Friday, October 21, 2005

Federal probe clears Sequoia Park Zoo of wrongdoing for Bill's escape

Following an investigation by the United States Department of Agriculture into Bill the chimpanzee’s escape from the Sequoia Park Zoo last week, the zoo was cleared of any wrongdoing.

On Oct. 7 Bill’s cage was opened. At approximately 10:45 p.m. a resident approximately one-and-a-half blocks from the zoo phoned police to alert them that Bill was in his backyard.

Although police and zoo officials will not release exactly how 59-year-old Bill was freed, they confirmed that it was as a result of vandalism.

Shortly after he escaped, Eureka police officers and three zoo officials responded.

“He came right up to me and I knelt down and he … sniffed (me) and put his arms around me and we just sat there,” said Jan Roletto, Bill’s primary keeper. “He groomed me and he (made) some vocalizations.”

After spending a few minutes calming him down, Roletto lead him back to the zoo, stopping with him when he wanted to look around.

“They didn’t find us at fault at all,” said Gretchen Ziegler, the zoo’s curator and supervisor.

She said the USDA was also “complimentary regarding the zoo’s successful recovery efforts.”

During its investigation, USDA investigators also looked into complaints made by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals regarding the zoo’s security precautions and why Bill lives in “isolation.”

“They just shared the complaint with us and then they investigated those two complaints and we discussed all those issues with (them),” Ziegler said.

The USDA is aware of Bill’s housing situation and has been in multiple discussions with the zoo about it.

“Bill is a retired circus chimp and as a result of that environment has had very little social interaction with other chimps,” a USDA report stated. “He has demonstrated social aggression toward conspecifics in the past but interacts with zoo personnel and zoo visitors on a daily basis. His social needs are not being taken lightly by the zoo staff and discussions of what and how to provide Bill with needed socialization are ongoing. Enrichment is provided and changed regularly to provide mental stimulation.”

Story here.


Anonymous said...


When local children in 1957 bought him from the circus, they did the right thing; but it was the only thing that they could do at that time. Those same children are adults now and can give Bill so much more in 2005.
Bill spends his life in that barren and often cold cage staring through bars at us. He has spent his life "entertaining" us, and now it's our turn to repay him and give him the much earned retirement he deserves and craves.
There is an awesome 150-acre chimpanzee sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida where chimpanzees living there were rescued from circuses, zoos, laboratories, and military experiments. They are given the highest quality of life that is possible for primates in captivity. They are carefully socialized with other chimpanzees and live on private "islands". These once isolated creatures eventually learn to live together and create close relationships and with one another.
Please help Bill retire to the Save The Chimps Sanctuary in Florida. Doesn't everyone want to retire in Florida? Please see: to see this paradise for chimpanzees, then please urge the Eureka City Council to do the right thing and let Bill go there. Through the sanctuary, the city of Eureka can adopt Bill for $120/year and receive "adoption" papers and regular updates on his life. These updates and pictures could be posted at the Sequoia Park Zoo for all of us who love Bill and want to know how he is doing.
Let's teach the next generation the true meaning of compassion; let's do the right thing for Bill. Solitary confinement is not living, it is existing.

Peaceful Protest Scheduled:
November 12, 2005 12pm-2pm
Sequoia Park Zoo, Eureka, CA

The Sequoia Park Zoo's Director, Gretchen Ziegler, and the Eureka City Council refuse to allow Bill, the chimpanzee, to retire to an accredited chimpanzee sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. (Dr. Noon at the sanctuary has already agreed to accept Bill.)

Ms. Ziegler and her zoo cronies would rather have Bill stay in solitary confinement for the rest of his life and remain the zoo's "ambassador" instead of letting him retire in sunny Florida where he can live and play with other chimpanzees .

Chimpanzees are extremely social beings and thrive on the attention and interaction with other chimpanzees. Bill has stopped painting since his friend Ziggy died. He's obviously depressed. It's pathetic how the zoo he resigned him to a life and eventual death in solitary confinement. It's shameful.

Anonymous said...

On 10-10-05, I visited Bill the chimp at his cell at the Sequoia Park Zoo. His left eyelid looked inflammed and red and he was rubbing it.

I returned on 10-12-05, and noticed that his eyelid was even more red and inflammed. He seemed to be in a lot of pain as he just kept rubbing it.

I immediately contacted zoo staff and asked them what they were doing for his eye and if he was under veterinary care for it. I was told that they were monitoring it and that if "they" feel he needs to see a vet, that they'd call one.

Does his eye have to fall out first? It's crystal clear that his health is not the zoo's top priority.

He needs to go to a sanctuary where he will actually receive veterinary care and compassion that he deserves. Poor guy.

Anonymous said...

Bill continues to languish in his cell as locals bellow that he should stay where he's at. "We'll miss him, he's part of the community." What community? He's an animal with a pulse behind bars. You don't invite him to dinner or take him for walks. You cruise by his cage when you visit the zoo and watch him lay there in a fetal position or staring up at the sky as if asking "Is this all there is? or "Where are you God? It's me Bill. Help me get out of here."

I wonder if they'd feel differently if they were the ones behind the bars in the cold, lonely cell.

Instead they drive past the zoo, Bill's prison, in their cars going whereever they want to, whenever they want to. Ah, freedom. All creatures yurn for that, don't they?

Bill lays on concrete, never feeling grass under his feet or swinging free in the trees.

This world is full of such callousness and lack of compassion. What a shameful lot we humans have become.

Pam said...

What on earth has happened to compassion!Why would the zoo not release Bill to the sanctuary?A lonely life ,in a concrete cage,is no life at all.
For pity's do what is only right and decent - let him live out what's left of his life in comfort ,instead of solitary confinement - he's certainly earned that much!