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.

Friday, August 26, 2016

How to Train a Bat

Earlier this year, Primary Bird Keeper Carolyn Volpe embarked on a whirlwind two-day training adventure at the Lubee Bat Conservancy in Florida. The bat training workshop was attended by zookeepers from around the United States, as well as animal rehabilitators interested in bat care.

Carolyn, who happens to love bats due to the social dynamics and interactions of the flighted mammals, spent the time taking in as much information as she could. During the two days, her knowledge of bat diets, how to train for voluntary blood draws for heath checks, nail trims, enrichment and social needs grew exponentially. Prior to the trip, Carolyn and other zookeepers were already training the bats at the Sacramento Zoo to climb on a scale for weighing and visual body condition checks, making it easier to continually asses their overall health. At the workshop she picked up some new tips on other ways to engage the bats in voluntary training. Carolyn is hopeful that after the Zoo’s colony of 20 bats, some more eager than others, have mastered getting on the scale, they will then enthusiastically begin crate-training which will allow for a less stressful transportation method to the veterinary hospital when needed.

Continuing education for zookeepers and other Zoo staff helps us give the best care possible to all of the Zoo’s residents and helps us stay up-to-date on the most current animal conservation news and needs.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Home Remodel Surprise for Percy

Percy the North American River Otter. Photo Credit: Erik Bowker

Imagine, on a return from an unexpected and extended stay at the hospital you come home to a surprise house remodel that includes new ramps, rearranged furniture, landscape pruning and in-pool additions for those times you want to float in the water without a lot of effort. What a great surprise it would make, just like a reality TV home-makeover show. This is exactly what Percy the North American River Otter will be surprised with when she returns to her exhibit from the Veterinary hospital at the end of the month.

Percy, an approximately 17-year-old otter, is receiving treatment for age-related ailments including arthritis in her hips, early renal failure and a “slipped disc” in her back. In late July, Percy had a disc rupture in her back causing pressure on her spinal cord that resulted in limited mobility. She was taken to the Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital to be treated. She has been recuperating under the care of veterinarians and her zookeepers. While she still has a way to go in the recovery/rehab process, she is making great improvement and regaining her mobility. The exhibit modifications will allow her to remain in her home that she is familiar with after she leaves the hospital. Much like a remodel to make a home more comfortable for an elderly person, we hope our changes to Percy’s home will help her be comfortable as she ages.

Percy has lived at the Sacramento Zoo for the majority of her life, over 16 years. She was a wild otter pup that ended up at the Gulf Breeze Zoo in Florida as an orphan via Florida Fish and Game in early 1999. She then came to the Sacramento Zoo in December 1999.

North American River Otters are native to the freshwater rivers and streams in the United States. The largest concentration of otters in California is the Suisun Marsh, about 40 miles from Sacramento. They can also be found in the Yolo Basin, and the American River range, even stretching to the foothills. The median life expectancy for a North American River Otter is 11.7 years.

On your next visit to the Sacramento Zoo see if you can spot the changes in the exhibit and how Percy might use them.