Photo courtesy of LA Zoo

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Exciting changes ahead at the Sacramento Zoo!

Categories: Animals, Conservation, Support the Zoo

Animal welfare is a key element in the mission of the Sacramento Zoological Society. It is of the utmost importance to all the staff and dedicated volunteers at the zoo to ensure that the zoo’s residents receive the best possible health care, live enriched and healthy lives, and that their exhibits are suited to their unique needs.

It is with these very important considerations in mind, that we announce some exciting new improvements and changes to the Sacramento Zoo!

Resident lion pair Cleo (left) and Kamau (right)

The Sacramento Zoo’s resident lion pair: Kamau and Cleo, will be receiving an addition to their exhibit space! The adjoining former tiger exhibit will be incorporated into the lions’ exhibit, allowing the lions to enjoy nearly double the space they currently live in.

That’s right, for the first time ever, the Sacramento Zoo will be home to meerkats! Five meerkats from the Brevard Zoo in Florida will be coming to the zoo! Meerkats are small, social mammals that are relatives of the mongoose. This diurnal (active during the daytime) species is adapted to life in the Kalahari Desert of southern Africa, making them exceptionally suited for the hot Sacramento days and cool nights, as well as the relatively temperate climate of the region in winter.

Meerkat clan, photo courtesy of LA Zoo

Meerkats are social animals, living in large groups called “clans.” They are burrowing animals that emerge from their beds in the morning to spend the day sunbathing, grooming and hunting. Meerkats have an excellent sense of smell, making it easy for them to find the small insects that comprise the majority of their diet.

Okapi mother and offspring, photo courtesy of LA Zoo

Another brand-new species to the Sacramento Zoo will be okapi. Also known as the “forest giraffe,” okapis are the only living relatives of the giraffe. However, okapis have a very distinguishing feature – their bottom halves are striped black-and-white, similar to the markings of a zebra! Okapis are found in the dense rainforests of central Africa and are generally solitary animals.

You will see some construction beginning in the fall, as the zoo prepares to house okapi. The Sacramento Zoo will be the only zoo in Northern California to house this amazing animal! The new okapi exhibit will be located in what is now known as the summer camp lawn area, across from the red panda exhibit, and adjacent to Kampala Café.

New zoo resident, Jake the white-nosed coati, has been living at the zoo behind the scenes while his exhibit space is uniquely prepared and adapted for him. Currently, staff are putting the final touches on his new habitat that consists of an overhead shift tunnel that joins two previously separate exhibit spaces.

5-year-old white-nosed coati, Jake

Related to the northern raccoon, white-nosed coatis are mammals native to Central, North and South America. They have strong claws and long snouts that uniquely equip them when foraging in tight spots and holes for food. Some of Jake’s favorite treats include grapes, cooked sweet potatoes and crickets.

Within the next several weeks, guests will be able to see Jake on exhibit (and overhead) in the rare feline courtyard area where the former tamandua resided.

To make room for the new okapi exhibit, you will notice that several of the small, antiquated aviaries across from Kampala Café will be removed. Zoo staff have coordinated with experts across the country to provide the best possible care for the great hornbills, rhinoceros hornbills, and knobbed hornbills, placing them all in AZA-accredited zoos throughout North America. Additionally, the king vulture pair have departed the zoo; they have gone to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo in New York and will enjoy a larger space, a very important accommodation for this species.

The zoo’s critically endangered mongoose lemurs will be moving from the small exhibit adjacent to the chimpanzees, into the Small Wonders of Africa exhibit, near the Wolf’s guenon family. As a result of this move, a few of the zoo’s straw-colored fruit bats have been relocated to AZA-accredited facilities. However, the Interpretive Center has welcomed four of the bats: Oswald, Selina, Zatana and Diana; the plan is to work with the bats very closely and eventually have them join the zoo’s other Animal Ambassadors for public education, including the Wildlife Stage Show! Keep an eye out in the next few months, as you may have an opportunity to get up-close and learn more about these amazing animals!

In addition to some animal movements, the playground will be moving from behind the restrooms at the front of the zoo to the lawn near the Australian Outback exhibit. This movement is in preparation for a brand-new classroom to be installed on the Reptile House Lawn. This new classroom will be the future home to some new educational programs, as well as member favorite: Little Peeps!

We have some really exciting changes on the horizon but we can’t do it without your support! By supporting the mission of the Sacramento Zoo, you are making a difference in the lives of animals around the globe and right here at your zoo. Whether you are donating time, talent, or making a cash or in-kind gift, your help makes our work possible.