Oakland's Zoo from the Inside
I had the sheer delight a few weeks ago, courtesy of a friend, to take a behind the scenes tour at the Oakland Zoo. My biggest thrill was getting to visit the Sun Bears in their nighttime quarters- seeing them up so close you had to stand back in case they decided to reach out and touch you. This is a picture of them in their night house, not the lush grounds they enjoy outside during the day.
I've had a fascination with bears for a long time and getting to visit them was an amazing reward for support I've given over the years to the Animals Asia Foundation (which helps both Sun and Moon bears). The name difference accounts for geography: Sun Bears are from Malaysia and Indonesia, Moon Bears are the focus of rescue efforts from bear bile farms in China and Vietnam, though they are found in East and South Asia. Bears and bear bile farming has been perpetrated by the Chinese medicine industry for many years and it is wonderful to have work happening to change that (culture) and instead educate about the potential for instead sourcing herbal remedies from plants...but it is an uphill cultural battle.
The Sun bears at Oakland Zoo should not be confused with Moon Bears. What's cool about what the Oakland Zoo does is...it supports correlating non-profit organizations around the world devoted to the work of preserving the species in the wild for each endangered or threatened animal they house.
Dr. Parrott shared with us his vision for the Zoo to build out new exhibits for animals from California's lost heritage--the Tule Elk, the Grizzly Bear, the Quail and others. Earlier this year, the Zoo announced elaborate expansion plans to add 60 new acres, 40 of which will be dedicated to preservation. I like those ratios and you have to wonder about the amount of time on the hands of protesters (NIMBYs). Just my Oaklandish opinion on this.
If you ever get a chance to go behind the scenes, the Oakland Zoo is a great place to do that so you can get up close to river otters, feed giraffes and of course, look a bear right in the eye.
How to Get Involved:
If you are one of my London readers, there is a benefit performance of :"The Jungle Book" on December 22nd you might want to attend.
Learn more about Project Asia which takes on several wild and endangered species including the rhino, tigers, bears. Also the cat and dog farming industries in China. As you read, I think it is important to note and respect that every culture has differences in terms of what is considered food and what is considered humane...and most importantly to what forms of life are deserving of humane treatment.
That's the crux not just of animal issues but of many, many other ills and blights on how our world treats other living beings. In every culture, pretty much without exception, you will find anomalies and Achilles heels of where a particular animal or class or race of person is exempt.