Coconut’s Last Day at the Zoo, 11-12-20

I got up around 7:00 this morning. It was about 44° outside when I headed out about 8:30 to get to the Sacramento Zoo by 9:00. Although I had already gone about a week ago, I went today because it was Coconut the Snow Leopard’s last day at the zoo. He’s going to the Oglebay Good Zoo in West Virginia to head their breeding program there.

For those of you who don’t know, Coconut was born at the Sacramento Zoo in 2018 to his mom Misha and dad Blizzard. He was one of a pair of twins, but his twin died shortly after birth. And Coconut was born with several birth defects. He had “swimmer’s syndrome”, which meant his back legs didn’t support his weight, so when he tried to walk, his back legs would just drag back and forth behind him. He had to go through about a year of physical therapy to get him to be able to walk and jump normally.

He also had eyelid defects, known as colombas. His eyelid turned inward so the lashes grew toward the eyes instead of out and away from them. He was also slightly cross-eyed. He was trained to accept voluntary injections (so he wouldn’t have to be darted to get an injection), and had surgery on his eyes in October 2018. Since then, he’s been growing and progressing normally and is now old enough and healthy enough to get into the breeding program to help save his species in the wild.

Coconut on his last day in the zoo

I’ve “known” Coconut since he was born, and have photos of him from when he was a cub to today. He holds a special place in my heart, so I had to go see him one last time.

Today, he was out on exhibit with his mom, Misha. It was also “bone day” today, so both of them were chewing on their giant beef bones for quite a while.

When Misha was done with her bone, she jumped up on the rocks in the enclosure to sit in the sun, and Coconut jumped up next to her and put his head against her body, snuggling in. Everyone who was watching them, knowing this was his last day with his mom, all said, “Awwwwwwwwwwwww.” Then Misha started licking and grooming him. That almost brought me to tears.

Farewell, Coconut! Love you! Good luck in Virginia!

The lions and jaguar were all out today, but the jaguar spent her time hiding in the greenery of her enclosure, so all you could see was the top of her head.

Male African Lion

The orangutans were also out, but the chimps were indoors while their enclosure was being cleaned. I got glimpses of the Red River Hogs, but they were staying at the far end of their enclosure, so I couldn’t get any good photos of them.

Sumatran Orangutan

And the Bongos weren’t on display because the zoo is upgrading the fence around their yard. Apparently, the young female Bongo, Taylor Swift (yeah, that’s really her name) had been able to jump all of the fences they set up before, so for her safety, and the safety of visitors, the fence is begin reimagined. Taylor Swift is the only animal that has escaped from its enclosure at the zoo – ever. She’s a smart little gal.

Some of the flamingos were gathered around a feeding station and fussing at each other in their raspy-screechy voices.

I was also able to see the Red Pandas again. They’ve been much more active lately than I’ve ever seen them. I think they like the cooler weather.

Red Panda, Ailurus fulgens

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

In the koi fish tank, there were two Chinese Stripe-necked Turtles in there. I don’t know if they were battling or having sex (sometimes they look the same in animals),but one of the turtles was riding the shell of the other one and biting the bottom one’s face and neck so much that the turtle on the bottom withdrew its head all the way into its shell (so it looked “headless”).

This species mates in the water, but aggression can also take place in the water, so, I couldn’t tell what was actually going on. In this pair both were about the same size, so it was hard to tell if either was male or female. (In this species, the female is larger than the male.) I tried to do research on the behavior of the species, but couldn’t find anything, even in the scientific journals online. So, I messaged the zoo to see if they could tell me what I was seeing.

The zoo actually messaged me back before the end of the day to tell me that I was seeing breeding behavior – the biting was typical for the species. Well… now we know.

I stopped by to see Glory the baby giraffe again who was out with her mom, dad, and aunty Sky. Dad is so brimming with testosterone right now that his spots are almost black.

Glory the Masai Giraffe. One of the visitors to the zoo exclaimed, “Look at how perfect her ossicones are!” She does have pretty ones, that’s for certain.
Look how dark the male giraffe’s spots are right now!

I walked around the zoo for about 2½ hours before heading home…but, of course, I had to get myself some cotton candy before I left. Hah!

Species List:

  1. African Lion, Panthera leo
  2. American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis
  3. Black Crowned Crane, Balearica pavonina
  4. Blue Green Echeveria, Echeveria gibbiflora
  5. Caribbean Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber
  6. Chinese Pistache, Pistacia chinensis
  7. Chinese Stripe-necked Turtle, Mauremys sinensis
  8. Coquerel’s Sifaka, Propithecus coquereli
  9. Crested Coua, Coua cristata
  10. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  11. Greater Roadrunner, Geococcyx californianus
  12. Grevy’s Zebra, Equus grevyi
  13. Hermit Thrush, Catharus guttatus
  14. Himalayan Monal, Lophophorus impejanus
  15. Jaguar, Panthera onca
  16. Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae
  17. Liquid Ambar, Chinese Sweetgum, Liquidambar formosana
  18. Mallard duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  19. Masai Giraffe, Giraffa tippelskirchi
  20. Meerkat, Suricata suricatta
  21. Okapi, Okapia johnstoni
  22. Pyracantha, Firethorn,  Pyracantha coccinea
  23. Red Kangaroo, Macropus rufus
  24. Red Panda, Ailurus fulgens
  25. Red River Hog, Potamochoerus porcus
  26. Reticulated Giraffe, Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata
  27. Silver Wattle, Acacia dealbata
  28. Snow Leopard, Panthera uncia
  29. Squirrel Monkey, Saimiri sciureus
  30. Strawberry Tree, Arbutus unedo
  31. Sumatran Orangutan, Pongo abelii
  32. White-faced Saki, Pithecia pithecia
  33. Wolf’s Guenon, Wolf’s Mona Monkey, Cercopithecus wolfi
  34. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
  35. Yellow-footed Rock Wallaby, Petrogale xanthopus