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Oakland Zoo

Oakland Zoo

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Oakland Zoo is located in the rolling hills of 525-acre Knowland Park, at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580, in Oakland, California.Managed by the East Bay Zoological Society, it is a non-profit organization founded by Henry Snow in 1922. The zoo is well known for its animal management practices and support of endangered species programs.An accredited member of the American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums, the zoo is home to more than 440 animals, represented by 100 species living in lush confines. The zoo’s specialty is that the collections are organized in biomes, geographic regions that represent the ecosystem of each animal’s natural habitat.Inhabitants include a variety of birds, mammals, arthropods, reptiles, and amphibians.An Arabian Camel, Bearded Dragon, South African Burrowing Bullfrog, Green Monkey, Malayan Fruit Bat, Spurred Tortoise, White’s Tree Frog, Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan, Sacred Ibis, Monitor Lizard, and Wreathed Hornbill are among the species represented.Some of the native residents are American bison, bobcat, river otter, and kangaroo rat.A children’s petting zoo, a carousel, a chair lift, an educational wildlife theatre, a miniature train, and a scenic skyride can also be seen here.Further, the zoo provides three party options to choose from including the Baboon Banquet, the Elephant Extravaganza, and the Flamingo Fantasy.The zoo offers numerous on-site and outreach programs focusing on wildlife and environmental education. It also organizes group tours, lecture series, trainings, and zoo camps.

A History of Riverbanks Zoo & Garden

Riverbanks Zoo and Garden is one of the most successful mid-sized zoos in the United States. Since opening in April 1974, Riverbanks has won a number of awards for exhibit design, breeding programs and marketing efforts. Riverbanks attracts more than one-million visitors each year and is supported by a private, non-profit organization of more than 38,000 member households.

In the early 1960s, a group of local businessmen initiated the concept of a small community zoo. Known as the Columbia Zoo, the proposed facility was designed exclusively as a children’s zoo with a nursery rhyme theme. Funding restraints and other problems doomed the initial effort, but the concept of a zoo for the Midlands of South Carolina persisted.

In 1969 the South Carolina General Assembly created the Rich-Lex Riverbanks Park Special Purpose District, the legal and governing authority for what was to ultimately become Riverbanks Zoo and Garden. The seven-member Riverbanks Park Commission was established as the district’s governing authority.

By creating Riverbanks as a Special Purpose District, the state legislature significantly expanded the Zoo’s support base. Richland and Lexington counties joined the city of Columbia as full partners in the budding Riverbanks project. Each of the three political entities appointed two members to the Commission, with the seventh appointed at-large. Approximately 100 acres of land on both sides of the Lower Saluda River and just outside of the city proper were leased to the commission by South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) for 99 years at $1.00 per year.

Following five years of planning and construction, Riverbanks finally opened to the public on April 25, 1974. Notable features of the original Zoo design were the mountainous, moated exhibits for cats and bears (these remain a part of the Zoo's landscape today and can be seen immediately upon entering the parking area). Other major exhibits included two buildings with a total of 21 individual exhibits for small mammals and a moated enclosure for giraffes and white rhinos. Perhaps the most striking architectural feature of the new Zoo was the 22,000-square-foot Ecosystem Birdhouse. Located in the heart of the Zoo, this building housed hundreds of birds in indoor and outdoor exhibits.

Early on, Zoo leaders and local government officials realized that Riverbanks would not be a self-supporting operation as originally intended. During the first two years of operation, the Zoo suffered financially as several attempts to secure adequate operating support failed. In the summer of 1976, Palmer &ldquoSatch” Krantz was hired as executive director. That decision, combined with a change in the make-up and philosophy of the commission, led to a reassessment of the Zoo and its position in the community.

Armed with a renewed sense of purpose and spirit, the Zoo began to establish itself as a valuable community asset. In the fall of 1976, the Riverbanks Zoological Society was formed, giving citizens their first opportunity to actively show their support. Within three years several thousand people had joined the Society, demonstrating to local government leaders that there was indeed strong grassroots support for the Zoo. Knowing they had the support of the community, local government leaders voted to begin funding the Zoo as a millage agency in 1980, effectively ending the financial crisis.

Several major accomplishments marked the early 1980s. Full-time staff positions in education, veterinary medicine and marketing were established. The Society began using direct mail to sell memberships with astonishing results. In 1982 Riverbanks received the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for its black howler monkey breeding program, and in 1983 the Education Center (now known as the Discovery Center) opened, marking the first significant addition to the Zoo.

In 1986, the Commission and staff turned their attention to planning the first major expansion of the Zoo. Based on visitor surveys, industry trends and the need to correct problems from the initial construction, an aggressive expansion plan, known as Zoo II, was developed. As further evidence that tremendous strides had been made with government leaders, a $6.35 million bond issue was unanimously passed for Zoo II in 1987. Construction began soon thereafter on two major new exhibits and several visitor service amenities. When construction was finally completed in the fall of 1989, Riverbanks had changed from a small Zoo to one of significant size and importance.

Relocating and expanding the Zoo’s entrance to a more central location in the park was a key component of the Zoo II plan. Combined with a new gift shop, Riverbanks was better able to accommodate its rapidly growing audience. A new 200-seat restaurant, the Kenya Cafe, also was built, solving a problem that had long plagued the Zoo — the need for an adequate food service facility.

Riverbanks Farm, an interactive display of domestic animals exhibited in a contemporary farm setting, opened in 1988. The architectural design of the Farm’s barn was noted by the South Carolina chapter of the American Institute of Architects with an Award of Achievement.

Without question the most successful element of the Zoo II plan was the Aquarium-Reptile Complex (ARC). The ARC combined two groups of animals — reptiles and fish — into one exhibit sequence. Starting in South Carolina, visitors are taken on an imaginary trip through a number of diverse habitats, from the desert to the tropics to the ocean. Along the way, animals native to those habitats are seen in naturalistic exhibits. The central element of the ARC is a 55,000-gallon Indo-Pacific coral reef tank.

The ARC’s impact on Riverbanks was dramatic. In 1990 more than one million people visited the Zoo.

Immediately after completing Zoo II, the Commission and staff began to develop the next phase of the Riverbanks project — a formal botanical garden. Included in the Commission’s original lease from SCE&G was approximately 53 acres of land immediately across the Lower Saluda River from the Zoo. This incredible piece of property had been virtually unused for more than 100 years. The site presented the staff and designers with a number of challenges, such as a 100-foot rise in elevation from the river to the hilltop above. It also is heavily wooded with native hardwoods and pines, and large granite boulders litter the site. The property contains the stone ruins of one of South Carolina’s first textile mills and is the site where General Sherman's troops camped and shelled the city of Columbia prior to marching in and burning it during the Civil War.

Construction of Riverbanks Botanical Garden began in 1994 following the unanimous passage of a $6 million bond issue. The Garden opened on June 10, 1995 and is connected to the Zoo by an 800-foot-long bridge over the Lower Saluda River. The Garden includes a 10,000-square-foot visitor center, a formal walled garden, an antique rose garden, a historical interpretive center and a half-mile long nature trail along the native forest and riverbank. Visitors may access the Garden by walking or by taking a motorized tram.

In December 1997 the members of Lexington and Richland county councils approved the most ambitious bond issue in Riverbanks history to-date—$15 million. These monies were used to fund a number of improvements in the Zoo and Garden, known collectively as Zoo 2002. Among the improvements was a new entrance to Riverbanks through the Botanical Garden, replacement of the Zoo’s original birdhouse, a new entry plaza, a new lemur island exhibit, new exhibits for elephants and gorillas, a new visitor service center (food, gift and group assembly area) with an Africa theme and a koala exhibit. These improvements were constructed and completed over a three-year period, between 1999 and 2002.

Riverbanks broke ground on the largest expansion in Zoo history in May of 2014. The $36-million expansion and development project known as Destination Riverbanks would change the entire landscape of the Zoo and Garden. Projects opened in three phases. Phase one was completed in the summer of 2015. Highlights included two new animal habitats, Grizzly Ridge and Otter Run, an expanded entry plaza and ticketing facility, a state-of-the-art Guest Relations Center sponsored by SCE&G and a 4,500 square-foot gift shop. Waterfall Junction, a 3-acre children’s garden in the Botanical Garden, opened in April of 2016 completing phase two while phase three came to fruition in June of 2016 with the opening of Sea Lion Landing. The stunning replica of San Francisco’s Pier 39 is home to California sea lions and harbor seals.

Riverbanks is now considered by community and political leaders as well as the residents of Columbia to be the area’s premier attraction. Riverbanks has twice won the Travel Attraction of the Year award by the Southeast Tourism Society and also has twice been awarded the annual Governor’s Cup by the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism as the state’s Most Outstanding Attraction. The Zoo and Garden have been cited in a number of prestigious publications, including National Geographic and Horticulture magazines. The AZA again recognized Riverbanks with the distinguished Edward H. Bean Award in 1998 for its Toco toucan breeding program and in 2011 for long-term breeding and conservation of the endangered Bali mynah.

Following the Destination Riverbanks transformation, the Zoo and Garden boasted an all-time attendance record by welcoming 1,280,911 guests during the 2015–2016 fiscal year. That number surpassed the previous one-year record by 227,534 guests which was set during the 2013–2014 fiscal year. The latest record ranks Riverbanks among the largest zoos in the United States based on attendance.

5 Things You Need to Know about CalFresh

After years of reporting on low income and food stamps topics, I’ve learned that there are several things that most people don’t know about their California EBT benefits.

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  • You can get cash back – literally! If you shop with food stamps, you can get extra cash in your pocket. We’ll show you how.

S.F. Zoo's history of mismanagement morale down under new director

1 of 5 Director of the San Francisco Zoo, Manuel Mollinedo, makes a statement about the tiger mauling at the zoo that killed one and injured two others on Tuesday 12/25. Mike Kepka / The Chronicle Photo taken on 12/26/07, in San Francisco, CA, USA MANDATORY CREDIT FOR PHOTOG AND SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE/NO SALES-MAGS OUT Mike Kepka Show More Show Less

2 of 5 A motorcycle police officer prepares to enter the San Francisco Zoo on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007, to search for additional victims of Tuesdays tiger attacks. Tatiana, a 350-pound Siberian tiger, escaped from its enclosure and attacked three people Tuesday, killing one. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Noah Berger Show More Show Less

4 of 5 Police officers examine the tiger enclosure at the San Francisco Zoo on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2007, in San Francisco following a Christmas Day tiger attack that left one person dead and two others injured. Tatiana, a Siberian tiger, escaped from the grotto and attacked three people before police shot and killed her. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Noah Berger Show More Show Less

A koala is kidnapped. Sheep are molested by a human intruder. An elephant does a headstand on a technician, breaking her pelvis. A tiger ravages its keeper's arm. A year later, on Christmas Day, the same feline escapes, kills and gets killed.

This is what life can be like at the San Francisco Zoo, a 78-year-old institution saddled with a history of mismanagement and scores of injuries to animals, employees and visitors alike - yet still beloved by generations of Bay Area residents.

It's almost as if the place is cursed.

Tuesday's attack by Tatiana, a Siberian tiger that broke out of her yard, fatally mauled a teenager and injured two of his friends before being shot to death by police, has captured international attention. From Paris to Beijing, people are asking: How could this happen?

"For the next 50 years, it's what the San Francisco Zoo will be remembered for," said one high-ranking former employee.

The very public tragedy overshadows decades of problems - and the troubles of the current zoo administration, which began in February 2004 when Manuel Mollinedo became director of the 100-acre facility.

Almost four years later, attendance has increased, celebrations built around ethnic holidays have drawn crowds, new arrivals such as KuneKune pigs have proved popular, and two splashy exhibits - Hearst Grizzly Gulch and the long-planned African Savanna - have opened. However, problems have multiplied and employee morale has plummeted.

"It's never been this bad," one worker said.

For this story, Mollinedo declined to talk. "Manuel is not doing interviews," Lora LaMarca, the zoo's director of marketing and public relations, said Friday.

The director's tenure has been highly eventful.

Three of the zoo's four elephants have died since March 2004 - two at the zoo, a third at a Calaveras County sanctuary where it was sent, broken-down and ailing. The lone survivor still lives there. The fight over the pachyderms' fate, taken up by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and animal rights activists, enraged the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which tabled the zoo's accreditation for a year.

Puddles, a venerable 44-year-old hippopotamus, died in May, a day after a move that some employees say was bungled and others say should never have been made.

This summer, two giant elands, valued at $30,000 apiece, were killed by their peer soon after all three arrived at the zoo, during a quarantine that sources say was doomed and mishandled. Two black swans, introduced with much fanfare in May 2006, also didn't last long.

A year ago June, some parakeets in the zoo's big summer blockbuster, Binnowee Landing, tested positive for psittacine beak-and-feather disease, which is contagious and often fatal to other birds, including family pets. The zoo knew about the problem but did not warn visitors until it was reported in the press.

In April 2005, even a grizzly bear naming contest turned into a public relations nightmare when some zoo officials heavily promoted the event while others canceled it, preferring to auction the naming rights to the highest bidder.

Meanwhile, plans were quietly killed for the Great Ape Forest exhibit, highlighted in a $48 million city bond measure approved by voters in 1997 to upgrade the zoo. And four would-be inhabitants - aging wild-born chimpanzees- are still living in a concrete grotto while their handler continues her lonely quest to make sure their rare and invaluable genes are passed on through breeding.

The chimps' longtime zookeeper, Lisa Hamburger, has occasionally appeared at monthly meetings of the Joint Zoo Committee, a city panel that oversees the zoo, to plead her case. As she prepared to speak one afternoon, Mollinedo got up and walked out of the room.

That kind of behavior is no surprise to Mollinedo's current and former employees, as well as those who worked under him at the Los Angeles Zoo, where he was director from 1995 to 2002.

"It would appear that his management style - which downplays the value of staff and the welfare of animals - remains in place," said a former worker from the Los Angeles Zoo.

A departed San Francisco Zoo manager concurred.

"It's a top-down mentality that the zoo has adopted," he said. "And I think it's very dangerous."

Since Mollinedo took over, there has been a steady exodus of employees, including the deputy director, education director, two successive public relations managers, development director, curator of birds, marketing manager, events director, human resources manager, general manager of concessions and a number of veteran keepers.

Michele Rudovsky, associate curator of hoofstock and pachyderms, starting working at the zoo as a teenager but quit in August after more than a quarter-century. Head veterinarian Freeland Dunker also resigned and will depart in early January for the California Academy of Sciences.

Most of those who left, sources say, were fed up or pushed out.

"What walked out the door was 200-plus years of incredible animal experience - and you can't afford that," said former penguin keeper Jane Tollini, who quit in 2005 after 24 years.

Still, she misses her old life a lot.

"The zoo is my home away from my home," Tollini said. "And I felt like it was always an honor, every single day, to go to work and feel accepted by the animals. I could call to one of the lions, one of the gorillas. There was a recognition they knew my voice. And the little kids who'd go, 'I want to be a penguin' - you just hope to God these kids will get touched, and that they'll look at animals in a different way."

Nanette Taraya-Vonk was on her way to the zoo Wednesday with her children when she heard about the attack and headed for the Oakland Zoo instead.

She summed up the feeling of many patrons when she told The Chronicle: "I know they're going to get a lot of bad publicity after this, but I hope people still go to the zoo. You could cross the street and get hurt. Kids love the zoo."

There's something about the zoo that is magical. It's why many employees who have left want to remain anonymous when they speak out. Some hope to return one day - but under a different administration.

Employees characterize the current regime as arrogant, autocratic and dismissive of those with experience and institutional knowledge. Keepers, who know the animals and their habitats inside and out, say they have little input and are not listened to by Mollinedo and Bob Jenkins, the zoo's director of animal care and conservation. Workers of every variety fear they're being spied upon and will not speak publicly, afraid of reprisals. Even before the Christmas rampage, information was tightly controlled.

For example, a complex lease and management agreement with San Francisco and the Zoological Society determines how the zoo operates. The city owns the animals and the zoo, while the private nonprofit operates and manages everything. Although the public is entitled to see most information, media requests for routine data have been deemed "confidential" - requiring calls to the city attorney's office and public records requests to pry loose.

One ex-employee said worn-down zoo workers would sometimes say: "It won't change until somebody dies."

On Dec. 22 of last year, 300-pound Tatiana severely injured keeper Lori Komejan inside the Lion House, "degloving" her arm, as the state's workplace safety report put it. That agency, Cal/OSHA blamed the zoo, citing defects that the zoo knew about but hadn't fixed, and imposed an $18,000 penalty.

Although tiger experts agree that there was no reason to euthanize Tatiana, Mollinedo described the 4-year-old tiger - a day after her death - as having been "at the top of her game." A former management person at the zoo said, "Here you've got a young cat that's testing her environment - very agile, very strong. A cautious zoo manager would call other zoos and say, 'How big is your moat?' . This is like having Hannibal Lecter. There's a reason they put that mask on him."

The zoo had reinforced Tatiana's indoor cage after Komejan was mauled - but the fatal attack Christmas afternoon took place in her outdoor quarters.

"That place is a whirling dervish," said a onetime keeper. "And it's ready to spin out of control."

Maybe it already has. The zoo, now grappling with a lawsuit by Komejan, could be sued by the victims' families, lose its accreditation, incur heavy fines or even face criminal charges. City officials are calling for hearings and possible changes in how the zoo is operated.

And it's not at all clear what might have provoked the attack.

"Animals being taunted was always an issue," an ex-employee said. "But you should be able to walk down there slathered in raw meat and not have them get out."

After difficult lessons, Oakland Zoo a leader in elephant welfare

1 of 14 Treats are ready to feed to the African elephants at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. The zoo has long opposed the use of bullhooks to manage its elephants in favor of a protected contact, large barricade system as well as using positive reinforcement. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 14 Osh the African elephant roams through his large habitat at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. The zoo has long opposed the use of bullhooks to manage its elephants in favor of a protected contact, large barricade system as well as using positive reinforcement. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

4 of 14 Donna, an African elephant at the Oakland Zoo, is receives treats from keepers Jeff and Gina Kinzley during a morning maintenance routine in Oakland, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. The zoo has long opposed the use of bullhooks to manage its elephants in favor of a protected contact, large barricade system as well as using positive reinforcement. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

5 of 14 Keeper Gina Kinzley works with African elephant Donna at the Oakland Zoo. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

7 of 14 Kinzley offers treats to Donna. The zoo has helped revolutionize the care of elephants in captivity. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

8 of 14 Osh the African elephant roams through his large habitat at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. The zoo has long opposed the use of bullhooks to manage its elephants in favor of a protected contact, large barricade system as well as using positive reinforcement. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

10 of 14 African elephants Lisa (left) and Donna greet each other at the Oakland Zoo in Oakland, Calif. on Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014. The zoo has long opposed the use of bullhooks to manage its elephants in favor of a protected contact, large barricade system as well as using positive reinforcement. Paul Chinn/The Chronicle Show More Show Less

11 of 14 Keeper Jeff Kinzley performs daily hoof maintenance on African elephant Donna at the Oakland Zoo. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

13 of 14 A growth chart in the African elephants’ barn at the Oakland Zoo includes the height of their keepers. Paul Chinn / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

It all started on a rainy morning in January 1991 in a barn in the Oakland hills, when Smoky, an African elephant, stomped to death a veteran keeper at the Oakland Zoo during a routine enclosure cleaning.

&ldquoIt was no accident,&rdquo Dr. Joel Parrott, the zoo&rsquos longtime director, said recently. &ldquoThe elephant did that intentionally, and it wasn&rsquot his fault. For us, that was an awakening. I think until that point we were all in denial.&rdquo

Like zoos everywhere, the Oakland Zoo&rsquos elephants lived under harsh conditions that included chains, electrical shocks and sharp pokers called bullhooks intended to control Earth&rsquos largest land animal. Across the country, several keepers a year died or suffered severe injuries as elephants occasionally fought back.

But when it happened in Oakland, Parrott realized something was very, very wrong with the way zoos were treating elephants.

&ldquoWe wanted to make sure no one gets killed again,&rdquo he said. &ldquoAnd that led us to change everything about the way we treat elephants.&rdquo

Since then, the Oakland Zoo has become a national pioneer in elephant welfare. Not only did the zoo help revolutionize the way elephants in captivity are cared for, but it has funded antipoaching programs in Africa, fought for legislation to ban ivory sales and, most recently, helped Oakland become one of the only cities in the U.S. to ban the bullhooks still used by circuses.

Expanding enclosure

Last year, the zoo helped purchase a 5,000-acre ranch in rural Tehama County &mdash one of the few places with terrain and climate like elephants&rsquo natural habitat in Africa &mdash to be a reserve and study area for about 50 elephants from North American zoos. Over the years, the zoo has also reconfigured its own elephant enclosure, expanding it to more than 6 acres, one of the largest in the country.

These efforts earned the zoo a prominent place in the 2013 HBO documentary &ldquoApology to Elephants.&rdquo

&ldquoThe Oakland Zoo speaks up for elephants at every turn. And most of their investment has nothing to do with the display of elephants &mdash it&rsquos for the species as a whole,&rdquo said Deniz Bolbol of Humanity Through Education, a Redwood City group that advocates for the welfare of circus animals. &ldquoThe Oakland Zoo has really become one of the most progressive zoos in the country.&rdquo

For the Oakland Zoo, it started with examining the day-to-day interactions between elephants and their keepers. Elephants can be dominant and aggressive, and most zoos found that the best way to control pachyderms was through bullhooks and beatings so humans could establish dominance.

Parrott visited zoos around the country looking for alternatives and decided that, for starters, zookeepers would no longer have direct physical contact with elephants. Keepers would stay behind steel bars or at least 40 feet away. That protects the keepers but also allows the elephants some autonomy, &ldquoallows them to be elephants,&rdquo Parrott said.

Because elephants are as smart as dolphins and whales, Parrott looked at how marine mammals are treated in captivity &mdash entirely with positive reinforcement. So the zoo replaced chains and bullhooks with bananas and other treats. To encourage certain movements necessary for veterinary care &mdash such as allowing a vet to examine ears or trunks &mdash zookeepers tap the elephants gently with a padded stick and reward them with whistles and treats.

Optional procedures

Everything is voluntary for the zoo&rsquos four elephants. If they don&rsquot feel like an ear exam, they can opt out.

One task they never opt out of is their daily pedicures. One a recent chilly morning, the elephants lined up to have their feet bathed in warm water, the rocks removed from their foot pads and a massage with special oil. Donna, 35 years old and weighing 5 tons, stepped into a roomy steel chute, delicately placed her foot through the slats into the hands of zookeeper Jeff Kinzley, and began emitting a low, rumbling purrlike sound.

&ldquoIf Donna didn&rsquot want her pedicure, she could just walk away,&rdquo Kinzley said as his wife, keeper Gina Kinzley, placed banana slices in Donna&rsquos trunk. &ldquoOur elephants don&rsquot work for free.&rdquo

Old Hall of Records

The Hall of Records was erected in 1875. The hall sit had been the parade ground of the Oakland Guard from 1865. Architect Henry H. Meyers designed the ornate hall complete with entrance columns, leaded glass windows, and a grand rotunda.

Hall of Records updated Oakland History Room

A south wing was added in 1900 and a north wing in 1916. It was remodeled in 1945 when the welfare and school departments moved there.

In 1957 it was determined that nothing more could be added to the building without it collapsing.

In 1964 the Old Hall of Records was demolished to make room for the new $2.5 million Probation Center.

OAKLAND ZOO. (What?? Can’t Hear You)

Some 1,500 strong and wearing yellow T-shirts blaring the “Oakland Zoo” logo, Pitt’s student fan section encircles the Petersen Events Center’s lower level during home basketball games.

They raise decibels, inspire Panthers, intimidate opponents, and cheer and dress like…they belong in a zoo. But they’re a class act, too.

Since it first appeared on Feb. 7, 2001, for a game against Seton Hall at Pitt’s Fitzgerald Field House, the Oakland Zoo has grown from a small group of students into an official student organization that has earned an NCAA Sportsmanship Award, volunteered for community service, and sponsored charitable organizations.

The Zoo gained fame during a March 2, 2003, game vs. Connecticut when ESPN college hoops icon Dick Vitale declared it to be one of the nation’s finest student cheering sections. "One of the greatest spectacles in all of college basketball—the Oakland Zoo," Vitale's ESPN colleague Bill Rafery later concurred.

The Zoo has been featured on ESPN’s Student Spirit Week segment and ESPN College Game Day and in the Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, and ESPN The Magazine. Thanks greatly to the Zoo, Pitt's Petersen Events Center is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 10 in such categories as loudest college basketball arena, toughest place to play, and best game atmosphere.

"These fans are unbelievable," Mark Cuban, the Pittsburgh-born owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, said of the Zoo. "They're rowdy, loud, and proud. That's the way you want your fans to be."

Miss Effie

Miss Effie with Sidney Snow, March 1952
© Oakland Tribune (archives)

Miss Effie (Sue), was an extremely popular and much beloved Asian elephant who lived at the Oakland Zoo from 1951 until her death on June 1, 1985 at the age of 35. Captured in the wild, it was believed that Miss Effie had been born in 1950. She previously lived at Busch Garden in Tampa, Florida before coming to Oakland. 2

[There is conflicting information as to whether or not she was moved to the Portland Zoo before her death 3 . but I seem to recall she lived out her life in Oakland . does anyone remember her and what happened??]

This says she moved to Portland then was shuffled around a bit and died in Florida.

Humorous article from the Toledo Blade entitled Man Plays Cupid For Lonely Elephant . "A lonesome, unloved elephant has transformed Oakland City Councilman Dan Marovich into a cupid for pachyderms. He started out yesterday trying to raise a dowry for Effie, 11-year-old, 2-1/2 ton darling of Oakland's zoo. Effie has everything, including sex appeal and a new steam heated apartment. Everything, that is, except a boy friend. Isolated For 10 Years . In her 10 years at Knowland State Arboretum and Park, Effie has never even seen another elephant. It was the new apartment that really aroused Mr. Marovich's concern for the love life of elephants and Effie in particular. It even has a guest room and large patio. But it is on a hilltop out of sight of even the lesser animals. This lonely life led Mr. Marovich to ask the city council to appropriate $3,000 to buy Effie a mate. Light Touch - Added . "That isn't peanuts," quipped Councilman Felix Chialvo. "Haven't you ever been lonely," retorted Mr. Marovich. "Not for an elephant," interjected Mayor John C. Houlihan. "But Effie is," Mr. Marovich insisted. He suggested a fund-raising campaign and was named chairman. First contribution was a $100 pledge from the Oakland Boosters Club. Dr. Ray Young, zoo director, vouched for Effie's appeal to an elephant boy-friend. He said she does an earth-shaking hula, blasts out a mean trumpet call and has gracious manners." 1

Zoos: Oakland Zoo – a Potted History

Oakland Zoo is a zoo located in the south-east of the city of Oakland, California.

Although not a large zoo, it is very popular due to its modern exhibits and to the fact that many of its animals are kept in areas which are as close to their natural habitats as possible. The zoo has also been praised for its excellent elephant exhibit where the elephants are able to roam quite freely.

Although the zoo has been relocated several times since it was created by the naturalist Henry A. Snow back in 1922, its current location is on the exact same site as its first home almost 90 years ago.

Since 1983, the zoo has been run by the East Bay Zoological Society and much of its present day success can be put down to its Executive Director, Dr. Joel Parrott, who has been involved with improving the zoo for the past 26 years.

Today, the zoo is home to over 440 species of both native and exotic animals. It is divided into separate, distinctive areas.

The African Savannah is home to giraffes, cranes, gazelles and even vultures. The Rain Forest is an abundance of colour including the yellow billed toucan, the Taiwan Beauty Snake and is also home to gibbons, chimpanzees, macaws and siamangs. Big cats such as the tiger and lion also feature at the zoo.

In 2005, a popular new addition to the zoo was unveiled. Named the &lsquoWayne & Gladys’ Valley Children&rsquos Zoo&rsquo, it is part zoo, part playground and part museum. Its aim is to encourage younger children to learn all about animal care, education and conservation through exploration and play. Here you can see pot-bellied pigs, bats, lemurs, tortoises and river otters as well as much more besides and there are several interactive exhibits.

There are also special events at the zoo which even allow you to see what goes on as you stay overnight and can experience adventures such as studying the relationship between predator and prey and learning all about what happens in the rain forest after the sun goes down.

In 1866 Robert B. Woodward, one of San Francisco&rsquos wealthiest men, opened Woodward's Gardens in the Mission District at Valencia and 15th Streets as a four-acre amusement park complete with menagerie. The &ldquozoo&rdquo animal collection at Woodward&rsquos Gardens included a sea lion pond, grizzly bear grottos, black swans, deer, and an aviary. The garden closed in 1890 when the city allowed the property to be divided into building lots. As San Francisco evolved, so did the idea of a zoo.

The San Francisco Zoo that we know it today was established in 1929, and was built in the 1930s and 1940s as part of a depression-era Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The Zoo was originally called The Herbert Fleishhacker Zoo, after its founder. The official name of the Zoo &ndash The San Francisco Zoological Gardens &ndash was adopted February 27, 1941, following the suggestion of Herbert Fleishhacker.

Watch the video: Oakland Zoo animals - Full Walking Tour 4K 2021 Summer (July 2022).


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