Thursday, September 27, 2007

My first AZA conference!

By Brenda Gonzalez, Membership Supervisor

Once a year, Zoo and Aquarium officials from all over the country converge on one city- for the National Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) Conference. The Sacramento Zoo had a pretty good showing- sending our two Lead Animal Keepers, the Education Director, the Marketing & Community Relations Director, the Marketing Manager, little ol' me, the Membership Supervisor and of course our Zoo Director (who also happens to be the current Chair of the AZA!).

This was my first ever AZA conference and it gave me a chance to travel back to my native East Coast- to Philadelphia! It was amazing to see people from big and little Zoos & Aquaria all getting together to figure out how to do what we do even better.

You should have heard some of the conversations people were having! Everything from how to run a concession stand, to the newest in database administration, how to teach 1st Graders about frogs, and even how to make a completely "Green" bathroom- including self composting toilets - - if you're ever at the Bronx Zoo- you should check it out!

All in all, I had a wonderful time. I learned lots and had a great visit to the Philadelphia Zoo - - -next time you're in Philly- be sure to bring your Sacramento Zoo membership card to get half price admission!

When looking for pictures of our trip, I found that most of them are of signage. Zoo folks are always looking for good signage ideas.

RE: Comment to post: What do Kangaroos Eat??

In a comment on What do Kangaroos Eat? (plus a short terminology lesson) post, someone asked for pictures of a wallaby eating. Here are a couple pictures we have of a kangaroo and a wallaby with food. Hope this helps with their project.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

All the way from Florence, new Orangutan fits in nicely

by Renee Towan, Horticulturist

Today we installed a chainsaw carving across from the orangutan exhibit. I researched this type of artwork made throughout the west coast and found them to be quite expensive. However when I contacted Timothy Robins at he offered to donate his time to work on a carving of our male orang. Timothy grew up in Sacramento spending time at our Zoo when he was young and was honored to be able to display his work here.

The carving had quite a trip, traveling all the way from Florence, Oregon to Sacramento. Gardens are more than just plants, they need a little whimsy and "Leo" (affectionately nicknamed by the maintenance staff) is providing that here overlooking the orangs and zebras.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Lights, Camera, Wigs!!!

By Jaime Wilson, Sacramento Zoo Player

Most of the Sacramento Zoo employees wear many career hats. We are called upon to do tasks that may or may not be in our job description, but we willingly jump into projects that need to be done. We are a real team!

One of the odder jobs that we do around this time of year is Wild Affair. It is our big, gala fundraiser that treats our guest to behind-the-scenes tours, silent auction, gourmet dinner, live auction and an oh-so-quirky show. That’s were the fun begins.

A rag-tag group of shameless volunteer Zoo employees, start meeting twice a week on our own time, to talk ‘opening numbers’, ‘costume pieces’, ‘dance-moves’ and of course, who gets the best wigs!!!

We are the Sacramento Zoo Players and yes, we are the entertainment! Employees from animal care, marketing, accounting, membership, education, maintenance and even past employees and family members, set their pride aside, get all dressed up, rehearse and just try not to trip! We try to add a little spice to the live auction and keep things interesting.

I am constantly amazed at the plethora of costumes we all just seem to have in our closets and garages. Rule number one: never ask why someone pipes up and says “Oh, I have that costume!” It’s just better that way.

To top it all off Dave Bender is our fabulous host for the evening and we love figuring out how to present him on stage. He has been delivered in a large animal crate, popped out among a group of zoo keepers, rolled out in a hay-filled wheelbarrow…he really is a great sport!

If you want to come see your Zoo staff in our most original roles, check out our website for Wild Affair tickets. Our Zoo Director, Mary Healy, even has a cameo – it has something to do with apple pie!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Congratulations Amanda!

For all those Zoo Camp folks who saw our Education Manager, Amanda, walking around and being more pregnant every morning, well, she had her baby! Maya Jeanne was born on September 4th. She was 5 pounds, 3 ounces and 19 inches long. She is beautiful and doing well at home with Mom & Dad and has even had her very first Zoo visit already!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Deaf Awareness Day is Bustling

by Delta Pick Mello, Marketing Director

It is fascinating to see visitors signing all throughout the Zoo. American Sign Language interpreters are at every Animal Talk, Stage Show, and Wildlife Wagon. Guests new to ASL are enjoying learning signs for their favorite zoo animal. The weather is great and the park is busy.

Sunday is Military Family Day. Military members and their families get a %50 discount with valid ID.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

feathers, feathers, everywhere!

Harry and Putty are in the middle of their molt and the feathers are flying. Penguin feathers are very small and dense, over 70 per square inch. Come out and see them before all their new feathers come in.

Friday, September 7, 2007

What do kangaroos eat? (plus a short terminology lesson)

By Jessa Franck, Zookeeper extraordinaire (unofficial title)

At the Sacramento Zoo we have a section devoted to the Australian Outback. In addition to kookaburras and tawny frogmouths, there is a spacious exhibit home to four Red kangaroos, three emus, and two Bennett’s wallabies. This exhibit is cared for by Zookeepers from our hoofstock department. This category may make a person scratch their head, kangaroos in the same group as giraffes and bongos? Like these animals, kangaroos and wallabies are herbivorous, eating mainly leaves and grass in the wild.

The kangaroos and wallabies are fed a base diet of alfalfa hay and pellets formulated for macropods, a word which refers to their foot structure. The emus get oyster shell for stronger eggshells and pellets formulated for ratites, a word for large, flightless birds that also includes ostriches.

But that’s just the regular stuff. Every morning a hoofstock keeper gets a tray of special treats out of the fridge. On it are two bowls of a small number of grapes for the emus. The male eats out of one bowl and the females share the other. The emus also regularly get a head of lettuce, which they enjoy pecking at and rolling around the yard. The kangaroos and wallabies get things like beets, carrots, broccoli, raisins, bananas, and apples in small amounts cut up into appropriate-sized pieces to be sprinkled over their pellets. They also get different greens like dandelion and romaine. Sometimes the keeper will take pieces of corn and sweet potato that have circular holes cut in them and hang them on a tree in the exhibit for the animals to nibble on. Browse, another name for leafy branches, is provided on a daily basis, too. Examples are rose of sharon, mulberry, photinia, and tea tree. There is a long list of non-toxic browse for the Zookeeper to choose from.

The kangaroos, wallabies, and emus know what is coming each morning and usually hop over right away to see what special treats are on the menu. This makes it easy to get a close-up look at the animals to check for health issues. Also, macropods are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk. If a keeper brings treats in the middle of the day, they won’t get much response from the animals. So stop by in the morning if you’d like to see our mob, or group of kangaroos, up and eating.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Styrofoam Recycling Event at Cal Expo

By Jaime Wilson, Sacramento Zoo Green Team Member

Have you bought a TV lately? A computer, lamp or bookcase? Then you probably have a lot of those weird shaped hard blocks of Styrofoam that protect your new stuff in its packaging. It’s called #6 EPS and has a lot of really good uses, but also really hard to find a place that will recycle it. Have no fear, we have found a one-time public event! They had a great display at the California State Fair this past week.

Saturday, September 15, 2007
9 am to 2 pm
Cal Expo, East Parking Lot E

Bring all your clean, white #6 EPS (polystyrene).


For more information, call Jennifer Caldwell at (916) 341-6490 or visit the Sacramento County’s website at

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Wildlife Stage Show features animal ambassadors

by Laurie Todd, Education Specialist

Did you get a chance to see ZooPI’s Critter Caper yet this year? We still have our Wildlife Stage Show on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, through the end of October. During our “slow” season, we spend a lot of time training the education animals for next season’s show. For example, last year, Julia, the thick-billed parrot was trained to take dollar bills for the Thick-Bill Conservation Fund. She has now raised over $1,500 for the fund!

(right, Julio, always ready to show off for the camera)

Stay tuned to hear about new behaviors for next years show!