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.