Animal welfare is of the utmost importance at the Sacramento Zoo, and this takes shape in a variety of ways. Not only is the zoo a leader in animal conservation efforts locally and around the globe, but our daily practices also ensure that the animals we are so privileged to work with are receiving the very best care. From providing world-class veterinary care from a team of skilled UC Davis veterinary staff and technicians, to making observations about individual animals’ preferences, zookeepers and staff are constantly monitoring the animals to aid in their daily care. Fueled by passion and care for each individual animal at the Sacramento Zoo, staff are constantly striving to do more to ensure that the residents of the zoo have the best possible quality of life.
For Amaya, the red panda, this means receiving daily treats in the form of her favorite snack: grapes! Through positive reinforcement training, keepers have been working with Amaya to perform visual and physical health checks, while earning her trust. This allows Amaya’s keepers to trim her nails, inspect her without anesthetizing her, and now they are even able to perform regular ultrasounds on her! First, by practicing with a “fake” ultrasound machine, Amaya’s keeper was able to familiarize her with the machine, allowing her to smell the instruments and look at them before they were administered. As a result, just last week the keeper and veterinary staff were successful in getting an accurate image of Amaya’s abdomen while she was eating treats!
For many animals, including Amaya, beginning positive reinforcement training on a regular basis while the animal is young, is extremely important. Even though many animals move from one AZA-accredited institution to another during their lifetime, keepers throughout the country collaborate with one another, share information about the individual animals, and ultimately provide consistent, long-term care regardless of where the animal lives.
This is true with Taylor Swift, the eastern bongo calf. Taylor was born in early September 2017 and very swiftly was up on her feet and navigating her exhibit space. With daily interaction, Taylor’s keepers were able to gain her trust and are now able to inspect her hooves, ears, tongue and side with simple verbal cues and a few delicious greens as a reward for her cooperation.
Every single one of the animals at the Sacramento Zoo has a unique personality. Not only are they special individuals, they are also incredible ambassadors for their species in the wild. We hope you stay tuned to learn more about the animals who call the Sacramento Zoo home. Please support the zoo and the animals on the Big Day of Giving – Thursday, May 3rd, from 12:01 am to 12:00 midnight. Or you can schedule your donation now.
Visit our Big Day of Giving webpage for more information and ways you can help the zoo continue in its mission to inspire an appreciation and respect for all animals.