The (Belated) Weekend Catch-Up: A Lot of Updates From the SF Zoo

Plus: A public bank might be coming to SF… as the fate of the city’s SROs continues to unravel.

San Francisco’s foremost zoological institution, the SF Zoo, is one of the most scenic of its kind anywhere in the world. There are very few wildlife parks in the country where you could, say, walk along a beach-side, car-free street while sipping an organic coffee… and then moments later, find yourself careening your neck to make eye contact with a reticulated giraffe.

But during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the zoo’s fate — much like others in the Bay Area and elsewhere in the nation — was uncertain. Park admission fees make up a substantial source of revenue for zoos; this was stripped as notions around shelter-in-place orders and social distancing began entering our common discourse.

Now in 2023, the SF Zoo is in its comeback era, attracting legions of zoo-goers daily from 10 am to 5 pm. Recently, the zoological facility has seen many updates and changes… some good, some bad (read: sad).


Most notably, the zoo’s African lioness, Sukari, passed away at the age of 20 — a good 4 to 8 years longer than the average life expectancy for lions in the wild — on February 23rd. Per a tweet from the zoo, Sukari means “sugar” in Swahili, and she was “stoic in nature.” But Sukari had a tendency for melting hearts quite quickly.

“She was an incredible ambassador who helped educate our guests on the importance of lion conservation and her legacy will live on here at #SFZoo with her son, Jasiri,” reads another retweet from the SF Zoo. “She will be missed.”


However, with sudden death comes new life. And right before Sukari’s passing, one of the zoo’s resident Mandrill couples welcomed a new infant. The offspring of “Lulu & Big Joe,” the baby is doing great. Zoo guests will likely see the bb primate cloning onto Lulu’s chest. 

Also! The SF Zoo’s 37-year-old Andean Condor, Callista, was moved to a new habitat across from the Lion House next to the giant anteater habitat; she already seems to be thriving, vibing and living her best life.

What else happened over the weekend(ish)? Let’s take a look.

  • San Franciscans on SNAP will start seeing fewer funds placed in their account. The nationwide food assistance program got a big boost during the pandemic, allowing for SNAP recipients, which includes those receiving CalFresh benefits, to receive an extra $95, at least; the last bit of that emergency fund will be deposited to accounts in March. More info.
  • Residential hotels are (need to remain) a necessity in SF. Since the 1970s, San Francisco has lost more than 10,000 single-room occupancy (SRO) units — which have historically been a housing stock fit for lower to middle-class earners. More info.  
  • A public bank could well be coming to San Francisco. How it would operate is somewhat cumbersome — and still up for debate — but it would help mitigate City misspending. More info.

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