Monday, December 31, 2007

THE NEIGHBORHOOD ZOO

We end the year with a significant local mystery: What’s up with the two surviving tiger-maulees? What was the nature of their visit to the zoo?

This human-interest side intrigues me, but doesn’t concern me.

What concerns me about the mauling incident (aside from empathy for the victims and their loved ones) is the attention it brings to my immediate neighborhood.

At least some changes are in store at the zoo. The question is, will it remain a zoo with approximately the same attendance patterns as at present? Or will some other “best use” be found for the land?

Put it this way: if the current zoo property were developed for housing, the quality of my life would decline significantly. I suppose this is true of any public park, but the attention makes me nervous.


Actually it would make a great facility for wheel-sports. Sometimes that’s what we used it for, as kids.

In my youth the zoo was still run by Rec and Park, and admission was free. (Just as the museums, the Conservatory of Flowers, and the Academy of Sciences were all free.)

After school sometimes we’d ride our bikes in the zoo, around the cages, past the aviary and the grottos. We’d lay out race courses. We could do this because there were absolutely no zoo visitors (or maybe one or two) to disturb. You know, a Wednesday in March, cold and windy, maybe rained earlier in the day.

Looking at the irregular network of pathways (all smoothly paved) from above, these grounds cry out for wheel-sports—bicycles, skateboards, roller skates.



For the time being, after removing the dumbest animal, disgraced director Manuel Mollinedo, they should probably remove the bigger animals, just on humane grounds. After that I hope they spend the next twenty years tweaking smaller-animal exhibits, until they finally give up and make it a roller park.

By that time I’ll be dead.

I was going to rant about the puling bureaucratic response of zoo director Manuel Mollinedo—blaming the victims in what he knows is a strict-liability situation, and claiming that his records show that the wall was 20 feet high—immediately after the mauling.

Judging from public comment, and from this Sunday Chron story, Mr Mollinedo is on his way out.

Another mystery is the paperwork that shows the wall as 20 feet high. The chances of this being an innocent “clerical error” approach zero. Was this paperwork relied upon for accreditation and insurance purposes? If so, we’re talking about possible significant fraud, which may have contributed to a death.

The mystery draws us into the new year.

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1 comment:

sfmike said...

Thanks for that. A roller park would be perfection.

Unfortunately, the Zoo, just like all the San Francisco museums and libraries and parks have been taken over by "Friends of..." groups that somehow end up sucking all the public money down their gullets, usually going to marketing departments and overpaid directors of this and that. It's a definite devolvement.

Still, a Roller Park at the Scene of Tatiana's Crime sounds totally cool.