Mayor Breed's plans to bring pandas to San Francisco Zoo hits roadblock

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Saturday, May 18, 2024
Mayor's plans to bring pandas to SF Zoo hits roadblock
The push to make two pandas San Francisco's newest residents has officially stalled.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The push to make two pandas San Francisco's newest residents has officially stalled.

On Thursday, a committee of the Board of Supervisors rejected the fundraising proposal put forward by Mayor London Breed.

Supervisor Dean Preston, who chairs that committee, says amendments need to be made to the proposal before he would support it.

"We do need to make sure we have the information to make sure we prevent actual conflicts of interest here, and make sure this is all being done transparently," Preston said.

RELATED: SF Mayor London Breed addresses economic hope, 'panda diplomacy' after China visit

Preston isn't the only one criticizing the mayor's current plan.

Supervisor Ahsha Safai, who is running against Breed in November's election, tells us he thinks the mayor's fundraising plans are a distraction from the cuts the city is making amid a budget crisis.

"In the same week you're announcing major cuts to programs that have been a vital delivery of services in our city, you're announcing those cuts, while at the same time you're like, 'Look over here,'" he said.

On Friday, Breed responded to some of the pushback.

RELATED: SF Zoo gears up for giant pandas as it plans for multi-million dollar facility

Her office sent a statement to ABC7 News which reads in part:

"Postponements of a vote or requests for amendments are not uncommon and the Mayor's Office will work on amendments based on the feedback from Supervisors."

But concerns are being raised about more than just the fundraising efforts.

Some are worried about whether the San Francisco Zoo can actually accommodate the pandas.

RELATED: San Francisco Zoo to receive giant pandas from China, Mayor Breed announces

That includes Justin Barker, the head of a watchdog group called SF Zoo Watch.

"There's animal neglect, animals escaping their cages. And this is decades-long issues," Barker said.

Barker says the zoo has been mismanaged for years and is in desperate need of repairs.

He tells us that even if the city can get the funding, he doesn't think the zoo will be able to actually take care of the pandas.

RELATED: SF Zoo possibly one step closer to receiving Giant Pandas from China

"At this point, the zoo is not meeting the needs of its animals, and bringing pandas here is a terrible decision," he said.

The San Francisco Zoo released a statement in response to the concerns which read in part:

"Concerns about our zoo's conditions are unfounded, as we undergo regular inspections by various regulatory bodies... These independent inspections are thorough and encompass aspects such as animal enclosures and exhibit spaces."

Breed's fundraising proposal will rely solely on donations to bring the pandas to the city, and not taxpayer money.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here