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Caring for the Zoo – A Message from the Director

Categories: Visitor Services

The following was sent via email newsletter on April 10, 2020:

Dear Zoo Friends,

Zookeeper transports two tortoises to the vet hospital via wagonThis week has seen the Sacramento Zoo in the news of several local affiliates discussing the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on our nonprofit zoo, and making our community aware of critical work being done at the zoo each and every day. As a nonprofit organization we rely on admission and membership fees and program revenue from concessions, special events and programs to support the zoo. This is typically our busiest season of the year with school field trip groups visiting on weekdays, and weekends filled with family visits and special events. Without any of these activities, we had to make the difficult decision to lay-off and/or furlough about half of our employees. Despite what we hope at this time is a temporary setback, I want to assure you that our animals are being well cared for and our 93-year-old zoo is being maintained.

In regards to animal care, over the weekend I’m sure many of you saw the story coming out of the Bronx Zoo reporting that one of their tigers tested positive for COVID-19. It is believed that the virus was transmitted from the animal’s keeper to the big cat. As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA), we were made aware of this development and in light of this news; the Sacramento Zoo has taken additional precautions while working with our cats and other potentially susceptible species that are designed to keep both the animals and our staff healthy and well.

Dr. Sean Brady performs a routine exam on a six-banded armadillo

For over 50 years, the zoo’s veterinary care has been in partnership with University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. UC Davis is the top rated veterinary school in the world and many principles of zoo veterinary medicine were pioneered at the Sacramento Zoo by Dr. Murray E. Fowler (1928-2014), who not only served as the zoo’s veterinarian but later the board president of the Sacramento Zoological Society. We honor his legacy every day as our veterinary hospital on grounds is named after him, and his pioneering work continues through the zoo’s veterinarians working to provide excellent health care to our animals today. The zoo’s veterinarians are in contact with public health officials and work in tandem with our animal care professionals to advise and care for our nearly 500 feathered, furred and scaled residents on a daily basis.

Facilities team member welding fencingAnother facet of our shutdown is caring for the physical facilities of the zoo. The zoo is 93 years old and caring for it can be the equivalent of maintaining a home that is nearly a century old. On a daily basis the zoo can have electrical issues, water line breaks or cases where animals (such as Chifu, our large male giraffe), can cause damage to their habitat while being rambunctious. Our facilities team members are also working during the shutdown to address these issues while maintaining the landscape of the grounds and provide routine maintenance. This talented team’s focus has also included large zoo improvement construction projects in the recent years. Examples of projects that were built by zoo staff include the new habitat for the rare okapi and the recent lion habitat expansion. During the shutdown, our facilities team is finishing a few new projects for new animals that our guests will be able to enjoy when we reopen the zoo.
We look forward to sharing the story of these new animals with you in the coming weeks. I will continue to update you on a weekly basis.
Thank you once again for your support, especially during this critical time. I hope you and your loved ones are healthy and safe.
Jason Jacobs
Executive Director
Sacramento Zoo