Thursday, April 17, 2014

Focusing on Rabbits - Partners in Conservation

The Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP) and the Sacramento Zoo think about rabbits and their conservation in California not just during Easter, but year-round. ESRP recently received $16,000 from the Sacramento Zoo’s Quarters for Conservation program to help the Easter Bunny’s cousin and California native, the Riparian Brush Rabbit. 

These rabbits are a federally endangered species that occupy small pockets of riparian vegetation (the bank or a river or stream) in the San Joaquin Valley. Only 10 percent of the Central Valley’s habitat for the Riparian Brush Rabbit still exist. One of the many projects of ESRP includes restoring habitats and researching ways to reduce flooding and other threats to Riparian Brush Rabbits.

The Zoo and ESRP have been partners in conservation for many years. In the past, wild Riparian Brush Rabbits have been brought to the Sacramento Zoo for a full veterinary check and fitted with identification transponders so they could be tracked during their travels in the wild. The Sacramento Zoo is also currently home to two Riparian Brush Rabbits; it is the only known zoo in the world to house them. 

Not only have ESRP and the Zoo partnered together, but Zoo visitors also take part in helping the Zoo’s conservation partners through the Quarters for Conservation program. Through the collection of quarters, the Zoo provides funding for wildlife conservation projects.  As guests enter the Zoo, they receive a token representing their contribution to conservation. The token enables guests to vote for one of three conservation projects that have been selected for the year. Each of the three programs is guaranteed $5,000 annually with additional funding based on the number of votes each project receives. ESRP was one of the three 2013 Quarters for Conservation recipients.

The Sacramento Zoo supports more than two dozen conservation programs in the United States and 16 countries around the world. In 2013, the Zoo was able to provide more than $100,000 to field conservation programs, including ESRP, helping to make a global impact.

Next time you are at the Zoo, remember to cast your vote for conservation and stop by the Zoo’s Backyard to see the Zoo’s rabbit residents.

For more information, visit the Riparian Brush Rabbit Recovery program’s website.

Photo credit: ESRP

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Poker Tournament Champion!

By Dianne McFarland

I’ve enjoyed playing the game of poker for years.  In addition to a semi-regular game with friends, I’ve played in cash games and tournaments in casinos and in charity tournaments.  So, when my mother-in-law, who is a docent at the Sacramento Zoo, told us about the Zoo’s First Annual Poker Tournament to benefit the Reptile House, of course I had to play.  My husband and I both signed up, along with some of our friends from our regular poker game (which coincidentally includes a couple celebrity players recruited by the Zoo to participate).
Raffle Prizes
The tournament was very professionally run, and set against the beautiful backdrop of the Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg. The mood was set by the Sacramento Historical Society dressed in period clothes and providing demonstrations of old-time gambling games.  In addition the appetizers, we really enjoyed the delicious catered meal from Sac City Eats. The raffle prizes were all amazing, and we used our tickets to try for all of them.  The open bar helped loosen up any pre-game nerves, until it was finally time to begin. 
Sacramento Historical Society
My husband and I, along with two of our home game poker friends started at the same table together.   We had a nice group of people at our table, including the dealer who was especially helpful to those with less experience.  I was getting good cards, winning multiple pots, sometimes good-sized ones.  When players were eliminated, tables were consolidated.  I was moved to another table where TV personality and Super Bowl Champ, Del Rodgers, was playing with a ginormous stack of chips.  He was playing well, exerting pressure on the smaller stacks, of which I apparently was one at this table.  I managed to hang in there until it was time to change tables again.
First Round of Poker Play
At that time I noticed my poker friends were out of the tournament, watching me play and rooting me on.  Ladies were too.  One lady said “We’re rooting for you!  You’re the only girl left!”  On my last hand at that table, I went in against someone I had just lost to.  For this last hand I had top pair, but there was potential on the board for him to beat me.  He made a huge bet, as if he had the best hand.  I stared him down and called him.  I had him beat!  Even the dealer was impressed that I made the call, and shook my hand.  At this time, we consolidated again.  I had so many chips, I needed two gentlemen to help me to my seat at the final table. 

Del Rodgers was at the final table.  Remembering his chip stack and play from before, I thought I didn’t have a chance.  But, I had outlasted all 5 of my male poker friends, so I already had bragging rights amongst my group.  Then, when it was down to the final four, I couldn’t help think about the dreaded “bubble.”  I could see the finish line, and thought, “how great would it be to finish in the top three!” 
Final Table
At that time, a man in a hoodie and sunglasses kitty-corner from me went all in.  Everyone else folded.  I had a pair of 9’s in the hole.  It was a big hand considering the circumstances.  It was risky though.  If I lost, I’d end in fourth place, winning nothing; but I was already in for the big blind, which was huge.  I verbally declared that I called his bet.  There was some confusion, and they thought I was asking for a chip count.  I began to worry that they were misunderstanding me, that somehow the hand would be fouled, and that I might be losing this awesome opportunity.  I reiterated, more loudly, “I call,” and then again, “I CALL.”  Finally, they understood and we turned our cards over…  He had a pair of fours.  At that point in time I had no idea what came up on the board.  I just know it wasn’t another four, and I won!
Dianne after winning a big hand
Throughout that time I was mostly in a zone.  From time to time I would look up and see my poker friends smiling and rooting me on, which was comforting and unnerving at the same time, and now it was all over.  I beat 70 other poker players.  Next thing I knew, I was posing for pictures with the second and third place finishers (including Del Rodgers who placed second), and celebrities (including my celebrity poker friends, Radio and TV personalities, an Olympian, a Super Bowl Champ, and some top Zoo personnel, without whom the tournament would not have happened).  That… was… priceless.

The Zoo invited me and the other top three winners back to defend our spots for the Second Annual Tournament and my friends joked that my name should be on a perpetual trophy.  But the best part of it was picking first of the top 3 grand prizes, which included 50 burritos from Chipotle (which my husband probably secretly wished I’d selected), a private dinner for 8 at Mulvaney's B&L, and a trip for four to Safari West, including an overnight stay in a luxury safari tent, a jeep tour, a behind the scenes tour, and dinner for four.  Well, it was a ZOO fundraiser.  Which one do you think I would choose?
Dianne with her grand prize!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Big Day of Giving - 500,000th Visitor

The Sacramento Zoo welcomes almost 500,000 visitors each year. When we do reach this 500,000th visitor milestone, we like to let that person know... in a BIG way! On December 7, 2013, we knew this special person would arrive so Zoo Director Mary Healy, Gus the Green Tree Frog, and Julio the Blue and Gold Macaw with Sam from the Interpretive Center were ready to greet them.

Here is a special message of thanks from the 500,000th visitor:

“What we didn't get a chance to say that morning, was how much that day meant to our family. Without going into too much detail, these past two years have been very difficult. I lost my job, Isabella was born two weeks later, and then when she was just five days old she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. She had open-heart surgery on her one month birthday. Due to her medical condition, coupled with financial issues, we haven't been able to do many outings as a family. Going to the zoo for her birthday was a BIG deal for us. I even took on a seasonal job so we could have the funds for the trip.

We were originally supposed to go to the Zoo on December 7, but that was the weekend of the cold spell, so we postponed our trip. The morning of December 14 did not start off well. We ran into multiple delays, traffic, crowds, etc. But we were not going to allow it to dampen our spirits about celebrating Isabella's birthday. All that being said, you can imagine how shocked we were to learn we were the 500,000th visitor. Because of the generous packet of "goodies" the Zoo gave us, we were able to have an incredibly memorable day that we will not soon forget. "Thank you" seems so small for what we feel.

We are VERY excited to use our new zoo membership, and we hope to visit again soon!

The Hernandez Family

Every Zoo visitor is special and every visit to the Zoo is a unique experience. We had no idea that this visit to the Zoo for the Hernandez family would be such an exceptional one. Donations, large and small alike, help to keep our gates open so families like these can make memories that last a lifetime at the Sacramento Zoo.

By donating to the Sacramento Zoo on May 6th for the BIG Day of Giving, your gift will make an even bigger difference because every contribution will be matched on a prorated basis from a pool of matching funds; the more contributions to the Zoo, the higher the matching gift. This will be a great opportunity to make your donation dollars stretch!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Loss of Coquerel's Sifaka Infant

We are deeply saddened to announce that the male Coquerel's Sifaka infant who was born on January 5th, died the morning of Sunday, April 6th. The infant was moved to the Sacramento Zoo’s Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital's Intensive Care Unit three days prior where he was being treated for pneumonia.

Since his birth, staff had been monitoring the infant’s weight consistently as is the standard Species Survival Program®(SSP) protocol for sifaka infants. Daily weight gain was not as large as staff had hoped to see. After conferring with the SSP Coordinator and veterinary staff at the Duke University Lemur Center, staff began to supplement the infant daily to increase its weight gain. The infant was nursing and developing well under his parents care.   

On Friday, April 4th he was diagnosed with pneumonia and transported from the sifaka exhibit to the hospital ICU. The Duke University Lemur Center (the world’s leading center for interdisciplinary lemur research and conservation) was an integral resource over these three months concerning the best care options.

There are only ten AZA-accredited facilities that house the 66 endangered Coquerel’s Sifaka. Sifaka are native only to the island of Madagascar off the southeastern coast of Africa. Coquerel’s Sifaka are among the most endangered of the sifaka species – habitat loss due to deforestation is the leading threat.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy Birthday Dr. Jane Goodall!

The Sacramento Zoo would like to wish Dr.  Jane Goodall a very happy 80th Birthday!

World-renowned primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE, is legendary for her work with chimpanzees. She is also the founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, a global nonprofit that empowers people to make a difference for all living things.  A branch of the Jane Goodall Institute is the Roots & Shoots Program, in which the Sacramento Zoo participates.  Roots & Shoots, is a global humanitarian and environmental youth program.

Jane Goodall visited the Sacramento Zoo in 1987, 2003 and 2009. Her research continues to play a role in how zoos, including the Sacramento Zoo, have come to understand and interact with primates.

Join us in signing her global birthday card!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Zoo Grieves the Loss of Wilson the River Otter

Our hearts are heavy with the loss of Wilson, the North American River Otter who passed away on Monday. On Sunday zookeepers noticed his behavior to be slightly abnormal and were monitoring him. He was found dead in his exhibit first thing Monday morning. A full necropsy will be performed by UC Davis to determine the cause of death. Wilson was considered an older otter and was thought to be around 14-years-old. In the wild North American River Otters can live up to 10 years and up to 20 in captivity.

“Wilson will be a tough loss for everyone,” said zookeeper Erik Bowker.  “He was an amazing otter to work with due to his incredible intelligence and love for foods of all kind.  He was a wonderful ambassador for his species and drew the attention of kids and adults alike.  His ability to interacting with the public delighted many as he often stood nose-to-nose with children at the glass of his exhibit.  He will be greatly missed.”

Wilson was wild born in South Carolina but unfortunately was orphaned with his sibling. He was considered non-releasable by authorities and was given a home in a zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He came to the Sacramento Zoo in 2006 and shared an exhibit with Percy, the female North American River Otter. Wilson’s last extensive veterinary exam was April 16, 2013 including a full blood panel test and physical exam. The veterinarians did not find anything abnormal or cause for concern. 

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. 

Photo credit: Amanda Mayberry

Photo credit: Chris Llewellyn

Friday, March 28, 2014

Zoo Parent Lemur Package with Free IMAX Tickets

Thanks to the Esquire IMAX Theatre, if you become a Zoo Parent to any of the Sacramento Zoo’s three lemur species at the $50 level you will receive FOUR FREE tickets to our advance screening of Island of Lemurs: Madagascar on April 2, 2014.

Islands of Lemurs: Madagascar advanced screening
Wednesday, April 2, 6:30 pm
Esquire IMAX Theatre
1211 K Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

In addition to the movie tickets, you will also receive a 5 x 7 lemur photo, your name on the Zoo Parent Showcase for one year AND an invitation to the annual Zoo Parent Party in May. The ONLY way to get tickets to the special screening is by becoming a Zoo Parent and there are a limited number of packages available. Call (916) 808-5888 or visit the Zoo Parent page to purchase one today!