Vol. 54, No. 3, Fall 2015
Wow! Earlier this year, as I considered relocating to Sacramento from Denver to join the team at the Sacramento Zoo, I knew I’d be coming to a special place. It’s turned out to be even more amazing than I had imagined! Throughout my career, I have been one of those lucky people who gets to go to their dream job every day. I’m formally trained as a scientist—I jokingly call myself a “reformed animal behavior researcher.” For the first 15 years of my career, I studied the behavior of some of the most amazing animals on our planet – from lemurs to giant tortoises to gorillas and elephants. And, all of my research was conducted at zoos around the country that were accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Sure, I’ve observed and studied animals in the wild, but I have always found myself in the zoo in one way or another. Zoos are full of incredible animals being cared for by the most dedicated and passionate professionals that I have ever met. I have worked at some truly great zoos, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work at another world-class institution. Our zoo has an amazing collection of animals that you just can’t see everywhere, even in the biggest zoos—animals like Aardvarks, Thick-billed Parrots and Sifakas, just to name a few. And, it’s located in a beautiful park in a vibrant and welcoming city. Combine that with a top-notch group of professionals all focused on providing amazing and educational guest experiences, uncompromising animal care and an unparalleled commitment to conservation of wildlife and wild places, and you have our Sacramento Zoo. Wow! I hope all of you are as proud of our zoo as I am to be a part of the team.
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Zoo Member Benefits
Sacramento Zoo membership is a GREAT deal! Not only do you receive free general admission for a full year and discounts on early bird tickets to Zoo fundraising events, BUT if you carry your membership card, you’ll also get:
- 10% off purchases in the Zoofari Market gift store, Kampala Café and Savannah Snacks
- Up to 50% off admission at participating AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums around the country; see the current list.
What if you’ve misplaced your membership card? Don’t worry! We can reprint your card for a $5 fee at the Member & Visitor Services office.
Be sure to always carry your photo ID along with your membership card for faster entry into the Zoo!
Not a member? Become one today!
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Estate Planning Safari
Monday, October 19
11 am – 12:30 pm
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. Please RSVP to Amanda Cable at email@example.com or 916.808.8815 by October 12th to guarantee your seat.
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Zookeepers going above and beyond
By: Chapter President Christa Klein
One night each year, Zoo members have the opportunity to pick a special toy or treat (called enrichment) for an animal of their choosing. They then watch as the zookeeper delivers it to the animal for all to enjoy. Every year at the Member Evening, the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Greater Sacramento Chapter hosts a table filled with a variety of enrichment items just waiting to be purchased for the animals. This is one of the most enjoyable and successful events that AAZK participates in; it’s a chance to meet Zoo supporters who truly appreciate the animals, while also raising funds that benefit conservation projects around the world.
AAZK is a volunteer, nonprofit organization made up of zookeepers, docents, and employees in the field. Our goal is to promote awareness and raise funds for conservation while contributing to the professional development of zookeepers.
Member Evening is not our only fundraising event. The Owl Release event gives AAZK the opportunity to team up with the Wildlife Care Association to return orphaned or rehabilitated owls back to the wild. We also hold a Stuffed Animal Clinic where kids of all ages bring stuffed animals to be evaluated and treated by veterinary staff and volunteers who perform medical examinations and even stitch the soft plush back together if needed.
Flamingo Flocking is our most popular fundraiser where donors can sit back as AAZK members discreetly leave plastic flamingos on a friend’s (or enemy’s) lawn. We’ve flocked for fun celebrations like birthdays and anniversaries, and even for a young man asking a girl to prom (she said yes!).
There are many fun ways to support conservation efforts with your local AAZK chapter. Check us out at SacZoo.org/AAZK to see a complete list of our events and how you can help!
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The Zoo is proud to announce the latest “mob” to join the family at the Australian Outback Exhibit. This group of endangered female Yellow-footed Rock Wallabies are still settling into their new surroundings. They are shy in nature and feel safe resting at an elevated height on the rocks and in the brambles. The Sacramento Zoo is one of only a handful of facilities to house this species in North America; they share the Australian Outback exhibit with the Red Kangaroos and Emus. Stay tuned this winter for more exciting changes and plans at the Zoo.
Once again this season our productive pair of small Burrowing Owls successfully hatched and reared a healthy family of chicks. The six quickly growing owls were successfully reared and are now the same size as the adults. Including this hatch, the female owl has produced more than 30 offspring for the Species Survival Plan® Program while here at the Sacramento Zoo. You can find the owls in the California Backyard exhibit sitting stoically or darting in and out of their underground burrows.
The primitive primates of Madagascar have had a busy season here at the Zoo. Over the summer, two female Black and White Ruffed Lemurs were born and our experienced parental pair of Mongoose Lemurs also produced a single healthy offspring. Both of these species are managed through the AZA Species Survival Plan® Program and these new offspring will likely move to other Zoos to have their own families.
While passing through the Rare Feline Courtyard, keep an eye out for a shy new addition to the Zoo: a small South American rodent species known as a Green Acouchi. This female is a ground-dwelling animal whose species is found through a broad range of forested habitats in northern South America.
While touring the Reptile House you may notice a resident iguana is back on exhibit. After living behind the scenes, the male Honduran Dwarf Spiny-tailed Iguana is now living in the central, large diorama exhibit. This endangered iguana species is endemic to Honduras and has a thick tail and large dewlap under the chin. He can generally be seen basking on one of the branches in his enclosure. Stay tuned this winter for more exciting changes and plans at the Zoo.
Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby Hondouran Club-tailed Iguana Mongoose Lemur Infant
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Caring for a Family of Lions
A lot of things go into making sure that the lions’ needs are met at the Sacramento Zoo. One of their first needs checked daily is making sure the exhibit is safe for the animals and safe for people. This includes checking fencing, walls and any overhangs for proper containment. The Zoo also has a full-time staff in our Maintenance Department that can weld and/or repair the exhibit and holding spaces to ensure the safety of the animals, staff and visitors.
The Sacramento Zoo’s lions are fed once per day in the morning. Zookeepers call them into their dens to eat. While the lions are eating, zookeepers secure the lions inside for safety so that the keepers can clean and service the exhibit and place enrichment. The lions are then let out into exhibit until around 3 pm, at which time they are given access to both the indoor dens and outside exhibit. In fact, for 18 out of 24 hours, the lion group has access to dens and behind-the-scenes areas.
They are fed a quality beef-based diet as well as beef bones. They also receive Mazuri (tm) brand large carnivore chow (a dry kibble) to help promote healthy teeth, enrichment and nutrition. They also receive daily enrichment in a variety of forms such as exhibit furniture, spices and scents, boxes to rip up, balls, and hay or other types of bedding. Enrichment also includes training for husbandry purposes that not only engage them but also helps the Zoo care for their well-being while reducing potential stress.
The Sacramento Zoo is proactive when it comes to health of all the animals at the Zoo. Zookeepers monitor the animals’ well-being, and the animals receive regular visual checkups by veterinary staff. The lions also receive annual exams by the Zoo’s veterinary team. The exams are completed with the lions under anesthesia for the safety and comfort of all. During the exams, blood is drawn, vaccinations are given, weight is checked, overall body condition is checked, the animal’s transponder (similar to a microchip) is checked and radiographs are taken. If necessary, they also receive an ultrasound and any special tests dictated by the individual’s needs.
When caring for all of the animals at the Zoo, including the lions, the Zoo has a wealth of knowledge and professionals to draw from. In maintaining accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, not only is the Sacramento Zoo held to standards and guidelines that surpass those set by the USDA, but keepers and staff also have access to the zoos within the AZA network. These standards include everything that goes into running a zoo including a high standard of overall care, facilities maintenance and size, guest experience and commitment to conservation.
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By Primate Keeper Janine Steele
Caring for Chimpanzees can be challenging to say the least; it takes a group effort to ensure their physical and psychological needs are being met. They have unique personalities and a complex social structure that is ever-changing, all of which dictates how we care for them on a daily basis.
Every two years the Chimpanzee AZA Species Survival Plan® holds a workshop for North American chimp keepers to discuss all things chimpanzee! This year Detroit Zoo hosted the three day workshop that I was able to attend. During the three days, topics covered everything from nutrition and social group management to individual problem-solving situations. The keynote speaker was Dr. Zarin Machanda who gave a review of her current field work with chimps in Uganda. Her presentation was fascinating and a great reminder of how much we can learn about our closest living relative. Other topics presented in discussion panels were social introductions (always a source of stress for keepers), group management with infants, and reintroductions of infants to mothers. Operant conditioning exercises and enrichment presentations were great for getting the creative juices flowing again.
I have been a zookeeper for over a decade and it can be difficult to come up with new and different things to intrigue primates. The entire Detroit Zoo staff was very generous with their time in giving us behind-the-scenes tours all over the zoo. Not only did we get to see their ape facility, but also some other animals that I don’t get to work with like polar bears! These workshops are an excellent opportunity to continue learning and connect with like-minded keepers.
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The Zoo’s pair of American White Pelicans that share the lake with the flamingos are some of the biggest personalities in the Zoo. Zamboni is the more curious of the two, often exploring his surroundings, chasing ducks or picking up sticks from the water to play with. On one occasion, a keeper was preparing to feed some of the Fulvous Whistling Ducks that also live in the exhibit when Zamboni picked a duck up and moved it so he could stand where it had been. The other pelican, Montana, is more shy and will often follow Zamboni, never straying too far from him. During breeding season, both pelicans can be very sensitive about their territory and will often flap their wings and run toward visitors who get too close to the fence surrounding the lake.
American White Pelicans inhabit freshwater and brackish lakes and ponds throughout much of North and Central America and are highly migratory, spending their summers in the north and flying south in September or October for the winter. They can sometimes be seen in the Sacramento Valley during their migration. Both of the pelicans at the Zoo were found at separate locations in the wild having sustained injuries which left them unable to care for themselves. Zamboni was discovered along the mudflats at the Nevada Creek Reservoir in Montana missing his right wing, likely due to tangling in abandoned monofilament fishing line. Montana had a traumatic injury to her wing and was rescued in Yellowstone. Both pelicans were placed in a rescue facility in Montana where they were treated for their injuries. After veterinary exams and clearance from both the California and Montana Departments of Fish & Wildlife, the pelicans went on a car ride to Utah’s Hogle Zoo where they spent a night before hitching a ride on an airplane to Sacramento. Montana and Zamboni made their debut at the Sacramento Zoo on March 11, 2012 and have been staff and visitor favorites ever since.
Montana and Zamboni
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Reptile House Training
Throughout the Zoo, keepers use operant conditioning to train animals to voluntarily move to a certain spot or perform a certain behavior that helps improve the care they receive. Operant conditioning uses positive reinforcement (such as a food reward) when a requested behavior is performed.
Some simple examples of the training that is used on a daily basis at the Zoo is animals’ shifting from one area to another when asked, showing teeth, paws or other parts for examination, and moving onto a scale. The behaviors requested coincide with the animals natural behavior and movements.
A location where one may not expect to find an animal participating in training is the Reptile House. The Sulcata Tortoises are very heavy, weighing 100-200 pounds each. So, to move them onto a scale for weighing they have been trained to target (touch a specific pole or other object with their nose). Keepers use the target to walk the tortoise forward until they reach the scale. The Blue Tree Monitor is also trained to go onto a scale. In addition, the monitor is being trained to go inside a crate for easy transportation, making trips to the veterinarian less stressful than physically catching her in the exhibit.
Zookeeper Kate Gore is currently training the Schneider’s Smooth-fronted Caiman to ‘station’ (going to a specific spot and staying there for a reward) so that keepers can safely open the exhibit’s service door without the caiman racing toward the door. The caiman also targets and he will even go to the target when it is shown to him through the glass window of the exhibit.
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