Friday, November 21, 2014

New Winter Mini-Camp

By Kathryn Hensley, Education Program Coordinator

One of the most fun parts of my job is running the summer camp here at the Sacramento Zoo. Our camps are unlike any other in that the kids leave with real knowledge and understanding of the natural world. We hear over and over from parents how their kids come back to the Zoo and act as tour guides and teachers for the whole family! Our camps and classes offer experiences not available on a regular visit or field trip, and are taught by science educators who are experts on the Zoo and our animals.

I love to see our camp families who come every summer and see the kids grow each year. I am extra excited this year because I get to see some of those kids in December! This year we are having a Winter Mini-Camp on December 21st. It is going to be a lot of fun! We will be learning all about nocturnal animals, including some of our newer animals: Straw-colored Fruit Bats, Aardvark and Fennec Foxes.

This camp will be structured similarly to a day of Summer Camp: silly songs, fun games, and some special nocturnal crafts. We will also be going on Zoo walks to learn about the animals and see them in person. In addition, some of our Zookeepers will be holding a private show for us to meet some Animal Ambassadors up-close and personal.

The Winter Mini-Camp will be on Sunday, December 21st from 10 am to 2 pm and is geared towards 1st to 6th graders. We know this is a busy time of year so while you are finishing your holiday shopping or attending events, drop your kids with us! They will have a fantastic day and learn all about animals in the process!

We hope to see familiar faces and meet many new friends on this fun day! Visit the Winter Mini-Camp webpage to learn more and register.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Duiker Calf - It's a Girl!

The Sacramento Zoo’s Yellow-backed Duiker calf is a girl! She was born November 7th and weighed 8lbs. at birth. While she spends much of her time inside the barn where it is warm and comfortable, she can occasionally be seen following mom and dad onto exhibit where she briefly explores before dashing back to the barn.

Read the birth announcement for more details.

Duiker calf, 4 days old. Photo credit, Christa Klein

Duiker calf, 8 days old. Photo credit, Christa Klein

Friday, November 14, 2014

Lion Cub Update & Photos - Three Weeks Old

The Sacramento Zoo’s trio of African Lion cubs are three weeks old! Their eyes are open, they have quickly learned to walk and they are beginning to play with one another.  The new mother continues to do a fantastic job keeping track of her three growing cubs.

The African Lion cubs were born October 24th.  Read the birth announcement for more details.

African Lion Cub Trio. Photo by Amanda Watters

Photo by Amanda Watters

Photo by Amanda Watters

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Sacramento Zoo Saddened by Loss of Ferdinand the Eastern Bongo

The Sacramento Zoo is saddened by the death of the Eastern Bongo, Ferdinand. He was being treated for suspected pneumonia and diarrhea over recent days. Despite receiving I.V. fluids and treatment for shock, Ferdinand passed away while he was being cared for by the veterinary and animal care staff. A full necropsy will be performed at UC Davis with test results available in a few weeks.

“One of the kids’ most favorite things to do during our summer camp is to go behind the scenes and feed carrots to our majestic bongo," said Ann Geiger, Education Director at the Sacramento Zoo. “Our animals provide so many wonderful memories and stories that children will take with them long after they have visited the Zoo. Our Bongo will be missed by young and old alike.”

Ferdinand was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in 2009 and arrived at the Sacramento Zoo in June 2012. As a gentle and calm bongo, he was popular amongst visitors and adored by Summer Camp kids. Aptly named after the bull in the children’s story, “The Story of Ferdinand,” he would rather smell the flowers than fight.

Ferdinand the Eastern Bongo - Photo Credit: Christine Llewellyn

The Eastern Bongo is a large, African forest antelope found in Kenya with a chestnut colored body, white body stripes, banded legs, large ears and two spiral horns. They mostly live in isolated populations in the lowland forests on Kenya. Eastern Bongos are considered critically endangered; it is estimated that there are fewer than 250 individuals left in the wild. The bongo’s natural range has been drastically reduced over the past few decades. The largest threat to this species is the loss of habitat caused by growing civilization. For more than 20 years the Sacramento Zoo has actively participated in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Eastern Bongo Species Survival Plan® to cooperatively manage this endangered population in accredited institutions

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Fennec Foxes at the Zoo!

The Sacramento Zoo’s Aardvark has two new big-eared roommates! 

The two Fennec Fox sisters, Nymeria and Serafina, are from the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, NY. They are both full grown, weighing about three pounds each. The sisters are hard to tell physically apart but very different in personality. Nymeria is more food-motivated (especially bugs) but shy. Her sister Serafina is more curious about the world around her and loves a good mouse! Serafina also loves to run – zipping around the back area and exhibit.

When you see the foxes on exhibit – notice their large ears that are very sensitive to sound. If anyone knocks or taps on the exhibit glass they will run back to their off-exhibit rooms. Everyone can help them settle in by being very quiet.

Fennec Foxes are nocturnal omnivores and are the smallest fox in the world. Large, bat-like ears provide extraordinary hearing that can help locate prey underground or up to 1.5 miles away. Another Fennec Fox adaptation is insulated fur that protects the animal from sun and hot sand, which the fox would encounter in the Sahara Desert.

In a few weeks they will be physically introduced to our aardvark – so stay tuned for that!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Birth of a Yellow-backed Duiker Calf

The Sacramento Zoo is pleased to announce the birth of a Yellow-backed Duiker. The calf was born in the early hours of the morning on November 7th. At this time the mother, father and calf all appear to be doing well.

Yellow-backed Duikers are native to forests with heavy undergrowth in western central Africa. Newborns hide for protection rather than following the adults around. At about five months of age, they are fully weaned and receive no further parental care. The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Yellow-backed Duiker Species Survival Plan® (SSP).  SSPs are cooperative breeding and conservation programs designed to maintain genetically viable populations of animals in captivity, and to organize zoo and aquarium-based efforts to preserve the species in nature.

Calf and Mom - Photo Credit Erik Bowker
Calf and Mom - Photo Credit Erik Bowker
Yellow-backed Duiker Mom and Dad

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Pancake Tortoise Animal Ambassadors

Three Pancake Tortoises from the Reptile House recently became Sacramento Zoo Animal Ambassadors and will be part of the Zoo’s wildlife education presentations. Named Flapjack, Bisquick and Waffle, the three tortoises are about 9 years old with an estimated life span of 25-30 years. Native to Kenya and Tanzania, the Pancake Tortoise lives in areas of thorn scrub and savanna with rocky outcrops.

Unlike most tortoises, the Pancake Tortoise has a flexible shell and will seek out rocky crevices for protection. They are also unusually fast runners (for tortoises) and very good climbers. The soft shell allows them to more easily right themselves if they become turned over, something that occurs occasionally as they climb. The Pancake Tortoise is classified as Threatened due to intrusion by human activity on their natural habitat and collection for the pet trade.

Photo by Mike Owyang
Photo by Mike Owyang