Friday, February 29, 2008

The Mabula Ground Hornbill Research & Conservation Project Update

By Nick Theron, The Mabula Ground Hornbill Project

This season in the Limpopo has been an exceptional one where rain is concerned. The rain arrived on time for a change and has continued throughout the season with above average rainfall being experienced. It was thought that if the artificial nests were going to be used, the good rains would encourage groups to do so. Of the 28 artificial nests erected since June 2005 none were used though. The reason for this, at this stage, seems to be that groups are breeding and have natural nests in the area (After an extensive awareness campaign and with the support of farmers sightings have been collected, many of which include juveniles). These nests are extremely difficult to find because of the irrregularity with which groups are breeding.
Two wild nests monitored since December 2004 have only been used once each during this time period. Of the five natural nests monitored this year only one is active and the chick was about to fledge on the 25th February. See photo below. At this stage it seems that the groups that are reeding occur in an area that has a high density of large baobab trees that are large enough to house cavities suitable for Ground Hornbills. Groups also disapear as you move away from these high density baobab areas and this could be due to a lack of nesting sites. There is still therefore a need for artificial nests and nests that are not used in the future will be moved to more suitable areas.
Some nests have been erected in areas lacking large baobab trees but it may be a slow process for groups to move in and establish territories. In Kruger groups raise on average one chick to adulthood every nine years and this is an indication of the extremely low productivity of the species. Waiting for these birds to use the artificial nests may then only require patience. An intensive research program is also being planned in the area during 2008 and 2009 as part of a masters project that will hopefully be able to answer some of the questions raised after the last 4 years work in the area.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Rose Colored Glasses

By Jim Schnormeier, Curator & Asst. Director

When I first started to work for the Sacramento Zoo in 1992 Delta was also just getting started. Our paths never really crossed and we never had a project that we could develop together. Then, in 2002, the Zoo did its first temporary animal exhibit with the display of a white alligator. It was my job to insure the nuts and bolts were in place and Delta saw that the nuts and bolts were extraordinary, fun and marketable. The exhibit has yet to be matched! Since that project we have teamed up on several others also very successfully.

She is a person who I knew you could count on to make an ember into a raging fire. We watched her family grow up in front of us and she always claimed that it took a zoo to raise her kids. Other family members got involved, like her brother Joe, that trained staff annually on the proper use of a fire extinguisher. Overnights at the Zoo were successful impart to stories Delta provided.

Delta is always optimistic and very seldom cynical even to the point she appeared to look at the world through rose colored glasses. You should not be fooled with her rose colored glasses, for with these she is perceptive, focused and keeps an eye on the horizon. In many ways the last 10 years have been pioneer ones for the zoo and our existence. Keeping cost down, productivity high and a consistent quality has been challenging. Delta has helped us succeed in all aspects as only she could.

Although Delta will be leaving the Zoo, her inspiration will remain all around. I want to wish her only the best in her new challenges and if it is possible to get a train to sing and dance she will be the one to do it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Zoo P.I. is back to solve another critter caper!

Someone is looting the lake at night! Zoo P.I., along with the help of the security guard, walks through clues and handles live animal suspects. Was it the whistling ducks? Was it the African serval? Find out starting March 17th at 11:00 am! Please check our website for up-to-date show information.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Penguins - They're Back

Penguins return to the Sacramento Zoo for a limited engagement! Exhibit opens February 14th, just in time for Presidents Day weekend. Four new males from SeaWorld, named Neopolitan, Spumoni, Pistacchio and Herbert Sherbert are visiting Sacramento through June.

Best times to see them in action are during their feeding and educational talk at 10:00 am and 2:30 pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Thanking the Anonymous

by Renee Towan, Horticulturist

My job in a nutshell is to improve and maintain the botanical collection, and just make things pretty! This requires a myriad of tools. When you imagine a day in the life of a horticulturist/gardener you picture rakes and shovels. Before you can plant a new specimen or prune a tree, you must have knowledge of the particular species. This is where one of the most important tools comes in handy, reference material in the form of books! While building the botanical collection I have also been building a horticultural reference library. Reference books are quite costly, just ask any college student. Because of the selfless generosity of a donor we received two wonderful books from our Sacramento Zoo Wish List on yesterday. Last night I pondered, how do I thank an anonymous donor? Ah ha! If this wonderful person looks at the Wish List, they most likely read the Zoo Blog! So, a great big THANK YOU! Your gift is very much appreciated!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

E-waste Day – Benefitting the Zoo

By Jaime Wilson
Sacramento Zoo Green Team Member

We are so excited to announce that the Sacramento Zoo will be having an e-waste day, open to the public, in partnership with Argosy E-cycling and IKEA.

Saturday, March 15th
9am to 6pm
In the IKEA parking lot in West Sacramento

Dig out that old computer, TV, DVD or VHS player, stereo, printer or fax machine, and we will take it off your hands! Not only that, but it will be recycled. We will be accepting donations that will benefit the Sacramento Zoo.

There will be more information coming, but for now, mark your calendars!

PS. There will also be a Styrofoam recycling event at Raley Field on Tuesday, March 4th. The County of Sacramento along with others are hosting, and I will post more information as I find it!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Why is there a kayak in the lake?

by Kim Parrino, Marketing Manager and token kayaker
Ordinarily my job at the Sacramento Zoo involves a more behind-the-scenes approach. I’m responsible for generating most of the creative projects that involve, designing the “look” of banners, brochures, billboards, tv commercials you get the idea, I’m a bit of a desk jockey. I generally stay pretty clean and I don’t get my hands dirty.

Let’s face it when I say that I work at the Sacramento Zoo, the first thing that comes to mind is an animal care position where someone like a zookeeper has daily hands-on interaction with the animals. It’s obviously a bit of a let down when I sheepishly explain that no, “I’m in Marketing and they actually don’t let me near the animals.”

However, once a year I redeem myself and actually get some super cool interaction with our animals. Annually all of the birds and hoof stock at the Sacramento Zoo receive a vaccine to protect them against the West Nile Virus. West Nile is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on infected birds, and then transmit the virus to humans and animals through bites.

Why would a desk jockey like me be asked to participate you’re asking yourself? I moonlight part-time as a kayak guide. This comes in really handy when it comes to rounding-up flamingos.

Okay, so technically, the vet staff does all the work when it comes to vaccinating the flamingos. But I deliver the goods. As a defense mechanism, flamingos remain in a large group. We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s safety in numbers”. Apparently the flamingos have also. My kayaking skills are just the ticket that is needed to gently herd our flock of flamingos across the lake with as little stress as possible toward the 20 or so zoo keepers that are silently waiting against the shoreline.

After the flamingos reach the shore the keeper staff slowly creeps around the flock of flamingos with shade cloth that creates a make-shift corral. Once in the corral the vet staff steps in and captures each bird and gives them a routine check-up along with their annual vaccination. The entire process, from herding the birds, to releasing them back into the lake, is over in about 1 ½ hours.

Just another day at the office, until next year…….