Oakland Zoo, 3rd January 2014
by Amy Gotliffe
Time with Bears:
Fulong means forest in Lundayieh, a tribal language in Borneo. A tiny sun bear cub, the smallest of all bear species, was found in the forest by a hunter’s dog and brought to the master who gave him the name Fulong. The man kept the bear in a cage as a pet — but when he found out he could give her a better life, he relinquished her to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre, where we sat this morning in rapt attention as Gloria, the head of education, told us the history of some of the beautiful sun bears at the centre.
Sun bears and the work of Siew Te Wong was our inspiration to embark on a conservation expedition to Borneo in the first place. We have been in full support of his efforts to give a wonderful home to sun bears that all have a different conservation back story. This new center is right next to the Sepilok Orangutan Center and sure to be a hit. Many visitors to Borneo know about Orangutans, and now many will know about this amazing bear.
After six years of helping Wong work as the founder and raise funds for this center, it is a THRILL for our group to be here to help them get ready for their soft opening to the public in January. After a survey of our skills and their needs — Gloria and I put together a schedule – and we rolled up our sleeves and got to work!
What a day we are having! In the rain and heat, one group is moving gravel with shovels and wheelbarrows, watching for venomous snakes and tiger leeches. Another is in the bear house, chopping diets of banana, papaya, green beans – and heating an oatmeal-like super nutritious bear meal. Some even enjoy cleaning the night houses in this sparkling new facility.
Carol and Jereld are off with Ling Mai to set up camera traps. We then work with her to create a matrix for observing bears which we will try out this afternoon. Diana then helps create a program to illustrate the data that will be gathered. Carol and Rob sit together at a laptop editing copy for the educational signage for hours and hours, quite happily. Tina then gives her ideas around signage design. We hardly want to break for lunch, but we do, ‘cause it is hot and we have worked up quite an appetite.
After lunch with the bear staff, Lovesong and Mary go off with the bear keepers, exchanging stories and ideas on how to best care for a sun bear. A crew works with Gloria to envision the visitor center’s future displays and interactives. Another crew gathers around Ernie to discuss the gift shop and other ways to bring in extra funds to the program. Apparently t-shirts and postcards are the big sellers, but creativity is flowing. I get to download about education programs, volunteer positions and conservation action and messaging. I also got the pleasure of taking portraits of the staff for their website.
As the afternoon rolls along, I feel so fortunate to have gotten to be here on this day atthis time in the center’s history. What a joy to share what we could with them, and how inspiring to meet this talented and dedicated staff who shared so much with us. We are all lucky, especially bears like Fulong!
Three of the Zoo’s conservation partners, ARCAS Animal Rescue in Guatemala, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center, and the Bay Area Puma Project are the main beneficiaries of the proceeds, which were collected from each Zoo admission fee.
"Oakland Zoo’s Quarters for Conservation funding will provide vital support for the Bay Area Puma Project, a long term research and conservation project focusing on mountain lions, essential ecosystem members, at the wildland interface,” said Zara McDonald."
The Bay Area’s Oakland Zoo is proud to announce that Quarters for Conservation, a program to promote wildlife conservation efforts, has raised more than one hundred thousand dollars. Three of the Zoo’s conservation partners, ARCAS Animal Rescue in Guatemala, the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center, and the Bay Area Puma Project are the main beneficiaries of the proceeds, which were collected from each Zoo admission fee. The remaining funds will support Oakland Zoo’s other conservation partnerships and efforts.
“Our many thanks to Oakland Zoo and the entire zoo community,” said Colum Muccio, ARCAS Administrative Director. “The Quarters for Conservation program is an amazing example of how we can all connect across the globe to protect endangered wildlife.”
“Oakland Zoo’s Quarters for Conservation funding will provide vital support for the Bay Area Puma Project, a long term research and conservation project focusing on mountain lions, essential ecosystem members, at the wildland interface,” said Zara McDonald President, Felidae Conservation Fund. “Healthy mountain lion populations are threatened by an increase in human activities and development in the San Francisco region and the support of the zoo will make a difference for our lions.”
For the past twelve months, twenty-five cents of every Zoo guest admission has been collected and put into a Quarters for Conservation Fund, aimed at saving species in the wild; therefore, each visit a guest has made to the Zoo resulted in a twenty-five cent donation to conservation. Through a voting station, where visitors cast their votes for their favorite project, $13,221 was raised for ARCAS animal rescue in Guatemala, $16,272 was collected for the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Center, and $21,357 was gifted to the Bay Area Puma Project.
“Quarters for Conservation has been a great success – not only does it create support for wildlife, but it gives our visitors a sense of connection to species here and around the globe, and we hope the experience turns their visit into an act of conservation they can be proud of,” said Amy Gotliffe, Conservation Director at Oakland Zoo.
Quarters for Conservation began in 2011 and over the past two years the program has raised over $200,000 for Zoo conservation partners and projects. Each year during the month of October, three new organizations are chosen to be the main beneficiaries of the fund’s proceeds. Oakland Zoo staff members and volunteers vote to determine which conservation programs to highlight and take great pride in helping save species in the wild. Guests of the Zoo are given a special voting token upon entering the Zoo. The token is then used for voting at the conservation station located in the Zoo’s Flamingo Plaza. The votes determine how much funding will go to each project. During 2011-2012, Zoo visitors voted to help protect chimpanzees in Uganda, conserve African elephants in Kenya, and to help keep the California condor alive in the wild.
For 2013-2014, guests of Oakland Zoo are encouraged to Leap into Action for the Mountain Legged Frog (Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Project), Reach High for Reticulate Giraffe (The Reticulated Giraffe Project), or Look Out for Lions (Uganda Carnivore Program).
“We are honored and greatly appreciate the opportunity to be one of Oakland Zoo's Quarters for Conservation partners. We thank the zoo and their visitors for their support of our work in the conservation of Uganda’s lions, leopards and hyenas,” said Ludwig Siefert, Team-Leader of Uganda Carnivore Program and James Kalyewa, Sen. Research Assistant at Uganda Carnivore Program.
In October of 2014, votes will be collected and monies will be donated to three conservation partners.
about 2013-2014 Conservation Partners:
Leap into Action for the Mountain Yellow Legged Frog. Once an abundant native of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the mountain yellow-legged frog is now facing extinction due in part to the highly lethal chytrid fungus. However, thanks to the anti-fungal baths developed by San Francisco State University’s Mountain Yellow-Legged Frog Project, there is hope for these frogs and amphibians around the world.
Look Out for Lions. “The King of the Jungle” is in trouble. African lion populations have declined from 200,000 in the 1980s to under 30,000 individuals today due to human development and the resulting human-wildlife conflict. Through research, education, and providing sustainable income opportunities for people in and around Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National Park, the Uganda Carnivore Program aims to create a habitat fit for a king.
Reach High for the Reticulated Giraffe. The tallest mammal in the world is in serious decline. Reticulated giraffes have had an 80 percent drop in numbers in the last decade due to poaching and habitat loss. The Reticulated Giraffe Project in Kenya aims to discover what giraffes eat, how their family groups function, and where they go when roaming the savannah. Through the power of information, help for this iconic figure of Africa is within reach.
About Oakland Zoo:
The Bay Area’s award-winning Oakland Zoo is home to more than 660 native and exotic animals. The Zoo offers many educational programs and kid’s activities perfect for science field trips, family day trips and exciting birthday parties. Nestled in the Oakland Hills, in 500-acre Knowland Park, the Zoo is located at 9777 Golf Links Road, off Highway 580. The East Bay Zoological Society (Oakland Zoo) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization supported in part by members, contributions, the City of Oakland and the East Bay Regional Parks. For more information please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.
For more than 75 years, the East Bay Zoological Society EBZS has managed and operated both the Zoo and surrounding Knowland Park for the City of Oakland since 1982. Under its management, the Oakland Zoo presents an award-winning experience for visitors, fosters knowledge and understanding of animals and the environment through educational programs, and has earned national awards and international acclaim for its animal management and endangered species conservation programs. Over the years, exhibit by exhibit, the Oakland Zoo has been reinvigorated and revitalized, making it a place where animals thrive and visitors enjoy. For more information, please visit our website at http://www.oaklandzoo.org.