Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree!

By Laurie Todd, Education Specialist

Christmas trees go a long way in the Interpretive Center! Two fresh, new trees provided weeks of enrichment to the wide array of animal ambassadors in the Education Department. Snakes, turtles, tortoises, and lizards love to rub and smell the new scents that pine trees provide.

Our parrots and hawks love to rip the branches apart and hide in the trees. Even the Bobcat and African serval enjoy rubbing and marking on the trees. They also provide great enrichment to the Zoo keepers in the area because now the Interpretive Center smells like Christmas!

As a bonus, here is a parrot in a pumpkin!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Giraffe's First Day Out!

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

By now you probably know we have been renovating and expanding the giraffe exhibit, Tall Wonders. We broke ground in February and have made great progress!

If you visualize the project area in three blocks it helps. From to left to right...

Block 1: old cement building and giraffe yard
Block 2: old giraffe barn
Block 3: old hippo exhibit and old kangaroo yard

The first step was to keep the giraffes in Block 2, or the middle, while we worked around them. The cement building and yard fencing were removed from Block 1 and the hippo exhibit was demolished in Block 3.

The new raised viewing deck was built first in Block 1, while leveling was happening in the old kangaroo yard (Block 3).

Then the foundation for the new giraffe house was done and the heavy duty building started!

Once the new house (in Block 3) was finished the giraffes were moved inside and finally we could demolish the old giraffe barn that lived in the middle (Block 2).

So, now the yard is done! We are currently working on landscaping, signage, the tortoise yard and other finishing touches. Below you can see a slideshow of the giraffe's first day out in their yard.

After some cautious exploration, Val and Skye did some running and kicking around the yard but Goody decided to stay inside for a while longer.

Our grand opening celebration of Tall Wonders will be President's Day weekend 2010! Thanks to everyone who has help make this endeavour happen!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Flowers, Bubbles & Plastic Toys!

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

We have been posting blogs about the new enrichment "toys" that were purchased for the animals at our Wild Affair fundraiser. Check out the previous posts here:

Round one: Toys, Browse & Worms
Round two: Puzzle Tubes, Leaves & Treats

Here is our third and final round of enrichments including the Chimpanzees, Orangutans and Red river hogs.

First stop: Chimpanzees
A few years ago the Primate keepers tried out a bubble machine for the chimps but it had since broken. With the Wild Affair funds they purchased a sturdier professional machine that will last longer! The machine is placed on the roof of the building so the bubbles float into the top of the chimp habitat through the mesh roof. There was a lot of staring at the bubbles from a distance, but two of the chimps did get close and tried to catch them in their mouths!

Second stop: Orangutans
The orangs like to eat plants and are given browse regularly. The enrichment funds are going to buy them banana leaves and edible flowers on a regular basis to add to their diets and give them some more variety. They picked up and ate the flowers first and then settled in to eat the banana leaves soon after. In the warmer months they may even use the leaves for shade.

Third stop: Red river hogs
These strange looking green things are treat dispensers specifically designed for hoof stock and hogs. The treats are placed inside and the hogs have to roll them around for get the food out. The design makes them roll in a circle and also makes it harder to get the treats out so they have to upend the dispenser to get everything. The hogs figured them out quickly and pushed and flipped them over until they had all the food.

Throughout the year there are Keeper Chats in the afternoon that usually include an enrichment like these. Check out our calendar by day to see what's happen when you come to the Zoo!
Thanks for tagging along with us!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Puzzle Tubes, Leaves & Treats

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

A couple of weeks ago we started taking pictures of some of the animals with their new enrichment "toys" that generous donors purchased at our Wild Affair event. Check out round one on the post "Toys, Browse & Worms".

Round two was last week and included the Red kangaroos, Bengal monitor and Giraffes.

First stop: Australian Outback
The Red kangaroos share an exhibit with Emu and Bennett's wallaby. They all get produce first thing in the morning, but today the Red roos got their toy too! It was a large, thick plastic ball that has big holes drilled into it. Treats are dropped inside and the roos have to roll the ball around until something falls out.

Second stop: Reptile House
When we talk about enrichments for the animals, we all think of big cats, birds, hoof stock - those seem like the standard. Reptiles enrichments? Well, that seems harder. The Bengal monitor is a fairly large and active lizard that eats crickets, so she gets a puzzle tube! It is an acrylic tube with drilled holes and caps at both ends. It is filled with crickets so the more it is moved around, the more crickets find their way out. She spent a lot of time chasing down all those crickets.

Third Stop: Tall Wonders Giraffe Habitat
Acacia is one of the Giraffes favorite foods and they can eat a lot! The Zoo has Acacia trees on grounds that are used to feed Giraffes and many other animals. As part of the newly renovated exhibit, more trees were purchased to increase our supply of browse for the three girls. The branch below was stripped clean of leaves in just a couple of minutes!
Throughout the year there are Keeper Chats in the afternoon that usually include an enrichment like these. Check out our calendar by day to see what's happen when you come to the Zoo!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New 6-year-old Orangutan

By Lauren Kraft, Public Relations Coordinator

The Sacramento Zoo recently welcomed Makan to the Sumatran orangutan group. Makan is 6 years old and was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (CMZ) in Colorado Springs. Makan arrived in Sacramento in September and following his quarantine in the veterinary hospital, he was introduced to the two female orangutans. The Sacramento Zoo, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP®) committee have been planning Makan’s move for about a year.

In September, CMZ staff began the drive from Colorado to California with Makan safely tucked away in a large crate. When he arrived, he was moved into our Zoo’s hospital quarantine area where he was monitored for any illnesses that could potentially be transmitted to resident animals. After he received a clean bill of health from the veterinarian, the young orang moved up to the Ape House to begin introductions to the exhibit and the resident orangutans.

Makan joined the Zoo’s two older females: Cheli is 37 years old and Ginger, at 54 years old, is the oldest Sumatran orangutan in a U.S. zoo. Right now, Makan looks like the females and weighs only 65 lbs. In a few years, he will go through a massive growth spurt, developing large amounts of muscle, gaining close to 200 pounds, getting large round cheek flanges, and growing long hair with a mustache and beard. It will be interesting to see Makan on exhibit interacting with the girls, but more interesting to the keepers is how the girls will interact with him! It has been a few decades for both of the females since they have lived with such a young male. He was introduced to the girls in the quiet night quarters away from distracting crowds. When he is on exhibit with Ginger and Cheli, he experiences new surroundings; Makan had never seen zebra or bongos which are viewable from his new home.