Lions and turtles and condors — oh my. The Oakland Zoo opens its impressive 17,000-square-foot veterinary hospital on Oct. 11. This handsome cedar structure at the top of the hill will be a lifesaver for animals of all stripes. There'll be two veterinarians on staff (in addition to zoo director Dr. Joel Parrott), two vet techs and interns from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

On any given day, you'll find everything from gibbons to goats in this care center. The staff will also be helping with conservation support for endangered animals like mountain lions, California condors and western pond turtles. You can see video of the new hospital along with a tour given by Dr. Parrott if you go to my website at www.ginnyprior.com.

CRIME UPDATE: Are you smart with your smart phone? Oakland police have their hands full keeping up with the rash of cell phone thefts and recommend we register and password protect our phones, along with installing a tracking app. Above all, be "heads up" when you use your smart phone. Don't be oblivious to your surroundings.

FIELD FRENZY: Oh, the price of fame. Seems the Under 15 Girls Bay Oaks Botafogo team is more popular than ever, now that they've won the CYSO state championship. Team manager Leon Natsues says they've had as many as 35-40 college scouts at a single soccer game, this fall. Congratulations to this talented group of young ladies from Bishop O'Dowd, Piedmont High and throughout the region.


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WALL FLOWERS: What a concept — artists and realtors working together to market their products. Local painter Maggie Kinstle (www.maggiekinstle.com) says she and her husband have their work hanging on the high, sweeping walls of a beautiful Eichler home on the market in the Oakland hills.

"It's a win/win" for both parties," says Kinstle, who has "done" the coffee shop thing and says galleries aren't taking new clients right now. Art and open houses -- sounds like a match to me.

WET AND WILD: Congratulations to Hills dad Jeff Everett, who just swam the 12-mile Strait of Gibraltar. Katherine, Jeff's wife, says her job on the boat was to cheer for the swimmers and give Jeff his energy supplements every 30 minutes for the five-hour, 20-minute endeavor. It's no easy task to check this dream off your bucket list.

"We kept going through shipping lanes," Katherine says. "Enormous tankers would pass us by." The couple is back home, now, no doubt enjoying terra firma.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-723-2525, by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at www.ginnyprior.com.