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Convincing a Giraffe to Take Her Pills – Big Day of Giving

Categories: BIG Day of Giving, Goody the Giraffe, Support the Zoo

The mission of the Sacramento Zoological Society is to inspire appreciation, respect, and a connection with wildlife and nature through education, recreation, and conservation. These connections are forged on a daily basis through educational programming, wildlife stage shows, and a variety of interactive experiences that can be found throughout the Zoo.

Some of the most important relationships at the Zoo happen behind the scenes, between the zookeepers and the animals in their care. The significance of these bonds are instrumental to ensuring that the animals receive the best possible care, and enable them to live in a stimulating and healthy environment.

Pills for Goody the giraffe
Pill hidden in grapes & bananas
Goody the giraffe taking her pills
Goody taking her pills

In the case of one of the Zoo’s Reticulated giraffes, Goody, the trust between her and her caregivers is essential to her daily care. Goody, an 18-year-old giraffe, suffers from chronic joint abnormalities that contribute to her arthritis. As a 1,600-lb. animal who spends her day standing, such joint pain can be uncomfortable and affects Goody’s daily activities. Ungulate keepers Melissa & Lindsey have taken care of Goody the Reticulated Giraffe for 10 and 18 years, respectively.

Over that time, they have built a relationship of trust that has helped immensely during the last three years of intensive care needed due to Goody’s osteoarthritis. This has involved everything from acupuncture, fitting of a custom shoe and convincing her to take 57 pills each morning to help reduce inflammation and manage joint pain. These pills are carefully hidden in her favorite treats – bananas and grapes.

Amanda with June the flamingo chick
June as a chick with keeper Amanda

Another special relationship between keeper and animal would be that of George and June the flamingos, with zookeeper Amanda Watters. George and June are very special flamingos that were hatched and hand-raised at the Sacramento Zoo in 2006 and named after longtime Zoo supporters and Docents, George and June Reiner. Amanda was one of the dedicated keepers that helped with the intensive job of hand-raising the chicks.This included everything from blending smelt, shrimp and rice cereal into a stinky gruel to feed them nine times a day, to helping them learn to filter feed solid food and eventually integrating them into the flamingo flock on the lake. June holds a special place in Amanda’s heart and since June is so comfortable with Amanda, each year during the flamingo roundup (when all the flamingos are examined by the veterinarians and receive vaccinations), June is the patient demonstration bird that helps show the vet students and residents how to properly perform the exams.

Amanda with adult June flamingo
Adult June with keeper Amanda

The Sacramento Zoo prides itself on the care given to the Zoo’s animals and the bonds between animals and keepers that ensure they receive the best possible care. Help the Zoo continue its important work by donating on the Big Day of Giving Thursday, May 4th. Your gift will help the more than 500 individual animals that call the Sacramento Zoo home.

Here is how you can help!

Schedule Your Donation Today

  • Donations can be as small as $15 or as large as $10,000.
  • Everyone who donates $100 or more will have a chance to win a behind-the-scenes tour of the Interpretive Center and a chance to meet some of the amazing Animal Ambassadors!

Make your donation count even more!

Spread the word – Your help makes a BIG impact

Your contribution of any amount will help the Sacramento Zoo continue to care for the amazing animals that call the Zoo home.

New this year, make a donation on the Big Day of Giving and receive FREE admission to the Zoo on May 4th! Just show your donation confirmation at the Front Entrance and you will get to visit the Zoo free of charge. Limit one entry per donation. Admission only valid on May 4th.

Thank You!!