Sacramento Zoo education specialist Chris Llewellyn joined the second national census of the endangered Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe in Africa, called the Great Grevy’s Rally. The census teams are made up of citizen scientists, conservationists, national and county governments, scientists, local conservancies, and NGO’s. Representation from U.S. zoos includes the Sacramento Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Saint Louis Zoo, Oklahoma City Zoo, Zoo Miami, Disney’s Animal Science and Environment, and Lion Country Safari. Chris is taking us with her on this conservation journey and will share her experiences with us along the way.
Chris has worked in the Interpretive Center at the Sacramento Zoo for seven years where she cares for the animal ambassadors, does stage show, brings the ZooMobile to schools and more. Before the Sacramento Zoo she worked at Marine World Africa USA/Six Flags Discovery Kingdom for 16 years. Chris is an active volunteer at other animal conservation organizations including Wild Cat Education and Conservation Fund and the Consumnes River Preserve.
In the late 1970’s there were an estimated 15,000 Grevy’s zebra in the wild. Today fewer than 2,500 remain. The Grevy’s zebra has suffered one of the most drastic population declines of any African mammal, due to climate change, habitat loss and competition with livestock. The Great Grevy’s Rally is a census of the population, which will aid Grevy’s Zebra Trust and their conservation partners to safeguard the future of the Grevy’s zebra.
Day 0 – Connections to the Zoo
The Sacramento Zoo is home to female Grevy’s zebra. The zoo is a longstanding supporter of the Grevy’s Zebra Trust and is proud to partner with them to conserve zebras in the wild through the Great Grevy’s Rally.
Day 1 – January 23, 2018
After a long flight Chris arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi. Chris used the downtime on her first day to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Orphans’ Project where they rescue and rehabilitate orphaned elephants and rhinos.
Chris also visited a Kazuri bead making workshop. Situated on what was once a part of Karen von Blixen’s coffee plantation there is now a small workshop where ceramic jewelry and beads are made by Kenyan women. Each bead is shaped by hand, by one of the 350 local women employed by Kazuri. The beads are then polished and kiln fired, painted and fired again before being strung into a necklace. The jewelry is then sold around the world. Creating the jewelry provides desperately needed income to families in a region where unemployment ranges from 65% – 90%.
Over the next few days Chris will hone her wildlife spotting skills and practice taking photographs of the sides of Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe. During the Rally, side photos of every Grevy’s zebra and reticulated giraffe observed will be taken and used for photo identification of individual animals.
Stay tuned for more updates and follow along here or see more photos on the Zebra Rally webpage.