Zoo Day, 09-15-21

I got up around 6:30 this morning, and worked on my journaling until about 8:15 when I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo. It was a cool 61º when I got there (which at 9 o’clock is pretty good) and about 73º when I left around 11:30 am. I wanted mostly to see the new capybara, but also just enjoy walking around, looking at the animals.

Does this really work? According to pestlockdown.com, not really.

“…The idea behind fake wasp nests is that wasps are territorial and will avoid living in an area that already has wasps. While the fake wasp nests don’t repel the wasps, they are intended to encourage the wasps to move to a different area to live, much further from the home, so they aren’t as much of a risk for homeowners and their families. The main goal is to keep wasps away from the home, so people and pets do not have to worry about being stung when they’re outside… There have been reports of wasps creating a nest right next to the fake wasp nest or one actually inside of the fake wasp nest. The wasps will notice that there aren’t any wasps actually living in the nest, which means to them it’s fine to set up their own nest inside…

“On top of the territorial aspect being incorrect and ineffective, many wasps actually build their nests inside the ground. Wasps such as yellow jackets will nest on or in the ground, which means they’re not going to care about fake wasp nests hanging outside of the home…”

I couldn’t get around some portions of the zoo because they were doing maintenance and trimming the trees. You’d think they could do that kind of stuff overnight so the guests aren’t interfered with. The jaguar wasn’t out and neither were the giraffes because of the work.

I walked in the direction of the Reptile House, which hasn’t been open since COVID hit, and was happy to see that it was open (with a mask-wearing requirement). What I didn’t like was the fact that although I was the first one to get there, two family groups with little kids saw me enter and they rushed in after me. One had a kid who asked loudly, “What’s in there? What’s in there?” at every single display but then never waited for an answer before asking again. And, of course, there was a screaming baby, which in the close, stone-walled tunnel-like environment of the reptile house was deafening. That along with the harsh Clorox smell inside the building gave me a temporary but harsh headache. Couldn’t wait to get out of there. [Later someone’s unmasked kid turned and sneezed all over me. Guh! Kids are like petri dishes for plague!]

Everything was pretty same ol’, same ol’ inside the reptile house, but I think there were more species of frogs than I’d seen before, and the pale Catalina Island Rattlesnake was new to me.

Over in the “Australian” section of the zoo, the Laughing Kookaburra had been moved into a brighter area by the Kangaroo enclosure.  And inside the Kangaroo’s habitat, there seemed to be a lot more ‘roos than I remember there being in there — including some youngsters. At first, I thought the smaller ‘roos were wallabies but, nope, they were little Kangaroos. In fact, I don’t think I saw a single wallaby in there.

There was only one of the Red River Hogs out in the adjacent habitat, and it seemed to be interested in whatever was on the other side of the closed doors along the back of the enclosure. I don’t know if the other hogs were back there or if it was a keeper preparing its breakfast, but it kept trying to open the door with its snout.

The Chimpanzees weren’t out yet when I went by their enclosure and although the Orangutans were out, they were very much aware of the people staring at them, and kept their backs to everyone.

But the Wolf’s Guenon monkeys were out, and the baby was running around like crazy. It climbed, and hung off the vines, tore and chewed at leather strips and paper treat bags (which were empty),and then jumped on its parent’s back. The parent reached back with one hand, pulled the baby off of it and set it down beside it — and then the baby took off running again. So much energy in such a little body!

The Squirrel Monkeys were apparently, finally, feeling more comfortable in their enclosure. The last few times I’d seen them, they were all bunched up inside their little houses, and only visible through badly scratched plexiglass. Today, they were out, active, jumping around and chattering to one another. Such cute tiny things.

About halfway through my walk, I stopped for a rest at the café and got some water and a plate of nachos. They make their nachos with red, white and blue tortilla chips so it’s all very colorful. The food there is very expensive, but I understand that a big chunk of the money goes to feed the animals, so I don’t complain about the expense. The water I got was in a refillable zoo-logo bottle that I can keep with me to remind me to hydrate regularly.

Lunch at the zoo. Tri-colored nacho chips with cheese, corn salsa, and jalapeno peppers.

The Cheetah brothers were out, and they’re beautiful to look at — such graceful, trim-bodied cats. I was worried though that one of them was pacing and pacing, back and forth across the front of their enclosure. That’s usually an indicator that the animal is anxious and uncomfortable.

Other studies have found that pacing is particularly prevalent on gunite; however, further research that controls for substrates is necessary to understand this variable. That said, the results reveal that pacing “is likely not a species-typical behavior, or a behavior characteristic of most wild individuals in a given species and advantageous for their survival and propagation.” In other words, pacing is indicative of an animal who is coping with stress by “disengaging from [its] environment” through repetitive, goal-less behavior…”          Sad.           

The pacing one’s brother looked a little more comfortable, walked about more slowly and chewed on some grass.

I could hear the male African Lion roaring loudly from its enclosure, but by the time I got to him, he’d gone quiet again. He was perched up on his rock, though, looking handsome and imperious, so I was able to get some photos of him.

The Lioness was laying down in the glassed in hallway between the two sections of the lions’ habitat. A little girl walked up to the glass and could see the male lion through it, but didn’t realize the female was right there — until the female jumped up at the girl and slapped her paws against the glass. Scared the bejeezus out of the kid and her family members, but I couldn’t help but laugh. (Was that mean?)

Another sound-miss was when I was over looking at the Flamingos and I could hear the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill honking noisily.  But I couldn’t get over there fast enough to see him doing his thing. *Sigh*

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

Anyway, one of the Snow Leopards was out. I think it was Blizzard, the big male. He was laying in the grass, sleepy, stretching, yawning. Then he sat up and posed for a few photos. Such a handsome cat.

A few habitats down from the Snow Leopard was where the Capybara was being housed. She was living inside the Anteater’s habitat. A nearby docent told me that the anteater is about 17 years old and doesn’t like to come out anymore, so they let the Capybara use its enclosure in the morning hours, and let the anteater out in the afternoon.

The Capybara is three years old, still considered a youngster, and weighs about 90 pounds. They expect her to get bigger as she matures more. Capybara’s are the largest living rodents in the world. She kind of made my day.

Right now, the zoo has just the one female, which I think is kind of sad because they’re highly social animals. Isolation can be bad for them. The docent said the zoo is looking for a companion for her. They’re semiaquatic animals, too, and the current habitat they have her in doesn’t really supply her with any sort of a pool, so I hope the zoo is able to construct something more true-to-life for her to live in, in the future.

This female, so far though, was looking comfortable, sitting like the Queen of Sheba so close to the glass of the enclosure that you could almost touch her.  There’s an auction going on right now for the privilege of naming her. I’d love to be able to do that, but right now the top bid is $2,650. Waaaaay out of my league.

There was a handful of Meerkats in their enclosure when I went by. One was in the turret, and the other ones were below it, grooming one another in the sand. I think the one in the center of the group was the dominant female, but I’m not sure.

On my way out of the zoo, I could hear a Red-Shouldered Hawk calling from a nearby tree. I was able to get some photos of it before I left. I walked for about 2½ hours and then went back home. Despite the “ferrets” and my sore hip poking at me all the while, I enjoyed my visit and all of the animals.

This was hike #79 in my annual hike challenge.

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Species List:

  1. Aardvark, Orycteropus afer
  2. Abyssinian Ground Hornbill, Bucorvus abyssinicus [heard]
  3. African Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus jubatus
  4. African Lion, Panthera leo
  5. Amazon Milk Frog, Trachycephalus resinifictrix
  6. American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis
  7. American White Pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
  8. Anole, Anoles sp. (blue)
  9. Ball Python, Python regius
  10. California Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma californica [heard]
  11. California Tiger Salamander, Ambystoma californiense
  12. Capybara, Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
  13. Caribbean Flamingo, Phoenicopterus ruber
  14. Catalina Island Rattlesnake, Crotalus catalinensis
  15. Chinese Crocodile Lizard, Shinisaurus crocodilurus
  16. Comb-Billed Duck, Knob-Bill, Sarkidiornis melanotos
  17. Common Chuckwalla, Sauromalus ater
  18. Crested Screamer, Chauna torquata
  19. Crow, American Crow, Corvus brachyrhynchos
  20. Eastern Bongo, Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci
  21. Eastern Fox Squirrel, Sciurus niger
  22. Gila Monster, Heloderma suspectum
  23. Golden Mantella Frog, Mantella aurantiaca
  24. Green and Black Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates auratus
  25. Green Mantella Frog, Mantella viridis
  26. Grevy’s Zebra, Equus grevyi
  27. Hawk-Headed Parrot, Deroptyus accipitrinus
  28. Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae
  29. Madagascar Big-headed Turtle, Erymnochelys madagascariensis
  30. Madagascar Flat-tailed Tortoise, Pyxis planicauda
  31. Madagascar Tree Boa, Sanzinia madagascariensis
  32. Mallard Duck, Anas platyrhynchos
  33. Mediterranean Fan Palm, Chamaerops humilis
  34. Meerkat, Suricata suricatta
  35. Mongoose Lemur, Eulemur mongoz
  36. Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Picoides nuttallii [heard throughout the zoo]
  37. Ostrich, Common Ostrich, Struthio camelus
  38. Phantasmal Dart Frog, Epipedobates tricolor
  39. Red Gum Eucalyptus, River Redgum, Eucalyptus camaldulensis
  40. Red Kangaroo, Macropus rufus
  41. Red River Hog, Potamochoerus porcus
  42. Red-Shouldered Hawk, Buteo lineatus
  43. Regal Pelargonium, Pelargonium × domesticum
  44. Rhinoceros Iguana, Cyclura cornuta
  45. Smoky Jungle Frog, Leptodactylus pentadactylus
  46. Smooth-Fronted Caiman, Paleosuchus trigonatus
  47. Snow Leopard, Panthera uncia
  48. Spider Tortoise, Pyxis arachnoides
  49. Squirrel Monkey, Saimiri sciureus
  50. Sumatran Orangutan, Pongo abelii
  51. Tawny Frogmouth, Podargus strigoides
  52. Thick-Billed Parrot, Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha
  53. White’s Tree Frog, Litoria caerulea
  54. White-Faced Saki, Pithecia Pithecia
  55. White-Faced Whistling Duck, Dendrocygna viduata
  56. Wolf’s Guenon Monkey, Cercopithecus wolfi
  57. Wood Duck, Aix sponsa
  58. Yellow-Banded Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates leucomelas
  59. Yellow-Billed Magpie, Pica nuttalli