Monday, August 31, 2015

Good news for elephants! Help stop the ivory trade.

Good news for elephants! AB 96 has officially been released by the Senate Appropriations committee and will move on to a full Senate vote this week!

In 1976, the State of California enacted a ban on the trade in elephant parts, including ivory. Unfortunately, due to an obscure loophole in that law, the trade continues here and California is the second largest market in the United States.

Every year approximately 35,000 elephants are killed for their ivory in Africa. That’s one elephant killed every 15 minutes. If the killing rate continues, African elephants will be extinct in the next few decades.

Luckily, we can take a huge and immediate leap forward right here in California, thanks to AB 96, a bill that is up for a vote in the Senate, which would ban most ivory and rhino horn sales.

Together we can stop the ivory trade in California, so please take action today!

Tell your Senator to support a bill banning ivory and rhino horn sales in California.

We're lobbying for those that can't speak for themselves – elephants and rhinos. You have the opportunity to help shut down this illegal trade locally and lead the way during this critical time for elephants.

Californians will stand up for elephants. You won't let poachers and ivory traffickers win. If you agree, please do something about it right now. Together we can make a difference.

Read this Sacramento Bee Op-Ed about AB 96 and this article in honor of World Elephant Day written by Zoo Director/CEO Kyle Burks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tales of Tails

By Meagan Edwards

On your visits to the Zoo, you have probably taken note of the tails on some of your favorite animals, but have you ever wondered just what those tails do? From anteaters to zebras, most of the animals in the Zoo have a tail that is specially adapted for its needs. The Snow Leopards and Wolf’s Guenons both have very long tails, especially in relation to their body size. For these animals, the tail helps them to balance as they make gravity defying leaps in rocky terrain or run through trees. The Red Kangaroos’ tails not only help them balance, but also act as a “fifth limb” on occasion. When kangaroos are resting, they will often lean back and use their tails as a tripod to give their back legs a break or if they are hopping very fast, their tails become a rudder for balance, aiding them to reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour!

Some animals’ tails can even help them gather food or hang from the branches of trees. The Southern Tamandua has a prehensile tail which can wrap around and grasp branches to help it move through the forest canopy. This adaptation is “extra handy” for this arboreal mammal.

Not all tails are used to help in locomotion, though: hoofed animals such as giraffes and zebras use their long, thin tails with tufts of hair at the end as swatters to protect themselves from biting insects; a rattlesnake’s built-in noisemaker sends an alarm to potential predators or large animals; and the Fennec Foxes use their bushy tails as blankets to keep themselves warm during the cold desert nights. Whether it’s about sending an alarm or getting ahead, an animal’s tail tells a tale about its natural habitat and behavior.

Fennec Fox
Red Kangaroo
Wolf's Guenon
Snow Leopard

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Celebrating World Elephant Day

By Kyle Burks, PhD, Sacramento Zoo Director

Every day, I think about the actions I can take to help conserve wild animals and their wild habitats. It’s a huge part of why I do what I do.  I also think about how I can help other people realize all of the things they can do to help, too. August 12th happens to be World Elephant Day…and I’m asking for your help for elephants. Even though our Sacramento Zoo doesn’t have elephants in the collection anymore, it doesn’t mean that we can’t help protect them.

On average 96 elephants are illegally killed for their ivory every single day - it’s staggering. In recent years, there has been a huge worldwide resurgence in the illegal trade in ivory. If it doesn’t stop, elephants stand to become extinct in the next decade. Imagine a world without elephants in just a few short years.

Prior to moving to Sacramento, I was honored to be one of a handful of people in attendance at an historic event in Denver. In November 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service crushed over six tons of confiscated elephant ivory into tiny pieces, signaling the start of a massive effort to end illegal wildlife trafficking. I found myself torn as I watched hundreds of pieces of ivory crushed. I felt incredibly proud because I was witness to a world-changing event. At the same time, I felt crushed myself, as I know that each piece of ivory represented an elephant that had illegally lost its life.

Fast-forward two years, and I am now proud to live in Sacramento at a time when Californians can make a huge difference for elephants. Currently, Assembly Bill 96 is making its way through our legislature. It will strengthen a law from the 1970’s and effectively ban all commercial trade in elephant ivory. Why should we care? California is the second largest market in the world for illegal ivory. Passing the bill can change that and help the efforts to stem illegal poaching of elephants.

You can help by contacting your representatives in the legislature and voicing your support for the bill.  If you’ve ever wondered how you can help, this is one concrete action you can take that stands to make a huge difference. Find out who your legislators are and contact them to let them know you support Assembly Bill 96. Your action can help save elephants. That’s something to be proud of.

Read the Sacramento Bee Op-Ed about AB 96, written by myself and John Calvelli, the executive vice president for public affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Join me in supporting AB 96!

Thursday, August 6, 2015


By Amanda Cable, Development Coordinator

In March I had the pleasure of attending the SacPal (Sacramento Police Activities League) Bingo Tournament at Florin Road Bingo to research for our upcoming bingo night with some other zoo staffer. I hadn’t played bingo since I was in elementary school, so attending brought a mixture of apprehension and excitement;  I had no idea what to expect. I knew that bingo was growing in popularity amongst the younger folks, but I had not given it much thought to play myself.

What a sight! From the fluorescent lighting to the multi-colored chairs, I immediately noticed Florin Road Bingo is a place to have some fun!

The pace of play was a bit intimidating at first; I was trying to take it all in: the caller yelling out numbers, the noise of the hall and the friendly chatter amongst my group. During the second game, you could tell everyone was really starting to get a feel for their preferred strategy. The room became more and more quiet as the caller read off “B-13!” (or letters and numbers).

I was daubing away, when suddenly I realized, “BINGO!” – I had won! I called it as loud as I could and jumped out of my seat. Each card has a designated number, so all the attendant had to do was let the caller know my card number and – sure enough - it was bingo!

I was still reeling from the last game when the caller began pulling numbers for the next game. I thought I had my fill, but it was still so much fun that even if I didn’t win again I wanted to play. Then  all of a sudden, “BINGO” – I had won again! It happened so fast, no one in the hall believed it. Sure enough, I was a winner again!

Regardless of winning (once or twice), I had so much fun that evening. The atmosphere was friendly and fun, a wide-range of ages and levels were in the hall together just having a great time.

I’m looking forward to the Sacramento Zoo’s Bingo Tournament on Tuesday, August 25th – I’m going to give everyone a run for their money! Even better is that players will be competing for CASH prizes starting at $100 (not too shabby for a $35 ticket).

Join us for an evening of fun, laughter, some friendly competition – there will even be an appearance from the Zoo’s Animal Ambassadors. And it’s all for a great cause: the Sacramento Zoo.

Register for the Sacramento Zoo Bingo Night!

Winner! Winner!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Black & White Ruffed Lemur Youngsters on Exhibit

At just over two months old, the two female Black and White Ruffed Lemur babies are now on exhibit with their extended family. The lemurs were born on May 27th and have been behind-the-scenes with mom. Black and White Ruffed Lemurs keep their young in nests unlike other lemurs that carry their young.

Catch a glimpse of the youngsters as they explore their exhibit and grow!

Two youngsters checking out the exhibit.
Youngsters sticking close together at first.
One of the girls made herself at home on top of a sunbathing relative.
Getting use to the exhibit and family members.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lando, the Grey Fox

Lando the Grey Fox found his way to the Sacramento Zoo after he was turned over to a rescue facility by a family who had found him in the wild with no mother nearby. Due to the attachment Lando had gained to humans he was not able to be release back into the wild.

Lando is full of energy and loves to play with toys. He often plays chase with a favorite puppet as well as a stuffed animal that resembles a goat. He also loves rubbing on furniture that has been sprinkled in his favorite scent, rosemary and running through his IKEA tunnel. Lando’s favorite treats are honey, mealworms and meat. He also likes broccoli stalks but prefers to leave the broccoli florets untouched.

Lando is very smart and picks up on things quickly. Zookeepers are always on the hunt for new activities and puzzles for him. However, Lando can also be very stubborn and often chooses not to train, or “go to school” as his keepers call it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A Day in the Life of Goody, the Giraffe

*This is the second part of a series documenting the care that Goody the Giraffe receives at the Sacramento Zoo. 

Goody, the Reticulated Giraffe, has osteoarthritis which is particularly bad in her front left fetlock (ankle) where she also has a chronic joint abnormality (poor conformation).  As she has aged and her arthritis progressed, her joint continues to degenerate. Any condition in a front leg is particularly difficult for giraffes because they bear nearly 75% of their weight on the front legs. While other four-legged animals can distribute their weight more easily to deal with front leg problems, or even adapt to the amputation of a leg, giraffes need both front legs to be able to walk, sit, stand and run.

Although we cannot change Goody’s condition, we have been working hard to ease the effects of her degenerative arthritis and joint abnormalities. Zookeepers and veterinarians spend a lot of time treating Goody in a variety of ways to help her live more comfortably. All of her treatments are under the close supervision of the veterinary staff which coordinates specialists from around the community to aid in her care.

A typical day for Goody

7:45 am
Goody goes into the barn where she stands on an electro-magnetic therapy mat while eating breakfast. At this time she also receives oral arthritis medications Meloxicam and Gabapentin.

Hoof on the electro-magnetic therapy mat
8:00 am
Ice wraps (designed for sport horses) are wrapped around her fetlock. She wears the ice packs for about 30 minutes, until she's ready to go outside with the herd.

9:00 am
If she is particularly sore, lidocaine gel (a topical anesthetic) is applied to her joint.

9:30 am
She joins the herd in the yard for exercise, diet, enrichment and socialization.

10:30 am
Goody usually returns to the barn and waits at the door for a keeper to allow her into a private stall.

Goody in her private stall
10:45 am
After a snack, keepers will usually ice her shoulder or give her an acupuncture treatment.

Acupuncture needle near the dark spot
The acupuncture needle is the straight white line in the middle 
11:00 am to 3:30 pm
Goody lays down for a nap and rests.

3:30 pm
Afternoon medications are administered and she receives dinner.

4:00 pm
Goody can either return to the herd or stay in the barn overnight depending on how keepers have assessed her comfort level that day.

Other Therapies Provided:
  • Due to the pain and stiffness, she walks abnormally causing uneven wear on her hooves. Zookeepers trim her feet routinely, with the guidance of a farrier (professional that specializes in equine hoof care), to help keep them in a healthy and normal shape as possible. 
  • In addition to medication we also utilize alternative therapies. Some - like icing and stretching - are similar to what human athletes use. Others – such as acupuncture, pulse electromagnetic therapy, and laser therapy – are more holistic approaches.
  • Recently zookeepers have been test fitting a shim (a wedge designed to go between a horse's hoof and horse shoe that corrects the hoof if its angle is incorrect). The extra support when the shim is attached to the underside of the hoof, helps stabilize her steps. Keepers are continuing to modify the design of her wedge and trying to adapt it into a comfortable metal “shoe” she can wear all the time. 
Wrapped shim on her hoof.
Although Goody’s challenging days outweigh the good days as of late, staff are doing everything they can to ease her arthritis and give her the comfort she needs. The Sacramento Zoo is grateful to the many professionals throughout the area who have helped provide alternative therapies and suggestions to improve Goody’s care as she ages.