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Vol 50, No. 2, Summer 2011

In this Issue of the Zoo's Quarterly Newsletter

Life is a Highway Directors Den Animal Chatter
Education Bulletin Get Social, Get Deals! Member's Bulletin
Estate Planning Seminar Calendar of Events

Life is a Highway   

Photo of the Zoo's first giraffe arriving in 1951The Zoo welcomed a young newcomer to the Tall Wonders giraffe habitat in mid-April. He arrived on a warm spring evening to an eagerly awaiting staff. A large trailer pulled up to the Zoo’s back gate with its precious cargo; inside the carrier rode Chifu (pronounced “Chee-foo”), a young male Masai giraffe, completing his journey that had been a year in the works.

New arrivals happen often at zoos around the country. Chifu’s move was not a spur-of-the-moment decision, but the result of months of planning and coordination. The Sacramento Zoo’s new state-of-the-art facility, Tall Wonders, was designed to accommodate additional giraffes to join the current herd of three. Working with the San Diego Zoo, where Chifu was born, and the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ (AZA) Masai Giraffe Species Survival Plan® (SSP) Program Coordinators, Sacramento provided the perfect home for this youngster.

How do you go about relocating a giraffe? When moving zoo animals, the paramount concern is for the health and well-being of the animal, eliminating stress at all costs. The means of transportation is given much consideration due to a number of factors: the type of animal, travel distance, government regulations and requirements for transport. Birds and many small mammals are shipped via cargo carriers in animal crates certified for animal safety. Most large animals make such a move while they are fairly young and on the smaller side; Chifu is now just over 10 feet, but is expected to reach a height of 20 feet in a few short years. Obviously, airlines provide shorter travel times for greater distances than land carriers. However, for a large animal such as a giraffe, an airplane flight is simply not an option and a road trip is planned. Several animals may be scheduled with one carrier for each part of a longer trip in an effort to lessen expenses; timely coordination is the key.

For this trip, the Zoo used a company that specializes in animal transport. The trailer that housed Chifu during his journey was a custom-made animal trailer specifically built to transport large animals such as giraffes. From the outside, it looks like a very tall horse trailer. It was built with light panels on each side, doors that swing out to create a chute and a ramp that is level with the trailer for safe unloading. The trailer’s interior is climate controlled to accommodate fluctuating temperatures. The size of the trailer is large enough for the animal to be able to move about freely, but safely, inside the vehicle. The truck cab is equipped with a live camera feed next to the steering wheel so the driver can view the animal at all times.

Traveling with animals does not allow for leisurely side trips or unhurried meals while on the road. Chifu left San Diego before 6 a.m. and arrived in Sacramento at 4 p.m. that same day. After unloading Chifu, an addax and a small Burrowing owl from our Zoo then took their places in the trailer for the next leg of the trip to the Lee Richardson Zoo in Kansas. The AZA SSP® Program Coordinators for each species hope that these new pairings might result in future addax calves and Burrowing owlets.

As Chifu investigated his new home and the 250-pound addax settled in for a comfortable ride inside the trailer, Curator Harrison Edell smiled to himself as he imagined the tiny Burrowing owl (weighing all of five pounds including his travel crate!) calling “Shotgun” as he was gently placed in the passenger seat of the cab.

Interesting Fact 

Over 90% of zoo animals are now born in zoos. Most others that come from the wild were injured and are non-releasable. Rather than selling or buying animals, AZA accredited zoos have reciprocal agreements to share populations of animals, such as giraffes, providing oversight on breeding and a quality gene pool for each species. Transporting animals from one zoo to another is done with special consideration for each individual, minimizing stress and confinement periods. For the younger animals like Chifu, moving to a new location takes place at a time when the animal, if living in the wild, would normally leave the family group.


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Directors Den
by Mary Healy

Mary HealyWork is underway on two projects that will enhance the lives of the Zoo’s animals: the current homes for Red pandas and River otters are undergoing repairs and renovations. 

The Red panda project was an unwelcomed surprise when water damage was discovered inside the walls of the night house. The River otter renovation was a planned project with the specific intention of enlarging the current, outdated space for these popular animals.

As we approach the Zoo’s 85th birthday next year, it is easy to understand why we seem to be in a constant state of repairs for the aging exhibits. Along with a birthday celebration in 2012, we also anticipate a visit from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accreditation inspection team. The Zoological Society Board of Directors and the Zoo staff are committed to maintaining this very critical accreditation.

In 2010, the Zoo Board spent a considerable amount of time looking to the future; the AZA accreditation is a driving force in many of the decisions regarding the next steps for our Land Park site. As many of you are aware, a subcommittee of the board spent nine years looking for a larger site for an expanded zoo in the future. The outcome of the research pointed to the conclusion that the best opportunity is to put plans in place for this site that will maximize the Zoo’s sustainability even with a small, 14-acre footprint. The Zoo’s current home is a beautiful site in a beloved Land Park location, but it will take all of us working together to overcome the challenges that come with limited space and visitor capacity, while continuing to provide improved, quality housing for the animal residents.

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Animal Chatter

Photo of a White-faced owl

The zoo now has three owl species: a Western Screech owl (which appears in the Interpretive Center show), Burrowing owls in California’s Backyard and now White-faced owls in the Small Mammal House across from the giraffe deck. See what differences you can find between them!

Hoofstock Area
The addax exhibit has gone through a few changes since the animals have been moved to other zoos. Our horticultural department planted various bunch grasses and shrubs inside the exhibit to accommodate the new Yellow-backed duikers. The holding area has also received some small renovations to better suit the smaller species.

Carnivore Area
A female tamandua has been paired with our resident male. Now that the weather is warmer and pleasant, they are moving about the exhibit much more often. Stay tuned for upcoming Zoo keeper talks to familiarize you with this interesting animal!   

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Education Bulletin
Teens in Action
by Lisa Hetherington, Education Manager 

Photo of Zoo teens and a child working on a craftWhen people find out that I work at the Zoo, they inevitably say “You are so lucky! That sounds like so much fun!” My response is always “You’re right. It is fun!” but I don’t think they understand all the reasons the job is so fulfilling.  One of the many reasons working in the education department is fun is because we work with teens! Yes, that’s right, I said teens!

The Sacramento Zoo has a wonderful group of young people ages 13 to 18 that have a passion and dedication to making the world a better place, and they have the energy to invest in their cause. This past February, the Zoo teens came up with the idea of running their own event.  With guidance from Zoo staff, the teens came up with a new Valentine’s Day event FOR THE ANIMALS.   The teens expanded on their customary role of staffing activity stations by creating heart-themed enrichment for many of the animals and then being present at the exhibits to answer questions and explain to guests exactly what the animals received as a treat. It took a lot of planning and time, but it was a great day of tigers pouncing on heart-shaped piñatas, chimpanzees swinging around their exhibit with arms full of goody bags, giraffes devouring heart-shaped wreaths made of acacia … and visitors of all ages sharing their love of animals.

The next time you are at the Zoo, look for our power packed teen volunteers. I think if you spend any time with them you will see how their energy and passion are contagious.
Interested in being part of the zoo teen program or participating in other ways?  Check out our website at and find out how you can connect with the Sacramento Zoo.

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Get Social, Get Deals!
This summer, the Sacramento Zoo is offering promotions and giveaways on our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.


Facebook logo and link
“Like” us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on Zoo events, animal news and specials. When you’re at the Zoo, check in on Facebook Places and get a free carousel ticket at the Member and Visitor Services office.

Twitter logo and link
Follow us on Twitter to win tickets for Twilight Thursdays and enjoy hot music and cool cars on us! We also share tips for visiting, pictures of your favorite animals and insider news. Stay tuned for our 4th #ZooTweetup coming soon!

Foursquare logo and link
Do you foursquare? If so, check in on your phone when you are at the Zoo and the Member and Visitor Services office will give you a carousel ticket! If you are the Zoo’s foursquare mayor, you get a gift!
And don’t forget to get the inside scoop on the Zoo Blog - from Zoo keeper profiles to behind-the-scenes stories and animal videos, you’ll always know what’s happening at the Sacramento Zoo!

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Member's Bulletin
Member Evening
Thursday, June 9, 5:30 to 8:30 pm

Photo of a Blue & gold macawMark your calendars for our FREE Members Only Evening at the Zoo. You will have a chance to meet the keepers and roam around the Zoo after hours. There's no need to make a reservation, just show your membership card and photo ID at the entrance to get into this exclusive event. Kampala Cafe will be open if you would like to purchase dinner, or you can bring your own picnic. Email the Member & Visitor Services office or call (916) 808-5888 for details.


• animal enrichments
• stage show
• face painting
• free raffle
• special 25% discount in the Zoofari Market gift store

Not a member yet? Sign up Now!

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Estate Planning Safari
Protect your Nest Egg

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
5:30 – 7 pm
Kampala Center

This free informative seminar will navigate through a jungle of estate planning topics presented by local attorney Mark S. Drobny, California State Bar Certified Legal Specialist in Estate Planning, Trust and Probate Law. Mr. Drobny is widely regarded as one of the top experts on estate planning, providing information on a variety of topics in an entertaining manner that will help you design a plan that fits your needs.

Topics will include, but are not limited to:
• Living Trusts vs. Wills
• Probate – How Can it be Avoided?
• Who Needs Durable Powers of Attorney for Financial Management and Advance Health Care Directives?
• Charitable Gift Annuities

Seating is limited. Email Pam Williams or call 916-808-3713 by Tuesday, July 12th to guarantee your seat.

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