Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Only at the Sacramento Zoo

The Sacramento Zoo is home to more than 500 rare, exotic and endangered animals. Some of the animals at the Zoo can only be found in a few Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited facilities and in rare cases, only at the Sacramento Zoo. Next time you are at the Zoo, be on the lookout for some of the not-often seen animals representing their species in Sacramento.

Green Acouchi
You will not see another Green Acouchi like our girl in the country, that is because she is the only female of her species in the United States. The Green Acouchi is native to areas of South America and is represented in European Zoos as a European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) program, but not in the United States. At six-years-old Sami is enjoying her middle age retirement years at the Sacramento Zoo.

Yucatan Dwarf Club-tailed Iguana
The Yucatan Dwarf Club-tailed Iguana is the only one of his kind at an AZA-facility. He was donated to the Sacramento Zoo in 1992 and has lived in the Reptile House ever since. The species is native to the Northern Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico.

Giant Garter Snake
When winding your way through the Zoo’s Reptile House you will come across many native animals to California, including the Giant Garter Snake. The Sacramento Zoo is one of two facilities in the country, the other being the California Living Museum, to have a representative of the species. The female at the Zoo was injured in the wild and unable to care for herself which is how she ended up at the Sacramento Zoo.  The Giant Garter Snake is considered a Threatened species due to loss of habitat throughout its endemic range in central California and is a species of concern for the state of California.

The Sacramento Zoo’s Veterinary Medicine Department participates in the Giant Garter Snake Recovery Program by giving full examinations and placing transmitters into wild Giant Garter Snakes so that their movements and behaviors can be tracked by biologists in an effort to better understand their survival needs.

Buton or Knobbed Hornbills
There are nine Knobbed (or Buton) Hornbills in the United States, two of which live at the Sacramento Zoo.  They are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable, are one of 54 species of hornbills. An amazing fact about them is that their wing strokes can be heard up to a half mile away! This is because they lack the cover layer of feathers (coverts) so air passes loudly through their flight feathers.

Friday, July 15, 2016

CFO of the Year!

We are very happy to announce that our Director of Finance & Business Operations Robert Churchill was named 2016 CFO of the Year in the Small Public Agency category by the Sacramento Business Journal. Robert is one of 17 CFO’s selected by a panel of independent judges as the area’s best with the ability to meet challenges head on and create new opportunities.

Robert has been at the Zoo for three years, moving from his previous tenure at for-profit companies to the nonprofit Sacramento Zoo. We are lucky to have him at the Zoo. While here he has proven himself to be a strong leader, calming presence, and passionate employee.

Congratulations Robert!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Rocket the Giraffe at 11 Weeks Old

At just over 11 weeks old, Rocket the Masai Giraffe is growing fast! At birth he was 163 lbs and 6' 1" tall and now he is 362 lbs and 7' 3" tall. His healthy appetite is keeping up with all of the growing he has to do, but just like many youngsters, he still takes lots of naps. Rocket’s zookeepers report that he is becoming more independent and venturing away from mom for short periods of time.

Rocket and mom are usually on exhibit daily until around 11am. Throughout the rest of the day, they can often be seen in the side yard of the barn.

Zookeepers have chalked a growth chart inside the barn to track his height.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

All About Bird Eggs

Many visitors love watching the Zoo’s feathery residents, but something that guests may not realize is the work that goes into hatching eggs from those residents. The Sacramento Zoo’s Primary Bird Zookeepers, Carolyn and Sebastian, dedicate a lot of time to properly monitoring and caring for a variety of bird eggs around the Zoo, giving them egg-sactly what they need.

Caring for the bird collection and their offspring sometimes includes the decision to move some eggs from nests to an incubator, giving those bird eggs a little extra support.  The decision can be based upon a variety of factors including the history of individual parents with their eggs and offspring, the endangered status of a species and future plans for the eggs after they hatch.

Keeper checking on eggs in the incubator
Burrowing Owl egg
In the photo above, Keeper Carolyn is completing a regular check on the eggs in the incubator. The incubator keeps eggs at a preferred temperature (around 99 degrees for most eggs), turns the eggs and has adjustable humidity based on the needs of the eggs. While looking after the eggs Keeper Carolyn will turn the eggs by hand to replicate movement they would experience in the nest and weigh each individual egg to monitor weight loss. Eggs are supposed to lose about 15% of their weight through moisture loss. If an egg is losing too much weight or not enough, Carolyn will adjust the humidity in the incubator.
Candling an egg
Candling an egg
Periodically during the incubation process Keepers Carolyn and Sebastian will check the viability of the egg and how likely it is to hatch.  They do this through a process called candling. During the candling an egg is briefly held near a bright light, giving a peek at what is inside.  When candling they are often able to check the egg’s fertility, age of the embryo, quality of the shell and the size of the air pocket.
Recording the egg weight
Zookeepers Sebastian and Carolyn are serious about the care of the eggs and birds under their care. Keeper Sebastian took a 32-hour intense egg incubation course taught by Susie Kasielke, curator of birds at the Los Angeles Zoo. The avian incubation workshop not only empowered him with more information and skills to care for the Sacramento Zoo’s birds, but he has also shared the information with many of his coworkers and hatched plans on how to best care for the Sacramento Zoo’s collection. Carolyn has plans to take the course.

The course includes topics:
  • Embryo and membrane development
  • Factors affecting hatchability before and during incubation
  • Hatchery management techniques 
  • Artificial incubation and its role in field conservation programs
Crested Guineafowl chicks
Egg Fun Facts
An egg is a single cell until it becomes fertilized. Thus, unfertilized eggs are single cells large enough to be seen without a microscope!

Brightly colored eggs often encourage males to play a role in sitting on the eggs and helping care for the young.

Pores in an egg shell allow oxygen in and carbon dioxide and moisture out.

Chicks have an ‘egg-tooth’ on the top of their beak which cuts through the egg shell when it is time for them to come out. The egg tooth falls off soon after hatching.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Happy 19th Birthday to Jane the Red Panda

Today, Jane the Red Panda celebrates her 19th birthday. Jane is the oldest Red Panda in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums facility. Reaching the age of 19, is no small feat when the median life expectancy for a Red Panda is 10.4 years.  In celebration of Jane’s birthday, Zookeepers made her a special ice cake filled with leaf-eater biscuits and topped with apples and grapes.

Jane was born at the Knoxville Zoo in 1997 and arrived at the Sacramento Zoo in 2001.  In 2012, Jane delighted guests during her brief stint as the star of the Wildlife Stage Shows at the Zoo. At 19, Jane lives the leisurely life of an older Red Panda, meandering around her exhibit and making sure she gets lots of rest. Zookeepers and veterinarians keep an extra close eye on her as they treat her for age related conditions such as arthritis.

Red Pandas are native to Eastern Asia, including Nepal, Burma, Tibet and south-central China. They are mostly solitary, small carnivores, whose markings mimic the reddish-brown tree trunks of their habitats. Red Pandas are also commonly referred to as “fire fox” or “bamboo cat”, Red Pandas are endangered in the wild. The Sacramento Zoo supports the Red Panda Network, an organization committed to the conservation of wild Red Pandas and their habitat throughout the education and empowerment of local communities. The Sacramento Zoo also participates in Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan (SSP®) program that cooperatively manages specific populations with the goal of sustaining a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied species well into the future.

Jane with her birthday cake
Jane with a biscuit from her cake
Jane being trained during her stint in the stage show

Monday, June 13, 2016

New Kilimanjaro Climb

Climb to new heights on the Sacramento Zoo's newest activity – Kilimanjaro Climb.

Spend a day at the Zoo and top it off with a trek up the mountain for just $5 for two climbs.  With every ticket sold, the animals win too as $.25 goes toward the Sacramento Zoo’s global conservation efforts.

Climbers must be between 45 lbs. and 250 lbs.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Wolf’s Guenon Birth

On Sunday, June 5th the Sacramento Zoo’s Wolf’s Guenon family welcomed a new addition. This was a recommended breeding per planning by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Wolf’s Guenon Species Survival Plan® (SSP) program. Zookeepers had been monitoring the mother closely throughout her pregnancy. Staff will continue to observe the entire family group after the new birth to ensure that the infant is receiving all the care that it needs. Currently there are fewer than 25 of these monkeys, housed at 8 Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions in the United States.

The dam was born at the San Diego Zoo in 2007 and the father was born at the San Antonio Zoo in 1995. This is their second offspring as a pair, the first was Zuri who was born at the Sacramento Zoo in 2013. This is Zuri’s first experience with a sibling. She will be watching the interactions between her mother and her sister/brother closely as mom cares for the new infant, learning valuable parenting skills that she herself will use one day.

Wolf’s Guenons are native to Central West Africa, in the Congo Basin where they inhabit a variety of forest types.  Diet consists of foraging for fruits, seeds, leaves, flowers and an occasional insects. Little information is known about this diurnal and arboreal species. Wolf’s Guenons are thought to form single male – multi-female groups.  These monkeys are known to spend time with other primate species including Bonobos, Colobus Monkeys and other guenon species. A larger mixed-species group may mean that there are more eyes on the lookout for predators, and many guenons have learned to recognize other monkeys’ alarm calls so that they know how to respond correctly if a neighbor spots a leopard or eagle.

Since little is known about Wolf’s Guenons in the wild and this species has only been in AZA facilities since the mid 1980’s with a historic population of less than 60 guenons, each birth, adds to our overall knowledge of this species, their biology, social interactions, developmental stages and more. The nonprofit Sacramento Zoo participates in over 60 Association of Zoos and Aquariums managed programs, including the AZA Wolf’s Guenon SSP®. The main focus of this particular plan is captive breeding and educational awareness as to their declining population in the wild due to the bushmeat trade and habitat loss.