Commission urges supervisors to evaluate zoo overhaul

San Francisco Zoo leaders are being urged by The City’s animal welfare commission to make swift changes in focus and leadership to protect the park’s main attraction — its animals.

On Tuesday, the San Francisco Commission of Animal Control and Welfare unanimously recommended that the Board of Supervisors immediately study zoo animals’ quality of life and urged zoo officials to overhaul zoo management and oversight, and turn the facility into one that could rescue exotic animals from private owners and other potentially risky situations.

The zoo’s 2007 master-plan update, which calls for the addition of a botanical garden and seaside nature trail, places visitor experience over animal safety and comfort, according to commission President Sally Stephens.

Commissioners used the rescue of several grizzly bear cubs last summer as an example of where the zoo’s focus should be.

“There is no shortage of exotic species, including big cats, in need of placement after being rescued from inhumane private-ownership situations,” according to a letter, penned by commissioner Andrea Brooks, which will be sent to the Board of Supervisors.

However, because the commission is only an advisory board, the Board of Supervisors is not obligated to consider the recommendations, let alone follow them, said Stephens.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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