Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do you play Foursquare?

By Jaime Wilson, Social Media Nerd

So you probably know the Sacramento Zoo loves its social media. The blog is two and a half years old now and we've been on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube for well over a year. We love the new way of communicating with our supports and sometimes its just plain fun!

Well, we have just added another piece in our constantly evolving puzzle. Foursquare is a social networking site and phone application that encourages people to get out and enjoy their city. Smart phones work best, but you can also just use texting.

You install an application on your phone and then “check in” places that you go. You can earn badges for exploring and even become Mayor of a place if you have been their more times than anyone else. You can also leave tips, or suggestions for a place and when someone checks in there, your tip pops up!

Check in on foursquare & get a gift!
So here is the cool part. If you come to the Zoo and check in on foursquare just show your check in to the Visitor Services office and they will give you a free carousel ticket! (1 per person, per day)

If you are the foursquare Mayor of the Zoo, show your mayorship on your phone to the Visitor Services office and get a little gift! (1 per person, per day)
Let the race for Zoo Mayor begin!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From the Kitchen - What Hogs Eat

By Leslie Field & Susan Healy, Animal Care

The World is My Oyster

Truly, this should be the slogan for Red river hogs (and other swine in general)! Pigs are amazing creatures that use their tusks and powerful bodies to root in the ground for all sorts of food items. They aren’t too picky when it comes to eating and are very opportunistic. Despite the common myths, swine are no dirtier than any other animal. They sleep during the day in an excavated hollow or under foliage to keep cool and away from biting insects and predators, and forage at night for food as they travel.

In the wild, they eat roots, fruit, seeds, nuts, grasses, fungi, insects, worms, reptiles, carrion and small animals. Red river hogs also swim and forage for water plants. These animals have even been known to follow chimpanzee groups and eat the fruit left behind by the chimps. No opportunity is missed!

At the Zoo however, foraging opportunities are less available so all the hogs have a nutritious pig chow and fresh produce such as apples, yams, carrots and celery. In addition, food enrichments (as seen in the last photo below) provide a great deal of entertainment and rarity to their daily routine and diet.

So when you see the hogs, think about the wide breadth of their palate (I wish my children were less-picky like the hogs) and you will appreciate their eating habits.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

AmeriCorps - Behind the Scenes

By Christina Vuong, AmeriCorps Volunteer

An AmeriCorps NCCC Team's Perspective

How many of us can say that we have fed red pandas grapes? Or got "kissed" by a giraffe? Or been in an exhibit with lemur tails dangling in our faces? For two wonderfully exhausting weeks in January 2010, a team of ten AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members have shadowed zookeepers and maintenance staff in various animal care and groundskeeping areas. We performed tasks ranging from preparing animal diets, hosing down animal dens, pulling out cattails around Lake Victoria, laying down sod in a new tortoise exhibit, moving dirt into the chimpanzee exhibit, raking, and planting trees.

Sure, the work was not always glamorous, but it afforded us an intimate look at zoo operations that few get to experience. We had fun commiserating over the worst animal poop to scoop (FYI it was a tie between the giraffe's and snow leopard's) and the grossest duty (scooping up dead crickets). Being able to offset some of the tedious cleaning labor zookeepers had to do daily allowed them extra time to focus on animal enrichment and training. For example, with the extra manpower in accomplishing routine tasks, hoofstock keepers were able to work on coaxing a shy giraffe to the viewing platform to prepare her for upcoming feedings from the public.

Working at the Sacramento Zoo posed challenges to each of us not only physically, but mentally. One Corps Member who shall remain unnamed, was deathly afraid of snakes, even as they were safely in their cages. For him, working in Reptiles forced him to confront his fears, even if it was only for a few seconds at a time as he was cleaning the glass windows.

We quickly came to the conclusion that zookeepers have the strongest (or the worst, as one zookeeper quipped) backs of any profession, from all the time they spend bent over and shoveling. We were impressed by the labor of love which they carry out, 365 days a year.

For one Corps Member in particular, Finley Janes, her time at the Zoo solidified her interest in pursuing animal science as a course of study in college. She rattles off the different animals she learned about each day. "I love the zoo so much!" Finley's infectious enthusiasm carries over us all.

We were privileged to be working alongside staff so dedicated to the comfort and well-being of the animals and zoo visitors, and who were so willing to share their knowledge and humor with us. It was an adventure through and through. Although our team was assigned to the Sacramento Zoo for only two weeks, we certainly look forward to coming back and volunteering when our team is stationed in the Sacramento area. And we certainly will be there to see the new anteater baby come springtime!

Thanks for a wonderful time!

AmeriCorps NCCC is part of AmeriCorps, a network of national service programs created to improve the environment, enhance education, increase public safety, and assist with disaster relief and other unmet human needs. The Pacific Region campus, located in Sacramento, Calif., serves Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Pacific territories. The Sacramento campus is one of five campuses in the United States; the others are located in Denver, Colo., Perry Point, Md., Vicksburg, Miss., and Vinton, Iowa.

NCCC members must be 18-24 years old and must complete at least 1,700 hours of community service during the 10-month program. In exchange for their service, they receive $5,350 to help pay for college or to pay student loans. AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. For information about applying to an AmeriCorps program, call 1-800-942-2677 (1-800-94-ACORP) or visit the website at

Monday, February 1, 2010

Betty White with KVIE's Rob on the Road

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

Rob on the Road came out to interview Betty White when she was here in November 2009. She is as charming as ever!