Friday, July 31, 2009

Gus Says: Play Ball!

By Gus, the Green tree frog

Kickball that is! It was a very hot summer day at Raley Field. The Rivercats had another baseball game to win, but the most important thing happening that day was Dinger’s 10th Birthday (Dinger is the Rivercats mascot if you didn’t know). Since I’m, the Sacramento Zoo’s mascot. I was one of many Dinger’s friends invited to come out and celebrate.

Part of the celebration was Gus meeting the fans at the game. There were lots of high-fives, thumbs-up, and picture taking. I just loved hearing how many people enjoy the Zoo. It was the best feeling.

There was a little competition amongst friends with a game of kickball. I must say, I did pretty well never having played before. After all I am a frog! It was my turn to kick and the kick was good. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it to first in time, but I did. It was a fun and hilarious game.

The best play of the game was when I took off from second, made it to third and was headed for home. Just before I could reach home plate, the other team was able to get the ball to their catcher, Dinger. Dinger tagged me out and sent me flying backwards, frog feet in the air and everything! Oh what a sight! I wasn’t hurt and Dinger and I are still good friends.
So get together with some of your friends and visit the Zoo. You should carpool too! Remember what Gus says…"Be Green!"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Giraffe House Sneak Peek

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

Last week, we donned hard hats and the Zoo Curator took us on a tour of the new Giraffe house. The progress is impressive and the attention to detail is amazing! The inside walls that will split the space into dens will arrive in the next couple of weeks, but for now, it's a huge open building.

Take a look at our tour - the descriptions are below the pictures.

You can see how tall the building is compared to the people!

This is a deck for the keepers to get eye-to-eye with the Giraffes for feeding, vet exams and training. The window is for loading hay through via a forklift and you can see the Giraffe-shaped sculpture out the window that decorates the edges of the building.

The thinner door you see will lead to a room with a in-floor scale and a Giraffe "hugger" - a way to hold the Giraffes still for vet exams.

The second floor will be for storage of feed, hay and other essentials. The downstairs closed in area will have an office, bathroom and prep area.

This will be a large door where we can access the second floor storage with a fork lift.

The small windows are so that the keepers can see the animals out in the yard from inside the building. You can also see the skinny door again from the outside.

Can you see the tree? They used different colored stone to make a mosaic tree on the side of the building. You can also see the many Giraffe heads decorating the roof line.
We are still raising money for this huge project. If you would like to help, please donate here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Reporter in a Chicken Costume

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

This morning Good Day Sacramento came by the Zoo to do a news spot on our upcoming event, Ice Cream Safari. It seemed pretty straightforward. Ask Laurie to be on camera. Get ice cream. Pick a spot to stand. Talk to Cody Stark.

Then here comes Cody dressed in a big ol' chicken costume! The microphone is actually in the beak of the chicken so the entire time he is interviewing Laurie, he has to lean in so close that it looks like he is trying to bite her head off. Needless to say the segment was pretty funny!

For more information or to purchase, visit the Ice Cream Safari webpage.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Amina in Arts Camp

By Andreea, Summer Camp Mom

My daughter attended Art Week for 2 graders at the Sacramento Zoo camp this year for the first time.

A long time ago we democratically chose between more camp options and summer activities, and this looked to her (and to me) to be the most appealing. It proved to be the best choice I have ever made in terms of child activity!

For her, it was a big thing. For me, the perfect combination between education, vacation, bonding time and time for mommy alone. Since we live in the Foothills Country side, and driving back and forth wasn’t worth it, we stayed at the hotel, and had enough time and energy to explore the town in the afternoons. I bargained my way for at least one museum visit per day, among many other fun activities, like ice cream and Candy Factory, which I am sure my daughter would have loved to do every day – 6 hours per day....

My daughter is just about to enter her “Miss Independent " phase, so before we came to this vacation, I was a little bit unsure how my role as a mother is changing, too. Well, that became very soon clear on the first day of camp. She wanted me to stay with her “because she needs a mommy", which put my heart back in the right place again! For the next days I became pretty much the taxi driver, but that was OK, because we had reconnected again.

I observed with admiration the enthusiasm of all the teachers and the camp principal. Boy, I wish I would have that early in the morning! They sang and danced and did funny faces everyday, to the excitement of all kids, and they really meant it! I think there is something for every parent to learn from every educator, this real engagement and enthusiasm they all brought in to really be there for the kids, to offer them their best knowledge and entertainment, and at the same time to set clear rules and limits. I liked it that they had “to be safe” as the first camp rule, and my daughter of course liked “to have fun” being the most important rule as well!

I was amazed how much she had learned every day, how comfortable I was to leave her there, and how much the Zoo will feel so different for sure at our next visit!

Children at the Zoo camp learn respect towards animals, learn to quickly associate with a new group, accept and learn from new companions and educators, and have a fun vacation at the same time!

I also liked it that they have older teenagers take care of the little kids, my daughter wants to do that one day , too .

All together, we are grateful for this experience. I asked my daughter this morning, on the last camp day, what to write in the report. And she looked at me and gave her ultimate decisive verdict answer: “It was good!” So you know it now!

I’m pretty sure we'll be back next year again - and maybe then, who knows, we will hang out more by the pool and at the ice cream stand, instead of conquering that town like a whirlwind!

Thank you for providing this opportunity,

And here is a slideshow of the final art show!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Twilight Tuesday - South of the Border

Marisa Hick, Marketing Coordinator

The South of the Border Night this past Twilight Tuesday was a hot blast of fun. Despite the heat, Los Elegantes delivered a great show for us to enjoy the eats, drinks and dancing.

Victor of the non-profit organization Ritmos joined us for the evening as well. They are a group that teaches about culture through the Latin rhythms. We were glad that they could join us.

If you made it out we hope that you enjoyed yourself, if not you can make it out next week. Remember, if you are a Sacramento Zoo member it is free!

Next Twilight Tuesday on July 21, we are featuring Travel in Time 60’s and 70’s Car Show, live entertainment provided by The Q Balls and a Slider Trio dinner special that we are expecting to be fantastic.

Enjoy the slideshow:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tails from the Dark Side

Education Bulletin

Evening is one of the busiest times of the day for wildlife. The diurnal animals, those who are awake and active during the day, are taking advantage of the break from the afternoon heat and trying to gather as much food as they can before they settle in for the long cool night. At the same time, the nocturnal animals are just beginning to wake up and start their day as the sun begins its descent. There is even a type of animal, called crepuscular, that is only awake and active at dawn and dusk. When you put all of these animals together, you can see why sunset is always bustling in the wild!

So what are wild animals doing that keeps them so busy in the evening? Do they take a bath and brush their teeth and lay out their clothes for the next day? Not quite, but they are using this time to prepare. Many insectivorous animals are busy gorging on as much food as they can gather. Anyone who’s been out enjoying a midsummer evening can attest that there is no shortage of bugs! Many wild animals like birds and mice are also gathering nesting materials to get ready before the temperature drops at nightfall.

Most people never get to see all of this activity at the Zoo because we close well before the summer sunset begins. That’s what makes the Overnight Safaris such a special experience. Groups and Families who come to the Overnight Safaris get to enjoy that busy time of the day with our unique and very wild family!

Sign up for an Overnight Safari today.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Baby Poison Blue Dart Frogs

By Kate Gore, Reptile House keeper

The Reptile House has three new additions - baby Poison blue dart frogs (Dendrobates azureus). The egg mass containing the 3 was found on the 7th of May. They were full tadpoles as of the 24th of May, and began metamorphosing on the 25th of June. The baby frogs are being fed fruit flies exclusively, and when they are a bit bigger, they will also eat small crickets.

(Metamorphosis In Brief:

The eggs are laid in jellylike masses, usually our egg masses contain 4-8 eggs. The eggs hatch into tadpoles who live in the "jelly" surrounding their egg. After a few weeks, the tadpoles are moved to a little container of water where they grow in size, usually doubling or tripling in size, after a month of growth they start developing back legs, and within a few weeks they develop their front legs. We then put the froglets, as they are now known, into small tanks with a low level of water and gravel to crawl out on. And, in a few weeks, their tail shortens and eventually disappears, at which point they are now called frogs, and moved into a tank with land and water. )

We have 3 adult blue dart frogs on exhibit--judging by their sizes, there are two females and one male. If you look at the exhibits, you might see what looks like coconut halves on the ground; these are, in fact, hollowed out coconuts with little dishes partially filled with water inside. The "houses" give the frogs privacy in which to lay their eggs. In the wild, these frogs would use anything in which water has collected to lay their eggs--even trash!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Giraffe Habitat Renovation - Progress Report

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

Since February of this year, we have seen demolition, earth moving and construction happening at the Giraffe exhibit. Currently, the three girls are living in the old barn and yard between the two construction sites.

On the left side, an old cement building was torn down and now there is a huge raised viewing area that is coming along nicely. Dual ramps bring the visitor up to eye level with the giraffes and there is an area designed for supervised feedings! Recently, the Zoo Curator let all of the staff walk up and see the new area. It's not finished yet, but the staff were just overwhelmed at how nice it is and very grateful to see all our hard work become reality.

On the right side, the hippo pool and old kangaroo yard were leveled and a very tall cinder block building was raised after lots of electrical and plumbing. And it's so much taller than we expected! When you stand below it next to the Vet hospital it looks gigantic. The walls are finished and they are working on the roof now.

We are still months away from completion but it's great to see the progress every day and we hope you are as excited as we are about this state-of-the-art exhibit. If you would still like to donate to the project, visit the Giraffe Habitat Renovation and Expansion page. The goal of $2 million has not been reached yet, so every donations counts!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

King of Feast Slideshow

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

Oh boy, it was a hot one! At 105 degrees outside everyone was enjoying the misters along Big Cat Row, the shady trees and taking their time walking around the Zoo. Even in the heat, hundreds of supporters came out to try over 40 different restaurants, wineries, breweries and bakeries. The auctions had lots of bids and overall, we were very happy with the event and can't wait til next year... and it being just a little less warm!

Thanks to everyone who came out for the event, all the vendors who made it possible and the volunteers and staff that toughed it out, all with a smile!