Friday, August 29, 2008

Emily, Liane & Elizabeth Love Camp!

By Zoo Blog Keeper

I know we have been talking about Summer Camp, A LOT! But it really is a big endeavor and everyone throughout the Zoo is involved so here is just one more post about it.

Emily, Liane and Elizabeth took some time after a day in camp to talk all about their favorite things in Summer Camp.

Full Disclosure: All three of the girls are relatives of one of our Lead Zoo Keepers, Susan. She promises that there was no cohersion, bribing or strong-arming involved! They have been coming to Camp for years, first as campers then as counselors. Thanks Aunt Susan!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Gus Says: Go Native!

By Gus, the Blog Frog

Question: How do I use less water and chemicals while still keeping my landscaping and garden beautiful?

Solution: Go Native!

Why: California native plants are basically made to grow here, so they need less water, less maintenance, less fertilizer and are more pest resistant. They even benefit our native wildlife.

How: Ask your local nursery which plants are native to California and especially our area here in Northern California. Or search out a nursery that specializes in native plants like Cornflower Farms in Elk Grove. Visit

Quick Bite: Get inspired and learn more by visiting the UC Davis Arboretum or check out the botanical gardens in San Francisco or at UC Berkeley.

Find more information from the California Native Plant Society at

Friday, August 22, 2008

Music in the Zoo Slideshow

By Zoo Blog Keeper

The Music in the Zoo summer concert series was great fun this year. Check out the slideshow for highlights from all five concerts.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

End of Summer Camp!

By Robin Baker, Teen Coordinator

The end of Zoo Camp has finally come, and I feel as though my body is going to burst from emotional overload. The smile on my face shows that I am happy, but there’s a small glint in my eye… could that be a tear? I am excited, nervous, impatient, saddened, worried, nostalgic, ready; but most of all, I am EXHAUSTED!!!

I spent nine weeks running around bandaging skinned knees, blowing runny noses, explaining the difference between right and wrong, and that was just for the teens! In the end it was all well worth the work when I could take a second to look around at what I had helped accomplish. Nothing had been blown up, no one had gone missing, and I still had full use of all my limbs and brain (for the most part); a rather successful ending to a summer camp if I do say so myself.

Camp was a wonderful experience for me and I am sad to see it over with, but I know that I have made many good friends here at the Sacramento Zoo. Although I plan on continuing the pursuit of a teaching position here in Sacramento, I have a funny feeling that my path will lead me back to the zoo in some way or another. It’s kind of hard to leave a place where part of your job is teaching little kids, and not so little kids, how to feed giraffes and bongos.

As for my hard working teens, some of them are off to begin their first year in college, while others return to their familiar high schools and lives outside of the zoo. I would just like to say a big thank you to them, because our camp would be nothing without the generous donation of their personal time and exhilarating spirits. We drained them to their last drops, and it looks as though we may have broken them!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Summer Camp Stage Show

By Amanda Castaneda, Education Manager

The 5th/6th grade "If I Ran the Zoo" camp spent most of their week learning how to put on a live animal show. They learned the important factors for writing and performing a show from the interpretive center staff. They also spent a lot of time learning and practicing the animal handling technique for their show animal. The kids were very responsible and did a great job. They played to a packed house of over 200 guests.

Watch the show below!



Monday, August 18, 2008

Listening to the heart of a 2000 lb giraffe

Melissa McCartney, Zoo keeper, hoofstook area

While the Zoo gets ready planning and raising funds for our new giraffe barn and exhibit expansion, the giraffes are busy preparing too! When you’re as big as a giraffe – sometimes more than 16 feet tall and over 2,000 pounds – keepers and the vet staff need the animals to participate in their own care. Imagine trying to make a giraffe do anything, much less force them to let their blood be drawn for medical exams or have their feet trimmed without their permission.

Giraffes are hooved animals with anatomy similar to cows. That means taking care of them on a day-to-day basis involves a lot of work, from both the staff and our three reticulated females. Right now the girls are learning to stand calmly (munching on leaves or carrots and grapes) while the zookeepers look in their ears with an ottoscope, examine their eyes with an opthalmoscope, and listen to their hearts and lungs with a stethoscope – the same kind of check-up you’d get from your own doctor.

They’re even learning to pick up their feet so the staff can trim down their hooves – a lot like cutting your own toenails – when needed. Most importantly, the giraffes are beginning to get used to having ultrasounds done on their bellies. That means they need to let the fur be shaved off their sides in a small patch (to help the vets get a better sonogram), allow gel to be applied, and stand calmly while the probe is pushed around on their abdomens.

A bigger barn and exhibit means the Sacramento Zoo will be able to participate in a giraffe breeding program in the future, and medical exams on the mothers will ensure healthy baby giraffes. By getting the giraffes used to the routine now, when the time comes our staff will be able to keep a close eye on the health of both mom and future baby right from the start. The new barn will have lots of important features that will make the giraffe’s lives more comfortable and allow the zoo keepers to take excellent care of them – and hopefully the expanding herd.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We Miss You Gene!

Our hearts are heavy this week with sad news about one of our own. Gene Marksbury, who has been with the Sacramento Zoo for over 8 years, passed away this week.

In his time working at the Front Gate, he must have greeted thousands and thousands of families, guests and school children - wishing them the best, answering questions and just being genuinely happy to see them.

Here is a tribute by Michelle G., Reservation Specialist

I have worked with Gene at the Sacramento Zoo for almost 2 years. During the field trip season, I had the pleasure of seeing him almost everyday and enjoy his company. I admired his constant smile and ability to talk to anyone, stranger or not, about anything.

Each time I saw him I was greeted with a hug and a joke (usually about me :) and it always made my day. I will always remember him as “The Gatekeeper” and a great crossing guard. No matter how busy it was with school groups, he always made it so much fun to work here.

I cannot think of a person who made a greater impact on the guest experience at the Zoo like Gene. When I think back on my time here, he was definitely one of people that made the Zoo at great place to work.

I will truly miss him when it is time to check in school groups, it will not be the same!

You can view his obituary in the Sacramento Bee here. And they also did a nice article on Gene here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Traveling Water Bottle?

by Ann Geiger, Education Director

As a staff member at the Zoo, one of the things many of us like to do is travel! Any chance we can get to go out and experience nature and animals in their natural habitat is great.

This summer I had the opportunity to go on a road trip to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Montana. I brought my trusty water bottles from the Zoo along with me. I’m so glad I did because it kept our water cold on all the hikes and it easily hooked onto my day pack.

Where are you going to take your water bottle this summer? Pick one up today at the membership office - Tell them Ann sent you :)

Idaho Falls

Old Faithful

Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons with Red


Monday, August 11, 2008

Valorie our Volunteer Coordinator

By Zoo Blog Keeper

If you have ever been to the Sacramento Zoo, you have probably seen a volunteer hard at work. From scooping ice cream, greeting the guests, weeding the gardens, cleaning exhibits and picking up trash - our volunteers do it all!

So, where do these wonderful volunteers come from? Well, it all starts with Valorie, our Volunteer Coordinator. She is just down right amazing! She has been with the Zoo for seven years and keeps track of over 1,100 volunteers every year! Can you imagine? Val knows them by name, gives heartfelt thanks to them for their time, and her basket of snacks is always full.

In addition to her almost obsessive love of Secretary birds (she really wants them at the Zoo), she is a traveller. Val spent two weeks in Africa a few years ago, and loves to travel to England - she has been five times!

A big heartfelt thanks to Val for her dedication and love of the Zoo!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Flamingos Feeding - Video Blog

By Zoo Blog Keeper

Here is a short video of our Flamingos feeding on Lake Victoria. It was a very busy day, so you can hear a lot of visitors in the background.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fun Pictures - Ice Cream Safari

By Zoo Blog Keeper

It was pretty hot the last Saturday in July, but that didn't stop people from coming out for Ice Cream Safari! Over 3,500 ate all the ice cream they could handle in just 4 hours! It was a sight to behold.
Here are some pictures of all the fun.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Gus the Green Tree Frog - Video Blog

By Zoo Blog Keeper

Gus the Green tree frog has become quite a hit at the Zoo. He comes out and visits with the guest at special events and spreads his message: Be Green! He even has his own webpage and bio with green tips.

In this video, he just can't help but dance!