Newsletter Archive

Vol 47, No. 6, Winter 2008-2009

In this Issue of the Zoo's Quarterly Newsletter

A New Face at the Zoo Directors Column Ask the Vet
Animal Chatter Education Bulletin: New Aviaries Conservation Carousel
Ways to Give and Things to Get Member Bulletin     Calendar of Events

A New Face at the Zoo


Doug arrived at the Sacramento Zoo late one Thursday evening. He had company on his journey from Alabama and enjoyed some favorite foods on the plane. For Doug, the trip may have seemed somewhat bewildering, but for Sacramento Zoo staff, the long-awaited trip was cause for celebration. The 7-year-old male chimpanzee arrived after twelve months of thoughtful and extensive planning.

Chimpanzee DougThe decision to add another chimp to the Sacramento Zoo was made by the Chimpanzee Species Survival Plan (SSP). This team of professionals assists 37 zoos across the United States by guiding the management of the chimpanzee population and providing the best possible environment for the animals.

Why add a young male to the Zoo’s chimpanzee group of two males and three females? Unlike most other primates in the wild, it is the female chimps that leave their natal group. Therefore, the males are quite important to the fabric of the chimp social community. Very often, related males back each other up and support the leadership of the community. Chimpanzees are the most social of all the apes and live in highly fluid "fission-fusion" societies made up of shifting associations among individuals in communities of up to 120 chimps, often split into a number of subgroups.A male and his supporters make up the leadership of the main group.

To allow for a successful chimpanzee society, it is important for zoo groups to contain mixed-age and mixed-sex social groups with multiple males, allowing room for sub-grouping, isolation and cooperation among members. The addition of a young male to the Sacramento Zoo chimpanzee population is important because it brings the group to an equal male/female ratio.

“Doug, at age seven, is in a hero-worship phase with respect to older males. These youngsters tend to be very subordinate and very eager to hang on every vocalization and display from older males,” said Leslie Field, Animal Care Supervisor. “We hope Doug will add support to the leadership of the two older males (45 and 18 years old) in our current group,” Field added.

Doug’s journey began long before he set foot in his travel crate. Every zoo animal transfer starts with a pre-shipment exam to make sure the animal is healthy enough to be moved. Once that is done, a health certificate is signed and the transportation arrangements are made. In this case, the California State Health Department had to issue a permit to allow the chimp across state lines.

Another consideration was finding an airline which would transport a primate. Because chimps are genetically close to humans and some diseases can be transferred to and from humans, many airlines now shy away from shipping primates. Other zoos have successfully shipped apes with the larger cargo businesses, so after extensive checking, FedEx was selected.

Leslie Field and primate keeper Janine Fong flew east to accompany Doug on his trip to Sacramento. Although chimps may be seen on television being led by the hand or walking through a crowded room, the reality is that zoo chimps are wild animals and keepers never pet or hold them. Chimps are approximately eight times stronger than people and Doug’s crate was retrofitted to ensure his safety and comfort.  “We want chimps to act and socialize with other chimps—we are simply the caretakers, grocers, maid service and entertainment directors for them!” said Field.

After arriving safely at the Sacramento Zoo, Doug moved into the veterinary hospital quarantine facility. Every animal that comes to the Zoo must go through a quarantine period to make sure the animal is healthy before moving in with the current resident population.

Finally, Doug was introduced to his new home and chimp roommates. The introduction period lasted several weeks and consisted of daily monitoring while the chimpanzees gradually got to know each other. The get-acquainted process is step-by-step: first visually, then touching through a mesh barrier, graduating to a little one-on-one time with individual members of the resident group before joining the entire chimp gang. “Doug is doing well and we are pleased with his progress joining the group,” said Jim Schnormeier, Sacramento Zoo Curator. Welcome to California!

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Directors Column


Mary HealyRound & Round and Up & Down
If there was one overwhelming story this year, it was the state of the economy, with creative buyouts and bailouts being proposed at every turn. At the Sacramento Zoo, creative revenue-generating ideas are always being considered to allow us to continue the quality animal care that is our prime directive.

Several years ago, we purchased a small “50-cent ride” dump truck to place near one of our construction sites. Not only is it a big hit with the kids who drive the truck daily, it turned out to be financially successful.

The next big leap of faith was the trackless train. Following numerous discussions and meetings to be sure everyone was “all aboard” with this new addition, we are pleased to see that after three years, it is very popular with Zoo visitors and doing quite well.

Following these successes, we sought something new for 2009. For several years, the idea of an exotic animal carousel was thrown around. A business loan was possible because of the revenue-generating potential, and the concept began to take shape.

This coming spring, a hand-carved, specially-designed Conservation Carousel will join the train and truck at the Zoo. Providing an educational message to children and adults about the vanishing species in our animal world, we look forward to having guests float on a Sea turtle or fly on a Bald eagle. There will be an opportunity for donors to “adopt” the animal of their choice, and we anticipate years of smiles as visitors learn about their favorite endangered animals while visiting them at the Sacramento Zoo.

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Ask the Vet


What are some of the veterinary challenges and rewards when working with chimpanzees?
Chimpanzees are incredibly strong and incredibly intelligent. These are the two biggest challenges and rewards in providing health care to these animals. You must always respect and plan for their strength when working with chimpanzees. Safety for the animal and the staff must always be on our minds.

It is nearly impossible to keep any type of bandage or cast on an adult chimpanzee that does not want it on. They are so strong and so dexterous, that they can remove just about any bandage we apply, even fiberglass casts. We can make use of their intelligence to have the chimp help us provide health care. Many of our chimps will present to keepers and veterinarians various body parts for superficial examination through the enclosure mesh. By doing this we can observe and treat minor wounds without having to anesthetize the chimpanzee for every examination.

Some of our chimpanzees will even allow us to give them injections! This greatly reduces the stress to the chimpanzee as well as to the staff. In the future, we hope that this will evolve to the point that the chimpanzees will allow voluntary blood samples to be drawn from their arms. At the Sacramento Zoo, our chimpanzees receive many of the same vaccinations that humans receive including a tetanus vaccine every 10 years. They generally receive complete physical exams every other year. One of the greatest rewards is helping these wonderful animals live long and happy lives.

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Animal Chatter


Reptiles and Amphibians
Look for new frogs in the reptile house. Panamanian golden frogs, Yellow-banded dart frogs, Whites tree frogs, and two Caeciliams have all joined our population of amphibians. The Panamanian golden frog is an endangered toad managed by a Species Servival Plan program in AZA accredited Zoos and the El Valle Conservation Center in Panama.  These conservation efforts to breed the toads are the only chanve for survival.

African lionCarnivores
As recommended by the Lion Species Survival Plan®, our male lion, Luxor, has moved to the Peoria Zoo in Illinois. The breeding recommendation by the SSP was to bring Kamau, from the San DiegoWildAnimalPark, to breed with our current female lion. Kamau’s genes are highly desirable, as his parents’ genetics are underrepresented in the community. A fundamental conservation issue is the preservation of genetic diversity in the captive population, and new bloodlines brought into the breeding arena are essential. We are excited to welcome 2-year-old Kamau to our Zoo family and hope he will bring new additions to our family.

A new male touraco, Lloyd, has joined the female on exhibit with plans for breeding. The Thick-billed parrot exhibit expanded the large group with the addition of two new young females, hatched and raised here at the Zoo. The female ostrich has adjusted well to her introduction into the zebra exhibit. The male ostrich has black feathers, whereas the female is a brownish-grey.

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Education Bulletin: New Aviaries


Burrowing owlProviding a home for native wildlife here at the Zoo shines a spotlight on the rich biodiversity that exists all around us. The Mediterranean region of California is designated by Conservation International as a Biodiversity Hotspot ( A biodiversity hotspot is an area with a large number of species that are only found locally and has lost over 70% of its original habitat. The CaliforniaFloristicProvince is home to the giant sequoia, the planet's largest living organism and holds a number of threatened endemic species. 

Two new aviaries are opening soon in The Zoo’s Backyard with native species, Burrowing owls and Yellow-billed magpies. Burrowing owls are funny little creatures with long legs and big eyes that prefer to stand around on the ground and hunt at dawn and dusk. The burrowing owl population is considered at risk in California because of habitat degradation and destruction.

Yellow-billed magpies are a new species to the Zoo. You may be familiar with these charismatic, colorful, and noisy birds, but you may not know that they are only found in California. In fact, birders from around the world travel to California specifically to add these striking birds to their “life list.” Unfortunately, their isolation in California means they are vulnerable because, as our population grows and habitat becomes scarce, yellow-billed magpies will have no where else to go.

It is our hope that being surrounded by the animals at our Zoo will inspire you to conserve and “live green” in your daily life. The next time you are here, pay special attention to the California natives who call the Zoo home because these are the animals that will experience the greatest direct impact from your daily choices.

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Conservation Carousel


Carousel animal jaguarThis handcrafted wooden carousel will feature 32 lifelike animals; some are endangered, all are children's favorites. Carousel animals include an anteater, flamingo, jaguar, ladybug, snow leopard … even a peacock chariot designed to accommodate people with disabilities. Each carousel animal is carved from wood, then hand-painted to create a truly unique piece. Educational and conservation messages inspire visitors as they ride.

The carousel is a part of the Zoo’s fundraising drive for education and conservation awareness. For a $5,000 contribution, your name will be proudly displayed on one of the carousel animals for five years. A $10,000 donation will allow you to adopt the animal for the life of the carousel.

Your tax deductible donation of $5,000 or more includes:
۰        a plaque at the base of your adopted animal
۰        invitation to the private carousel preview party
۰        a framed picture of you and your carousel animal
۰        recognition in the Zoo quarterly newsletter and the AnnualReport to the Community

A carousel animal adoption is a great gift for someone special in your life, or just to show your support for the Sacramento Zoo, education and conservation.

Reservations for Conservation Carousel animals will be accepted beginning January 5, 2009. There is only one animal of each kind available, so don’t wait too long or someone else will adopt your favorite!

For more information click here or call 916-808-5150 or 916-808-3713.

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Important Member Bulletin: Renew Now and Save!
Effective march 1, 2009, prices will change in two membership categories.

New Membership Prices for 2009:

Member FAMILY pack - $75

Member PLUS pack - $115


The benefits of the PLUS pack will change to include two children's tickts to our annual Ice Cream Safari in July and 10 Zoo ride ticktes instead of Funderland coupons.  If you choose to renew before March 1st (regardless of when your current membership is due to expire), you will receive the current rate and benefits.

Don't wait ... renew now!

Call the Membership Office at 916-808-5888 or login to renew online.

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Ways to Give and Things to Get
Guilt-Free Shopping Guide


Zoo Parents
Zoo Parent Packages start at just $25. From tall to small, you can sponsor any animal in the Zoo. The proceeds from the Zoo Parent program help feed and care for the animals!

Sacramento Zoo Membership
Looking for a gift that will keep giving all year long? Howabout treating your special someone to a Zoo membership? They will remember you every time they visit the Zoo!
Shop for a cause at A percentage of all your purchases will be donated to the Sacramento Zoo. Use the Amazon logo on the homepage to start shopping; it will automatically donate to the Zoo at check out – with no extra cost to you! Or get started here now.

Entertainment Book
The 2009 Entertainment Bookis here and better than ever! There are hundreds of discount coupons for restaurants, shows, spas, golf, movies, shopping and more … all for $40! Pick up one or two at the Membership Office while supplies last.

Pavers, Benches, Giraffe Plaques
Make a lasting impression. Be a permanent part of the Sacramento Zoo with a recognition plaque at the new giraffe habitat, a paver at Big Cat Row or a bench under a shady tree! Permanent recognition provides a touching memorial gift or wonderful remembrance for holidays and birthdays. Gifts range from $150 to $2,000.

Car Donation Program
Turn cars into carrots, corn, or cantaloupe for the animals. Do you have an extra vehicle? Can you use another tax deduction? Why not donate your used car or boat to the Zoo? Call our toll free number 1-866-570-7318 and a Car Program representative will assist you.

In-kind donations - Trinkets into Treasure
Donations of used or new goods and services are not only tax-deductible, but can help the Zoo.

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3930 West Land Park Drive, Sacramento, CA 95822  //  916-808-5888
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