Thursday, January 03, 2008


I’m pretty sure I’ve never paid for admission to San Francisco’s Zoo.

Once, a friend and I went there for lunch on a pretty day; he was a Zoological Society member so entry was free. My impression then as decades earlier, was that zoo visits are a lot about birds and birdshit.

Whatever other species he or she might seek out, a zoo visitor will definitely experience birds: seagulls, pigeons, and those nasty little black things (“pickies” we called them in babytalk).

Governance of the zoo is murky.

The land (presumably improvements also) and animals are owned by the City and County and are administered by Rec and Park.

There is an entity called San Francisco Zoological Society, an organization with a 60-member board of directors.

And there’s some “joint board.”

In the wake of Tatiana’s breakout we learn the name of the SFZS board’s chairman, Nick Podell, whom a Bizjournal story states is a partner in a Burlingame real estate firm, MH Podell, Company. Nick is on the left in the below Chronicle photo.

Elsewhere, MH Podell Company is said to a sole proprietorship of someone named Michael Podell.

Certainly, anyone who can figure out how to be a partner in a sole proprietorship can run a zoo, or a spaceship for that matter.

There is so much to learn about San Francisco’s zoo, for instance:

A zoo seems mostly a family oriented entertainment venue. And zoo supporters are stereotyped as dodderers with just a bit more spunk than, say, Botanical Society members.

Recognizing an untapped constituency, SF Zoo reaches out to the city’s hordes of young professionals with Zoo II.

Zoo II is a social club of young professionals dedicated to expanding conservation, awareness, providing and encouraging financial support of the San Francisco Zoo while connecting to others in the community and enjoying a variety of social activities.

I’m sure that Zoo II admits “young professionals” of all ages, at least judging from this photo of the committee’s leadership.

Strangely the accompanying caption on the zoo’s website names only three of the four people pictured.

The 2007-2008 Zoo II Committee is led by Jeff McNulty, Chair and co-Vice Chairs, Ann Cheney & Sarah Gammill.

There is another “mystery” fourth person with the group of Tatiana’s victims, at least as reported in today’s SFGate.

Jennifer Miller, who was at the zoo with her husband and two children that ill-fated Christmas afternoon, said she saw four young men at the big-cat grottos

All previous reports mentioned only three young men in the group of victims. The victim-mystery deepens.

Anyway, no speculation yet on how the demise of Tatiana will affect Zoo II’s signature annual event, the Fur Ball, featuring

music from the DJ, cocktails and a variety of heavy hors' dourves.

The second annual Fur Ball is scheduled for June 28, 2008. The venue, get this, is the Lion House at the zoo. The Lion House is home, also, to the zoo’s tigers, and was home to Tatiana before she was gunned down.

How Tatiana’s absence will affect the Ball’s mood, or even attendance, is to be seen.

Wouldn’t it be perfect if they got a cute little kitty cat to fill Tatiana’s former place, I mean, in time for the party!

I wonder if the big cats are forced attendees at these Fur Balls. Talk about cruelty! Locked in a cage, perfectly sober, watching a bunch of young professionals drinking, and eating heavy hors’dourves—I’d be planning a breakout, too.

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