Baby Animal Bonanza at the Sacramento Zoo, 09-09-17

I went to the Sacramento Zoo today because I wanted to see all of the new babies.  Along with the six baby flamingoes who were born a few weeks ago, on Labor Day two of the other animals took “labor” seriously and had newborns: an Eastern Bongo (whose name is Penny), and the mama Wolf’s Guenon, Mimi,  (who already two other babies, Zuri and Kaci, still growing up around her).  The three Black and White Ruffed Lemurs born in May were now finally on exhibit, too.  So it was baby bonanza there, and I wasn’t disappointed.  I ended up taking over 1400 photo and video snippets!

CLICK HERE to see about 200 of them.

I think all of the animals were happy about the fact that it was a slightly cooler morning (around 68º) and were out and about, and I got to see all of the babies.

As soon as I walked into the zoo, I went over to the duck pond and got to see the American White Pelicans snoozing in the sun and the Southern Crested Screamers posing for photos.  There were also Mallards, Wood Ducks,  White-faced Whistling Ducks, some Orinoco Geese and the adult flamingoes.  In the enclosure for the Thick-Billed Parrots there was a Roadrunner rushing around.

Then it was off to see my favorite Red River Hogs; the whole family was out, scruffing around in the dust. And in the enclosure next to them was the Eastern Bongo and her baby.  OMG, that calf was soooo cute!  It hasn’t grown into its face yet, so it’s all ears and has a wrinkly muzzle.  Every now and then, mom would poke at it with her muzzle or try to herd it by using her horns to steer it around. At only about 4 days old the baby Bongo seems to be able to get around okay on its own, although it did stumble a few times chasing after its mama.  The zoo staff isn’t sure of the gender of the baby yet, and it doesn’t have a name. Same is true of the new baby Wolf’s Guenon.

The whole family of Wolf’s Guenons were out: mom, dad, all of the babies – including the newborn who was clinging to mama’s chest. From where I first saw it, it was hard for me to get any clear photos.  So, I walked around to the other side of the enclosure, and then was able to get some really sweet photos of Mimi and her newborn.  Every once in a while, she’d groom the baby too hard or pinch it in the wrong place while she tried to move it around, and it would give out a loud squealing cheep!  The other youngsters were running around and wrestling with one another, and would stop periodically to look at the newborn, but they never approached it or tried to touch it.  Mama Mimi was very protective of it.

Across from her, the Sumatran Orangutans were out in their enclosure and I got some good shots of them.  Not so with chimpanzees. There were too many gum-chewing ferrets around, and of course none of them have been taught any manners by their moronic parents. I had several of the kids literally shove me out of their way. One of them even elbowed me in the stomach to get past me… And these were “little” kids, maybe 6 to 10 years old (not teenagers)… I hate humans.

Of the big cats, all of them were out except for the Snow Leopard.  The African Lions have a new “cat tree” built in their enclosure with several layers that give them more space to climb and also gives them extra sources of shade.  The male was walking all around it, spraying pee on it and rubbing his face against it.  Hah! Cats are cats… The Sumatran Tiger was out pacing around and at one point jumped up on the ledge in front of the viewing window and scared the crap out of some little kids.  In his enclosure, the male Jaguar was taking a nap.

I then walked over to the giraffe enclosure because I knew the baby Flamingoes would be brought out on a shallow lawn near there, and all of the giraffes were out, including both the Reticulated one and the Masai ones.  The big male Masai was trying to each foliage from a nearby tree, while the others munched on the zoo-provided breakfast of greenery and twigs.

And then, around 10:30 the baby flamingoes were finally brought out and allowed to play in a trio of wading pools.  They were just darling – all these long-legged fuzz balls nattering to one another and jumping around, greeting the group of viewers with wing flaps and little dances. Because they’re so young, they’re still varying shades of white and grey. The keepers said it would take a year for them to fully fledge into their pink feathers.

Among the babies there were four boys and two girls, and all of them are named after cocktails: Tiki, Mai Tai, Bellini, Daiquiri, Blue Hawaiian and Margarita.  The keepers said that eating in the water is instinctual, so they didn’t have to train them to do that. They’re feeding the babies a special flamingo-chow made by Purina.  It has the keratin in it that will turn the birds feathers pink as they fledge out. I stood there, watching them and taking photos of them for almost 30 minutes; they were just so much fun to watch.  Little Mai Tai, a female and one of the smallest in the group, kept going over to this keeper or that keeper, and laid down between their feet.  The keepers said that’s what the babies do in the wild: snuggle down between their parent’s feet to rest. Awwwww.  The babies were also fascinated by the leaves on the ground and tried to untie some of the keepers’ shoes.  Hah! (Oh, and a fun fact: the oldest Flamingo in the zoo is 23 years old; she came as a 2-year old to the zoo in 1996!)

When I was done watching the babies, it was about 11 o’clock, so I had some lunch: a hot dog and a rootbeer float.  While I was eating I watched the giraffes and the Fennec Foxes.  One of the foxes kept moving back and forth against a door on its enclosure, not realizing that there was an open door just a few feet away from it.  It was getting more and more frustrated, but the one by the open door didn’t call to it or otherwise let it know where the entrance was to their “cavern”… The foxes are supposed to have a wide variety of vocalizations, but I’ve never heard them make a peep at the zoo… They’re such pretty little things; I love their faces.

A few of the Straw-colored Fruit Bats were hanging out… but it’s always so hard to get photos of them because you have to shoot through a chain link fence AND deal with the fact that they hide out under an overhang that shades them.

I circled around, back past the Bongo – who was lying in her barn with her baby in the back of her enclosure by that time.  I’m glad I got the photos of her earlier in the morning.  Then I stopped at the Black-and-White Ruffed lemur enclosure.  I saw two of the three babies there.  Most of the lemurs were lying down and resting, so I was able to get some good close-ups of them.  Across from them the White-Faced Sakis were out (but not the Three-Toed Sloth).  The female Saki (who doesn’t have a white face like the male) always looks like she could kick your ass, and today was no different.  She makes me laugh.

Before I left the zoo, I stopped in at the reptile house.  The snakes were unusually active today.  Usually they lie around with their heads tucked into their coils, but many of them today were stretched out and showing off.  I got photos of the Honduran Dwarf Club-tailed Iguana, Madagascar Rainbow Sand Lizard, Madagascar Tree Boa, Madagascar Flat-tailed Tortoise, the Smooth-fronted Caiman, Prehensile-tailed Skink, a Brazilian Rainbow Boa, Pacific Gopher Snake, Ball Python, a couple of European Legless Lizards, a Northern Pacific Rattlesnake and a Sidewinder, a Fiji Island Banded Iguana and a Common Chuckwalla.  I was also there when a keeper fed a tiny pinkie-mouse to a Giant Garter Snake.  In other terrariums were a Mexican Red-kneed Tarantula, several Blue Poison Dart Frogs, California Tiger Salamanders, Golden Mantella frogs, Phantasmal Dart Frogs, and Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frogs.  Phew!

The only part of the zoo that I didn’t get to – because it was getting too hot for me outside – was the Australian section where the ‘roos and wallabies are (along with the Red Panda exhibit and the Hornbills). Next time.

Posted by

Mary K. Hanson is a breast cancer survivor who, at age 61, took coursework to become a Certified California Naturalist. The author of “The Chubby Woman’s Walkabout”™ blog, Ms. Hanson has also written nature-based feature articles published in regional newspapers, authored over ten books, including her "Cool Stuff Along the American" series of guide books, and has had her photographs featured in books, articles, calendars, on the American River Parkway Foundation’s Instagram stream, and even the White House blog. In 2018 Ms. Hanson will help to launch and teach a new Certified California Naturalist course through Tuleyome, in partnership with the University of California and the Woodland Library, so members of the public can themselves become certified as naturalists in the state. All of the photos seen on her website were taken by Ms. Hanson herself with moderate- to low-end photographic equipment more easily affordable to the everyday nature enthusiast. She also occasionally leads photo-walks through the American River Bend Park for the public and is sometimes available for public speaking.