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Vol. 53, No. 1, Spring 2015

Directors Den Member Meeting Estate Planning Safari
Growing with Pride Giraffes Need Your Help Animal Profile

Orangutan Awareness Day

Having Fun and Doing a Good Thing

Sacramento Zoo Supported Conservation Programs 

Calendar of Events


Directors Den

Dr. Adrian Fowler, BVSc, MRSCV

The modern zoo is so much more than a place to visit as a great family outing, and the Sacramento Zoo is no exception. Nearly a century ago, the Zoo was the heart of William Land Park. Nowadays, the Zoo is everywhere; visiting schools, connecting with the digital world, and supporting $100,000 of field conservation programs around the globe. In partnership with UC Davis, the Sacramento Zoo has long played an important role in veterinary education and research. As the home of the late Dr. Murray E. Fowler, internationally regarded as the grandfather of wildlife medicine, the Sacramento Zoo has been at the forefront of training the next generation of specialists in conservation medicine.

The Zoo is a haven for wildlife, and nowhere else can residents and tourists to the City of Sacramento experience so much diversity of species, from majestic big cats to tiny frogs no larger than a fingernail. This is biodiversity at its best, and the Zoo is now announcing the launch of its new major capital project: the creation of our Biodiversity Center, a new world where visitors will feel immersed in habitats with mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. 

Whether you’re smitten with Snow Leopards, falling for Flamingos, or in love with Lemurs, there’s something for everyone to feel passionate about at the Sacramento Zoo. Our members are not just visitors, they are family. Our school kids are not just students, they’re our conservationists of the future. Thank you for supporting our valuable work.

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Member Meeting
Calling All Members

The Sacramento Zoological Society will hold a meeting for members on Wednesday, April 15th, at 5:30 pm in the Kampala Conference room.
The Board of Trustees and Zoo staff will host a special informative evening for members to discuss the Zoo’s role in the community, past and future. Your feedback is welcome.

Seating is limited. RSVP to Amanda Cable at or 916.808.8815 by April 7th to guarantee your seat.

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Estate Planning Safari

Tuesday, April 29
6 – 7:30 pm
Kampala Conference Room

This free, informative seminar will navigate through a jungle of estate planning topics presented by local attorney Mark S. Drobny, California State Bar Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Mr. Drobny is widely regarded as one of the top experts on estate planning, providing information on a variety of topics in an entertaining manner that will help you design a plan that fits your needs.

Topics will include, but are not limited to:

  • Living Trusts vs. Wills
  • Probate – How Can it be Avoided?
  • Who Needs Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management and Advance Health Care Directives?
  • Charitable Gift Annuities

Seating is limited.RSVP to Amanda Cable at or 916.808.8815 by April 20 to guarantee your seat.

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Growing with Pride over the Zoo’s African Lion Pride!

African Lion cubs 2/9/15 EB

The morning of Friday, October 24 a trio of African Lion cubs were born at the Sacramento Zoo. After the birth, the first-time mother spent two
months behind-the-scenes on ‘maternity leave,’ while the male and two female cubs learned to follow her (which is important in lion society as prides are often on the move). On December 26, the cubs were introduced to the public and later, their sire.Now, the entire pride has access to the exhibit throughout the day. The interactions between the adults and the cubs are amazing to watch. The young cubs are testing their parents boundaries and learning what it is to be one of the pride. This includes how to interact with an adult male, adult female and developing a hierarchy between the cubs themselves. All this group experience will help the cubs be social lions in the future no matter which zoo they eventually move to.

Unlike other cat species that are fairly solitary, lions live in groups or “prides.” If multiple females in a pride have cubs, they will pool them into a larger cub communal group called a “crèche.”Lions usually spend 16 to 20 hours a day sleeping and resting, devoting the remaining hours to hunting, courting and protecting their territory. They protect their territory and keep in contact with one another by roaring loud enough to be heard up to five miles away. African lions are excellent hunters. Although they are mostly nocturnal, they are opportunistic and will hunt anytime, day or night. Females do 85 to 90 percent of the pride’s hunting, while the males patrol the territory and protect the pride. 

Lions are considered regionally endangered in West Africa, and an estimated 42% of major lion populations are declining. Their habitats are now only in game reserves in Eastern and Southern Africa. Loss of genetic diversity from inbreeding, fragmentation, diseases and habitat loss are all problems that continue to threaten this species. Diseases from domestic cats and dogs have also made an impact on wild populations.

The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Lion Species Survival Plan® (SSP). The Lion SSP works with captive populations to increase awareness of the problems that face this big cat.

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Giraffes need your help!

Masai GiraffeWhen thinking of going on safari in Africa one of the first animals that come to mind are giraffes. The long graceful pacing gait, the big brown eyes with long eyelashes and oh, what a long neck! What most people do not realize is that giraffes in the wild are in trouble. There are less than 80,000 giraffes left in Africa, fewer than the number of elephants and rhinos. Unlike with elephants and rhinos, fewer people are taking notice.

For the last three years, the Sacramento Zoo has been supporting Monica Bond and Derek Lee, two giraffe researchers who are making a difference in Tanzania. Their life-saving work is taking some of the mystery
 out of giraffe demographics, showing where giraffes are doing ok and where they are almost gone. The Wild Nature Institute has developed amazing software that can recognize individual giraffes in photographs using their unique patterns. Using this information, citizens and government agencies can construct protected corridors that allow giraffes to move from one area to another, joining fragmented populations. The Institute is finding that giraffes are facing the triple threat of habitat loss due to encroaching agricultural lands, capture in snares for bushmeat and fragmentation of populations into small islands of animals. Our partnership with Wild Nature Institute illustrates how a small zoo can make a big difference. The seed money that the Sacramento Zoo has provided allowed Derek and Monica to prove that their demographic software works and produce a children’s book that teaches kids and parents about why giraffes are disappearing from the Savanna.      

 Donate today and help the Sacramento Zoo save giraffes.



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Animal Profile
Abyssinian Ground Hornbill 

Abyssinian ground hornbill

Abyssinian Ground Hornbills are the largest of the hornbills. These large, black birds are found in sub-Saharan Africa and live in small flocks. They typically spend most of their time on the ground and only fly when they are disturbed or moving through areas of dense brush. The two Abyssinian Ground Hornbills at the Sacramento Zoo, however, can often be found high in the trees at their exhibit.Mark, the male, is larger than Serafina and has mostly red skin around his throat and eyes while her skin is blue. A favorite among staff and visitors alike, Mark will often patrol the edges of the exhibit with debris in his beak as a territorial display. Hornbills’ top two neck vertebrae are fused to support their heavy beaks which they use as hammers to break dead logs or dig up dirt in search of food. The keepers will often give Mark and Serafina boxes or tubs of dirt and other substrata as enrichment for this behavior.  While Abyssinian Ground Hornbills are not endangered, their numbers are dwindling in the wild due to habitat destruction and hunting; nativeswear stuffed hornbill heads as a disguise when stalking game. The Sacramento Zoo participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP) and also supports the Mabula Ground Hornbill Project which works to preserve the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill’s southern cousins. 

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Orangutan Awareness Day
By: Elizabeth Padilla, Zoo Teen Since 2011

On weekends during the school year at the Sacramento Zoo, volunteers ages 13 – 19 called “Sacramento Zoo Teens” can be found manning educational activity stations. At these stations, families learn facts about both animals and one of the Zoo’s major goals, conservation. Conservation is the preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment; here we can see that animals are also included in conservation.

Last year Sacramento Zoo Teens decided to contribute to Orangutan Awareness day by educating visitors about orangutans through interactive stations, all including the same theme, orangutans! At one station, guests learned that baby orangutans cling onto their mother as she swings. At another, they were able to measure their hand against a replica of an orangutan’s hand. Guests also learned about the importance of sustainable palm oil plantations. Rainforest destruction due to the unsustainable harvesting of palm oil leaves hundreds of animals without their natural habitat. Orangutans have decreased by 50% and have lost nearly 80% of their land due to palm oil plantations.

Along with informing Zoo visitors about the animals, the teens also get to help the animals in special ways. For the orangutans, Zoo Teens had the opportunity to draw rainbows and beautiful palm trees on their den walls with chalk. When we are educating visitors at stations, we bring up riddles and jokes such as “What does an orangutan learn first in school? Ape-y-cees.” At the Sacramento Zoo, we also encourage you to help the environment for a better world.Visit the Sacramento Zoo for the 2015 Orangutan Awareness Day on Sunday, May 10. The event will include a Missing Orangutan Mothers (MoM’s) Day Book & Bake Sale organized by Greater Sacramento’s chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers, and Zoo Teen activity stations.  

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Having fun and doing a good thing when visiting the Sacramento Zoo

At the Sacramento Zoo, having fun means doing a good thing. Visiting the Zoo, purchasing a Membership, and other activities help the Zoo support more than three dozen wildlife conservation projects around the globe. 2014 marked the second year in a row that the Sacramento Zoo gave more than $100,000 to programs such as Red Panda Network, Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project and the Sahara Conservation Fund. 

In 2015, the Zoo is increasing its commitment to conservation. Every time a guest has fun riding the train or Conservation Carousel, participating in a giraffe encounter, or experiencing the Serengeti Cyclone, a quarter will be added to the conservation fund. This is in addition to existing programs.

Visitors to the Zoo are able to take an active part in conservation through the Quarters for Conservation program. As guests enter the Zoo, they receive a token representing their contribution to conservation which enables visitors to vote for one of three conservation projects at the wishing wells in the Zoo’s Entry Plaza. Each project is guaranteed $5,000 annually with additional funding based on the number of votes received. Your vote makes a difference! 

Last year 370,141 visitors voted to support an Artificial Penguin Nest Project, Sumatran Tiger Conservation and locally, Pacific Fisher Conservation. $50,000 was divided amongst the three projects, with the amount determined by the number of votes each project received. 

The three programs selected by the Sacramento Zoo for 2015 are Giant Armadillo and Giant Anteater Conservation, Snow Leopard Conservation, and locally, Tricolored Blackbird Conservation. Each of these species is facing trouble in their natural habitat and play an important part in their local ecoysystem

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