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YES on Measure A1 For Education & Animal Care

A call to action, please vote YES on A1 for Education and Animal Care

My name is Jen Jelincic and I have lived in Pleasanton from the time I was a small girl. After Foothill High School, I went to college and graduated with degrees in both Biology (Ecology, Evolution & Conservation) & Environmental Studies (Conservation & Restoration). I am currently working on my Master’s degree, and I work as an on-call staff member at the Oakland Zoo. My life goal is to work toward the conservation of species and biodiversity worldwide. I am the only employee who has worked in both departments that will be majorly effected by Measure A1 if it passes: the Animal Care, Conservation & Research Department and the Education Department.

Oakland Zoo rescues animals. We take in animals that have been confiscated or given up, that have been used for animal testing and could be euthanized if they did not find homes after studies ended, and that have special medical needs. We are included in Species Survival Programs for our animals, and actively work toward species preservation. We participate and fund conservation programs, including working with the Ventana Society to save California condors and Sonoma State University and San Francisco Zoo to raise and release western pond turtles into the wild. We volunteer our time to work out in the field on projects and fund money for our partners. My experiences are positive and make me feel like an active part of the global community. 

The amount of time our zookeepers spend caring for their animals is nothing short of incredible. Some keepers arrive at the zoo before 6AM every morning to ensure animals that need high mental stimulation (such as the chimpanzees), receive everything we can give them. As frequently happens in nonprofits, we have always been short-staffed, but we still have pushed to be leaders in animal care. We open our doors to national and international conferences and allow ourselves to be placed under scrutiny for others in our field. All interns have a project in which they create a brand new form of enrichment for animals under their care. This helps interns get into the right mindset, and it ensures zookeepers and animals are constantly challenged.

In the Education Department, I have taught children who have never seen animals beyond stray dogs and cats, families who cannot afford meals much less a trip to the zoo, troubled youth, and extremely gifted and well-off students. We are trained to accommodate any group of students, from the advanced to the challenged. We provide free programs to poor, urban children, but we have also been to senior centers, women’s shelters, and schools in the Tri-Valley community as well.  Science programs in California schools have been struggling, and we provide a unique experience to children.

This is a really amazing, exciting time to be a part of this community. It is not unusual for zoos to receive public funding, and every measure like A1 has passed in other places in the U.S. Measure A1 would allow us to expand on the educational programs we already have and allow us to provide a sanctuary to more animals and upgrade our current exhibits. This is your zoo, and your children’s zoo. Please vote yes on A1.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jen Jelincic November 04, 2012 at 08:13 AM
Karen, I appreciate your comments, and I have both visited your website and the space in question. The zoo actually worked with biologists and an environmental engineering firm when creating the California Trail project. And the architects are working to ensure the buildings will have minimal impact and will be LEED certified. I know the opposition keeps saying there will be offices as a part of this project, but I have actually looked at the architect plans myself, and what is being called offices are actually classrooms in our education center. The project includes habitat restoration. There are so many invasive species in the area, and this project will help native plants make a come back on over 30 acres. This project also includes wildlife corridors, so all types of wildlife will be able to move across fencing; it is designed to keep humans and domestic animals out, and allow wild animals use of the space. The mitigation for the project does not include simply giving money to conservation groups. We give money for conservation out of our current budget, and we fundraise like crazy for conservation groups locally and worldwide. None of the money from Measure A1 would go toward the California Trail Project. That has been written, and the independent oversight committee is meant to ensure that. Besides, that project has already been mostly funded by private donors. You can read the Master Plan for yourself, to see what the plans really are and what you can expect.
Fran November 04, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Sure it's been funded by private donors. The money private donors have given is nothing more than an investment to get their hands on the public monies this tax will generate. Do you know how much that is Tyler? It's downright shameful when there are so many worthier things. Pure greed.
Tyler November 04, 2012 at 06:09 PM
That's part of the problem, Fran: Hard to know where all this 'Dark Money' is coming from or what it's going to. The Zoo doesn't have to report like a public agency would. All the zoo has to do is say "there there. Don't worry, your money is in good hands and our intentions are warm and fuzzy".
Leah Hall November 05, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Thank you Jen, I enjoyed learning more about the specifics of A1 and the Oakland zoo's expansion plans. I share your positive view and will vote "Yes" on A1. I also found this article informative: http://sanleandro.patch.com/blog_posts/measure-a-1-support-the-oakland-zoo-its-about-maintaining-current-quality-not-expansion

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