Creative Care at the Sacramento Zoo
In January, staff noticed that one of the Zoo’s Spur-thighed tortoises, Bubba, was not fully supporting weight on his left front leg. Following unsuccessful treatment with a non-steroid anti-inflammatory, the problem warranted more attention and Bubba was moved to the Zoo’s veterinary hospital for further investigation into the cause of his ailment.
A complete medical examination was performed, including radiographs of both front legs for comparison of his elbow joints and collection of both a blood sample and joint fluid from the swollen elbow. Radiologists at the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine confirmed that an infection of the humerus and elbow joint were the likely cause of the lameness.
The concerned Zoo hospital staff came up with the idea of putting Bubba on a custom-built skateboard to relieve the pressure on his leg. The skateboard allowed him to move around on smooth surfaces, yet prevented him from putting weight on the infected bone and joint. In no time, Bubba was cruising around his hospital room investigating every inch of available space.
Two months later, after a regimen of antibiotic injections and analgesic medication (and miles on the skateboard!), Bubba was able to return to his habitat at the Tall Wonders giraffe viewing deck and is back to moving about at his usual tortoise pace.
The Sacramento Zoo’s Dr. Murray E. Fowler Veterinary Hospital is much more than a typical animal hospital. Whether treating a 900-pound zebra, a squawking toucan or a tiny Green tree frog, every effort is made to minimize stress and speed recovery for the patient while providing a safe working environment for staff. The hospital provides routine examinations for most of the 450 animals that reside at the Zoo as well as tending to a myriad of urgent care situations which can arise with 140 different species of animals. In addition, all new incoming animals spend a mandatory 30-day quarantine period in a separate section of the vet hospital. This quarantine period reduces the chance of the newcomer bringing any transferable diseases or parasites into the Zoo, and allows the new arrival to transition to a new diet. Each day is unlike the one before and each patient brings a unique challenge to our team of professionals.
Thanks to a partnership between the Sacramento Zoo and the UCD School of Veterinary Medicine, many senior veterinary students complete a tour of duty in the hospital; the Zoo also hosts a resident training program for zoo veterinarians. This collaboration is a win-win for all concerned: the students, residents, the hospital staff … and especially for the Zoo animals who reap the benefits of first-class care.
The next time you are at the Zoo, stop by the hospital’s viewing window and peek into the exam room. Don’t be surprised if you find a chimpanzee or a kangaroo receiving a routine exam by a group of veterinarians and medical personnel. But you won’t see any skateboarding tortoises … Bubba has left the building!
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by Mary Healy
Zoo board members come from diverse personal and business backgrounds. However, the one common thread is that they are all passionate about the Sacramento Zoo and its future. Under the leadership of President Starr Hurley, the Zoo Board spent most of 2010 taking a hard look at the future. Over the last few years, we have watched the Sacramento community struggle to support existing nonprofits and a beloved basketball team. Considering the financial and operational challenges of moving to a new site, especially in an uncertain economy, Board members strengthened their resolve to focus on improving the Zoo in Land Park. Big picture ideas include a new front entrance complex that will provide a better visitor experience, new animal attractions and the welcomed addition of bathrooms located near the front entrance. We are also working with a collaborative group to create a round-trip train excursion from Old Sac to the Zoo on weekends.
None of these dreams will happen without a dedicated Board to spearhead community support. A special Task Force comprised of Board members and staff recently revised the Zoo’s Strategic Plan to help provide a blueprint for the future. The Zoo will be celebrating its 85th birthday next year, and remains an integral part of our community. The Sacramento Zoo is not unlike the duck you see calmly floating on the surface of the lake: it takes a whole lot of paddling under the surface to keep moving forward. I am grateful to our Board members for their tireless and continuous paddling.
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The Zoo houses three species of hornbills – Great, Buton and Abyssinian Ground. The Abyssinian Ground hornbills are always on the move, carrying sticks and such and banging on the trees or shelter. All of the hornbills are in nesting mode these days (sometimes it is nearly all-year-round). Come observe all three types and see if you can spot their unique differences!
Our male Yellow-backed duiker is adjusting to his new exhibit. A slightly secretive species, you will likely find him near bunches of shrubs, grasses and deadfall branches rather than out in the open. A female is soon to be arriving, so look for her in the upcoming months.
The Red pandas are back in their exhibit! Although most of the changes have been behind the scenes (walls, indoor caging layout, etc.), it is exciting to have them back in their home. Another improvement can also be seen in the carnivore area. “Splash!,” the North American river otter exhibit, has gone through an amazing improvement: multiple tiers with expanded land space, glass front for better viewing, and improved holding areas. Check out the otters’ new digs!
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Can You Say Tah-man-du-ah?
We have a new star in our education programs. But unlike the show animals, you can see him every day on exhibit! Kong, our male Southern Tamandua, is a hands-on animal. He is comfortable with keepers picking him up and moving him. During afternoon keeper chats, staff will take Kong out of his exhibit and allow him to climb a tree in the Rare Feline Courtyard. During this time, guests are able to get a much closer and interactive look at our new species of anteater.
The Keeper Chat is also a great chance to check out Kong’s arboreal adaptations. He has a long, prehensile tail used for grasping branches, giving him a greater reach towards food and neighboring trees. He also has sharp front claws used to rip open fruit and pull bark from trees in search of bugs. In the wild, Tamanduas forage for insects and fruit and will eat up to 9,000 ants a day! At the Zoo, our Tamandua eats minced beef as well as a dry chow specially formulated for insect-eating animals. We replicate his natural foraging behavior during the Chat, offering Kong his beef bites in a plastic tube. He then uses his long tongue and lips to pull out the meat. Check the online Keeper Chat calendar for Kong’s schedule, or visit him at his exhibit.
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How Does Your Garden Grow?
While at a conference in San Diego, Zoo horticulturalist Michaele Bergera had a thought, “What if the Sacramento Zoo creates a browse garden? It would be a space that beautifies Zoo grounds and includes plants that could be used for animal feedings and enrichments.”
The Zoo uses leafy greens as more than just food for animal diets; some plants also serve as enrichment. These can vary in shape, size and even material. Although they differ, all enrichments have the same purpose: to help animals stay physically and mentally active. For example, cats love the smell of Rosmarinus prostratus, also known as rosemary. Keepers use the plant to scent a new toy or draw an animal to a hidden treat.
In May, Michaele’s inspiration became reality with the help of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers Sacramento District (APLD) and the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA). Both organizations donated their time and resources to develop the project. A crew of volunteers and Zoo employees also helped landscape the garden in one day.
The browse garden is located near Big Cat Row and the Orangutans. You will see its dry stream bed, large fork statue and plants such as camellia and Spanish lavender, scented vegetation that will be used to draw animals to enrichment items. The browse garden is an example of a thoughtful idea with multiple benefits, creating a beautiful area within the Zoo while helping to provide useful and tasty treats for the residents.
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Keepers on the Move
Most zoos require keepers to have a B.A. in a field related to animal care, zoos or biology. Many Sacramento Zoo keepers have gone beyond that requirement to receive a Masters degree. Although constantly learning while working with more than 450 animals at the Zoo, many keepers also participate in other programs that help them stay ahead of the curve.
In June, Kayla Hanada spent several weeks at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland. She went there to learn about the endangered Whooping cranes, rearing their chicks and releasing them back into the wild.
Whooping crane chicks easily imprint on people. In order to be able to release them, Kayla had to wear a costume and keep from talking while working with the tiny hatchlings.
“I learned how to be patient and teach a chick to eat and drink. I have also learned how to walk a chick (they need to be walked to keep their leg muscles strong), and how to handle chicks and check their hydration levels. Working with the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center was a great experience that taught me skills I can use here at the Zoo,” adds Kayla.
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A Lasting Legacy
As far back as records go at the Sacramento Zoological Society, Dorothy Jaman was an advocate of the Zoo. Over the course of many years, she was a driving force behind the creation of numerous habitats including new housing for lemurs, tamarins (now occupied by sakis) and giraffes, as well as a contributor to the Zoo’s veterinary hospital. She visited as often as she could, but outings had become more difficult in recent years.
In November 2010, Dorothy passed away at the age of 93. Her last birthday was spent at the Zoo celebrating with the animals she loved. She never tired of feeding the giraffes, and was particularly partial to mammals. Known for her feisty spirit, dry sense of humor and fierce independence, Dorothy knew what she wanted and settled for no less.
Dorothy Jaman was part of the Sacramento Zoo’s Wildlife Heritage Guild, a group of special individuals who remember the Zoological Society in their estate plans. Dorothy recognized the importance of planning for the future of the Zoo, and wanted to be part of that future. Through her generosity, the Zoo will continue to expand on the successful animal programs that have been nurtured at the Sacramento Zoo for decades. Dorothy may be gone, but her legacy lives on. She will be fondly remembered for her passionate love of animals and her lasting commitment to them.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead
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Estate Planning Safari
Protect your Nest Egg
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
1:00 – 2:30 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. Email Pam Williams or call 916-808-3713 to guarantee your seat.
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