Thursday, April 28, 2011

Keeper Profile, Janine in Primates

Learn more about the talented and dedicated individuals that take care of the zoo animals in our new series of Keeper Profiles.

Janine Steele

What area do you work?

What is your favorite part about being a zookeeper?
Being creative. Whether it's designing a new enrichment device, redoing limbs in an exhibit, or finding a solution to a unique problem (which is usually the case more often than not).

What is your favorite animal and why?
In general cats, the domestic kind (don't tell my Rottweilers). At the zoo I gravitate towards all the "difficult" individuals. They make you work harder to earn their trust, but they make it so much more rewarding when they are willing to cooperate with you. So, I guess they are pretty similar.

How long have you worked at the Sacramento Zoo?
9 years

What would you say to someone who wants to become a zookeeper?
Volunteer as much as you can at a zoo, animal shelter, and/or wildlife rescue. It will give you a good idea of what kind of dedication it takes to be a zookeeper and give you some work experience.

When did you know that you wanted to be a zookeeper?
When I was a volunteer and I got to see the zoo's first 3 red pandas go on exhibit for their first time. The exhibit was not open to the public yet and I felt very privileged to help do their observations.

Why is your job so important?
I am responsible for the daily well being of the animals in my care. Zookeepers are also usually the first to notice a potential problem with the animal.

Tell me something interesting about one of the animals you work with.
Either a scientific fact or something about their personality.
Our young male White-faced saki monkey has a fondness for blond keepers; male or female.

What do you say to someone who wants to have a primate as a pet?
Don’t do it. They are illegal in most states plus their social needs are high. Humans and primates can exchange diseases back and forth, unlike other pets. If you want a pet, there are many dogs and cats in shelters that need a home. To learn more about wildlife as pets go to

Friday, April 22, 2011

Zoo Saddened by Loss of Nigel the Serval

By Tonja Swank, Public Relations Coordinator

Sacramento Zoo is saddened by the loss of the Serval, “Nigel” at the age of 17. Keepers and veterinarians monitored Nigel closely in his old age as he developed arthritis and kidney issues, but it was only a matter of time before age-related illness took its toll. His condition worsened and after thoughtful discussion between animal care, Zoo administrators and veterinary staff, the decision was made to humanely euthanize him.

“He was a great animal known to many of the staff as one of our ‘best cats’ because of his even temperament,” said Harrison Edell, General Curator. “It has been especially difficult for staff members who have worked with this particular cat for so many years.”

Many Sacramento Zoo visitors have enjoyed seeing Nigel over the years. He came to the Zoo as a cub in 1993 where he was one of the animal ambassadors in the Zoo’s educational programs. Until his age began to slow him down, Nigel participated in almost every stage show at the Amphitheatre, visited schools with ZooMobile and helped educate Zoo campers.

The Serval is a long, lean cat with prominent ears and a tawny coat with black spots, bands and stripes, found south of the Sahara desert in Africa. They are solitary creatures whose natural habitat is grasslands, scrub brush, marshlands and woodlands. The average lifespan of a Serval is 15 years. In the wild, habitat loss due to growing civilization is the largest threat they face

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Purple Zebra? #HereWePurple

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

In a show of solidarity and support of the Sacramento Kings, the whole city is going purple! Even our zebra got in on the fun (with a little help from Photoshop). The Zoo is sporting purple on Facebook and Twitter! #herewepurple

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Zoo Pub Trivia, AAZK Fundraiser

By Alison Mott, Greater Sac AAZK Member

We know you love the Sacramento Zoo and its creatures, but how well do you know the Zoo and its creatures? When did the Zoo officially open? What was the first year the Zoo had Penguins? How long is an anteater’s tongue? How many Black and White Ruffed Lemurs have been born at the Zoo? Think you know the answers?

Come on out and show off your Sacramento Zoo and zoo animal knowledge at the Fox & Goose Pub on Tuesday, April 19th at 7 pm. The Greater Sac AAZK, Zoo Keepers that is, will be taking over the weekly Pub Trivia in a Zoo-themed trivia night.

A portion of the proceeds the night will benefit Greater Sac Chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers.

The Fox & Goose Pub is located on the corner of 10th and R (1001 R Street) in Downtown Sacramento. Parking in the lot may be limited, but you can always park on the street.

Friday, April 15, 2011

New White-faced Owls

By Jaime Wilson, Zoo Blog Keeper

The Zoo welcomes a new species of owl that are now on exhibit behind the river otters and next to the porcupines. The pair of brothers hatched at the Bronx Zoo in October 2010 and despite only being one day older, the elder brother rules the roost. They are settling in well and like to hunt for crickets that have been tossed into their exhibit by the zoo keepers.

The White-faced owls are native to Africa, south of the equator and live in open woodland and in the savannah. They hunt for large insects, arachnids and small mammals and birds.

This owl species modifies its appearance in times of danger or threat by either puffing up and holding out its wings to look larger, or elongating its body to look like a branch or tree trunk. This owl attracted attention when it was featured in a Japanese video titled "Transformer Owl."

White-faced owls are nocturnal and spend much of the day roosting. Its call is a series of fast, bubbling hoots, uttered at night and frequently repeated.

Make sure to stop by their exhibit the next to you are at the Zoo!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Masai Giraffe Arrives!

The Sacramento Zoo welcomed their newest resident last Friday evening. “Chifu,” a male Masai giraffe, stands about 10 feet tall and is just over one year old. As with all new animals that arrive at the Zoo, he will be in an off-exhibit area for 30 days prior to being introduced to the new Tall Wonders habitat and the Zoo’s three female giraffes.

Stay tuned for updates on Chifu; he should be on exhibit and greeting Zoo visitors in mid-May.

In the meantime watch the video below to see how he arrived at the Zoo in a custom designed transport trailer, or view the video on Youtube.

Friday, April 8, 2011

New Lion Zoo Key

By Charlene Lee, Membership Assistant

If you collect Zoo Keys from the Sacramento Zoo, you’ll be excited to hear we have a brand new design! In addition to our current orange tiger keys and gold giraffe keys, you can also collect our new yellow lion zoo keys.

A total of fourteen talk boxes are located throughout the Zoo, providing visitors with fun facts and trivia about the different Zoo animals. Some of them even sing educational songs! But the only way to hear these talk boxes is by using one of our zoo keys, so the next time you visit the Zoo, stop by the Information Station, Members Entrance, or Member and Visitor Services Office to pick out your very own zoo key. Best of all, it’s yours to keep, so you can bring it back every time you visit the Zoo!

The new yellow lion zoo keys are just $3.00 each for Sacramento Zoo members and $3.50 for nonmembers. Add a Sacramento Zoo lanyard to your zoo key for an additional $3.50 and you are set for a wild adventure!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Recycle Your Zoo Maps

By Jaime Wilson, Green Team Member

The Green Team is proud to announce a new recycle map station located near the exit turnstiles. Jiffy Lube, the proud sponsor of the Green Team, enabled us to create this custom kiosk!

Just insert your gently used map and we will save paper and save trees by reusing maps! It has been a huge success already and we hope visitors keep using it throughout the year.

Find out more about the Jiffy Lube partnership in the July 2010 blog.

Jiffy Lube believes in being “Green” and is a leader in the auto service industry. They recycle over 4 million quarts of used oil and other fluids annually. That’s a lot of oil that is kept out of the storm drains and waterways! Visit Jiffy Lube online to find out more about their recycling practices and to get your free oil change coupons!