Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tiger Cub, Day 14 - Eyes Are Open

Our Sumatran tiger cub’s eyes are now open and, as our vets have noted, "is starting to more forcefully assert her personality!" She is continuing to gain weight, but over the last couple days has seemed less interested in the supplemental feedings that we offered her. With a “full" feel to her abdomen each time we picked her up, the cub was hesitant to gulp down formula from the bottle (like she did when we first started to offer one), and carnivore keepers are pretty sure that they may have caught a glimpse of the cub nursing as mom reclined inside her nest box.

As a result, we decided not to offer her multiple bottles of formula yesterday, and she still gained weight overnight, indicating that her nutritional needs are better met by her mother's milk now. The cub is still small, but is gaining weight at a rate similar to her brothers' (who were born here at Sacramento Zoo in 2006). For now, we will continue to weigh her daily to make sure she's getting everything she needs from her mother, and we hope not to have to supplement her diet any further.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tiger Cub, Day 13 - Vet Update

by Dr. Scott Larsen, Associate Veterinarian

Our tiger cub continues to grow. With the supplemental feedings, she is putting on weight and is getting closer to what we would expect for a Sumatran tiger that is 13 days old. While mom, Baha, is in a separate den for treats and training, animal care staff and veterinarians hold the baby and offer a bottle. With a cub, we must be careful to hold the baby in a sternal (legs down) position, while the baby’s head is tilted upward. There is a natural tendency to hold the baby on its back – like a human infant – but nursing on the back is not a normal position for a baby tiger.

As soon as the cub is done eating, we briefly stimulate the cub to defecate and urinate, like Baha does after the cub has nursed from her (except that we use a warm washcloth)……then the baby is put back in the nest box, in the same place that we found her. Each supplemental feeding episode takes just a few minutes and, so far, Baha has been very tolerant of all of our activity with her and her cub. We’ll continue to monitor both of them closely and take things day by day.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Tiger Cub, Day 8 - Bottle Feedings

by Harrison Edell, General Curator

While the birth of our newest Sumatran tiger cub has been very exciting, her first week has also proven challenging. During her first exam (on Day 1) she appeared quite healthy. Over the next days, health checks showed she had gained little weight since birth, prompting the Zoo staff to supplement the milk she's receiving from Bahagia. The veterinarians and Zoo keepers are offering her formula by bottle a few times a day, then returning the cub to the den box for Baha to inspect and clean her. The hope is that the cub will get the nutritional boost she needs from supplemental feeding, while remaining under the nurturing care of her mother.

The cub is wrapped in a towel during the feeding to keep her warm.

Article in the Sacramento Bee
Sacramento Zoo officials keep fingers crossed for Sumatran tiger cub

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Tale of Two Docents

By Ingrid van Dijk & Judy Wheatley Maben

Ingrids's Story
I came to the zoo docent orientation out of curiosity and somewhat of an interest in becoming involved. During the course of the morning some of us attending were sitting around chatting and getting to know each other as women do.

In the course of the conversation we talked about where we live and upon hearing where I lived Judy mentioned that she used to be a science teacher at the local high school there. I perked up and then really looked at her name tag. I recalled a biology teacher named Judy but the last name was different. I blurted out the last name I remembered and she just stared at me in surprise. That had been her last name back then! So here we were, 30+ years later, teacher and student meeting up again in another "classroom"! We had a great time sharing our memories of those times. I brought in my yearbook and we both had some good laughs!

It just goes to show that you never know where you path might cross with someone from your younger years. It was great to have this common bond of interest in science still connecting us. Our time in the docent training program has been a chance to get to know each other on a new level: as equals rather than student-teacher.

Judy's Story
I think I have always been interested in animals, but it was a report on the flamingo for a high school biology class that really got me hooked. Who wouldn’t be charmed by a big orange bird that stands on one long, skinny leg while eating with its head upside down? And so I became a biologist, although most of my study subjects in college were nasty parasites. But when I started teaching high school I realized I needed more information about natural history and began taking classes at ARC and prowling around the Sacramento Zoo.

Becoming a zoo docent when I retired from my third career seemed natural. And more classes on animals…an added plus! One of the first ladies I met in the docent class looked me over carefully and asked if I hadn’t been a teacher at Cordova High School, where she had gone to school. Ingrid was in my teaching partner’s class, not mine, but we all were together on most days of lectures and labs. I was amazed she recognized me all these years later, in spite of age lines and blond hair that didn’t used to be blond.

Granted it is a small world, but it was an extra pleasure for me to learn that someone who had been in our biology program still retained a curiosity about animals and science, and had a desire to help others appreciate nature. Getting to know Ingrid as a “grown-up” has been a delight.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Tiger Cub, Day 2 - It's a Girl!

by Lauren Kraft, Public Relations Coordinator

The Sacramento Zoo reports the birth of a Sumatran tiger cub, born on Thursday, March 18, 2010. This is the second litter for Bahagia, the female and Castro, the male; their first litter of three male cubs was born in November 2006. Bahagia and baby appear healthy at this early point in the baby’s life; the Zoo is hopeful the cub will continue to thrive.

Tiger cubs are about two pounds (1 Kg) at birth, born with eyes closed and rely entirely on their mother for the first three months. Mother and baby will be inside the den, away from public view, while the baby gains strength and coordination. Castro, the male, will be on exhibit daily.

The young cub had a quick veterinary exam early this morning and the vets confirmed - it's a girl!

Scavenger Hunt, Sunday March 21st

Come on down to the Zoo Sunday, March 21st between 9 am and 2 pm to participate in a How to Train your Dragon scavenger hunt! Every child who enters the Zoo with paid admission will be given the opportunity to go on a one-of-a-kind DRAGON TAIL hunt!

Objective: Collect all the codes and solve the puzzle. Only one can be the dragon trainer. IS IT YOU?

Participants will receive give-away prizes including passes to the March 24th screening at Esquire IMAX (while supplies last) and entry into the drawing for the How to Train Your Dragon video game or the limited edition dragon plush toy!

If you want to see the movie sooner - take a look at Mark S. Allen’s blog and see how!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Baby Giant Anteater March 9 - March 16, 2010 UPDATED

by Lauren Kraft, Public Relations Coordinator

UPDATE - March 16th
Sacramento Zoo reports the death of the newborn Giant anteater. The female baby was born on March 9, 2010 to Amber, the female anteater and Beata, the male. The baby was found deceased mid-morning on March 16th, during a routine check. Over the past seven days, monitored via video, behavior cues showed the mother to be attentive and the baby growing stronger and holding on to her mother. The Sacramento Zoo is saddened by this loss; the cause of death is unknown at this time, and necropsy results may take one to two months.
Read the full press release.


The Sacramento Zoo's newest addition is a baby Giant anteater. This little one was born on March 9th to Amber, the female and Beata, the male anteater. This is the third birth for Amber and the first for Beata. It is the first Giant anteater birth in the Saramento Zoo's 83-year history. The mother and baby will be off exhibit for a couple of weeks while the baby gets strong enough to hold on to mom and explore the exhibit.

The baby was brought to the veterinary hospital a few hours after birth when the Zoo staff determined it needed medical attention. In the above photo the baby is being hand-fed and the photo bellow, the baby is warmed in an incubator. Less than 24 hours later, the baby was reintroduced to its mother and is doing very well.

Read the full press release for all the details and check back here for more updates and photos as this little one gets bigger and stronger every day.