Class is in Session
A low growl rumbled in the bobcat’s chest as he engaged in a staring contest with the troublesome apparatus- a silver kilogram scale covered with a green carpet square. Zoo keeper Chris LLewellyn stood by watching, waiting. The bobcat remained where he was, stubbornly refusing to place even just one furry foot onto the green carpet. This, of course, is despite the fact that he has sat on the offending scale many times, including during the previous day’s training session. After a short while, he began tentatively pacing around its edges.
“Tray,” Chris said.
To an outsider, the singular word would sound out of place and random. At this word, however, the bobcat ceased his pacing and shuffled closer to the scale. He sat down mere inches from the carpet and looked up to Chris expectantly.
“No. Tray,” She said.
For a few brief seconds, the bobcat and Chris stared into each other’s eyes. Resuming his low grumble, the bobcat then proceeded to slowly step over the scale, careful to avoid touching it in any way. He stopped with two feet in front, two feet in back of the scale, frozen in an absurd straddle. Again, he looked up at Chris, waiting for a reward that would not come. Chris stayed silent and still, again just waiting patiently. The seconds ticked by, until the bobcat finally repositioned his body behind the scale and carefully placed one foot on top of the soft, green carpet square.
“Good!” Chris said, as she quickly tossed him a piece of raw meat.
He looked up at her, clearly problem solving. With his eyes fixed on his trainer, awaiting any sign of movement from her, the bobcat slowly moved a second foot to the scale.
“Good,” said Chris. Again she tossed a piece of meat to him.
“Tray,” she said.
His growling still audible, the bobcat moved his back feet ever so slowly towards the scale, looking up to Chris in the hope that any one of these miniscule movements might be enough to earn meat pieces. Finally, after it became evident that Chris would not be rewarding such a small motion, the bobcat placed both back feet onto the carpeted scale.
“Good! Good tray!” At this, Chris tossed a few pieces of meat to the bobcat, and then a handful of meat onto the ground in his house. He leapt off the scale, eager to enjoy his treats. Chris carefully removed the scale from the bobcat’s house. She replaced it in its proper bin, where it sits ready to be used during the next training session. Tomorrow.
The Interpretive Center is currently training many new behaviors with the education animals for spring Wildlife Animal Shows as well as daily routines like the above scale training. Tolomaa, the bobcat, is also learning to highlight his balance and jumping, while the Kinkajou will show off how well she can move across tree limbs. Both trainers and animals alike find training to be a very rewarding and enriching experience. As an example, the Kookaburra is learning how to catch food tossed from a trainer. While this behavior is ultimately rewarding because of the food he is receiving, it is also rewarding in many other ways: it is strengthening his coordination; enhancing his natural behaviors; stimulating his mind; and solidifying his bond with his trainers. The keepers in the Interpretive Center thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to teach new behaviors that enhance the animals’ lives!
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By Mary Healy
I take time each day to walk the Zoo grounds, observing visitors as well as the animals. It seems there are always a few people in front of the otter habitat, smiling as they watch the two North American river otters dive, swim, splash and engage in lively carefree play as only otters can do.
The upcoming renovation of this area will almost double the current exhibit space, allowing a much more expanded playground for daily otter activities. But every enhancement and improvement to the 83-year-old Zoo has a price tag, and this project is no different. Construction costs are creeping over the $90,000 estimate as we look to provide a quality environment, while keeping an eye on expenses.
The Sacramento Zoological Society is lucky to have a dedicated Board of Directors who understands the importance of updating older exhibits, and they have gone to the community at large to ask for help with this current renovation. With your support, we will have a newly enlarged otter habitat in Spring 2011.
If you have contributed to this project, we thank you. If not, please join the Board and others whose commitment to the Sacramento Zoo help to make it one of the premier smaller zoos in the nation. For more information on Splash! North American River Otter Habitat, call 916-808-3713.
I invite you to visit and see for yourself all the Zoo has to offer. You won’t be disappointed. (And don’t forget to say hello to the otters!)
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Red Panda update … We are in the process of repairing water damage in the Red panda exhibit. As soon as the repair is finished the pandas will be back home! The three are currently housed in the hospital quarantine area where they have the proper indoor and outdoor space.
Ducks, ducks, ducks … Not only have we added pintails and mergansers to the lake exhibits, our resident whistling ducks have hatched eight ducklings. One White-faced whistling duck female and a Fulvous whistling duck female hatched their brood and were recently placed out on the lake exhibit – good luck telling the babies from the mothers – they are huge!
Welcome tamandua … For those of you who are familiar with the Rare Feline courtyard exhibits (geoffroy cat, margay and jags), the geoffroy exhibt has been empty for the last few months after the death of our elderly cat. That space will now be home to a male tamandua, Kong, and he should be out on exhibit by mid-November. (Tamanduas are small anteaters that have a prehensile or grasping tail that enables them to climb and rest in trees.)
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Effective February 1, 2011, prices will change in two membership categories:
Member PLUS Pack - $125*
Zoo Builder - $300
*The PLUS Pack level and above will now come with 20 ride tickets instead of 10!
In addition, there are new prices for: KidKeeper - $30; Add-a-Guest - $30.
If you choose to renew before February 1st, you will receive the current rate regardless of when your current membership is due to expire! Don’t wait … renew now!
Call the Membership Office at 916-808-5888 or renew online at saczoo.com.
Remember, membership in the Zoo provides days of fun all year long for your entire family!
New General Admission Child Ages effective February 2011:
Children ages 2-11 will be charged the child admission of $6.50 weekday/$7.00 weekend
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Ways to Give and Things to Get!
Guilt-Free Shopping Guide
Sacramento Zoo Membership
Looking for a gift that will keep giving all year long? Zoo membership provides a full year of admission, discounts on Zoo events, special member activities and much more! A perfect gift for the whole family! Call 916-808-5888.
Pavers, Benches, Tall Wonders Plaque
Be a permanent part of the Sacramento Zoo with a recognition plaque at the new giraffe habitat Tall Wonders, a paver on Big Cat Row or a bench at the Conservation Carousel! Gifts range from $150 to $3,000. Call 916-808-5888 for more information.
Zoo Parent Package
From tall to small, you can sponsor any animal in the Zoo with packages starting at just $25! Help us welcome the new additions, three Red river hog piglets. The $80 package comes with a color photo, adorable plush hog and more. Call 916-808-5888 or visit saczoo.com for a full listing of feathered and furred possibilities.
Vehicle Donation Program
Donate your used car or boat to the Zoo and help the animals. Call toll free 1-866-570-7318 and a Car Program representative will assist you.
A Day at the Zoo
Treat your family or friends to a day of fun with the Sacramento Zoo coupon book. Just $40, the book includes two adult and two child admission passes, six ride tickets for the train or carousel, coupons for the gift store and concessions…and more! Call 916-808-5888 or stop by the Membership & Visitor Services office for this special offer.
Turn trinkets into treasure! Donations of new or used goods and services are tax-deductible AND help the Zoo. Click on the Wish List logo at saczoo.com for a full list of needed items or call 916-808-7329 with any questions.
Wildlife Heritage Guild - Planned Gifts
Leave a legacy that will make a difference in the future of the Sacramento Zoo. The Wildlife Heritage Guild is a group of special individuals who have remembered the Sacramento Zoological Society in their estate plans. Call 916-808-3713 for more information, or check the yearly Zoo calendar for free quarterly informative seminars.
Sponsor a Carousel Animal
For a $5,000 contribution, your plaque will be proudly displayed at one of the handcrafted carousel animals for five years. A $10,000 donation will allow you to sponsor the animal for the life of the carousel. Visit saczoo.com or call 916-808-3713 for more information.
Shop for your cause at Amazon.com. Go to saczoo.com and click on the Amazon logo to start shopping. A percentage of your purchase will be donated to the Sacramento Zoo at checkout, with no extra cost to you!
The 2011 Entertainment Book is here and better than ever! There are hundreds of coupons for restaurants, golf, wine, movies, shopping and more…all for just $30! Pick up one, two or more at the Membership & Visitor Services office while supplies last.
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