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Vol. 52, No. 1, Winter 2014

Directors Den Matchmaking Zoo Style Eco-trip to Nepal
It Take a Lot to Feed the Zoo Become a Zoo Parent Estate Planning Safari

Animal Chatter

 Quarters for Conservation

Animal Fact

Calendar of Events     

Directors Den
Continuing Education

Zoo Director Mary Healy

We are very proud of the educational opportunities the Zoo provides to students in the Sacramento region, but you may not realize just how extensive our training can be for our staff as well. Every year, staff members attend a variety of professional development courses and conferences locally and globally. As you will read about in this issue, three of our staff had a unique opportunity to travel to Nepal this year. Not all the training is that exotic or rigorous; many staff have attended the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Schools held in Wheeling, West Virginia each year. Those schools cover a variety of topics that include how to manage the animals in our zoos as well as how to manage the people (staff that is) in our zoos! There are also courses in exhibit design, conservation management and record keeping. Did you know we have a Zoo horticulturist? Michaele has attended workshops specifically tailored to help expand her important role of keeping the Zoo gardens looking great and growing plants for the animal diets. We have sent maintenance staff to welding and fork-lift classes and education staff to classes on interpretation. With this type of training we are able to continually learn new ways of improving animal care and guest experience.

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Matchmaking... Zoo Style
By Dave Brigham, from Buffalo Zoo’s Summer 2012 Zoolog
Adapted with permission by Tonja Candelaria for the Sacramento Zoo

Wolf's Guenon InfantOne of the biggest attractions for zoo goers is baby animals. Whether it’s the cute factor, their boundless energy or witnessing that maternal bond, they are a huge draw. So, you may wonder why you don’t get to see babies every time you come to the Zoo. It would seem to make sense to draw visitors to our gates with infant-filled exhibits. 

But babies grow up, and given the finite space available in zoos, that wouldn’t be the responsible thing to do. That’s where Species Survival Plans® (SSP) come in. Managed by our professional accrediting body, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), SSPs are long-term plans for the management of a species (particularly an endangered one) in zoos. As a member of the AZA, the Sacramento Zoo houses 48 species that are managed by SSP programs. 19 AZA management programs are also coordinated nationally by Sacramento Zoo staff members. The goal of SSPs is to maintain a genetically healthy and diverse population, as close as possible to how a wild population should look. SSP coordinators try to avoid breeding animals that are too closely related, which can lead to manifestation of undesirable physical traits and health issues. The managers use computer programs to trace each individual’s pedigree to help them decide what breeding recommendations to make. They also have to consider how much space is available in zoos. Are zoos interested in breeding the species? Do the zoos have space to hold offspring for a number of years? Where are the zoos located?

All of this dictates whether we are able to breed animals at the Sacramento Zoo and even which animals stay here. A great deal of cooperation between zoos is necessary to ensure SSPs are able to meet their goals.

As you can see, a great deal of work and planning goes into maintaining the long-term viability of populations of zoo animals. Hopefully, the next time you see babies at the Zoo, you’ll have a greater appreciation for the efforts of the Sacramento Zoo and our partners that make continuing generations of endangered animals like our Sumatran Tigers, Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, Wolf’s Guenons and Red Pandas possible.

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Sacramento Zoo Eco-trip to Nepal
By Mike Owyang

Zookeeper Amanda Mayberry with villagers in NepalIn October of 2013, three Sacramento Zoo staff members, Lead Carnivore Keeper Amanda Mayberry, General Curator Harrison Edell and myself, Education Specialist Mike Owyang, traveled to the mountains of eastern Nepal. There, we participated in an eco-trip offered by the Red Panda Network (RPN), to observe the Red Panda in its natural habitat and to learn more about RPN’s conservation, research and education projects.

In conjunction with the Red Panda Network, the Sacramento Zoo participates in the annual International Red Panda Day to inform Zoo visitors about this charismatic animal whose population in the eastern Himalayas and China is on the decline. RPN’s projects include educating villagers living in the Red Panda’s forest habitat in addition to working with other conservation organizations such as the Sacramento Zoo.

The two-week trip began in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. It was there that guides Rajiv Paudel and Damber Bista of Red Panda Network joined our group along with three other travelers from the U.K. We then flew to Bhadrapur, located in eastern Nepal, and from there traveled to Ilam, which would serve as the central location for our various excursions into the field. 

The first observation area was Dobate, a (bumpy!) five-hour drive from Ilam. Along with Rajiv were guides known as Forest Guardians who are trained by, and work with RPN in research and conservation projects. On the first day’s hike, we encountered a couple and asked them if they knew of Red Pandas in their area. The couple refused to disclose where any pandas were as they were suspicious of our group’s intentions, an action that surprised all of us. Although a bit frustrating, it was also gratifying that they showed concern for their native wildlife.

On the return hike, one of the sharp-eyed guides and Amanda spotted a familiar face in a tree adjacent to the trail. The lone Red Panda watched as we ascended a steep hillside using bamboo as makeshift climbing ropes. 

Red Pandas in the wild can be very shy and elusive animals, so the opportunity to actually observe one is somewhat rare. Fortunately, we as observers didn’t disturb this Red Panda and after enjoying a meal of berries, it ambled back into the forest. It would be the only Red Panda we saw on the trip, but this encounter was at very close range and for a surprisingly long period of time.

The next destination was Kalikhola, which involved a rather strenuous trek into the mountains (especially for six, sea level acclimated hikers). Two days were spent there, which included a meeting with village members to discuss conservation issues and how eco-tourism could benefit the local area. The villagers’ sincere and generous hospitality was very much appreciated by all. Not necessarily appreciated were the nocturnal, hand-sized spiders which inhabited the communal outhouse…We all learned a lot about the work of the Red Panda Network in eastern Nepal which will be a source of information that the Zoo can offer to its guests to help promote conservation and the continued survival of the Red Panda.

This trip would not have been possible without the support of the Sacramento Zoo and its Conservation and Docent Committees. More information about Red Panda Network and the eco-trips it offers can be found at


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It Takes a Lot to Feed the Zoo.... and You Can Contribute!

Giraffe eating browseWith more than 500 animals who call the Sacramento Zoo home, we have a lot of mouths to feed.  From the tiny Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frogs to the tall giraffes, each animal is given a specific diet. This includes everything from blueberries to bugs and beef bones to browse. “What’s browse?” We’re glad you asked!

Browse is non-toxic branches and leaves from trees and shrubs that can be found in your backyard.  That’s right, your tree trimmings can be a feast for the animals! Browse donations are accepted all year for pre-approved specific species of plants. Not only is browse a supplement to the animals’ diets, the act of nibbling leaves, stripping bark and chewing on stems is stimulating for their minds and encourages natural behaviors.

Animals such as giraffes, bongos, chimps, lemurs and many birds benefit from browse donations. Sharing your trimmings with us means less going to the landfill – everyone wins!

Of course, our animals eat more than just browse. In 2013, they literally consumed tons of plants, meat and bugs. Combined, the animals enjoyed 550 cases of various fruits with an additional six flats of blueberries, 74 flats of grapes and 663 individual avocados. They also munched on 1,047 cases of various veggies with an additional 409 pounds of zucchini and green beans, 71 bags of beets and onions and 53 heads of cauliflower. Omnivores and carnivores had their share too and enjoyed a total of 69,470 pounds of “chow”, a special mixture of dry feeds developed exclusively for each species. Nearly 15,000 pounds of meat was fed out, and 984 pounds of bones were given as diet supplements and special treats. 

No matter how you view it, it takes a lot to feed a Zoo. With all this talk of food, you may wonder, “what do people eat at the Zoo?”  Guests are always welcome to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the Reptile House Lawn or one of our many benches, or dine at Kampala Café, which offers a 10% discount to Members. 

You can learn more about our browse donation program by visiting the Donate Browse webpage or by emailing

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Become a Zoo Parent

Every animal at the Sacramento Zoo has very specific needs. You can help meet these needs by adopting any one of the animals at the Sacramento Zoo.  Animal adoptions make unique and exciting gifts for friends, family, special occasions or just because! We also offer group adoptions perfect for birthday parties, schools, Boy Scout or Girl Scout Troops and any other group that loves animals!

Every dollar raised goes directly to the care of the Zoo animals. In addition to learning about animals, children also learn the benefits of giving. Just choose your favorite animal, select the package and we’ll do the rest! 

With your gift the Zoo will be able to further its mission to inspire appreciation, respect and a connection with wildlife and nature through education, recreation and conservation.
“Each year we have given the gift of Group Troop to each of our children’s Teacher’s classrooms. The children are always excited to get a photo and fact sheet of their Zoo Parent animal and it piques their interest in animal conservation as well as nature. The Zoo Parent program encourages the children to explore their community and visit the zoo.” – The Deckers 

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Estate Planning Safari
Protect Your Nest Egg

Tuesday, April 8
5:30 – 7:00 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. Email Lisa Clement or call 916.808.8815 by April 4, to guarantee your seat.

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Animal Chatter

Primate Area
On 5 Jan, our pair of Coquerel’s Sifaka gave birth to a baby infant. This is the second baby for the damCoquerel's Sifaka and the first for the sire. As the infant grows you will observe him climbing on mom. Dad also plays an important role in rearing the infant, just as he would in the wild.  

Mammal and Bird Sections
Construction and renovation on Small Wonders has begun which means in a few months you will see the new animal habitats emerging! The Wolf’s Guenons will be living in the section closest to the orangutans. The Straw-colored Fruit Bats, Red-billed hornbill and Crested Guineafowl will be living across from the Giraffe Deck and the Aardvark and Banded Mongoose will be in the new exhibit space facing the Veterinary Hospital. Keep checking back at our construction site so you can see the changes to that building as they happen!


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Quarters for Conservation

Child at the Quarters for Conservation Wishing WellAt the Sacramento Zoo, visitors make a difference every time they visit by participating in Quarters for Conservation. This program provides funding for local and global wildlife conservation projects. 

The 2013 programs were the local Riparian Brush Rabbit Recovery program, the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary project and the Masai Giraffe Conservation program. Each of these species is facing trouble in their natural habitat and play an important part in their local ecosystem.  In 2013, 379,282 votes were cast for the three projects listed above. In total $50,000 was divided amongst the three projects, with the amount determined by the number of votes each project received. The Quarters for Conservation program is replicated at other zoos throughout the U.S.

The three programs selected by the Sacramento Zoo for 2014 are Tiger Conservation in Sumatra, the local Pacific Health Fisher Project and the Galapagos Penguin Lava Nest Project.

Along with Quarters for Conservation, the Zoo’s Conservation Committee supports more than two dozen projects worldwide. The Committee is comprised of Zoo staff and veterinarians from UC Davis who also care for the animals at the Sacramento Zoo.
To learn more about Quarters for Conservation, the 2014 recipients of the program and other conservation efforts that the Zoo supports visit the Zoo's website.

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Animal Facts

Red Kangaroo eating browseRed Kangaroos are the largest marsupials; they live in Australia's deserts and open grasslands, gathering in groups called mobs. Females have one baby at a time that is only as big as a marble at birth. The infant immediately climbs into its mother's pouch, where it stays for two months before emerging. 

Male kangaroos are powerfully built, leaning back on their sturdy tail to "box" and kick each other with strong hind legs. The Sacramento Zoo has three male Red Kangaroos. While they do occasionally box, they are more often seen lounging in the sun with their legs in the air. They love to use each other as pillows or to lean on when lying down.

Two of the three kangaroos at the Zoo are named after imaginary characters from movies: Harvey is named for the imaginary rabbit in the Jimmy Stewart movie Harvey and Pontuffe is named for the imaginary kangaroo in Chocolát. All three have distinct personalities as well: Harvey is the most energetic and likes to play with toys and enrichments, Pontouffe is more even-keeled and Obi is timid and shy. The time to see them most active is first thing in the morning. 

Kangaroos are not threatened in the wild, but their population still faces challenges such as habitat loss, introduction of non-native predators to their habitat and climate change. 

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