Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Solar Kiosk

Whether it’s conserving habitat for animals or helping to conserve energy, the Zoo is a great place for people to learn about the importance of conservation. As a result of some available Federal grant funding through the Solar America Cities program, the City of Sacramento helped fund a new informational display and photo opportunity area at the Zoo.  Visitors can now learn about how the Zoo is harnessing the sun to generate enough solar energy to power the average home for a day. And, families can take a photo with a life-sized giraffe and other animals.

The Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) played a big role in the solar kiosk project – as it did back in 1998 when the Zoo became one of the first establishments in our region to install solar voltaic panels. While the new solar kiosk was on the drawing board, SMUD made it possible for the Zoo to add an additional panel, consisting of six modules, to the Gift Shop arbor. SMUD is also the sponsor of the kiosk.  Visit for more information on solar energy.

Thank you to everyone who made this project possible!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Oldest Known Captive Spotted Hyena Passes Away

The Sacramento Zoo’s Spotted Hyena, and the oldest known hyena in a United States Zoo, passed away in her sleep last night. Brownie, as she was affectionately called by Zoo staff, had been under treatment for a variety of age-related illnesses. Veterinarians and keepers had been keeping an eye on her because of her age, but did not notice anything unusual yesterday. She spent much of the afternoon sunning in her exhibit, ate her dinner and went to sleep. She surpassed all expectations, living to the age of 28.

Brownie was born in Kenya and shortly after was brought to U.C. Berkeley as part of a research program. She moved to the Sacramento Zoo in 1995 with a female companion from U.C. Berkley who passed away in 2006. Hyenas are matriarchal and very hierarchal, making it difficult to introduce new companions without significant stress. In order to fulfill her social needs keepers spent a lot of time interacting with her through protected contact training programs. Keepers also monitored closely her weight and became very creative in food variety and presentation. While at U.C. Berkley, artists from Disney studied Brownie and her sister as models for Disney’s movie “The Lion King.”

“Because hyenas are highly nocturnal, it was always a special treat for visitors when they got to see Brownie,” said Harrison Edell, General Curator at the Sacramento Zoo. “Brownie was a unique individual who lived a long life; her passing deeply affects visitors, volunteers and staff alike.”

Brownie was the oldest Spotted Hyena known in captivity in the United States.

Spotted Hyenas, also known as Laughing Hyenas, come from African grasslands, savannas and plains. They live in matriarchal clans and are highly territorial. They have many vocal behaviors ranging from whoops, barks, groans, yells, grunts and whines. In the wild they live 10-12 years while in captivity they can live from 20-25 years.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Passing of Josie the Chimpanzee

The Sacramento Zoo is saddened by the loss of Josie, the matriarch of the Zoo’s chimpanzee troop. At the estimated age of 48, Josie was being treated for a variety of age-related illnesses by Zoo veterinarians.  Her condition worsened over the weekend and after thoughtful discussion between animal care, Zoo administrators and veterinary staff, the decision was made to euthanize Josie this morning to prevent her suffering.

“You can’t imagine how tough this decision was,” Zoo Director Mary Healy said. “On one hand you have an amazing chimpanzee that has been a very  special part of the Zoo for 26 years. On the other hand you see a friend who has been suffering and you have done everything feasible to make her better.”

As a longtime and charismatic member of the Sacramento community Josie will be missed. She was acquired from Africa by a civilian in Fremont in the early 60’s. A few years later she was donated to the Fresno Zoo, then moved to Micke Grove Zoo and eventually joined the Sacramento Zoo’s group of chimpanzees in 1986. Josie loved people-watching and had a special fondness for interacting with young children. She would often raise her hand to the glass as a greeting to toddlers and babies and then kept an eye on them while they toured the chimpanzee area. Josie also loved to paint and often went through phases with the colors she used.

She was an integral part of the dynamic chimp group, and a stabilizing personality among the chimps. Josie will be greatly missed by Zoo staff, the other chimps and visitors alike and will always hold a special place in our hearts.


Chimpanzees come from the central belt of Africa where they live in forests, dry woodland savannas and tropical rain forests. In the wild they live up to 40 years and can live up to 60 years in captivity. They are endangered with their main predators being leopards, lions and humans.

Donations in Josie’s memory can be made by calling 916-808-8815. All donations will go towards the care of the other chimpanzees at the Sacramento Zoo.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

VSP Volunteer Group

The Sacramento Zoo is lucky to have dedicated local businesses that come out and volunteer for special projects. Recently VSP Global took on the unglamourous job of cleaning event tables and chairs for winter storage with big smiles and enthusiasum.

A Letter From VSP Global

On behalf of VSP Global and along with my team, I would like to say thank you for allowing us to spend the day volunteering at the Sacramento Zoo. Every year my team chooses a local organization to assist for the day. In the past we have volunteered at Meals on Wheels and The Ronald McDonald House.

Volunteering at the Sacramento Zoo was not only a great experience but a rewarding one as well. I got a real sense of team work when my coworkers and I cleaned and put away the tables and chairs in storage. Adding to the experience was working along side of the zoo animals and being so close to their environment and nature. I must admit to feeling that energy and excitement I had experienced as a child; truly the Sacramento Zoo is still a wonder no matter what your age.

I hope to get back to the Sacramento Zoo soon and walk around taking in all the sights and sounds.

Once again thank you for letting us support the Sacramento Zoo!

My best regards,
Zacharey Bergman

If you are interested in volunteering at the Sacramento Zoo, please visit the volunteer page of our website.

The VSP Global volunteers