Petition Delivered: Thanks to all of you who helped us get more than 2100 signatures on our petition urging the US Fish & Wildlife Service to deny regulatory permits for the expansion project. The petitions were delivered to their offices in Sacramento (with copies to the state Fish and Wildlife agency as well) last week (photos of our dedicated volunteers delivering them are on our website HERE). Now we have to wait and see. But the best thing was hearing so many messages of support. The petition is still open for additional signatures, so if you missed signing it, please do so at https://www.change.org/petitions/save-knowland-park-protect-oakland-s-largest-wildland-park-from-a-destructive-development
As you know, the zoo can’t start the bulldozers until they obtain special “incidental take” permits from state and federal wildlife regulatory agencies to allow them to “accidentally” kill threatened Alameda Whipsnakes during construction.
Through our public records act requests, we have learned that the zoo continues to deny the existence of the special maritime chaparral community that provides habitat for the whipsnake – and that they are claiming the removal of parts of the chaparral will actually BENEFIT the snake. But a new report by Dr Shawn Smallwood, a wildlife biologist with a PhD in ecology who is a researcher at UC Davis, suggests this claim is based on no scientific evidence whatsoever – and concludes that: “given the extremely limited distribution of Alameda whipsnake and the permanent constraints imposed on the whipsnake’s capacity to expand (i.e., recover) via habitat restoration or habitat enhancement due to human encroachment, the loss of any additional habitat could appreciably diminish the whipsnake’s chance of survival and recovery.” The clock is running – a decision must be made by early September. Continue Reading →
Wow. Have you noticed how quiet things have gotten since the Measure A1 campaign? We have, and wondered whether it indicated some dissension within the zoo board ranks about how to proceed. The “anonymous” $1 million gift we heard they received seemed awfully convenient since they had just spent exactly that amount on a losing campaign. A way to reassure nervous donors, maybe?
Well, a zoo member who decided to attend the first zoo board meeting after the defeat of Measure A1 was interested to hear how the board responded after the defeat of a ballot measure on which so much money was spent. She contacted us later and told us that she was shocked to hear one of the zoo’s own board members calling out the untruth that characterized the whole campaign. According to this observer, the board member said (discussing zoo management’s denials that the money from the measure would fund the expansion):
“I don’t see why we didn’t acknowledge that this is about expansion. Of course it is. We shouldn’t have lied.”
This letter came to us unsolicited, and with the author’s permission, we are publishing it as an example of one whose mind was changed by the truth.
Dear Friends of Knowland Park,
I was all set to vote for Measure A1, until I met a nice lady at the Lake Merritt farmer’s market. I fell hook-line-and-sinker for the Oakland Zoo’s A1 campaign and their spokescat, “Leonard the Lion.” I explained this to the nice lady who ultimately turned me against the zoo and their expansion project. She proceeded to tell me what I needed to know; that all kinds of critters were going to be displaced by the A1 project. Bunnies, bobcats, skunks, etc. all would be homeless! I skeptically thanked her for the info and snottily told her that my opinion was quite nuanced, thankyouverymuch, but I did have an open mind and would make up my mind before the election. Thank God she got to me when she did. I slept on it and woke up the next morning completely opposed to A1 and its horrible scheme to encroach on these awesome creatures’ rightful home.
So this is a note of gratitude and a sincere apology for my snotty attitude to that nice lady. But also, I hope you guys will do a PR campaign to educate people about Knowland Park. I had seen your “Save Knowland Park” signs and I totally scoffed at them. “Save Knowland Park” is not a good tagline, sadly. I envisioned a little kids playground with seesaws and swings. I dug my heels in and hoped you would be defeated (sorry L). I have since come around, but only because Nice Lady got to me at the Farmer’s Market. I am not alone; my friends who I spoke with about this also were clueless about Knowland Park.
When you’re up against Leonard the Lion, you really need to bring it. So if you find yourselves in this unsavory position again, I would suggest a new tagline that tells people like me what is really at stake. Something like, “Save the Knowland 500-acre wild animal habitat and nature preserve.” You may need to shorten it to, “Save Knowland Wildlife Preserve.”
Perhaps you should fight fire with fire and anthropomorphize that pretty little fox pictured on your mammals page:
A million thanks and my sincere apologies for almost voting for A1.
Your friend for life,