Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Sacramento Zoo Thanks YOU!

THANK YOU to everyone who supported the Zoo on May 3rd and 4th by donating, sharing, liking and posting!

Despite technical issues on May 3rd, the Sacramento Zoo made the best of the Big Day of Giving thanks to patient and perseverant donors! The silver lining was speaking with so many donors throughout the day that wouldn’t let the difficulties stop them from supporting the Zoo!

We are still working on the donation, matching gift and overall totals due to the technical hiccups and will update this blog soon! Regardless, millions were raised for 570 local nonprofits and we’re proud to be part of this day in philanthropy. From our spokesbird Charlie and the rest of the #SacZoo team, we extend a heartfelt THANK YOU!


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

BIG Day of Giving is Here! Donate!

The BIG Day of Giving is finally here! From midnight on May 3rd to May 4th at 3pm, you can donate here to support the Sacramento Zoo.

The Sacramento Zoo’s mission is to inspire appreciation, respect and a connection with wildlife and nature through education, conservation and recreation. Last year, the Sacramento Zoo hosted over 53,000 schoolchildren from a 24-county region on organized field trips. Over 100,000 guests were able to learn about animals during Stage Shows and Keeper Chats. Also, over 10,000 people were visited by Charlie, the BIG Day of Giving Spokesbird, or one of his Animal Ambassador friends. These programs and more are only possible with the generosity and support of our loyal donors. Every dollar you give will help the Sacramento Zoo continue to educate and inspire young minds across the region.


Make a donation today!
  • Every gift made today to the Sacramento Zoo will receive a 10% match from Nacht & Lewis, up to $5,000!
  • Donations can be as small as $25 or as large as $10,000
  • Everyone who donates $100 or more will be entered in a drawing to win an opportunity for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Interpretive Center and a chance to meet this year’s BIG Day of Giving spokesbird, Charlie.  
Meet Charlie in person! Donate $100 or more for a chance to win.
Make your donation count even more
  • Use your Golden 1 debit or credit card and Golden 1 will proportionately match up to $50,000 of members’ online gifts.
Herkimer the Desert Tortoise and Animal Ambassador
Spread the word - your help makes a big impact
Your contribution of any amount will help the Sacramento Zoo continue to educate and inspire our future generations. Thank You!!

Charlie the Great Horned Owl is the spokesbird for #BigDoG2016. See why in this video!



Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Ring-tailed Lemur Finds Permanent Home

The Ring-tailed Lemur that was discovered in a Turlock backyard last year has found a permanent home. He will be moving to the Detroit Zoo the first week of May.

The Detroit Zoo has experience working with Ring-tailed Lemurs that have come to them from part of the illegal pet trade. Unfortunately as a result of their upbringing and not having many of their social needs met, lemurs that come from the pet trade often do not behave like normal lemurs and do not always know how to interact with other primates. The Detroit Zoo is currently home to five Ring-tailed Lemurs, three of which are former pets.

In order to prepare for his departure, the Ring-tailed Lemur has received a final exit exam at the Sacramento Zoo’s Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital. The thorough exam checked his overall health and the final report was sent to the veterinary team at the Detroit Zoo. Animal Care Staff in Sacramento have also had conversations with staff in Detroit to discuss the lemur’s current behaviors and tendencies and have shared videos of the lemur.

All of the behaviors the Ring-tailed Lemur from Turlock is exhibiting are ones that staff at Detroit have seen in other former pet lemurs are behaviors and that they are prepared to work with. After the lemur arrives in Detroit he will be housed near the other Ring-tailed Lemurs and given as much time as he needs to acclimate to his surroundings. From there, the keepers will work with him over the next months and years to introduce him first to another Ring-tailed Lemur; hopefully he will eventually be integrated into the entire lemur group.

We are happy that this lemur, who was a product of the illegal pet trade, will have a permanent, safe home in Detroit!

Photo by Mike Owyang
Photo by Mike Owyang

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Giraffe Calf Update & Video

At just over two weeks old the male Masai Giraffe Calf, born April 10th is steadily gaining weight and growing taller. He also has a name, Rocket! Zookeepers chose the name based on his playful personality and on-the-go attitude.

Shani and her calf spend most of their time behind-the-scenes in the barn, bonding, with periodic exercise sessions in the side-yard. Rocket needs to grow steadier on his long legs before he learns to maneuver the giraffe exhibit and be introduced to the rest of the herd. Currently, Rocket is interacting with and becoming acquainted with his herd-mates when they stick their head over fences or stall doors to inspect him. Rocket is learning to manipulate browse with his long, prehensile tongue, even though nursing is his source of nourishment right now. Although he can still walk under his mother, Rocket is growing taller and stronger each day.

Based on the signs Rocket, Shani, and the rest of the herd are giving, zookeepers anticipate the pair making their public exhibit debut in mid-May. However much like other timelines at the Zoo, everything will be done on mom and the calf’s terms. This time frame therefore is fluid and can be shortened or lengthened depending on zookeeper and Veterinarian staff daily evaluations.

In the meantime, Rocket and Shani will have intermittent access to the giraffe barn’s side-yard, where lucky and quiet guests might catch a glimpse of Rocket. These viewing areas will continue to remain quiet zones, creating a peaceful environment for the pair until the time that they venture out into the main exhibit.

A special thanks to the ungulate zookeepers for the following photos and video! To give mom and calf a quiet space, only necessary animal care and veterinary staff have access to their area.



Masai Giraffe calf, 5 days old
Masai Giraffe calf with mom, 5 days old
Masai Giraffe calf look out of the barn with mom, 14 days old
Masai Giraffe calf getting to know the herd, 14 days old
Masai Giraffe calf, 14 days old
Masai Giraffe calf at 14 days old checking out everything, even the floor!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Meet Charlie’s Friends - Big Day of Giving

Charlie, the Great-horned Owl, is one of many Animal Ambassadors at the Sacramento Zoo and the official spokesbird for the Big Day of Giving on May 3rd. Along with a group of talented Interpretive Center staff, Charlie and his friends help educate the public about animal adaptations, conservation and the importance of caring for our planet.

Together, last year the Animal Ambassadors engaged 49,333 visitors at Wildlife Stage Shows and visited over 10,000 children and adults off-site at ZooMobile Programs.

Meet Charlie’s Friends!

Julia, the Thick-billed Parrot is one of the endangered species at the Zoo. Thick-billed parrots are the last living native parrot in North America, but their habitat is declining and the populations are threatened with extinction. Julia acts as an ambassador to bring awareness to the plight of her fellow Thick-billed Parrots and to educate visitors and school children at the stage shows, ZooMobile programs and other educational programs.


Herkimer, the Desert Tortoise, is one of the Zoo’s oldest residents. The Desert Tortoise is the California State Reptile and can live to be 100 years old. Herkimer serves as an ambassador for his species and can be found out on Zoomobile trips, at the Stage Shows, or on the lawn searching for his favorite food – Dandelions!



Abby and Ringo the Six-banded Armadillos are very energetic. Unlike other armadillos, Six-banded Armadillos are active during the day. During summer camp, the armadillos can be found on the lawn with groups of camp children running behind them, or in the Stage Shows showing their unique adaptations.


Help Charlie and the other Animal Ambassadors continue the Zoo’s work of educating our future generations by donating to the Sacramento Zoo at bigdayofgiving.org on May 3rd.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring Births at the Sacramento Zoo

A few weeks into April and the Sacramento Zoo is bustling with spring births! Along with the four Red River Hogs born April 3rd and the male Masai Giraffe calf born April 10th, three Burrowing Owls have hatched and a Mongoose Lemur infant was born April 21st.

Many of the animals at the nonprofit Sacramento Zoo are part of Species Survival Plans® (SSPs), coordinated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. 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. All of the births this spring were planned through SSPs®.

Burrowing Owl Chicks Hatch

Three Burrowing Owl chicks hatched inside their exhibit burrow and will start making appearances outside the nest over the next couple of months. This vulnerable species is native to North and South America and can be seen in grassy fields locally in the Sacramento Valley. Burrowing Owls are a very important grassland predator, keeping rodent populations manageable. Unique among owls, the Burrowing Owl nests underground; it can excavate a nest but is more likely to inhabit a hole made by a mammal.

Three fluffy Burrowing Owl chicks, one pipped egg (notice the black spot on the bottom egg where the chick has broken through, and one egg still unhatched.

Baby Mongoose Lemur

The Zoo’s pair of endangered Mongoose Lemurs welcomed the birth of their fourth offspring the morning of April 21st. Their female offspring, born last year, is also on exhibit, learning important parenting skills from her mother.

The mom carries her infant like a fanny pack so you may see the baby around her waist. The sex of the baby will be known in a few months; its throat will stay white if it's a female but will change to rust-brown if male. This species of lemur is monogamous and the typical group includes an adult pair and their offspring, usually one per year. Adults weigh just over 3 lbs.

Like other lemur species Mongoose are found on the island of Madagascar. Approximately 200 years ago they were also introduced to the Comoro Islands by man. Mongoose Lemurs are endangered due to hunting and forest fragmentation.
Mongoose Lemur baby across moms belly, right above mom's leg.
Mongoose lemur baby nestled in mom's fur.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Masai Giraffe Calf Born

Shani, a six-year-old female Masai Giraffe at the Sacramento Zoo, gave birth to a healthy 163 pound male calf at 8:40 a.m. on Sunday, April 10. Both are spending time bonding in the Zoo’s giraffe barn and may have access to the public side yard periodically over the next few days. The Zoo’s veterinarians have performed a routine neonatal health check on the calf that included weight and brief physical exam. Zookeepers were monitoring Shani around the clock prior to the birth and will continue to closely watch the mother and her calf.

“This is joyous occasion for the Sacramento Zoo,” said Matt McKim, Animal Collection Director at the Sacramento Zoo. “The two are not currently visible to the public; we will take cues from dam and the calf as to when they are ready to make their public debut. We hope it will be in the coming weeks.”

The Sacramento Zoo is now home to six giraffes: three female Reticulated Giraffes, one male Masai Giraffe (Chifu, the father), one female Masai Giraffe (Shani, the mother), and the calf. In 2010, the Zoo completed renovations on the giraffe exhibit that includes a state-of-the-art, heated barn. This is the 19th calf born at the Sacramento Zoo going back to 1964 when the species was first housed here.

The Masai Giraffe is the largest giraffe subspecies and is found in southern Kenya and Tanzania. In addition to a difference in size, Reticulated and Masai Giraffes have slightly different spot patterns- a Masai giraffe's spots are usually darker and irregular in shape. Gestation is 14 to 15 months with the female giving birth alone in a secluded spot away from predators. When a calf is born, it can be as tall as six feet and weigh 150 pounds. Within minutes, the baby is able to stand on its own.

The Sacramento Zoo is one of 32 facilities managing 120 Masai Giraffes in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) population. The Sacramento Zoo partners with the Wild Nature Institute, a field research group that is currently studying Masai Giraffe demographics and the African Savanna ecosystem with photo recognition software. Observation of giraffes in zoos is helping field researchers to recognize physical characteristics and social behaviors that they are seeing in the wild. The study, which includes more than 1,500 Masai Giraffes, will allow researchers to follow the giraffes’ movements and reproduction habits in the wild in order to understand where and why their populations are declining.

Newborn giraffe, less than an hour old
Newborn giraffe, less than an hour old
Newborn giraffe, less than an hour old
Newborn male Masai Giraffe, one day old.