Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Wedding at the Zoo, Congrats Nina & Michael!

By Amanda Cable, Events Assistant

Last Saturday marked the beginning of wedding season at the Sacramento Zoo with the Hill-Crossfield Wedding. Our bride and groom chose Gibbon Alley as their ceremony site, a perfect spot for larger weddings here at the Zoo.

After the ceremony, guests travelled to Kampala Center for the reception. While the bride and groom took pictures, guests were given the opportunity to meet some animals from the Interpretive Center.
Dinner was provided by the Zoo’s onsite catering company, Taste of the Wild Catering.

And once everyone was well-fed, dancing commenced in front of Lake Victoria.

Congratulations, Nina and Michael!

To find out more about weddings and other events at the Zoo, visit our weddings webpage.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Keeper Profile, Kat in Primates

Learn more about the talented and dedicated individuals that take care of the zoo animals in our third installment of the new series of Keeper Profiles. Missed the first ones? Check out Janine in Primates or Kate in Reptiles.

Kat Richmond

What are do you work?

What is your favorite part about your job?
Watching the animals under my care interact and play with each other.

What is your favorite animal and why?
It's tough to choose a favorite, but I love the young chimps and our young orangutan. The kids truly love to just play and be silly, swinging upside down on a rope or doing somersaults through the dens.

How long have you been a zookeeper?
How long at the Sacramento Zoo?I've been a keeper for 9 years, at Sac Zoo for about 4 1/2 years.

When did you know that you wanted to be a zookeeper?
In high school I thought it would be a fun and interesting way to work with chimps.

Why is your job important?
Seeing animals up close through a zoo is a great way for visitors to connect with them and, in turn, hopefully care more about that species and their conservation needs. I like to be able to educate people about our animals.

What do you say to people who want a primate as a pet?
No! Primates are wild animals that need a large space and specific care. They are extremely social animals that deserve to be with their own kind.

Tell us something interesting about one of the animals in your area, either factual or a personality quirk.
Our oldest female chimp, is a neat freak. She removes food scraps, enrichment items and bedding from her den area before settling in. She also hates walking in mud or puddles.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stuffed Animal Clinic, AAZK Fundraiser

Is your teddy bear feeling under the weather? Does your stuffed animal have a cut that needs fixing? Does it need some extra care and attention? The Sacramento Zoo is here to help!

The Greater Sacramento Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) is holding a Stuffed Animal Clinic on Saturday, May 28th from 10am to 2pm on the Veterinary Hospital Lawn. It’s a day to fix the ailments affecting your teddy bear or beloved stuffed animal. Veterinarian staff members along with UC Davis vet students will assess the overall health of your stuffed animal as well as make a diagnosis based on your description of its symptoms.

You will begin your visit with a stop at the reception desk, where your animal will be checked in and given a health certificate. The receptionist will then direct you to the next available stuffed animal doctor, who will care for your animal’s well-being and sign your certificate, indicating a clean bill of health.

If your animal has a tear that requires stitches, you will be asked to leave the animal with trained staff and return after an hour to retrieve the mended patient. The entire visit only costs $1, and you will leave with a healthy stuffed animal and a certificate to prove it!

If you arrive to find a wait in the reception area, feel free to visit the veterinary hospital to learn more about zoo veterinary medicine, and even witness a procedure on a large, stuffed giraffe. It will be a fun and interactive event for the whole family and a great addition to your Sacramento Zoo visit!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Caring for the Conservation Carousel

By Tonja Swank, Public Relations Coordinator

This week artists from Carousel Works in Mansfield Ohio touched-up and resealed the Conservation Carousel. It was an opportunity for Zoo employees, volunteers and guests to meet some of those who worked on the carousel, and learn what it took to create these one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

The Conservation Carousel has brought smiles to more than 118,000 riders since it opened in May 2009. Each of the 32 carousel animals is carved from wood and painted by hand with incredible detail to create a truly unique piece. Carousel animals include an anteater, flamingo, jaguar, ladybug and dung beetle. When riding the carousel one can see educational and conservation messages.

The Zoo is dedicated to the routine upkeep and care of the wooden structure. Changes in the weather can make wood shrink or expand, causing cracks. To protect the painted finish, the carousel has an enclosure that completely covers it from the elements when it is not in use.

Carousel Works is the only company in the world with the in-house capability to manufacture wooden carousels from design to installation. The company has a reputation for quality work that has led them to installing carousels in a variety of zoos including Calgary and Bronx. They have even installed a carousel on a cruise ship.

The Carousel is now running again and looking beautiful! Make sure to stop by and take a ride.

Last week artists from Carousel Works came to touch-up and reseal the Carousel

The artists also gave a presentation and answered questions.

All 32 animals on the Carousel were hand carved and painted

Staff (and Julio, the Blue & gold macaw) took an the inaugural ride in 2009

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Masai Giraffe on Exhibit

By Tonja Swank, Public Relations Coordinator

One of the Sacramento Zoo’s newest residents, a young Masai giraffe, is becoming acquainted with his new roommates. “Chifu” came to the Sacramento Zoo from San Diego in mid-April and has completed a 30-day quarantine. He is now exploring the exhibit and getting to know the Zoo’s three female Reticulated giraffes, Val, Skye and Goodie.

“You may not see him often during his first weeks out; it will depend on how comfortable he is with the exhibit on any particular day,” said Harrison Edell, General Curator. “Introductions between animals can sometimes be challenging, but once those introductions are complete, we can look forward to seeing him explore his surroundings with his new herd!”

Born December 1, 2009, Chifu stands approximately 11 feet tall and is expected to reach between 16 and 19 feet. Chifu’s name comes from the Swahili word for “Chief.” Keepers have found that Chifu loves Pony Pops, a molasses and grain-based treat.

The Tall Wonders giraffe habitat was designed with the capacity to hold up to six adult animals. Working cooperatively with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan®, the Zoo will acquire a female Masai giraffe in the future. The three female Reticulated giraffes will remain at the Sacramento Zoo but will not breed with Chifu.

The Masai giraffe is the largest giraffe subspecies and is found in southern Kenya and Tanzania. Aside from a difference in size, Reticulated and Masai giraffes tend to have slightly different spots. A Masai giraffe's spots are usually darker and irregular in shape.

Watch the video below to see his first day on exhibit, or view on Youtube.

Chifu is smaller than the other three females and has darker spots.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Keeper Profile, Kate in Reptiles

Learn more about the talented and dedicated individuals that take care of the zoo animals in our second installment of the new series of Keeper Profiles. Missed the first one? Check out Janine in Primates.

Kate Gore

What areas do you work?
Reptiles mostly, but I help out in carnivores or ungulates if needed.

What is your favorite part about the job?
I get to work closely with animals that I might never see otherwise. I also get to learn so much about conservation and how to keep these and other animals around for the years to come.

How long have you worked at the Sacramento Zoo?
I have been a visitor since birth, a member from 1999-2003, a keeper-aide volunteer from 2003-2007, and I was hired in November of 2007.

What would you tell someone who wants to be a zookeeper?
Its hard work; but it is also a job in which you learn a lot and you see rare animals every day. Its also fun--who can watch big cats or reptiles play with their toys without smiling?

What do you say to people who are afraid of reptiles? What are the misconceptions?
Unfortunately, there have been studies that show that humans are 'hardwired' to be afraid of reptiles. When I find somebody who is afraid of them, I try to point out the non-scary elements, such as the beauty of the patterns on rattlesnakes scales, or how a lizard can hang from a tree limb, or how an frog or caecilian can blend in to its surroundings like magic.

The misconceptions I have heard are that snakes will chase you and try to bite you, or that they are all venomous; neither of these things are true, more often than not, a snake just wants to be left alone to hide out of sight. More often than not, a person who is afraid of reptiles does not know exactly why they are afraid, I try to take that chance to let them know that reptiles aren't "bad" animals, and how they can be beneficial to people.

When did you know that you wanted to be a zookeeper?
I always thought it would be a neat job to have, but I never really thought I could ever actually get a zookeeping job; when I became a keeper-aide, I realized I could become a zookeeper, and I made it my goal.

Why is your job important?
To me, my job is important, because it is something I love to do, it feels like it is what I am meant to do. In the world view, zookeeping is important because it is a means to educate people about conservation and the importance of wild animals, as well as a chance for an average individual (like me) to help species recover in their natural habitat--through captive breeding, in-situ research (studying populations of species in their natural habitat), and habitat restoration.

What is your favorite animal and why?
This is a tough one, I like so many animals. How about this, my favorite lizard is the Blue tree monitor (I do like blue animals!) My favorite snake is the Brazilian rainbow boa; my first snake was (and still is) a B.R.B.

As for amphibians, I like so many frogs, such as the Red-eyed tree frog, the Waxy monkey tree frog, White's tree frog, and the Green and black dart frog. I am also very partial to newts and salamanders--particularly California newts and Pacific giant salamanders. I don't have any specific reason as to why I like them, I just do. Amphibians are such a large part of any ecosystem, as well as being amazing creatures, how can anyone not like them?

As for non-reptiles, I am a big fan of the walrus. Of the animals at Sacramento Zoo, I think my favorite to work with is the West African dwarf crocodile, he is SO intelligent!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Zoo Helps Prepare Veterinary Leaders

By Tonja Swank, Public Relations Coordinator

When visiting the Sacramento Zoo this week, observers will notice more than families and young children exploring, they will also see a group of veterinarians preparing to become leaders in zoo medicine. This week, May 1st through May 5th, the Sacramento Zoo is collaborating with the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center to host the American College of Zoological Medicine’s (ACZM) Short Course. The course is being held at the Zoo and includes classes taught by Dr. Murray Fowler, a world renowned zoological veterinarian.

Two veterinarians from Australia, one from Canada and 19 from the United States make up the 22 participants. The five-day course, taught by 10 instructors, has been organized by Dr. Scott Larsen and Dr. Ray Wack; both are veterinarians at the Zoo and UC Davis. It is designed to prepare zoo and wildlife veterinarians to take the ACZM board examination. Once ACZM certified, a veterinarian is called a Diplomate and is considered a specialist in zoological medicine. A certified veterinarian may also serve as a supervisor for training programs, mentor and researcher.

“We are glad that we are able to host the course, and that we have the resources and staff to accommodate it,” said Mary Healy, Sacramento Zoo Director/CEO. “It will also be an honor to have Dr. Fowler on grounds and teaching in the Zoo’s hospital named in his honor.” Dr. Fowler served as veterinarian for the Sacramento Zoo for 24 years; in 1970, he developed the first academic training program for residents in zoological medicine. Through this program, as well as numerous short courses, seminars and wet labs, Dr. Fowler has been involved in training of over 500 zoo veterinarians worldwide.

Since 2000 the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and the Sacramento Zoo have had a formalized partnership. The two organizations share facilities and expertise to accommodate the training of zoological medicine residents, senior veterinary students, further wildlife conservation and provide the best possible care for the animals at the Sacramento Zoo.

Veterinarian exam on resident African porcupine.