Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Big Day of Giving - Three Generations of Volunteering

Every year, a cadre of volunteers donate their time and talent to help the Zoo in its mission to inspire appreciation, respect and a connection with wildlife and nature through education, conservation and recreation.

These dedicated and generous individuals do everything from cleaning exhibits and preparing animal diets to planting seedlings, corralling summer camp kids and educating visitors about the conservation of a particular species. Volunteers come to the zoo from many areas and walks of life, but it is a rare and special privilege for an organization to have three generations of the same family as volunteers.

One such family, the Reiners, have been donating their experience to the Zoo for over 40 years. June Reiner began volunteering as a docent educator in the 1970’s and has been an active and dedicated volunteer for 41 years! Her daughter, Cathy, is now an active docent as well, and her granddaughter, Kristin was a summer camp counselor for three years as a teenager. When asked about her favorite memory at the Zoo, June replied, “It’s been a real family affair from the beginning. I used to do Zoo tours with my grandson, Patrick, in a backpack when he was a baby…I just loved working with others with the same interest: animals. Helping children to learn all about animals is just wonderful!” In addition to the time the Reiners have donated over the years, they have also been long-time monetary donors, giving to large exhibit renovations as well as maintaining Zoo Parent sponsorships and a membership.

Volunteers and donors like this make it possible for the Sacramento Zoo to continue as a valuable community resource. By donating to the Sacramento Zoo on May 6th for the BIG Day of Giving, your gift will make an even bigger difference because every contribution will be matched on a prorated basis from a pool of matching funds; the more contributions to the Zoo, the higher the matching gift. This will be a great opportunity to make your donation dollars stretch and help make memories like the Reiner Family’s possible.

Three generations of the Reiner Family at the Zoo.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Honoring the Life of Tom Myers

The Sacramento Zoo mourns the loss of the wonderfully talented photographer Tom Myers who passed away on April 7th at the age of 88.

Tom was a gracious supporter of the zoo, sharing his photos over the decades and capturing the spirit of the animals in our care. Please read the Sacramento Bee article that shares his rich life history and humble voice. He will be missed but lives on in his prolific collection of stunning photos.

Reptile House. Photo by Tom Myers
Urban the Orangutan. Photo by Tom Myers.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Castro Update & Tiger Schedules

Starting today, Castro the male Sumatran Tiger will be on exhibit during the day until approximately 3:30 pm daily. This change will allow CJ the one-year-old cub and mom Baha to have more time in the exhibit during the late afternoon and overnight. We are sorry for the inconvenience and know visitors will miss seeing CJ but it allows him more time to play and run around the exhibit.

Castro the Sumatran Tiger was diagnosed with a form of cancer in early 2013. Through the help of appetite stimulants and tasty treats he has gained twenty pounds since the beginning of the year. Now that Castro is on exhibit during the day you will often find him basking in the sunlight and relaxing.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Focusing on Rabbits - Partners in Conservation

The Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP) and the Sacramento Zoo think about rabbits and their conservation in California not just during Easter, but year-round. ESRP recently received $16,000 from the Sacramento Zoo’s Quarters for Conservation program to help the Easter Bunny’s cousin and California native, the Riparian Brush Rabbit. 

These rabbits are a federally endangered species that occupy small pockets of riparian vegetation (the bank or a river or stream) in the San Joaquin Valley. Only 10 percent of the Central Valley’s habitat for the Riparian Brush Rabbit still exist. One of the many projects of ESRP includes restoring habitats and researching ways to reduce flooding and other threats to Riparian Brush Rabbits.

The Zoo and ESRP have been partners in conservation for many years. In the past, wild Riparian Brush Rabbits have been brought to the Sacramento Zoo for a full veterinary check and fitted with identification transponders so they could be tracked during their travels in the wild. The Sacramento Zoo is also currently home to two Riparian Brush Rabbits; it is the only known zoo in the world to house them. 

Not only have ESRP and the Zoo partnered together, but Zoo visitors also take part in helping the Zoo’s conservation partners through the Quarters for Conservation program. Through the collection of quarters, the Zoo provides funding for wildlife conservation projects.  As guests enter the Zoo, they receive a token representing their contribution to conservation. The token enables guests to vote for one of three conservation projects that have been selected for the year. Each of the three programs is guaranteed $5,000 annually with additional funding based on the number of votes each project receives. ESRP was one of the three 2013 Quarters for Conservation recipients.

The Sacramento Zoo supports more than two dozen conservation programs in the United States and 16 countries around the world. In 2013, the Zoo was able to provide more than $100,000 to field conservation programs, including ESRP, helping to make a global impact.

Next time you are at the Zoo, remember to cast your vote for conservation and stop by the Zoo’s Backyard to see the Zoo’s rabbit residents.

For more information, visit the Riparian Brush Rabbit Recovery program’s website.

Photo credit: ESRP

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Poker Tournament Champion!

By Dianne McFarland

I’ve enjoyed playing the game of poker for years.  In addition to a semi-regular game with friends, I’ve played in cash games and tournaments in casinos and in charity tournaments.  So, when my mother-in-law, who is a docent at the Sacramento Zoo, told us about the Zoo’s First Annual Poker Tournament to benefit the Reptile House, of course I had to play.  My husband and I both signed up, along with some of our friends from our regular poker game (which coincidentally includes a couple celebrity players recruited by the Zoo to participate).
Raffle Prizes
The tournament was very professionally run, and set against the beautiful backdrop of the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg. The mood was set by the Sacramento Historical Society dressed in period clothes and providing demonstrations of old-time gambling games.  In addition the appetizers, we really enjoyed the delicious catered meal from Sac City Eats. The raffle prizes were all amazing, and we used our tickets to try for all of them.  The open bar helped loosen up any pre-game nerves, until it was finally time to begin. 
Sacramento Historical Society
My husband and I, along with two of our home game poker friends started at the same table together.   We had a nice group of people at our table, including the dealer who was especially helpful to those with less experience.  I was getting good cards, winning multiple pots, sometimes good-sized ones.  When players were eliminated, tables were consolidated.  I was moved to another table where TV personality and Super Bowl Champ, Del Rodgers, was playing with a ginormous stack of chips.  He was playing well, exerting pressure on the smaller stacks, of which I apparently was one at this table.  I managed to hang in there until it was time to change tables again.
First Round of Poker Play
At that time I noticed my poker friends were out of the tournament, watching me play and rooting me on.  Ladies were too.  One lady said “We’re rooting for you!  You’re the only girl left!”  On my last hand at that table, I went in against someone I had just lost to.  For this last hand I had top pair, but there was potential on the board for him to beat me.  He made a huge bet, as if he had the best hand.  I stared him down and called him.  I had him beat!  Even the dealer was impressed that I made the call, and shook my hand.  At this time, we consolidated again.  I had so many chips, I needed two gentlemen to help me to my seat at the final table. 

Del Rodgers was at the final table.  Remembering his chip stack and play from before, I thought I didn’t have a chance.  But, I had outlasted all 5 of my male poker friends, so I already had bragging rights amongst my group.  Then, when it was down to the final four, I couldn’t help think about the dreaded “bubble.”  I could see the finish line, and thought, “how great would it be to finish in the top three!” 
Final Table
At that time, a man in a hoodie and sunglasses kitty-corner from me went all in.  Everyone else folded.  I had a pair of 9’s in the hole.  It was a big hand considering the circumstances.  It was risky though.  If I lost, I’d end in fourth place, winning nothing; but I was already in for the big blind, which was huge.  I verbally declared that I called his bet.  There was some confusion, and they thought I was asking for a chip count.  I began to worry that they were misunderstanding me, that somehow the hand would be fouled, and that I might be losing this awesome opportunity.  I reiterated, more loudly, “I call,” and then again, “I CALL.”  Finally, they understood and we turned our cards over…  He had a pair of fours.  At that point in time I had no idea what came up on the board.  I just know it wasn’t another four, and I won!
Dianne after winning a big hand
Throughout that time I was mostly in a zone.  From time to time I would look up and see my poker friends smiling and rooting me on, which was comforting and unnerving at the same time, and now it was all over.  I beat 70 other poker players.  Next thing I knew, I was posing for pictures with the second and third place finishers (including Del Rodgers who placed second), and celebrities (including my celebrity poker friends, Radio and TV personalities, an Olympian, a Super Bowl Champ, and some top Zoo personnel, without whom the tournament would not have happened).  That… was… priceless.

The Zoo invited me and the other top three winners back to defend our spots for the Second Annual Tournament and my friends joked that my name should be on a perpetual trophy.  But the best part of it was picking first of the top 3 grand prizes, which included 50 burritos from Chipotle (which my husband probably secretly wished I’d selected), a private dinner for 8 at Mulvaney's B&L, and a trip for four to Safari West, including an overnight stay in a luxury safari tent, a jeep tour, a behind the scenes tour, and dinner for four.  Well, it was a ZOO fundraiser.  Which one do you think I would choose?
Dianne with her grand prize!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Big Day of Giving - 500,000th Visitor

The Sacramento Zoo welcomes almost 500,000 visitors each year. When we do reach this 500,000th visitor milestone, we like to let that person know... in a BIG way! On December 7, 2013, we knew this special person would arrive so Zoo Director Mary Healy, Gus the Green Tree Frog, and Julio the Blue and Gold Macaw with Sam from the Interpretive Center were ready to greet them.

Here is a special message of thanks from the 500,000th visitor:

“What we didn't get a chance to say that morning, was how much that day meant to our family. Without going into too much detail, these past two years have been very difficult. I lost my job, Isabella was born two weeks later, and then when she was just five days old she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. She had open-heart surgery on her one month birthday. Due to her medical condition, coupled with financial issues, we haven't been able to do many outings as a family. Going to the zoo for her birthday was a BIG deal for us. I even took on a seasonal job so we could have the funds for the trip.

We were originally supposed to go to the Zoo on December 7, but that was the weekend of the cold spell, so we postponed our trip. The morning of December 14 did not start off well. We ran into multiple delays, traffic, crowds, etc. But we were not going to allow it to dampen our spirits about celebrating Isabella's birthday. All that being said, you can imagine how shocked we were to learn we were the 500,000th visitor. Because of the generous packet of "goodies" the Zoo gave us, we were able to have an incredibly memorable day that we will not soon forget. "Thank you" seems so small for what we feel.

We are VERY excited to use our new zoo membership, and we hope to visit again soon!

The Hernandez Family

Every Zoo visitor is special and every visit to the Zoo is a unique experience. We had no idea that this visit to the Zoo for the Hernandez family would be such an exceptional one. Donations, large and small alike, help to keep our gates open so families like these can make memories that last a lifetime at the Sacramento Zoo.

By donating to the Sacramento Zoo on May 6th for the BIG Day of Giving, your gift will make an even bigger difference because every contribution will be matched on a prorated basis from a pool of matching funds; the more contributions to the Zoo, the higher the matching gift. This will be a great opportunity to make your donation dollars stretch!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Loss of Coquerel's Sifaka Infant

We are deeply saddened to announce that the male Coquerel's Sifaka infant who was born on January 5th, died the morning of Sunday, April 6th. The infant was moved to the Sacramento Zoo’s Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital's Intensive Care Unit three days prior where he was being treated for pneumonia.

Since his birth, staff had been monitoring the infant’s weight consistently as is the standard Species Survival Program®(SSP) protocol for sifaka infants. Daily weight gain was not as large as staff had hoped to see. After conferring with the SSP Coordinator and veterinary staff at the Duke University Lemur Center, staff began to supplement the infant daily to increase its weight gain. The infant was nursing and developing well under his parents care.   

On Friday, April 4th he was diagnosed with pneumonia and transported from the sifaka exhibit to the hospital ICU. The Duke University Lemur Center (the world’s leading center for interdisciplinary lemur research and conservation) was an integral resource over these three months concerning the best care options.

There are only ten AZA-accredited facilities that house the 66 endangered Coquerel’s Sifaka. Sifaka are native only to the island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa. Coquerel’s Sifaka are among the most endangered of the sifaka species – habitat loss due to deforestation is the leading threat.