Zoo Day, 08-12-22

I got up a little before 7:00 AM, got the dogs pottied and fed and had some breakfast. Then I took a shower before heading over to the Sacramento Zoo for a zoo day. Yay! It was 68º F when I got there and 80º when I left two hours later. Guh! I don’t do well in the heat.

A lot of the birds in the zoo were off exhibit and the flamingo pond had been drained in response to avian flu.  According to the zoo: “…The Sacramento Zoo is committed to the health and safety of every animal in our care. As a part of our ongoing efforts to keep our animals safe, we carefully monitor and track the occurrence of disease outbreaks, like avian influenza (or the “bird flu”), that may be a safety concern for the zoo’s animals. Avian influenza is a viral infection that occurs naturally in wild birds. Some species of birds can carry and spread the disease without becoming ill while others can develop severe illness or even die when infected by certain strains of the virus. Avian influenza is not considered a significant public health threat to people, although individuals that work closely with sick birds can sometimes become infected.

Avian influenza outbreaks began to occur on the east coast of the United States earlier this year and the disease has continued to spread west. On July 13th, the USDA confirmed the first cases of a highly pathogenic strain of avian influenza from wild birds in several Northern California counties. The zoo’s veterinary medicine program is directed by the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and we are working with our veterinary partners to implement safety protocols for the birds under our care. Due to the potential risk to birds at the zoo, we are taking a variety of precautionary measures and have activated a comprehensive disease prevention plan.

The zoo has already implemented many prevention measures including strict biosecurity procedures, increased monitoring of flock health, and staff training related to avian influenza response. As risk for an outbreak in our area increases, the zoo will implement additional measures as needed to help keep its animals safe. Future steps include use of enhanced biosecurity protocols, placement of tarp covers or netting over some aviaries, and movement of some birds to more protected areas of the zoo.

In some cases, birds – like the flamingos and others who live on the zoo’s open-air lake habitat – will be temporarily relocated to safer housing off exhibit. Some of the larger birds – ostrich and emu – are currently remaining in their habitats under the watch of the animal care and veterinary teams but may be moved into shelters…”

Seems kind of like a knee-jerk reaction to me, but I guess they’re going with the better safe than sorry tactic – especially with migration season starting.

Oddly, the Thick Billed Parrots and some of the other caged birds were still out in the open. And although the flamingo pond was drained, the alligator pond right next to the flamingo still had water – and alligators – in it. I guess they’re not affected by avian flu…but their water DOES attract wild birds, so… I don’t get it, I guess.

It did attract quite a few dragonflies, too, and I saw a male Common Green Darner and lots of Flame Skimmers dashing around the gators.

Anyway, I was there mostly to see the new baby Mongoose Lemur, and, man, was it CUTE.  I was surprised by how little it was, no bigger than my palm, and I was captivated by its antics. It wasn’t really ready to go exploring on its own, so it clung to its mom with one tiny hand and reached out with the rest of its body to check out what was around it. It also jumped from mom to dad and back again so it could get a look at everything. The photos I got of it don’t do the little thing justice. It was beyond adorable.

The Snow Leopards weren’t out (I’m assuming that was because of the heat),but I did get to see the jaguar, the tips of the Cheetahs’ ears, and the lions (Cleo and Kamau). Cleo was hanging out in the glassed-in hallway between the segments of their exhibit while the male paced back and forth. You don’t get a sense of how big these cats are until you see them, literally, just a few inches away from you. Magnificent. The cheetahs Rowdy and Zig Zag, are twins, and they have a birthday on Sunday; they’ll be 5 years old.

CLICK HERE for the full album of photos.

The kangaroos were just lounging around their enclosure, resting in the shade. One of them did move enough for me to get some profile photos of it. Next door to them was the Kookaburra on one side, and the Galapagos tortoises on the other. I’d never seen the tortoises there before so that was a first. The larger of the two came closest to the edge of the enclosure, so I could get some semi-closeup photos of him. According to the zoo he weighs in at 285 pounds and is 28 years old.

I saw the chimps, but the baboons weren’t out. The Meercats were doing their meercattery thing, and apparently some of the female giraffes are going into season again. The big male followed them around and drank their pee (to test it for hormones) – much to the chagrin of nearby mothers and evoking, “eeeeeeeww!” responses from their children.

As I said, I as there for about 2 hours before it got too warm for me to do any more walking. Outside the zoo there are several oak trees (including live oaks, cork oaks and valley oaks). I looked for jumping galls but didn’t find any sign of them. I’ll go again after the upcoming heatwave to see if that will wake them up.

I did find some Iceplant Scale, Pulvinariella mesembryanthemi, on some of the iceplant growing near the valley oak. [It’s other common name is “Cottony Pigface Scale”. Hah!]

Classified as insects, the scales are unlike any other. This species originated in southern Africa, but it was apparently inadvertently imported into California on the plants. It’s the brown sculptured bit you see in the photos.

Females are green when they’re hatched (and called “crawlers”), but turn brown as they mature and grow larger. In some of the photos, you can see some of the youngsters around the base of the ovisac, the white cottony-looking formation at the rear of the mother that can be twice as long as the mother’s body is wide. Around 800 eggs are laid inside the sac. Males are armored and are winged in their adult form. Males, which are short-lived and do not feed, die within 3 to 7 days of emergence. CLICK HERE for a great PDF on the iceplant scale.

Species List:

  1. Aardvark, Orycteropus afer
  2. African Cheetah, Acinonyx jubatus jubatus
  3. African Lion, Panthera leo
  4. American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis
  5. Bee, Western Carpenter Bee, Xylocopa californica
  6. Black Phoebe, Sayornis nigricans
  7. Blue Elderberry, Sambucus nigra cerulea
  8. Bushtit, American Bushtit, Psaltriparus minimus
  9. Cattail, Narrowleaf Cattail, Typha angustifolia
  10. Cherry Laurel, Prunus laurocerasus
  11. Chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes
  12. Coast Redwood, Sequoia sempervirens
  13. Common Squirrel Monkey, Saimiri sciureus
  14. Creeping Lantana, Lantana montevidensis [pink flowers]
  15. Dragonfly, Flame Skimmer Dragonfly, Libellula saturata
  16. Eastern Bongo, Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci
  17. Fig, Common Fig, Ficus carica
  18. Galápagos Giant Tortoise, Chelonoidis niger
  19. Grevy’s Zebra, Equus grevyi
  20. Iceplant Scale, Pulvinariella mesembryanthem
  21. Iceplant, Pigface Iceplant, Highway Iceplant, Carpobrotus edulis
  22. Jaguar, Panthera onca
  23. Laughing Kookaburra, Dacelo novaeguineae
  24. Leaf Gall Wasp/ Unidentified per Russo, Tribe: Cynipidea [on Valley Oak]
  25. Masai Giraffe, Giraffa tippelskirchi
  26. Meerkat, Suricata suricatta
  27. Mongoose Lemur, Eulemur mongo
  28. Oak, Coast Live Oak, Quercus agrifolia
  29. Oak, Cork Oak, Quercus suber
  30. Okapi, Okapia johnstoni
  31. Red Cone Gall Wasp, Andricus kingi
  32. Red Kangaroo, Macropus rufus
  33. River Otter, North American River Otter, Lontra canadensis
  34. Sage, Salvia sp.
  35. Siberian Crabapple, Malus baccata
  36. Thick-Billed Parrot, Rhynchopsitta pachyrhyncha
  37. Valley Oak, Quercus lobata
  38. Western Fence Lizard, Blue Belly, Sceloporus occidentalis
  39. Wolf’s Guenon Monkey, Cercopithecus wolfi

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