been ejected from the zoo for misbehavior in the last year and change, that, too, would be news to him.

Photo   |   Nevit Dilman

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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