Newsletter Archives

Vol 48, No. 4, Winter 2009-2010

In this Issue of the Zoo's Quarterly Newsletter

Welcome Makan to the Sacramento Zoo Family! Directors Den How do you Look in Yellow?
Animal Chatter Education Bulletin Ask the Vet
Shopping List Member's Bulletin     Africa Awaits
Calendar of Events Zoo Parent

Welcome Makan to the Sacramento Zoo Family!


Introducing Makan! He is the new addition to our Sumatran orangutan group. Makan is 6 years old and was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (CMZ) in Colorado Springs. The Sacramento Zoo, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the Orangutan Species Survival Plan (SSP) committee have been planning Makan’s move for about a year. 

In September, CMZ staff began the drive from Colorado to California with Makan safely tucked away in a large crate. When he arrived, he was moved into our Zoo’s hospital quarantine area where he would spend the next 30 days being carefully monitored for any illnesses that could potentially be transmitted to resident animals. When transferring great apes from one zoo to another, a common practice is to have a keeper travel with the animal and stay at the new zoo for a few days. Having that familiar face can help with the transition of moving to a new home, and allows the previous caretaker to share the animal’s personal information with the new zoo. Heidi Genter, one of Makan’s keepers from CMZ, traveled with him and spent three days visiting him in our quarantine area. She also spent time with Sacramento’s primate staff, meeting Makan’s new exhibit mates and informing us on his likes, dislikes and habits. After Heidi flew home, Makan continued to have the same visitors daily to help him become familiar with his new surroundings. When he gets a clean bill of health from our vet staff, the young orang will be moved up to the Ape House to begin introductions to the exhibit and the resident orangutans.
Makan will be joining the Zoo’s two older females: Cheli is 37 years old and Ginger, at 54 years old, is the oldest Sumatran orangutan in a U.S. zoo. Right now, Makan looks like the females and weighs only 65 lbs., but in a few years he will go through a massive growth spurt. He will develop large amounts of muscle, gain close to 200 pounds, get large round cheek flanges, and grow long hair with a mustache and beard. It will be interesting to see Makan on exhibit interacting with the girls, but what will be more interesting to the keepers is how the girls will interact with him! It has been a few decades for both of the females since they have lived with such a young male. Introducing him to the girls may be a slow process and will be done in the quiet night quarters away from distracting crowds. When he eventually goes on exhibit with Ginger and Cheli, he will experience new surroundings. Makan has never seen zebra or bongos (viewable from his new home) nor has he ever seen chimps. The sights and sounds of the Zoo will all be new to him. Welcome Makan to the Sacramento Zoo family!

As many Zoo regulars know, our beloved 28-year-old male orangutan, Urban, passed away in February from an aggressive lymphoma. A favorite at the Sacramento Zoo for decades, his passing has left a void in our lives and he is missed every day.

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Directors Den


Mary Healy

I just returned from a conference of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums hosted by the Saint Louis Zoo. This is a unique gathering of leaders from around the world: over 50 countries are represented with over 250 individual zoos and aquariums as members. I have been a member for a number of years and it is always fascinating to see how such diverse members come together to focus their resources and brain power on our task to “save the world.” As you can imagine, diverse people come with diverse priorities.

This year, I found it particularly interesting to see an overall consensus of concern for three endangered species that need our help.  First is the critically endangered Sumatran orangutan. We have maintained orangutans for many years at the Sacramento Zoo and in this issue you will learn more about our “new kid on the block.” Another Asian species eliciting concern is the Sumatran tiger. You may recall that we eagerly welcomed three tiger cubs born here in 2007 and are hopeful to continue this successful breeding program. The third animal in the spotlight was the largest of all the zebra species, the Grevy’s zebra. The wild populations of Grevy’s zebra are estimated to number less than 3,000 and many are not in protected parks in Africa. The Sacramento Zoo supports the work of the Northern Rangeland Trust, a group working with communities in Kenya to protect these endangered animals.

I came away from this meeting feeling very proud and pleased that your Sacramento Zoo is a player in the international field of animal conservation.  Together we all play a part in the hopeful future for animals and their habitats. You can donate to the conservation fund here.

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How do you Look in Yellow?


The Sacramento Zoo is taking applications for the 2010 Docent Training class until January 9, 2010. Zoo Docents are volunteer educators who have a love for wildlife and enjoy people. Docents conduct tours and station talks at the Zoo and with additional training, docents can also participate in live animal presentations, both on and off-site. An orientation meeting will be held on January 9, 2010 and the training class will begin on January 16th. The mini-course in Zoology runs every Saturday through mid-March. For more information on becoming a Docent and to receive and application, please contact the Education Department at (916) 808-5889 or

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Animal Chatter


After much anticipation, the Zoo’s two Red river hogs are out on exhibit together.  The male and female pair are getting along well and are often found rooting around the exhibit looking for little bits of food the keepers spread out in the morning.  The temporary barrier between them and the bongos will come down after they get more familiar with each other.

Two new flamingos from the Fresno Chaffee Zoo have joined the flock.  A male Southern-crested screamer from Denver is in quarantine and will soon join our resident screamer on exhibit in the lake near the front of the Zoo. In addition, we will be adding a number of North American waterfowl such as pintails and mergansers to the lake exhibits. Look for them in mid-December!

The Zoo’s two Sumatran tigers are sharing their exhibit this season. In the wild, tigers are solitary, only coming together for breeding with mother and young cubs forming the typical “group.”  In zoos however, tigers can be kept together depending upon the disposition of the animals involved. The Tiger Species Survival Plan has given our pair the green light for breeding, and we would love to welcome new cubs in the coming months.

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Education Bulletin
Imagine a hedgehog’s teeth. What do they look like? What does it eat? 
Now imagine a Desert tortoise. Does it have teeth?

It might be difficult to picture these animals, especially if you’ve never seen or even heard of them before! However, first-graders in California are required to learn the ways different animals grab and chew their food. To find the answers, they could look in a book or on the internet for pictures of animal teeth, but it would be so much easier if they could just see these animals up close, watch them eat, and maybe even touch them. The 1st graders at William Land Elementary got to do just that when the ZooMobile visited their school.

As they sat, wiggly and energetic around a large tarp in their classroom, these 35 students met White-faced whistling ducks, a Desert tortoise and an African hedgehog. The most exciting animal by far was a six-foot-long Yellow rat snake named Jack! At first a few of the children were nervous or scared  The class began to relax as the Zoo’s Education Specialist held Jack and talked about his adaptations. In the end, every child touched Jack and found out that snakes aren’t really slimy after all!

Tools like books and videos can never replicate the excitement of discovery a child feels by observing and relating to a live animal. A visit from the ZooMobile is simple and takes little preparation because teachers don’t have to arrange for buses or chaperones.

You can sponsor a ZooMobile visit for your local school and give the gift of an up-close animal encounter. It is an experience the class won’t soon forget. Call 916-808-8814 or sign up now.


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Ask the Vet

Question: Dr. Wack, orangutans hanve a similar anatomy to human, how does this pose challenges to their treatment?

Answer: Orangutans share many health concerns with humans. They are susceptible to many of the same diseases as humans including respiratory infections, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis and neoplasia (cancer).

As intelligent primates, orangutans can be difficult to convince to take medications. With their large cheek pouches and lips, they can hide pills in their mouths and then spit them out at a later time. They are very suspicious of liquids or pills hidden in food and this requires considerable ingenuity on the part of keepers to get them to take any medications. Orangutans commonly receive tetanus and rabies vaccinations. As a species, orangutans are more likely than other primate species to have false-positive reactions on tuberculosis tests. As a result, when we TB test an orangutan, we frequently collect a fluid sample from the lungs to culture for tuberculosis bacteria as well as take a chest radiograph. Ginger, one of the oldest living orangutans, has chronic arthritis in her hips and legs glucosamine as well as anti-inflammatory and analgesic medications.

To facilitate visual examinations of the orangutans, Zoo keepers can train them to show many of their body parts to the veterinary staff. This helps reduce the need to anesthetize the orangutans for minor exams. Some of the concerns during anesthesia in orangutans include the added complication of the large size of the males which makes transportation difficult. The large facial disk and throat anatomy makes placement of the endotracheal tube (breathing tube) more difficult. In the adult males, their large throat sacs which are used for vocalizations are particularly prone to bacterial infections. The limited blood supply to this area and lack of natural drainage makes treatment of these infections especially challenging.

In general, orangutans tend to be healthy. With an attentive keeper and veterinary staff, they receive quality care at the Sacramento Zoo.

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Member's Bulletin


Effective February 1, 2010, prices will change in three membership categories.

New Membership Prices for 2010:
Member FAMILY Pack - $80
Member Plus Guest - $55
Individual Member - $40

If you choose to renew before February 1st, (regardless of when your current membership is due to expire) you will receive the current rate for a savings of $5.00!
Don’t wait … renew now! 

Call the Membership Office at 916-808-5888 or renew online.
Remember, your membership provides hours of fun, all year long for the whole family!

New General Admission Prices effective February 2010:
General Zoo Admission: Weekday - $10.50/ Weekend - $11.00
Child (3-12) Admission: Weekday - $6.50/ Weekend - $7.00

Not a member yet? Sign up Now!

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


Zoo Parents
From tall to small, you can sponsor any animal in the Zoo - packages start at just $25!
Help us welcome our newest addition - the Red river hog. The $80 package comes with a color photo, adorable plush hog and more.

Sacramento Zoo Membership
Looking for a gift that will keep giving all year long? Zoo membership provides for a full year of admission, discounts on Zoo events, free concerts and much more! They’ll remember you every time they visit the Zoo! Call 916-808-5888 or visit
Shop for a cause at Go to and click on the Amazon logo to start shopping; it will automatically donate a percentage of your purchase to the Sacramento Zoo at check out – with no extra cost to you!

Entertainment Book
The 2010 Entertainment Book is here and better than ever! There are hundreds of coupons for restaurants, golf, wine, movies, shopping and more …. all for just $40! Pick yours up at the Membership & Visitor Services office while supplies last.

Pavers, Benches, Giraffe Plaques
Be a permanent part of the Sacramento Zoo with a recognition plaque at the new giraffe exhibit, a paver on Big Cat Row or a bench at the Conservation Carousel! Gifts range from $150 to $3,000. Call 916-808-5888 for more information.

Car Donation Program
Turn cars into carrots! Donate your used car or boat to the Zoo and help the animals. Call our toll free number 1-866-570-7318 and a Car Program representative will assist you.

In-Kind Donations
Donations of new or used goods and services are tax-deductible AND help the Zoo.

Wildlife Heritage Guild - Planned Giving
Leave a legacy that will make a difference in the future of the Sacramento Zoo. The Wildlife Heritage Guild is a group of special individuals who have remembered the Sacramento Zoological Society in their estate plans. Call the Development Department at 916-808-3713 for more information.

Sponsor a Carousel Animal
For a $5,000 contribution, your plaque will be proudly displayed at one of the carousel animals for five years. A $10,000 donation will allow you to sponsor the animal for the life of the carousel.

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Africa Awaits


Join Zoo Director Mary Healy for a fascinating trip to Southern Africa May 28 to June 9, 2010. Visit breathtaking Victoria Falls, the sensational Okavango Delta and captivating Johannesburg; a pre-extension trip to Cape Town is also available from May 24 - 27.

The cost for this once-in-a-lifetime trip is $7,995 including all airfare and taxes. The Cape Town extension is an additional $2,595.

For more information on this fabulous adventure, please call 916-808-5886.

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