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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why Wings?

By Brooke Coe

Wings are a truly unique adaptation, allowing animals to reach new heights, travel the world, and perform physical maneuvers not possible on land. But what about winged birds who can’t fly? Why has only one type of mammal developed the ability to fly? How can a different wing shape affect the nature of flight? Many species at the Sacramento Zoo can help us answer these questions.

There are various species of flightless birds throughout the world, and while they cannot fly, they still retain their wings. Why? For a number of these species, their wings are a functional adaptation for their habitat and lifestyle. The ostrich, for example, uses its wings as a stabilizer while running at high speeds; they also act as a rudder to turn and brake quickly and perform zigzag escape maneuvers. Penguins have turned their wings into powerful fins for swimming which utilize the same muscles as flighted birds.

Flight is almost exclusively restricted to birds and insects, yet one species of mammal has found itself with the same set of skills. In fact, bat flight is more efficient than bird flight, with their flexible wing membrane and multiple wing joints providing more lift with less effort. Bats fly to forage for or catch their food, find suitable nesting sites, and to migrate when food is scarce. In multiple parts of the world, these mammals have developed the ability to fly to acquire different food sources out of reach to other animals and to more efficiently migrate long distances when following plentiful food sources.

Birds exhibit a variety of different wing shapes and feather structures based on their lifestyle in the wild. Falcons like the African Pygmy Falcons at the Zoo have a distinct v-shape in their wings, allowing for faster, more aerodynamic flight with high speed dives. The Himalayan Monal Pheasant lives in densely-wooded areas, and while it doesn’t need to fly quickly or at high altitudes, it needs maneuverability through the trees.

Wings, whether being used for flight or for stabilization, are a beneficial adaptation throughout the animal kingdom. They come in many different shapes, sizes, and colors, and they help to make every animal truly unique.

African Pygmy Falcon
Red-tailed Hawk
Straw-colored Fruit Bat
Orinoco Goose

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Update on Lemur Babies

The two female Black and White Ruffed Lemur babies are growing fast! At one month old they both weigh about one pound and are becoming more active and adventurous. They are exploring their dens, testing out their climbing and hanging skills and following their dam around. The sisters are trying out solid foods and want anything the adults eat. Their older sister visits with the dam and youngsters for a few hours each day. This enables the adolescent female to get experience with babies before she herself is paired with a male at another zoo. The lemur youngsters are currently off exhibit but can smell and see the rest of their family group through the mesh panel. They will need to grow a bit more before exploring the outside exhibit with their relatives.

Black & White Ruffed Lemurs, 5 weeks old
Black & White Ruffed Lemur trying out an apple
The Mongoose Lemur born on June 9th can be seen hanging tightly onto mom’s midsection and is progressing well.  The infants cling on like a fanny pack – around the dam’s midsection. So on one side of the dam you will see the head and the other side, the baby’s tail. All Mongoose Lemur young are born with female coloration and develop the male characteristic of the reddish chin and throat later (if they are a male!) so the sex of the youngster is still unknown. This pair are very experienced parents and soon the infant will start exploring inches away from its mother.

Mongoose Lemur, 4 weeks old
Mongoose Lemur, 3 weeks old
Mongoose Lemur infant with parents

Friday, June 26, 2015

New Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies

New to the Australian Outback at the Zoo are nine female Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies who moved to Sacramento from the San Diego Zoo. When visiting the exhibit be sure to be as quiet as possible while they acclimate to the exhibit and get to know the Red Kangaroos and Emus that share the yard. If you cannot spot them at first, be sure to look around the rocky outcrops that were created especially for them.

Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies are medium-sized and generally measure 19-32 inches long, plus a 16-28 inch tail, and females weigh 5-15 pounds. They inhabit rocky cliffs and hillsides in the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, where they rest in caves and rock crevices during the day in the heat, occasionally emerging to sunbathe. They are classified endangered because they live in a limited habitat range that continues to decrease in size.

Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby
Wallaby jumping from a rock

Sunday, June 21, 2015

First Father's Day for the Lion

In honor of Father’s Day, the Zoo’s first-time lion dad received a special-themed enrichment. A Zebra pinata!

Male African Lion with his Zebra pinata
Lion dads are unique among cats because they are involved in rearing their offspring. Other cats are fairly solitary and come together for breeding, then separate. This leaves the female to raise the offspring on her own. Also unlike other cats, lions are very social and live in prides whose members often live very close together for extended periods of time. Lion cubs are closely-knitted to their pride. Adult lions keep their youngsters close by for up to three years. Other cat species will push their youngsters to be on their own by one year of age.
Lion cub helping with dad's pinata
Lion cub found one of the other boxes
Lion cubs learn important behaviors from both parents and the rest of their pride. This sets the cubs up to be very successful in creating or joining prides of their own. These skills include hunting as a team, protecting the pride, and of course, the best times and places to take long cat naps.
You can tell the lioness is the hunter in the family!
Fun Fact: Field research shows that dark-maned males have characteristics which make them more desirable mates and formidable foes; they tend to be older than the others, have higher testosterone levels, heal well after wounding and sire more surviving cubs.

The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Lion Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The Lion SSP works with captive populations to increase awareness of the problems that face this big cat. As part of the SSP, the cubs will move to accredited zoos over the next two to three years.