Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Red Panda Day & Painting for Pandas

Each year, the dedicated zookeepers of the Greater Sac Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers host events to raise awareness and funds for animal conservation. In honor of International Red Panda Day, they have two events coming up with proceeds benefiting the Red Panda Network.

Red Panda Day, September 26th, 10 am to 4 pm
At the Sacramento Zoo

Join us at the Sacramento Zoo on Saturday, September 26th for Red Panda Day! Red Panda day is an international awareness and fundraising campaign started by the conservation group Red Panda Network. Zoo's around the world celebrate the original pandas and their habitats. Enjoy Red Panda themed activities, a fundraising raffle for panda themed gifts and special keeper chats at 1:30 pm and 3:30 pm.

Painting and Pints for Pandas, September 28th, 6 pm
Track 7 Brewing Co. 3747 W Pacific Ave, Unit F, Sacramento, CA  95820

If you can't spend the day at the Zoo but would like to participate in fundraising efforts come out and "paint for pandas" with artist Julia Roberts from VanGo Girl Paint Parties. She will give step by step instruction on how to paint the adorable picture below. $40 covers the instruction, supplies and a $10 donation to Red Panda Network. Register here!

If you like beer more than painting, just come to Track 7 Brewing that night and 20% of your purchase will go towards Red Panda Network when you mention you are there for Red Pandas.

Please consider joining us for one of these fun events supporting Red Panda conservation. Thank you!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Loss of Harvey the Red Kangaroo

We are saddened to announce the death of Harvey, a 10-year-old Red Kangaroo. Visitors may have noticed that in August Harvey developed swelling around his face from water retention due to kidney failure. Over the last month, Harvey has been receiving a number of different treatments to try to improve his kidney function and treat the water retention.  After a collaborative discussion amongst the animal care and veterinary staff about his quality of life and prognosis, the difficult decision was made to euthanize him this morning. It is estimated that Red Kangaroos can live up to 13 years.

As a longtime resident of the Sacramento Zoo, Harvey, has been a favorite of visitors and staff alike. He was named after the 6-foot imaginary rabbit in the movie Harvey by Jimmy Stewart. He delighted zookeepers and staff with his spunky nature. When he was not lounging around the exhibit he could be seen playing with his punching bag and using it as a tetherball. When investigating a new toy he was known to sniff it and then do an acrobatic leap of uncertainty before investigating some more.

Red Kangaroos are the largest of the kangaroo species and are native to the dry and grassy plains of Australia. Their common predators in the wild are Dingo, humans and birds of prey. Many are hit by cars when trying to cross highways. They travel in groups called mobs and are mostly nocturnal, with the entire group resting together during the heat of the day.

We continue to display a Red Kangaroo in the Zoo’s Australian Outback. He shares an exhibit with a group of Yellow-footed Rock wallabies and a pair of Emus. At this time no decisions have been made about adding more kangaroos to the exhibit.

Harvey will be dearly missed by staff and visitors.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The Whole Tooth

By Brooke Coe

One varied and interesting element of vertebrate life is the many types of teeth, or even lack thereof, that enable animals to catch, grind, or tear their food. Each animal group has its own unique set of chompers, and certain species have developed some truly wild dental adaptations to help them survive.

A carnivore is a type of animal characterized by large shearing teeth, called carnassials, used specifically to tear meat from prey. Formed from the joining of a pre-molar and molar tooth, these carnassial teeth are fundamental in removing flesh from their food. Let’s not forget the most obvious of the carnivores’ teeth, however, the canines. A lion’s canines can be as large as 2.5 inches long, and these formidable teeth are used for killing prey and piercing meat.

Where a carnivore needs help tearing meat, an herbivore needs more assistance manipulating and breaking down plants. Many of the truly herbivorous animals have modified canine and incisor teeth and some, like giraffes, are lacking them all together. Instead, these animals have a hardened dental pad, which helps with cutting grasses and leaves, and molars in the back to grind the materials down.

Many members of the animal kingdom find themselves with reduced or even missing teeth. The Giant Anteater and other related species are completely lacking teeth. Instead, they use their long tongues and dexterous lips to pick up small insects as well as fruit that has fallen to the ground.

Birds are also completely without teeth, yet they have developed a wide array of beak specialties to counteract this. Birds of prey have sharp hooks in their beak used for tearing meat, whereas ducks and other waterfowl have ridges in the sides of their beaks to assist with sifting food from the water.

Apart from eating, teeth in the animal kingdom provide of a variety of uses, and many animals have developed adaptations to assist with daily tasks, defense, and display behaviors. Lemur species have specially-arranged incisors and premolars to better assist with combing their fur. Pigs and others have tusks used for defense, display, or food collection. Each animal species has its own unique dentition based on how it can best survive in its habitat. As you tour the Zoo see how many different adaptations you can discover.

Bateleur Eagle
African Lion
Masai Giraffe

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Meet Charlie, the Great Horned Owl

Charlie the Great Horned Owl
Charlie the Great Horned Owl is the newest Animal Ambassador to the Zoo and the latest resident to the Interpretive Center. 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.

It is estimated that Charlie was born in 2014. Since his arrival at the Zoo in March zookeepers have been helping him become comfortable in his role as an Animal Ambassador and education animal. Charlie has already taken to participating in Wildlife Stage shows, Overnight Safaris and media appearances. His current training includes walkabouts around the Zoo to desensitize him to a variety of sights and sounds. The eventual goal is for him to go out to schools and other education programs with the ZooMobile.

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.

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.

Charlie taking field trips to zoo offices as part of his training
An interview with Kristina Werner, Meteorologist at Fox40. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Good news for elephants! Help stop the ivory trade.

Good news for elephants! AB 96 has officially been released by the Senate Appropriations committee and will move on to a full Senate vote this week!

In 1976, the State of California enacted a ban on the trade in elephant parts, including ivory. Unfortunately, due to an obscure loophole in that law, the trade continues here and California is the second largest market in the United States.

Every year approximately 35,000 elephants are killed for their ivory in Africa. That’s one elephant killed every 15 minutes. If the killing rate continues, African elephants will be extinct in the next few decades.

Luckily, we can take a huge and immediate leap forward right here in California, thanks to AB 96, a bill that is up for a vote in the Senate, which would ban most ivory and rhino horn sales.

Together we can stop the ivory trade in California, so please take action today!

Tell your Senator to support a bill banning ivory and rhino horn sales in California.

We're lobbying for those that can't speak for themselves – elephants and rhinos. You have the opportunity to help shut down this illegal trade locally and lead the way during this critical time for elephants.

Californians will stand up for elephants. You won't let poachers and ivory traffickers win. If you agree, please do something about it right now. Together we can make a difference.

Read this Sacramento Bee Op-Ed about AB 96 and this article in honor of World Elephant Day written by Zoo Director/CEO Kyle Burks.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tales of Tails

By Meagan Edwards

On your visits to the Zoo, you have probably taken note of the tails on some of your favorite animals, but have you ever wondered just what those tails do? From anteaters to zebras, most of the animals in the Zoo have a tail that is specially adapted for its needs. The Snow Leopards and Wolf’s Guenons both have very long tails, especially in relation to their body size. For these animals, the tail helps them to balance as they make gravity defying leaps in rocky terrain or run through trees. The Red Kangaroos’ tails not only help them balance, but also act as a “fifth limb” on occasion. When kangaroos are resting, they will often lean back and use their tails as a tripod to give their back legs a break or if they are hopping very fast, their tails become a rudder for balance, aiding them to reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour!

Some animals’ tails can even help them gather food or hang from the branches of trees. The Southern Tamandua has a prehensile tail which can wrap around and grasp branches to help it move through the forest canopy. This adaptation is “extra handy” for this arboreal mammal.

Not all tails are used to help in locomotion, though: hoofed animals such as giraffes and zebras use their long, thin tails with tufts of hair at the end as swatters to protect themselves from biting insects; a rattlesnake’s built-in noisemaker sends an alarm to potential predators or large animals; and the Fennec Foxes use their bushy tails as blankets to keep themselves warm during the cold desert nights. Whether it’s about sending an alarm or getting ahead, an animal’s tail tells a tale about its natural habitat and behavior.

Fennec Fox
Red Kangaroo
Wolf's Guenon
Snow Leopard

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Celebrating World Elephant Day

By Kyle Burks, PhD, Sacramento Zoo Director

Every day, I think about the actions I can take to help conserve wild animals and their wild habitats. It’s a huge part of why I do what I do.  I also think about how I can help other people realize all of the things they can do to help, too. August 12th happens to be World Elephant Day…and I’m asking for your help for elephants. Even though our Sacramento Zoo doesn’t have elephants in the collection anymore, it doesn’t mean that we can’t help protect them.

On average 96 elephants are illegally killed for their ivory every single day - it’s staggering. In recent years, there has been a huge worldwide resurgence in the illegal trade in ivory. If it doesn’t stop, elephants stand to become extinct in the next decade. Imagine a world without elephants in just a few short years.

Prior to moving to Sacramento, I was honored to be one of a handful of people in attendance at an historic event in Denver. In November 2013, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service crushed over six tons of confiscated elephant ivory into tiny pieces, signaling the start of a massive effort to end illegal wildlife trafficking. I found myself torn as I watched hundreds of pieces of ivory crushed. I felt incredibly proud because I was witness to a world-changing event. At the same time, I felt crushed myself, as I know that each piece of ivory represented an elephant that had illegally lost its life.

Fast-forward two years, and I am now proud to live in Sacramento at a time when Californians can make a huge difference for elephants. Currently, Assembly Bill 96 is making its way through our legislature. It will strengthen a law from the 1970’s and effectively ban all commercial trade in elephant ivory. Why should we care? California is the second largest market in the world for illegal ivory. Passing the bill can change that and help the efforts to stem illegal poaching of elephants.

You can help by contacting your representatives in the legislature and voicing your support for the bill.  If you’ve ever wondered how you can help, this is one concrete action you can take that stands to make a huge difference. Find out who your legislators are and contact them to let them know you support Assembly Bill 96. Your action can help save elephants. That’s something to be proud of.

Read the Sacramento Bee Op-Ed about AB 96, written by myself and John Calvelli, the executive vice president for public affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Join me in supporting AB 96!