Rescue-focused zoo plan put out to pasture

The underfunded San Francisco Zoo will not have to make drastic changes to transform into a rescue center.

Operations of the zoo came under close scrutiny following last year’s Christmas Day attack, when a tiger escaped from its enclosure and mauled three young men, killing one. After the incident, city officials immediately began to investigate the facility’s operatons. The attack also exposed faulty animal enclosures.

Costs associated with improving safety following the attack also put the zoo in a budget quagmire this year, officials said.

Supervisor Chris Daly proposed transforming the zoo into a rescue center, with a strong focus on animal welfare. On Tuesday, he could not gain enough votes at the Board of Supervisors’ meeting. In a bid to win support, Daly changed his legislation to just establish an animal-welfare oversight committee to recommend how the zoo should operate in the future. Daly’s bill was defeated by a 7-4 vote.

Critics said it was unnecessary and the zoo should operate under its existing mission.

“We are on a path to get the zoo improved,” Supervisor Bevan Dufty said.

“This legislation would not have prevented that horrible, horrific, tragic accident,” said Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, referring to the fatal mauling.

Dufty said the zoo already includes rescue animals and changes are under way to ensure improved operations, including oversight by Carl Friedman, director of Animal Care and Control. Dufty said Friedman’s efforts will “create the atmosphere in which we can get the focus that we need on animal-welfare issues so that we create a larger base of support for the zoo.

“The zoo needs more resources.”

The San Francisco Zoological Society took a strong position against Daly’s legislation and campaigned heavily against it. The society said the bill would “take the zoo backward, not forward” by losing its ability to participate in national zoo-conservation programs, such as its garter snake recovery program. 

Acting zoo director Tanya Peterson acknowledged that some older exhibits are in need of improvement. She said a master plan recommending facility improvements is expected in six months and will be heard by the Recreation and Park Commission. She said a more aggressive fundraising campaign will kick off soon.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

In other action

In a 10-0 vote, the environmental review of the $1.3 billion Central Subway project, the 1.7-mile line planned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, was adopted and appeals calling for more mitigation measures were rejected.

Supervisor Tom Ammiano introduced an ordinance to spend $498,304 in the city budget reserve to fund additional community-based organizations in the Mission district, in response to recent violence in the neighborhood.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick introduced a resolution urging the Department of Public Works to revisit the newly launched reduction in street sweeping from once every week to every two weeks in residential neighborhoods. Public Works has said the reduction would save about $1 million.

Bay Area NewsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPoliticsSan Francisco zoo

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Demonstrators commemorated the life of George Floyd and others killed by police outside S.F. City Hall on June 1, 2020.<ins></ins>
Chauvin verdict: SF reacts after jury finds ex-officer guilty on all charges

San Franciscans were relieved Tuesday after jurors found a former Minneapolis police… Continue reading

San Francisco Unified School District Board member Faauuga Moliga, right, pictured with Superintendent Vincent Matthews on the first day back to classrooms, will be board vice president for the remander of the 2121 term. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Faauuga Moliga named as school board vice president to replace Alison Collins

The San Francisco school board on Tuesday selected board member Fauuga Moliga… Continue reading

Legislation by Supervisor Rafael Mandelman would require The City to add enough new safe camping sites, such as this one at 180 Jones St. in the Tenderloin, to accomodate everyone living on the street. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City would create sites for hundreds of tents under new homeless shelter proposal

Advocates say funding better spent on permanent housing

An instructor at Sava Pool teaches children drowning prevention techniques. (Jordi Molina/ Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Indoor city pools reopen for lap swimming and safety classes

Two of San Francisco’s indoor city pools reopened Tuesday, marking another step… Continue reading

A construction worker rides on top of materials being transported out of the Twin Peaks Tunnel as work continues at West Portal Station on Thursday, August 16, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
SFMTA’s poor track record on capital projects risks losing ‘public trust’

Supervisors say cost overruns and delays could jeapordize future ballot revenue measures

Most Read