Newsletter Archives

Vol 48, No. 3, Fall 2009

In this Issue of the Zoo's Quarterly Newsletter

Building a Stairway to the Stars - Construction Update on Tall Wonders Directors Den From the Kitchen
Animal Chatter Education Bulletin Keepers' Corner
Green Bite Member's Bulletin     Estate Planning Seminar
Donate Now Zoo Parent Calendar of Events


Building a Stairway to the Stars
Construction Update on Tall Wonders

The three female Reticulated giraffes at the Sacramento Zoo have been fascinating visitors for years and are arguably the favorites on any given day. Their size, however makes them undisputedly the largest attraction!

Giraffe building constructionConstruction of a new habitat began last February and is well underway to provide state-of-the-art housing and expanded grounds for Val, Skye & Goodrun. But they are not the only ones to benefit from this project—the addition of a raised viewing platform will provide guests the rare opportunity to be eye to eye with the giraffes ambling leisurely throughout their new surroundings.

Entering the Tall Wonders viewing platform for the first time, you will notice the brass giraffe profile beam braces, the expansive space, the ADA accessible ramp, and of course, the view. The Zoo’s three giraffes wander over when they see visitors gathered at their eye level. With the addition of fans and lighting still to come, exclusive after-hours events will be possible, not to mention a host of new and exciting educational opportunities.

Brick by brick, the giraffes’ housing structure nears completion. Once the three giraffes have comfortably moved over to their new home, the old barn will come down. A redesign of the main exhibit will complete the final steps of this multi-year project.

Giraffe viewing platformAlthough this year has been financially challenging, the Sacramento Zoological Society is 100% committed to providing the best possible care and facilities for the giraffes and all resident animals. With community support, we will continue to improve and enrich the Zoo for future generations.

Stop by and watch the progress as rubble is turned into residence for the Zoo’s three stars and stay tuned for the grand opening of Tall Wonders.  Remember a visit to the Sacramento Zoo provides a wonderful family experience, a delightful date or simply a beautiful location to spend a few leisurely hours observing wildlife. Look for new additions like the Conservation Carousel and Red river hogs, but don’t forget the giraffes!

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Directors Den
Wild Affair, a Party with a Purpose

Mary Healy

I am sure many organizations in town have unique fundraisers, but when you add up all the components of Wild Affair, I think you would be hard-pressed to find anything quite like it.

The entire event is about combining fun with fundraising for the Sacramento Zoo, and this year’s proceeds will help complete the Tall Wonders habitat for our giraffes. This is the biggest fundraiser of the year and the goal is to generate $80,000 for this critical project.

The evening starts with behind-the-scenes tours at the Zoo. This is the only evening we offer this special experience to our guests. Zoo keepers lead each tour in the animal areas, providing a personal perspective on what it takes to care for this rare collection. Moving on to the Silent Auction, you will enjoy the hosted bar and fabulous hors d’oeuvres prepared by Patrick Mulvaney and his masterful team at Culinary Specialists/Mulvaney’s Building and Loan.

A delicious gourmet dinner is served in a beautifully tented atmosphere – this year it will be an Asian theme. As you enjoy Patrick’s culinary delights, you are entertained by the very talented Dave Bender, a.k.a. KOVR 13 Weather Guy. Dave is your host for the evening and is accompanied by zoo staff, putting on a show worthy of far-off-off-Broadway!

Please mark your calendar for October 3 and plan to join us for this “Zoopendous” event … it’s an evening you won’t soon forget! Reservations are now available at the Wild Affair webpage or call 916-808-8815. For a very special evening with the animals, we hope to see you there.

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From the Kitchen
The World is My Oyster

Red River Hog, photo credit Jim Schultz Chicago Zoological SocietyTruly, this should be the slogan for Red river hogs (and other swine in general)! Pigs are amazing creatures that use their tusks and powerful bodies to root in the ground for all sorts of food items. They aren’t too picky when it comes to eating and are very opportunistic. Despite the common myths, swine are no dirtier than any other animal. They sleep during the day in an excavated hollow or under foliage to keep cool and away from biting insects and predators, and forage at night for food as they travel.

In the wild, they eat roots, fruit, seeds, nuts, grasses, fungi, insects, worms, reptiles, carrion and small animals. Red river hogs also swim and forage for water plants. These animals have even been known to follow chimpanzee groups and eat the fruit left behind by the chimps. No opportunity is missed!

At the Zoo however, foraging opportunities are less available so all the hogs have a nutritious pig chow and fresh produce such as apples, yams, carrots and celery. In addition, food enrichments provide a great deal of entertainment and rarity to their daily routine and diet.

So when you see the hogs, think about the wide breadth of their palate (I wish my children were less-picky like the hogs) and you will appreciate their eating habits.

Photo credit: Jim Schultz, Chicago Zoological Society

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Animal Chatter
Destination: Sacramento Zoo

Since this portion of the newsletter is about animal happenings at the Zoo, we thought we would answer a question that comes up often: How does an animal come to live at the Sacramento Zoo?

Red River Hog examWhen we look to add an animal or a new species to the Zoo, many considerations are in play at the same time. We start by evaluating our facility, our staff, what food an animal requires (and can we get it?), is the Sacramento weather suitable, etc. Then we work with AZA animal management groups about receiving an animal from another AZA zoo. The management groups look at which zoo needs to place an animal and how this move might affect the national population of that species. Once these questions have been answered, the real fun begins: the vets at each zoo discuss pre-shipment and quarantine tests, contracts are signed to loan or donate the animal to the Sacramento Zoo, and any federal or state permits required for the transfer are completed. After that, transportation arrangements are made including acquiring the appropriate crate, booking a flight that will have cargo doors large enough to accommodate a travel container, checking on temperature fluctuations during the journey, etc.

Every animal that comes onto Zoo grounds must go through a quarantine period of 30 to 90 days (depending on the species) before being introduced to their exhibit. During quarantine, various medical tests are run and in the vast majority of cases, the animal finishes quarantine without a hitch and they are moved into their new habitat.

But things do not always go according to plan. In the case of our long-awaited Red river hogs, the male hog required treatment for several weeks in the vet hospital for a foot infection after he arrived. The female hog’s appearance was continually impeded by complicated transportation issues. Consequently, our well-planned strategy to have this species on exhibit by early summer just did not happen. When you work with live animals, their welfare comes before time lines and we know they are always worth the wait!

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Education Bulletin
The Eyes Have It

Have you ever noticed that the African-crested porcupine’s eyes are located on the sides of its head while a tiger’s eyes face forward like ours?

Animal Encounter with kids and a Animal Ambassador snakeHaving two forward-facing eyes allows us to see in three dimensions. Each eye sees a slightly different angle and when the two eyes combine information in the brain, a 3D image results. This is very useful when an animal needs to calculate the distance for a perfect pounce, or grasp the next branch accurately.

Why don’t all animals have 3D vision? Often, animals of prey have eyes on opposite sides of their heads. While this means they don’t have the ability to see in stereo like we can, it also means that they can see much more of their surroundings at all times. For these animals, it is much more functional to see a predator coming towards them from over their shoulder than it is to judge exactly how far away he is! As you walk around the Zoo, take a look at each animal, and try to determine if its eyes tell you anything about its lifestyle.

This is an example of what is taught on a guided tour by our docent volunteer educators. During the fall, we offer several types of guided tours from Tea and Tours for seniors, to school and group tours on any topic of your choice. Schedule a tour today and be prepared to open your eyes to a whole world of nature.  Sign up today for a senior program or class fieldtrip or call 916-808-8814 for more information.

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Keepers' Corner
By Ungulate Keepers

Red Kangaroo face You’ve probably noticed that when you visit the Australian Outback exhibit, the kangaroos are generally fast asleep. If it’s a warm day, they snooze in the shade. On cooler afternoons, they seek out bright sunbeams to nap in. All in all, it’s a pretty laid-back life. That’s because kangaroos have adapted to living in the hot and dry Australian Outback. Temperatures can reach 115 degrees by midmorning, not ideal weather for hopping about in search of food. Instead, they are up eating when the sun starts to rise and then resting while the sun is out so they can be ready to forage again in the cooler evening hours.

For keepers, this means we need to work with them on the roo’s schedule. Early in the morning, we work on behavior training to help us manage the kangaroo’s care and provide necessary veterinary needs in a stress-free and safe manner. Using a clicker and treats (kangaroos prefer lettuce, grapes, and corn), we use positive reinforcement to get the animals accustomed to routine medical procedures.

Those sleepy roos are really quite smart, although they move through everything, even training, at a slow pace. They follow the target pole to specific locations, climb onto the scale and wait while we record their weights; and they are learning to go into crates for transport.  When you see a keeper with one of the roos and it looks like we are petting them, we are actually teaching the kangaroos to let us feel all parts of it’s body, looking for injuries, lumps or swelling, and checking their teeth.

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Member's Bulletin
Entertainment Books

The 2010 Entertainment Books are now available! Receive discounts on dining, movies and other great Sacramento area entertainment. The cost is only $40, with a portion of the sales benefitting the Sacramento Zoo.

Pick up your copy at the Membership Office today!

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Green Bite
Green Ideas You Can Digest 

Bag made from old Zoo bannersQuestion: Is it trash or treasure?

Solution: Be creative and it will be treasure!

Why: Most items that have become useless to you may still be useful to others. Reusing or repurposing your old items can help those in need and reduce strain on the landfills. Also, you can salvage or buy used items to make almost anything!

How: Donate your clothes, appliances and furniture to a secondhand store or participate in a rummage sale that raises funds for nonprofits in the area. You can also find treasures at the same places. Check out industrial salvage companies like Ohmega or Urban Ore in Berkeley for windows, doors, tools, lighting fixtures – almost anything!

Quick Bite: Give things away for free on Craig’s List ( or your local Freecycle network (

The Zoo has a wish list of needed items and a semi-annual rummage sale, check out the In-Kind donation page for details.

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Estate Planning Seminar

Safari in Estate Planning
Tuesday, October 20 - 2 pm to 3:30 pm
This informative seminar will navigate through a jungle of planned giving topics as experts help guide you in strategies to secure your family's future, decrease your taxes and provide for your favorite charity. Seating is free but limited so please RSVP at (916) 808-3713. Sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank.

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Donate Now

The nonprofit Sacramento Zoological Society is supported by memberships, contributions and bequests. Tax-deductable gifts support animal care, education and conservation efforts. Please consider making a tax-deductable donation today and thank you for investing in your Zoo's future!

Donate Now!

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