Monday, June 30, 2008

We Didn't Forget You!

By Zoo Blog Keeper

Wow. I'm tired.

I just wanted to assure you that we didn't completely forget the blog! Saturday night was our annual King of Feasts - food and wine tasting, silent auctions, live entertainment, and a whole lot of fun!

It was a perfect night. After staying indoors for so many days because of the fire, you could tell everyone needed a fun night out. The restaurants had fantastic food and it was such a treat to walk down Big Cat Row, smell all the delicious foods and see the lions laying on their rocks while everyone was having fun.

Coordinating over 50 vendors, 2 bands, 3 silent auctions, 750 guests (and so much more), took quite a bit of our time. Yesterday we broke down and put away almost everything it takes to run an event that size, so now we get a day off! Yipee!

We will be back to a few post a week very soon!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Primates are Going Green

by Gus, the blog frog

At the Sacramento Zoo, the chimpanzees and orangutans need their daily multi-vitamins too.

The Zookeepers use operant conditioning (positive reinforcement) to get these very intelligent animals to take their medicine in a small cup. If the vitamins are liquid, then they are mixed with some juice. If they are pills, then they are crushed and added to yogurt. If one of the animals does not need any medicine or vitamins, they still get a cup of juice. This becomes part of the daily routine and makes administering medicine a normal part of their day and diet.

The primates get a multi-vitamin to supplement their diet. The older chimpanzee and orangutan also get medicine to help with arthritis.

This required 16 dixie cups a day! That is 11 for the chimps and 5 for the orangs. Don't even ask me to calculate a years worth, it is too much.

As one of my duties as the green mascot at the Zoo, I was able to get all the Zookeepers to start using reusable aluminum bottles, which eliminated human paper cup waste completely. This inspired the primate keepers to find an alternative to the dixie cup usage of our animals.

Now, they have reusable plastic cups with reusable straws (which were surplus from the snack bar, even better) which are washed and stored daily. And because our keepers go all out for the animals, they even built cup holders inside the den, to keep them from tipping the cups over.

Friday, June 20, 2008

King of Feast Auction

by Jaime Wilson, Auction Coordinator

At this year's King of Feasts on June 28th, we have three silent auctions, all with a wonderful assortment of exciting items. To get your mouth watering, here is a small sample of some of our favorites:

Kampala Auction
K6 Dinner for two (2), Formaggio Taverna and Patio
K10 Trio of Bray Vineyards red wines, Eileen Buxton
K20 Handmade zoo animal quilt, Marcie March
K21 Painting by the Chimpanzee, Josie, Primate Zoo Keepers

Snow Leopard Auction
S3 Ostrich egg with appliqué African animals, Sacramento Zoo
S8 Rainforest frog necklace and earrings, Mangabeads
S11 $50 gift card, Sacramento Theatre Company
S17 Belly dancing class and accessories, Mystic Sun Studio

Lemur Auction
L3 Trio of assorted Port wines, Eileen Buxton
L4 Four (4) classes, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op Learning Center and Cooking School
L7 Certificate for 1/2 dozen gourmet dipped strawberries, Berry Factory, a Shari Fitzpatrick Company
L10 MAC professional Santoku knife set, MAC Knife, Inc.
L22 Jeroboam (3L) of 2002 Terra d’Oro Zinfandel, Montevina Winery

Get your tickets now, before the price increases on June 28th.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Baby Lemurs Growing Right on Track

by Leslie Field, Animal Care Supervisor

The Black and white ruffed lemur babies are weighed weekly now to measure their growth and check their health. Our three babies are right on course when compared to the three babies born to the same set of parents two years ago. Last year, with a single baby, he had all the milk he wanted and grew a bit faster as you can see from the pink line on the chart below.

It is exciting to track thier growth and you can get a sneek peak on our lemur webpage. They are still behind the scenes with mom, until the get big enough to explore the exhibit on their own in a few months.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Zoo Camp Supplies and Controlled Chaos

By Amanda Casteneda, Education Manager

Beginning in April, I work with the Interpretive Center and the Animal Care department to come up with a schedule for the special enrichments and behind the scenes experiences that are unique to Zoo Camp. It takes organization, creativity, and a little finesse to make sure that each class gets to see animals related to their theme, make it work with the class schedule, and fit it in with the keeper’s and the animals’ busy routine!

Believe it or not, preparing for camp means a lot of writing! Each year I have to write new camp descriptions, brochures, advertising, job postings, training manuals for teachers and teens, confirmation and policy forms. . .

As camp gets closer, there is a lot of cleaning, organizing and shopping to do. All year long I scour the school supply sales for the best deals on pens, glue and paint. I go to Michaels for foam visors and paint pens. My new favorite place to shop is RAFT, a discount store for educators. You can buy all kinds of cool stuff there to make any kind of craft you can imagine. They have everything from cardboard tubes and old CD’s to all of the stickers and pipe cleaners you could ever want. I also get to pick out and buy all of the camp shirts. This year I went with frogs, it is leap year after all! Serina designed the cute little stamp on the back of the shirts; I think it will be a Zoo Camp signature from now on. Serina also does some serious snack shopping! Imagine a flatbed warehouse shopping cart filled 4 feet high with granola, gram crackers and goldfish. We get some funny looks from other shoppers.

In the final days we are getting all of the signs, tables, and other equipment out of storage, dusting it off and seeing what needs to be replaced. Before camp we did a dry run and set up everything we normally need in the morning to make sure we are fully prepared. Of course that means we forget something later. That’s the fun part of camp. So much is going on that it really is controlled chaos. I love coming in every day and meeting new challenges, and chances for creativity. And who wouldn’t love starting every work day singing silly songs with a bunch of crazy kids?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Zoo Camp Planning Leads to Successful Summer

By Amanda Casteneda, Education Manager

Camp just started on Monday, and it was a rewarding first day after months of planning! Putting on programs for up to 700 kids, 70 counselors and 150 camping families takes a lot of planning and organization, but summer camp is also the best part of my job.

Each year, we hire the whole camp staff all over again, but many return from year to year. I start advertising and interviewing for teachers and assistants early in the year, and I am usually filling spots all the way until camp starts. This year we have 14 staff members for camp, including me. It is such a great group to work with, and 12 are returning from last year because we have so much fun! There are 10 teachers, a teen coordinator who oversees the counselors , an overnight coordinator and assistant for the Family Overnight Safaris , and a camp assistant.

Coordinating Zoo Camp is all about schedules, schedules and more schedules! Almost immediately after camp ends, I begin planning the schedule for next year. I have a file of the camp titles and descriptions I like and I also scour the internet and my own brain to try to come up with new ideas. I make some changes in the class schedule based on the experiences of the summer before. This year we decided to separate the 7th and 8th grade summer classes into a new program called Zoo Quest! These classes are the next level after Zoo Camp. They delve into real world Zoo and Science careers, so it was time that they became a world of their own. Look for changes to this program in the years to come!

The Teen Coordinator, Robin, and I also have to coordinate the summer schedules of 69 busy teenagers to fill all of the counselor spaces every week. Robin planned and ran an awesome teen training this year (look for her blog entry to come).

There are a lot of schedules to coordinate and then a bunch of supplies to buy. Check back soon for part II and our creative shopping adventures.

Your camp coordinators hard at work!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Sifaka Keeper Talk - Video Blog

By Zoo Blog Keeper

Have you ever wondered what those leaping lemurs eat, here at the Zoo? Well, check out the video blog below, and you will get to see one of our primate keepers putting out browse for the Coquerel's sifaka. She tells us what they like to eat and we get to see them enjoying their treats.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gus Says: Time to Carpool!

By Gus the Green tree frog

Hi there! It's Gus again, bringing you another addition of the Frog Blog.

Well, you probably know about the big I-5 freeway construction and closure that has started in downtown Sacramento. That is, unless you live in a cave (which some of my friends do!).

For the next six weeks there are going to be major traffic issues around Sacramento and the Zoo. You can check out the Fix I-5 website for all the details! So, what is the green solution? I've got a couple of ideas for you...

I love this option! Most likely someone you work with or work near, also lives in your neighborhood. Email some coworkers and see if anyone wants to. Carpooling is very popular at the Zoo.

Ride Your Bike
Click here for a great bike map of Sacramento! You can avoid the I-5 freeway work by parking for free at the Regional Parks along the American River. Vist the Sacramento Regional Parks website for details and application forms.

Take Public Transportation
Many regional trasportation systems are offering increased service during the constrution to help everyone get where they are going.

Stay at Home
Can you telecommute? Then do it! What's better than finding a way around the mess, than just avoiding it altogether! Plus, how much fun is it to work in your pajamas?

Okay, so now you have your options to choose from. But there is just one more thing! Did you see what all those options have in common? Think hard... That's right, they are all green options for using less gas, polluting less and generally treating the environment a little nicer. After the I-5 freeway is all better, why not try using these alternatives at least once a week? You've already got it all figured out :)

Visit my very own webpage and learn more about me! That's all for now, and remember to BE GREEN!