Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hatching of Three Endangered Parrots

Thick-billed Parrots are one of the long-term success stories at the Sacramento Zoo. In 1985, Susan Healy, the Zoo’s Supervisor of Birds and Herps became the studbook keeper for this species, and in 1988 she was given the added task of coordinating and managing the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) under the guidance of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The Sacramento Zoo has been a home to this species since 1975 and is the most successful zoo in the world to breed Thick-billed Parrots. The success continued this year with three chicks hatching on August 5, 6 and 10. The parents are both zoo-bred birds with the female hatching here is 2001 and the male hatching at the Queens Zoo in 2008.

Keepers were excited to see that two pairs laid clutches of eggs this season. After evaluating the pairs’ clutches they decided to move one egg (from a clutch of three eggs) into the nest of the other. The second nest contained two eggs (one known to be infertile). The newly introduced egg hatched but the seemingly-viable first egg did not. By making the decision to move an egg, keepers enabled the parents with the unsuccessful eggs to be able to still raise a baby, allowing both pairs the experience of raising healthy chicks. In essence, these three hatchlings have the same parents but were incubated by two sets of bird pairs. These chicks represent the fourth generation of successful breeding of an endangered species at the Sacramento Zoo.

Thick-billed Parrot chicks, including ours, fledge from the nest at around two months of age. While learning to navigate in their environment, the chicks continue to receive care and feeding from parents, occasionally up to a year’s time. As the chicks venture from the nest box you will be able to distinguish them from the adults by their juvenile white beaks; adults have black beaks.

Thick-billed Parrots are the only parrot native to the United States, but loss of habitat due to deforestation and fires drove them out of Southern Arizona and New Mexico in the early 1920s, to ranging only in Northern and Central Mexico.

Newly hatched chicks. 
Juvenile Thick-billed Parrot with distinctive white beak at 2 months old.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Charlie the Great Horned Owl

It is estimated that Charlie was born in 2014. He arrived at the Sacramento Zoo in early 2015. Charlie was a wild owl who found himself at the Abilene Zoo rehabilitation program. During his examination he was found to be in full health and able to go back into the wild. On release day, when the crate doors opened, all of the other Great Horned Owls flew off, but Charlie stayed right where he was. At that time it was recognized that he preferred people and was well suited for a zoo. From there Charlie found a home at the Sacramento Zoo.

Charlie is a full-grown owl and weighs just over two pounds. He enjoys admiring and hooting at the handsome bird he sees in the mirror in his enclosure. He also spends a great deal of time keeping tabs on what his neighboring Laughing Kookaburra is doing, and watching the world around him. Great Horned Owls like Charlie vocalize the classic hooting noise attributed to owls. He can be seen participating in a variety of activities including Wildlife Stage Shows, Overnight Safaris, going out to schools on ZooMobile programs and making media appearances. His training also includes walkabouts around the Zoo to desensitize him to a variety of sights and sounds.

Great Horned Owls range from the Arctic tree line in Canada and Alaska, south through the United States and Central America, and into South America. They are the second largest and one of the most common owls in North American and exert 28 pounds of pressure with their foot grip.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Sapphire and Ruby, Burrowing Owl Sisters

Ruby and Sapphire both hatched at the Sacramento Zoo in 2013. Their mother is a rescue owl that can be seen on exhibit in the Zoo’s Backyard.

As with many sisters they have opposite personalities; Ruby is high strung while Sapphire is more easy going. Ruby has also been known to be very chatty with a docent or two. The pair regularly dig burrows together under the logs and various houses in their enclosure. They can also often be found sitting together on a stump. One of their favorite things to do is chase crickets that zookeepers give them. Their zookeepers will also tell you that they have the worst mouse breath that has ever been encountered.

Ruby and Sapphire and very important Animal Ambassadors that represent a species native to our Sacramento region. Also, if you happen to visit the San Francisco Zoo, you may see one of their clutch mates acting as an education ambassador in their outreach programs.

Sapphire                                                    Ruby

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Celebrate Red Panda Day

The Sacramento Zoo is celebrating International Red Panda Day a bit early on Saturday, September 10. Thanks to the dedicated zookeepers of the Greater Sac Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers, this interactive and educational event will raise awareness about Red Panda conservation.

Join the fun by becoming a “Red Panda Ranger” after visiting various Red Panda Stations and completing activities. Other stations include face painting and the opportunity to decorate your own flag that will be added to the ones currently surrounding the Claire Mower Red Panda Forest.

A lot will be happening near the Red Panda exhibit with special Keeper Chats at 12:30 and 2 pm. VanGo Girl Paint Parties will demonstrate how to paint a beautiful Red Panda. Raffle tickets can also be purchased for themed artwork, d├ęcor and other keepsakes. The raffle drawing will begin at 3 pm and attendance is not required, winners will be contacted. All proceeds will benefit Red Panda Network, an organization committed to the conservation of wild Red Pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities in Nepal.

Of course, you’ll want to see the Red Panda residents Pili, a 5-year-old female, and Takeo, an 8-year-old male. The pair have lived at the Sacramento Zoo since 2012 on recommendation of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Red Panda Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative to sustain healthy, genetically diverse populations. Until recently however, the duo lived in an outdoor behind-the-scenes exhibit and older pandas occupied the public viewing portion. After exhibit renovations, the pair are now in public view.

Red Pandas are native to Eastern Asia, including Nepal, Myanmar, Tibet and south-central China. They are mostly solitary small carnivores whose markings mimic the reddish-brown tree trunks of their habitats. Also known as a “fire fox” or “bamboo cat”, Red Pandas are Endangered. The Sacramento Zoo has been an active participant in the Red Panda SSP since 1999.

Red Panda Takeo

Red Panda Pili

Red Pandas are arboreal

Red Pandas are endangered but together we can help!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Welcome New Bongo

The Sacramento Zoo is excited to welcome Eastern Bongos back to our Zoo! Having spent the last 30 days in quarantine at the Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital, Sukari, a young male Eastern Bongo, is now on exhibit. He was born on December 23, 2014 and joins us from Cincinnati Zoo as part of a cooperative with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Sukari began exploring his new exhibit by munching on leaves and listening to the sounds around him. You can see him, located near the Red River Hogs and the Conservation Carousel. Every time you ride the carousel or any of the additional attractions at the Zoo, you are helping donate funds to wildlife conservation efforts.

The Eastern Bongo is a large, African forest antelope with a chestnut colored body with white vertical body stripes, patches of black and white on the legs, white chevrons on the chest, large ears and spiral horns. Mature males are larger and darker than adult females. They live in isolated populations in the high elevation montane forests of Kenya. Eastern Bongos are considered critically endangered; it is estimated there are fewer than 200 individuals left in the wild. They face threats from poaching and habitat loss.

The Sacramento Zoo works to increase awareness of conservation issues that affect Eastern Bongos and other large animals in African habitats. For more than 20 years the Sacramento Zoo has actively participated in AZA’s Eastern Bongo Species Survival Plan® (SSP) to cooperatively manage this critically endangered species.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Death of Jane the Red Panda at 19 Years

The Sacramento Zoo is saddened to announce the death of Jane, at the age of 19, she was the oldest Red Panda in an American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program. The average life expectancy for Red Pandas in zoos is 10.5 years.

Over the past year, Jane had been treated for some gum infections and dental problems. She was receiving daily treatments for arthritis in her hips and knees. After an active day of exploring her exhibit, she died in her sleep.

“Jane was very old for a panda and the keepers took excellent and special care with all her geriatric needs,” said Leslie Field, Supervisor of Mammals at the Sacramento Zoo. “All the pandas have very unique personalities, but Jane was exceptionally so for the species in her very even-keeled ‘panda’ personality.”  

Jane with a biscuit from her cake on her 19th birthday, June 2016.
Jane was born at the Knoxville Zoo in 1997 and came to the Sacramento Zoo in 2001. While at the Knoxville Zoo she gave birth to one litter of two offspring and at the Sacramento Zoo she had two litters with three cubs each. Jane delighted guests when she participated in Wildlife Stage shows at the Zoo in 2012. Jane is well known amongst many Red Panda caretakers across the country.  Keepers who have worked with Jane over the years think of her fondly.

“Jane was well-loved by all staff and all that interacted with her,” said keeper, Amanda Mayberry. “She was one of a kind, and definitely not your typical standoffish panda. While it is heartbreaking to lose her, Jane had a great, long life.”

Red Pandas are native to Eastern Asia, including Nepal, Myanmar, Tibet and south-central China. They are mostly solitary small carnivores whose markings mimic the reddish-brown tree trunks of their habitats. Also known as a “fire fox” or “bamboo cat”, Red Pandas are Endangered. The Sacramento Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, an organization committed to the conservation of wild Red Pandas and their habitat through the education and empowerment of local communities. The Sacramento Zoo has been an active participant in the Red Panda SSP since 1999.

Jane being trained during her stint in the stage show in 2012.
Jane the Red Panda, photo by Mike Owyang

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Zoo Partner, Nugget Markets

The local grocery store chain, Nugget Markets, recently joined the Zoo as a partner, sponsoring the Zoo’s Green Team as well as the Zoo’s Earth Fest in April. Earth Fest is the Zoo’s annual celebration of the world through environmental and cultural appreciation featuring information tables, games and entertainment.

Nugget hosted an interactive composting exhibit where kids learned the importance of conserving through hands-on composting. Nugget is no stranger to conservation. Their storewide sustainability program seeks to maximize efforts in three categories: water reduction, waste elimination and energy savings. Nugget’s sustainability coordinator works closely with a store-based “Green Guru” and their leadership teams to identify programs and processes that will help them reach their sustainability goals.

In 2015, Nugget’s associates rose to the challenge and collectively made a huge impact: more than 12 million gallons of water saved, 2.3 million pounds of food waste converted into biofuel or fertilizer, 4.8 million pounds of recyclables diverted and ambitious energy-saving retrofits for each store location. In addition, Nugget partnered with food banks and nonprofits in the communities they serve to make sure that good food makes it to those who are most in need.

In 1926, Nugget Markets founder, Mack Stille, said, “We are here for our neighbors just as they have been here for us. There is only one race in the world: the human race. We support our neighbors through charitable giving and providing the finest products and services.” Four generations later, Nugget Markets continues to serve their communities and to recognize their responsibility to steward resources well and minimize their impact on the environment.

The Sacramento Zoo is excited to partner with Nugget Markets to maximize our impact on conservation.

Nugget staff teaching kids about composting.
Nugget was giving away compost as well!
Boys helping to turn the compost bins.