Vol. 52, No. 3, Fall 2014
On August 7th the Zoo World and Sacramento lost a great contributor, Mary Healy.
Mary may not be with us tomorrow, but everyone else will be here to ensure Sacramento Zoo continues for many more years to come. The Zoo has a strong management team, a highly skilled Staff, a dedicated core of volunteers, a supportive City and committed Board of Trustees. I would like to reassure everyone that the day-to-day functions will continue to move smoothly, I will take on Mary’s duties and it will be “business as normal” for all of us. We will continue to work on new projects, continue to plan new events and continue to bring in new animals. We will work hard but still have fun. Because that’s how you’ve already made a great little Zoo, and that’s exactly what Mary would have wanted.
Before Mary’s departure for the Galapagos she had already written an introduction to the fall Maagizo. It seems fitting that her words be shared as we celebrate the completion of Small Wonders and celebrate her memory.
If ever we had an aptly named project at the Sacramento Zoo it is the recently completed “Small Wonders of Africa.” More than any other renovation in my tenure, this truly took the creative minds of our animal care staff, Brown Construction, River City Glass, Zoo Fab rockwork artists and the Zoo’s hard working maintenance staff to put this all together. It was truly a labor of love, sweat, muscle and maybe even a few tears but I hope you will agree that it was well worth it. It truly transformed the heart of the Zoo. It also took the dedication of our Board of Trustees to raise the money needed for this very important project. The Zoo does not have a dedicated source of funding for capital improvements so it is no “small wonder” to raise close to $700,000 to complete this work. We know this needs to change. The Zoo is not sustainable without a way to keep improving the habitats for the animals and the experiences for our visitors. - Mary Healy
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Small Wonders of Africa
The Small Wonders of Africa exhibit, located across from the Tall Wonders giraffe habitat, is now open! This dynamic multi-species exhibit will include permanent residents as well as temporary exhibit components and species.Each of the species in the exhibit will help tell the story of East Africa, presenting the challenges of conserving wildlife in this corner of the world.
The $700,000 renovation has increased the footprint of the older building and includes three exhibit spaces, two of which are multi-species. New finer-grade stainless steel mesh and glass allows up-close viewing by visitors – enabling them to get nose-to-nose with an Aardvark, exploring inside a termite mound. Visitors are able to explore the base camp and dig for fossilized bones as part of their African adventure.
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Habitat: Savanna, woodlands and thorn scrub forests in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Average Size: Length: 19 – 24 in.Weight: ½ - 1 lb.
In the wild: Up to 15 years
At the Zoo: Up to 25 years
In the wild: Insects, fruit and larvae
At the Zoo: Insects, fruit, prepared beef diet, and parrot chow
Behavior: Red-billed Hornbills are non-migratory, social birds that gather in small groups or pairs to defend their large territories of up to 25 acres. During the dry season, these birds can be seen in large flocks of several hundred birds at watering holes. Red-billed Hornbills spend most of their time on the ground foraging for insects with their long, curved bill, but will fly up into the trees each night to roost. This species has been documented foraging alongside mongooses, a behavior that benefits both species as mongooses help with uncovering more bugs and insects. With more eyes and ears on the lookout for predators, the animals can forage in relative peace.
Conservation:The Red-billed Hornbill is one of the most commonly seen hornbills in Kenya. As of the early 2000’s the global population size has not been quantified, but the species is reported to be widespread and locally common.
Zazu, a character in the animated film The Lion King is a Red-billed Hornbill.
Hornbills are unique because their first two neck vertebrae have been fused to support their large bill.
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Habitat: Grasslands, rainforests, savanna and woodlands in Africa, south of the
Sahara from Senegal Ethiopia and south to South Africa.
Length: 43 – 53 in.
Weight: 80 – 140 lbs.
In the wild: Estimated at 15 years
At the Zoo: Up to 23 years
In the wild: Termites, ants and occasional fruit
At the Zoo: Insectivore chow
Behavior: These solitary animals are elusive and nocturnal, preferring to spend the day curled up in their burrow sound asleep They can, however, sometimes be spotted basking just outside their den in the early morning or late afternoon sun. At night, they leave the safety of their underground homes in search of food, feeding almost exclusively on ants and termites. They do not chew their insect prey, but instead gather it with their sticky, foot-long tongue, swallow it whole and grind it up in a muscular area of their lower stomach.
Conservation: Because they play such a vital role in many ecosystems by creating burrows for other animals and even limiting the enormous damage that termites can inflict on crops, Aardvark population decline often has serious implications on the ecosystem.
Increasing agriculture and human encroachment has made it difficult for Aardvarks to find the termite mounds and burrowing sites that they need to survive, resulting in a decline in Aardvark populations. In addition, human settlements are affected by arise because Aardvark burrows causing damage to farming equipment, roads, dam walls, and fences.
Amazing Facts: An Aardvark can eat up to 50,000 insects each night.
In addition to insects, Aardvarks eat a fruit called an “Aardvark Cucumber,” a South African cucumber that is reliant on them for seed dispersal.
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Habitat: Lowland rainforests and swamp forests in central Africa including Democratic Republic of Congo, northeast Angola and UgandaDescriptionA small, dark grey monkey with a chestnut colored “saddle” patch on its back, black arms, red legs, and a yellowish underside. Males are significantly larger than females.
Length: 50 in. with tail
Weight: 6 – 9 lbs.
In the wild: UnknownIn
At the Zoo: 20 – 26 years
In the wild: fruit, leaves, flowers, nectar and insects
At the Zoo: fruit, vegetables, browse and insects
Behavior: Wolf’s Guenons are diurnal (active in the daytime), arboreal (tree dwelling) and territorial primates, protecting the resources and group members around them with loud calls and aggressive displays if necessary. Researchers have documented Wolf’s Guenons using up to seven distinct verbal calls in their everyday communications. Stamping on the branches, tossing leaves, showing off teeth and yawning are all examples of visual threat displays.
Wolf’s Guenons are often seen co-existing with other primates. These mixed groups are better at detecting predators and danger than smaller groups. Wolf’s Guenons also possess well developed cheek pouches, like other Old World monkeys, which are used to store excess food items.
Conservation: Due to the extremely poor economic status of the area where they live, Wolf’s Guenon populations are declining at a rapid rate. In addition to the loss of their preferred habitat of old growth rain forest, this species is high on the list for illegal hunting (bushmeat).
The Sacramento Zoo supports a variety of conservation organizations that work with people to find alternative ways of sustaining their families and provide education on how to live alongside nature.
Amazing Facts: Wolf’s Guenons are named for their discoverer; their name has nothing to do with wolves or canine teeth.
Females play an important role in territory defense; their call prompts the male to call as well.
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Habitat: Open woodlands, thickets and forest edges in Africa, from Senegal in the west to southern Somalia, south through eastern Kenya to central Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia.
Length: 20 in.
Weight: 4 lbs.
In the wild: 10 years
At the Zoo: 10 – 15 years
In the wild: Insects, seeds and roots
At the Zoo: Insects and prepared fowl diet
Behavior: Crested Guineafowl are, social birds that are commonly found in flocks of roughly 20 that, due to their non-territoriality, may include a variety of other bird species as well. They are fairly talkative in their groups, making soft “clucking” noises as they forage for food by scratching though the dirt like chickens.
These birds are crepuscular, primarily active in the early morning and early evening. The flock retires to the shade during the heat of the afternoon, and then resumes the search for food until just before dark when they head up into low branches to roost for the night.
Conservation: Crested Guineafowl are considered a species of least concern by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to their large range and abundant numbers in the wild.
Amazing Facts: Guineafowl are sometimes used to control ticks.
Chicks are born with white-stripe markings from neck to tail.
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Straw-colored Fruit Bat
Habitat: Moist and dry tropical forests, evergreen forest, riverine and coastal forests, mangroves, and dry savannas throughout equatorial and sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal in the west to Ethiopia in the east, and south to South Africa. Also in the extreme southwest of the Arabian Peninsula and on several islands off the African coast, including Zanzibar and Pemba.
Length: 5 – 8 in.
Wingspan: 29 – 38 in.
Weight: 250 g.
In the wild: 15 – 20 years
At the Zoo: 20 – 22 years
In the wild: Fruit, seeds, nectar, flowers, buds and young leaves
At the Zoo: Fruit, greens, bird and primate chows
Behavior: Straw-colored Fruit Bats are found in huge colonies that can range from thousands to millions of individuals, with smaller clusters of up to 100 individuals formed within the larger colony. They are extremely communicative with one another and the constant noise levels in their colonies demonstrate how this bat relies on vocal communication. During daylight hours, the bats congregate in tall trees, caves and rocky outcroppings but remain alert and active. At night, the group alternates between periods of feeding and resting, foraging from sunset to sunrise.
Each year, tens of millions of Straw-colored Fruit Bats descend on Zambia’s Kasanka National Park during their roughly 2,000-mile migration, gathering in what is believed to be the largest concentration of mammals in the world. The bats’ annual journey plays a crucial role in Africa’s ecosystem. Each bat consumes up to two times its body weight in fruit every night, a feeding frenzy that may account for at least half of the annual seed dispersal throughout the entire continent’s rain forests.
Conservation: The Straw-colored Fruit Bat is common, widespread and adaptable, although deforestation and hunting are beginning to cause significant declines in some areas of their range. They are considered to be a pest in some regions as they chew into soft wood to obtain moisture, but their important role as a pollinator of flowering plants far outweighs this concern.
Amazing Facts: Like other fruit bats, the Straw-colored Fruit Bat does not use echolocation.
The Straw-colored Fruit Bat mashes fruit between its teeth, sucking out the juices and spitting out the rest as dry pellets.
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