Big Day of Giving is finally here! You can donate now to support the nonprofit Sacramento Zoo.
If you’ve ever wandered the grounds of the zoo, it’s no secret that we have a LOT of birds. From the pelicans on the lake, to the mallard ducklings who join us from other parts of Land Park, birds LOVE the Sacramento Zoo. And we love birds! Of the 559 individual animals at the zoo, we are home to 35 different species of birds, comprised of 160 individuals.
Leading the bird department is Kristene Hirsch. Kristene joined the zoo in December of 2016 and was part of the team who took care of hand-rearing the six flamingo chicks hatched at the zoo in 2017 (the first hatching of these chicks at the Sacramento Zoo since 1999). The first of the flamingo chicks to hatch was Tiki, on June 28, followed by the other five chicks, hatched between July 14th and July 30th. Hand-rearing flamingo chicks is no small feat; the schedule consisted of tube feedings every two hours from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. for several weeks. To tube feed a flamingo chick, keepers first grind down supplements and food and mix with water, then feed directly into the chick’s mouth, through a tube.
While feeding Tiki, Kristene would hold him in place to ensure that he was receiving all his food, and afterward, he would often get close to her for warmth. After spending this much time together, it’s no surprise that Tiki and Kristene developed a bond; as Tiki grew up, wading in the pool with the other chicks, he tended to favor Kristene: walking near her on the way to different locations, or standing at her feet until she picked him up.
When Tiki and the other flamingos were integrated into the flock on the lake at the front of the zoo earlier this year, it was an extremely special day. After watching the chicks hatch, grow, learn social skills and finally swim, Kristene and the rest of the zoo staff successfully released the flamingos onto the lake without a hitch. Through hard work and countless hours of socialization and preparation, the team watched as the chicks wandered down to the lake to join their adult counterparts. Now, as they are successfully integrated into the flock, their only distinguishing features are their slightly lighter pink feathers, with tufts of grey in between.
Some of the most important relationships at the zoo happen behind the scenes, between the zookeepers and the animals in their care. 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. The Sacramento Zoo prides itself on the care given to the 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 3rd.
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.