Thursday, May 27, 2010

Spur-thighed Tortoise, Back on Exhibit!

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

The Spur-thighed tortoises were off exhibit while the new Tall Wonders giraffe habitat was being built. Their new area, just below the raised viewing deck, is now finished! You can see them if you look over the edge of the railing.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tiger Cub, Week 6 - Chewing on a bone video

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

The female tiger cub recently had a chance to use her sharp little teeth on a defenseless bone!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Support CA museums with Snoopy!

By Jessica Goldman, Membership Assistant

Everyone’s favorite peppy pup, Snoopy, may soon be featured on California license plates as part of a statewide effort to establish and fund a grant for California museums and other attractions—like the Sacramento Zoo!
Jean Schulz—widow of Snoopy’s creator, Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz—is lending Snoopy’s likeness royalty-free to get the grant program going. Proceeds from plate sales will be collected by the State of California and distributed through a competitive process to area attractions.

Want a pup plate of your own? Log on to and register your interest. Once 7,500 beagle boosters are listed, the plate will go into production for only $50 each. Support the Zoo and your state—get a plate!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Zoo Teen & Owl Cupcakes

By Jessica Hinton, Teen Coordinator

Monica Nordstrom, a second year veteran of the Zoo Teen Program, is the creative genius behind the impressive burrowing owl cupcakes created for the 2009-2010 end of the year Zoo Teen party.

Monica is a highly involved Zoo Teen - she was a Mentor during training, she is the program’s Vice President and was voted the “Career-Corner Queen” for her exceptional articles written for the Zoo Teen Monthly Newsletter.

Monica one day hopes to become a veterinarian and her favorite thing about volunteering at the zoo is being involved in the community & helping the public to better understand conservation concepts.

When asked why she chose to make burrowing owl themed cupcakes for the Zoo Teen party, she replied “I had gotten the newsletter and read that we had owl chicks and I got really excited. I find owls fascinating and thought that bringing the cupcakes would be a cute way to celebrate their arrival with the Zoo Teens. I got the idea for making the mini cupcakes because of the babies. I was really happy about how they turned out and glad that everyone enjoyed them.”

We are so thankful for volunteers like Monica who not only work hard, but also bring enthusiasm and excitement to the Zoo everyday. Thank you!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Burrowing Owl Video

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

The seven Burrowing owl chicks born in the beginning of April are growing up fast! They were seen venturing out of their burrow at night, but scampered back in as soon as they heard the approaching zoo keeper. They should start to explore their exhibit more soon, so keep an eye out when you are visiting!

In the meantime, here is a video of dad and the chicks.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tiger Cub, Week 6 - Playing with mom video

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

At six weeks old, the female tiger cub is even more active and spends part of her days playing with mom. She is also getting used to drinking water from the Lixit water spout in thier den.

Friday, May 7, 2010

New Flamingos, Part 3: Quarantine & Going on Exhibit!

By Zoo Keepers Amanda, Christine & Leslie

Have you ever wondered how zoo animals were transported? Read along to hear of the keepers adventures as they prepared the transportation vehicle, picked up 10 flamingos, and introduced them to their new home. Read "New Flamingos, Part 1: Transportation" and "New Flamingos, Part 2: Picking up the Birds!" to find out where we started.

Part 3: Quarantine & Going on Exhibit!
All the birds did very well on the drive which was great! Offloading the birds into quarantine was the next step. Two keepers entered the back of the van through our shade cloth “door” and as each bird was caught, they were handed one at a time to our vet staff. Every bird was weighed and basic condition checked as well as bands and other identifiers. The group then entered our quarantine area in our hospital to start their 30-day stay. Every animal that comes into the zoo must go through a quarantine period where we do fecal testing and a physical exam during this time to make sure they are healthy and pose no health threat to our resident flock.

Fourteen Animal Care staff as well as Veterinary staff convened in quarantine for the final leg of the new flamingos to our exhibit. As each bird was caught, the birds were weighed, quick once-over, identifiers checked and off to lake they went. One bird per keeper plus an extra keeper tagged along for the walk (in case someone needed help). It’s not that the birds weigh very much (only 6 – 11 lbs) but they can bite (pinch really) if you don’t loosely hold the neck and be very wiggly as they kick and protest about being held.

Once at the lake exhibit, the group was let go on the lawn area inside the exhibit and off they went! It wasn’t long before the San Diego birds were integrated with our resident flamingos.

Thanks for joining us in the journey of 10 flamingos from San Diego!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Flamingos, Part 2: Picking up the Birds!

By Zoo Keepers Amanda & Christine

Have you ever wondered how zoo animals were transported? Read along to hear of the keepers adventures as they prepared the transportation vehicle, picked up 10 flamingos, and introduced them to their new home. Read "New Flamingos, Part 1: Transportation" to find out where we started.

Part 2: Picking up the Birds!
We continue the journey with more communication and collaboration between the Sacramento Zoo and the San Diego Zoo and Sea World! The zoo keepers spent hours speaking with the San Diego Zoo staff in order to coordinate last minute details regarding loading and transport. Preparations over the past few weeks for paperwork, transfer of records were finished. We also spoke to their flamingo keepers to understand how they took care of the flamingo since they were fed in a slightly different manner with a different type of food than the Sacramento Zoo uses.

The morning finally came and off we drove with food (for us), phones, and lots of CDs to keep us entertained along the way. After resting in a hotel overnight, we arrived at the San Diego Zoo veterinary hospital at 6:30 am ready to go. Working alongside their keeper staff we gave each bird a quick physical exam, weighed them and made sure their leg bands were taped up. Flamingo legs are thin and fragile and can be injured by the band if they fall. With the leg bands held in place, it is one less thing that could hurt them.

The two Red-breasted geese from Sea World arrived outside the zoo gates to meet us. Thanks Sea World staff!

In case of injuries along the way, we had in the van a bird first aid kit that included gauze, hemostats, quick stop, and vet wrap to use for any injuries or broken blood feathers. Last but not least, a spray bottle with water to cool off the birds if they become stressed.

Loaded and ready to go with two geese in crates, and ten flamingos in our specially designed pens, we headed out at 7:30 am. We carefully drove back to Sacramento through the wind and rain, stopping only once for gas and food.

In case there was a bird medical emergency, we had zoos along the way notified that we were driving north in case we needed their help. While one of us drove the other periodically peaked into the flamingo pens to make sure all the birds were doing well. During the trip the Red breasted geese would call out and one of the flamingos would respond every time. It makes for a different kind of drive!

Stay tuned for the next installment: Part 3, Quarantine & Going on Exhibit!

We even had a little time the night before to see the sights!

Monday, May 3, 2010

New Flamingos, Part 1: Transportation

By Zoo Keepers Amanda & Christine

Have you ever wondered how zoo animals were transported? The Sacramento Zoo recently sent two bird keepers to pick up ten flamingos and two geese from the San Diego Zoo and Sea World San Diego. The entire process takes a lot of coordination from both facilities and careful planning along the way.

Read along to hear of the keepers adventures as they prepared the transportation vehicle, picked up the flamingos, and introduced them to their new home.

Part 1: Transportation!
We rented a large Ryder metro van to transport the birds. The van had to be large enough to make sure the flamingos could comfortably stand and move around slightly during the drive back to Sacramento. As you probably know, the inside of these types of vans are not exactly flamingo friendly! There are holes in the walls, wheel wells to trip over and no padding.

The solution was to make holding pens framed with 2 x 4’s that would corral the birds away from cover all the unsafe portions of the van. Thank goodness for our Maintenance crew! We added bubble wrap around each piece of wood and stretched shade cloth between the studs to complete the “safe” walls. In combination, this makes for a nice cushion in case a bird fell against the sides during the drive.

An extra holding pen was also created in case a flamingo needed to be separated from the others. Finally, the floor of the van was covered with horse mats and hay to cushion their feet and add traction so the birds wouldn’t slip and fall during transport.

Most other birds and animals are easy to transport because you can place them in a crate or kennel. But flamingos are more commonly transported free standing. Finding a crate large enough to fit a standing flamingo is difficult. And making them sit or lay down for a long period of time increases their chance of stress and injury as they are a naturally standing and not a sitting bird.

Flamingos are very fragile and a lot of time, planning, and coordination was put into their pick up vehicle. We haven’t even gotten the birds yet!

Stay tuned for our next installment: Part 2, Picking up the Birds!