Tag Archives: Southern Crested Screamer

My Behind-The-Scenes Tour at the Zoo, 02-07-19

Around 10 o’clock I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo to participate in their behind-the-scenes “hoofed animal” event. I got there a little early, so I walked around the flamingo pond, and was able to get a video snippet of one of the Crested Screamers screaming.  It was in the 40’s outside, so you can actually see the bird’s breath as it squawks. Around 11:00 am I was met by a woman named Kathryn who introduced herself as my tour guide – and let me know that I was the only one who would be going on the tour, so we could take as much time as we wanted, and I’d have her all to myself.  Cool!

I let her know that I was with Tuleyome and told her about our program on one of the wishing wells in the front of the zoo. Instant bonding. She liked talking with naturalists, she said. She asked me how long I’d been a zoo member and which animals I liked. I told her I really liked the “weird” ones like the Red River Hogs and the Abyssinian Ground Hornbills — and Coconut, the baby Snow Leopard, but everybody likes him. Hah!  She said they’d set up a tour for the Hornbills but had to pull it from their schedule because they were going into their mating season and could get aggressive with strangers. They can also do special tours – for a fee – if you’d like them to; just tell them what animals you’re interested in and they’ll work up an encounter for you. The cost is a bit prohibitive for me, $150 per person, but not overly pricey for someone with a good income.  This is the first time the zoo is doing these behind-the-scenes tours (inspired by “The Zoo” television show on Animal Planet), so their staff is excited to see how things go.

Anyway, Kathryn walked me back behind the animal hospital on the grounds and into the hoofed animal pathway along the back of the zoo.  First stop was the kitchens where meals are prepared for all of the animal every morning (and sometimes in the afternoon). Kathryn picked up a bowl of carrots and leaf lettuce and then we were on our way to see the animals.

CLICK HERE to see the full album of photos. (I was so engrossed with the tour, listening to Kathryn, that I forgot to take many photos during it. D’oh!)

As we walked along, Kathryn let me know that ALL of the plants on the zoo property and non-poisonous, so if an animal is able to reach outside the confines of its enclosure and grab a snack from a nearby bush or tree, it won’t get sick. She also said that the animals are checked at least once month for any zoonotic diseases (diseases which are communicable from one animal to another, or from animals to people and vice-versa) – and that’s done in part because there’s no way for the zoo to effectively keep errant birds, squirrels, mice and rats from coming into the zoo from the outside.

First stop was the giraffe pen, and Kathryn showed me the “squeeze box” areas that the giraffes walk into when they’re going to get seen by the vet or checked out by the keepers. Because the giraffes are so tall, of course, everything is on a huge scale. When we walked along the back of their paddock, the big Masai male giraffe came up to the fence to greet us – and ask for food.  He was super picky, though, and didn’t want the lettuce or carrots we had for him. He wanted acacia leaves. So, Kathryn got a bowl of them, and I was able to feed him those. You know about the giraffe’s long purple tongue, I’m sure, but did you know that their saliva is like thick slime? It’s to protect the tongue from injury when the giraffe pulls leaves and twigs from trees. I found out just how thick it was when the giraffe licked my knuckles as he was taking the acacia leaves from me.

Also, in the pen with him, among the other giraffes, were sister Reticulated giraffes, Sky and Goody. They’re super bonded to one another, and Sky kept giving Goody lots of kisses. Goody had a malformed foot, so the zoo staff along with a medical team from UC Davis, fitted her with a special boot to even out her footing. Sky came to get some acacia leaves, too, but Goody was more shy.

Then we walked around to the zebra enclosure. All of the zebras there right now are older females who have arthritis and other health issues. Their enclosure has mostly flat ground with only a few shallow knolls, so the old gals don’t have to worry about steep climbs or uneven terrain. Each one, of course, has its own unique stripe pattern, and their keepers can immediately identify who’s who just by looking at the pattern on the zebras faces. One of the zebra came up to get carrots, but I wasn’t allowed to feed her myself because the zebras have big sharp teeth, like a donkey, and can get a little food aggressive.

Then, we went to see the Bongos.  Mama Penny and her daughter Taylor (Swift) were in the large exhibit pen and the dad (I don’t remember his name) was in the smaller one. The Bongos are actually “forest” dwellers and are larger and heavier than gazelles or other similar species. They’re also slower moving. Males are darker in color than the females, but only when they’re young and virile. When they get older and their testosterone levels drop, the take on the same coloring as the females.

Taylor had made headlines about a year ago when she escaped from the exhibit and went running through the zoo.  There had been a violent rain and wind storm one afternoon that caused tree limbs to fall into the exhibit.  It spooked her and she jumped the fence from her exhibit into the Red River Hogs’ exhibit, where the fencing was lower, and then jumped the fence there into the zoo. Luckily, the zoo had just had a fire-drill about animal containment a couple of days before Taylor’s escape, so they were able to use baffle-boards (boards with handles on them), to surround Taylor and guide her back around behind the vet clinic – along the same route I was taking with Katheryn, to get her back where she belonged. It took all of 10 minutes. Phew!

When we were done with the bongos, Kathryn and I walked back to the vet clinic where I was “released into the wild” of the zoo. I really enjoyed the one-on-one time with someone so knowledgeable about the zoo and its animals and would love to go on other excursions if they’re made available.

I left Kathryn and I walked over to the area where the big cats are, and was very happy to see that Coconut, the baby Snow Leopard, and his mom, Misha, were out on exhibit. Coconut is getting so big now that he’s almost the same size as his mom and, at first, I mistook him for his dad, Blizzard. The keeper who was standing by the exhibit said he’s now about 9 months old and may be able to stay with mom until he’s almost 3 years old – but that will depend on Misha. When she gets to the point where she thinks Coconut is big enough and feisty enough to fend for himself, she’ll stop caring for him and tolerating him.  He’s getting pretty food-aggressive right now, but so far Misha has been patient with that and lets him have whatever her wants. Today was “bone day”, so there were a few large cattle bones in the Snow Leopards’ exhibit. Coconut greedily confiscated all of them and put them in a pile so he could gnaw on them. Hah!

There was a lot of construction going on throughout the zoo. The new Okapi exhibit is being finished up and is slated to open on February 15th. Although they’re hoofed animals, too, I didn’t get to see them on my tour because they were still in quarantine. The zoo if also refurbishing the jaguar exhibit and will be expanding the lion exhibit soon… Lots of changes.

Vacation Day #3: Sacramento Zoo… Mostly

DAY THREE OF MY FALL VACATION… Columbus Day; the office is closed.  I got up around 6:30 this morning, and initially headed over to the Cosumnes River Preserve to see if there was any water there yet or any sandhill cranes in the rice fields.  I saw some cranes in the distance, but the preserve was dryer than dry.  I walked for a little bit – to the end of the wooden boardwalk and back – and then I decided to leave the preserve and headed back to Sacramento.

By the time I got there, I knew the Sacramento Zoo was just about to open.  I thought with it being a “holiday” the zoo would be packed, but the parking lot was nearly empty when I got to it, so I spent the morning at the zoo instead.

At the zoo, I spent a lot of time watching the Wolf’s Guenon monkeys. The whole family was out: mom, newborn baby, the two older siblings (by the same mom) and dad. The baby is getting more and more brave, and wants to go searching around their enclosure, but mom is very protective of him and won’t let him too far out of reach. At one point, she had all of her children around her, and the baby squirmed away from her and started to climb down a branch. One of its older siblings caught the baby by its tail and slowed it down enough for mom to get up and scoop up the baby.  Hah!

The male Eastern Bongo was out, but the female and her baby weren’t. While I was watching the male, I noticed some tree squirrels running around, and saw one of them climb a sturdy cane of bamboo straight up into the overhanging limbs of a tree… where the squirrel had built a dray (the name for a squirrel’s nest).

Of the big cats, only the lions and jaguar were out. The female lion was perched on top of the “cat tree” in their enclosure, so I was able to get quite a few photos of her. But the male was pacing, so it was hard to get any good shows of him.  I heard him bellowing later, though, and assumed others got pictures of that. The jaguar there is very “secretive”, so you don’t get to see him at all very often.  Today, though, he was standing right by the fence on one side of his enclosure where there’s a small pond.  He was cleaning himself, licking his paws… I’d ever seen him that close before. His was sitting at kind of a weird angle from me, though, so most of the photos I got of him were from over his shoulder. His coat is soooo gorgeous…

I got to see the baby flamingoes again today and, wow, do they look different from the last time I saw them. All of their white baby fluff is gone, and they’re starting to get their fledgling feathers. They’re a mix of dark gray and pink now.

The zoo has built a new bridge and viewing platform the crosses through the middle of the big pond where the adult flamingoes hang out with many other birds (some of them wild, some of them belonging to the zoo). There were several pairs of Wood Ducks in and around the pond, and I got some photos and a video snippet of one pair as they were grooming one another and nibbling at one another’s bills.

In the Kangaroo enclosure, there were quite a few ‘roos and wallabies out hopping around. Usually, I hardly get to see one or two of the critters; today, they were everywhere.  The Red Panda, in the enclosure across the walkway from the ‘roos, was out, but was sleeping in his tree.

Here are some pix & videos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mkhnaturalist/albums/72157686030399802

Around 11 o’clock I stopped and had a hot dog, fries and a beer for lunch. After that, I walked through the reptile house before heading out of the zoo.

By the exit, there was a docent holding one of the zoo’s “animal ambassadors”, Tim (short for Timbuktu), a Mali Spiny-tailed Lizard. It was really cool-looking. His dark skin was really loose-fitting on his body, and he’s able to “inflate” himself in defense if he needs to. His tail looks like a major weapon: covered in rings of hard-scale spines… The docent said Tim was about 13 years old.

I got back to the house right around noon.

 

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.

Zoo Day, 03-31-17

Around 8:30 am I headed over to the Sacramento Zoo, hoping to be able to catch a glimpse of their new tigress Jillian.  I didn’t see her, but I did get to see a lot of the other big cats including the Snow Leopard, Lions and Jaguar.  It was sunny, bright and in the 50’s, but a stiff wind was blowing so it felt a little colder than it was.  I put on an extra t-shirt to keep my insides warm…

CLICK HERE to see the entire album of photos and video snippets.

I got to the zoo too early, so I walked around the middle  pool at the William Land Park.  Whatever restoration the city was doing there is finished, but the big pond is still empty and surrounded by a fence.  I finished the walk around the pool right around 9 o’clock so I went into the zoo – just as a busload of ferrets showed up. Eew.  I tried to avoid their group as much as possible, but one group figured out that I had a good eye for finding the animals, so they hung around me no matter how hard I tried to lose them.  “Just watch where she points the camera,” one of the moms kept telling the kids.  Hah!

I was at the zoo for about three hours, just walking around at a leisurely pace, taking photos… Around 11:00 I stopped and got some lunch: a club sandwich with fries and a beer, and a package of cotton candy, too, of course. I can’t have a zoo day without cotton candy.

Most of the giraffes were out including the Masai dad, who was playing kick-ball with a barrel, and the baby who was feeling his oats and jumping around.  He would crouch down on his long legs and then pop up and bounce around – so cute. I got photos and videos of them.

When I got to the lions, papa decided to start roaring and I was able to get video of that, too. All of the cats seemed to be really enjoying the fresh cool weather, and posed for photos… except for Jillian. There was a zookeeper sitting out in front of the tiger’s enclosure, and pointed out where the tiger was supposed to be: in the dark under a cave-rock. I couldn’t see anything.  Jillian is new to the zoo, so she’s not habituated to her enclosure yet. I’m sure all the screaming children running around wasn’t helping her any…

There was a female Mallard who already had a brood of about seven ducklings with her; early season babies… and when I got to the chimpanzee enclosure, near the end of my walk, they were all sitting on the ground eating leaves or dozing in the warm sun…  I think I ended up with over 1400 photos!

Vacation Day 12: Sacramento Zoo

DAY 12 OF MY VACATION. Up at about 6:15 this morning. I had a leisurely breakfast and checked on my email and whatnot before heading over to the Sacramento Zoo. This was supposed to be the only clear day in the week before the next rain storm arrived, so I figured if I wanted to get to the zoo, this would be the best day to do that. It was 56° when I got to the zoo, and it was about 73° when I left around noon. It was a beautiful day, and for the first hour I was at the zoo, I was one of only two people there…

I started out in the reptile house, and was happy to be able to go through it entirely alone, with no pushy screeching kids around. The zoo has a lot more different Turtles now, and their breeding programs for the endangered Western Pond Turtle is going really well… There was one tank that had hatchlings swimming in it.

I got my first viewing of their new Eastern Bongo – such a handsome animal. And the chimps and orangutans were out and moving around when I went by their enclosures. The zoo seemed to be full of students or docents-in-training who were walking around with clipboards, taking notes, and using their cell phones to take photos. Zoo personnel tried to keep them moving throughout the park, but sometimes the students would get fascinated by this animal or that one and would stall and just take pictures. When they were watching the orangutans, I heard the over-seeing zoo lady tell the students, “Well, I see now that I shouldn’t have brought you over here…” and they all started chuckling.

The Wolf’s Guenon were just waking up when I went by their cage, including the baby who walked around with a piece of grass in its mouth for quite a while. It’s mom had been snatching leaves off of the bamboo plants growing outside of the cage, but the baby couldn’t reach that far, so it ripped up some grass instead. Hah! Later, I saw it clinging to its mom and nursing a little bit. I guess the grass wasn’t very filling.

I always complain that I “never” really get to see the aardvark there or the little Fennec Foxes that share its enclosure. Today, the aardvark had walked out into its sandy enclosure, rolled onto it back, and just laid out in the warm morning sunlight with its belly and feet up. Hah! So cute. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it. A lady came over to me and asked, “What IS that thing?” Aardvark belly… and balls. Definitely a boy. Hahahaha!

The Fennec Foxes were inside their cave, and kept going to the door to look out at the aardvark, like they couldn’t believe he was that “exposed” either. I got some photos a little video of them. Across the pat from all of this, the giraffes were out having breakfast, including the baby Masai giraffe.

Among the felines in the zoo, the male and female African Lions were out, dozing in their enclosure. The male was sitting right next to the fence, separated from viewers by only a couple of feet. And the Jaguar, which I hardly ever see, was also out. He was standing in the middle of his enclosure, listening to the rustling of the zoo keepers who were inside his night-time cage cleaning it up. I’m sure he was waiting for them to get out of there so he could get his breakfast.

The Snow Leopard was out, too. At first it climbed up to the top of the enclosure and watched the zoo keepers cleaning up the space next to it (which was closed off while reconstruction is going on). Then the leopard jumped down to the bottom of its enclosure and landed so hard I worried that it had hurt itself. But it got up, rolled over onto its back, got up again and hopped around – like a kitten playing with string or something – and then climbed up onto the back of its enclosure, stretched and laid down up there in the sun. I’d never seen it so active before.

Among the birds, I got to see the Flamingos, the Azure-winged Magpie, a Comb Duck, the Emus, Fulvous Whistling Ducks and White-faced Whistling Ducks, the female Himalayan Monal, the King Vultures, the Orinoco Geese, and Southern Crested Screamers. In the duck pond there were also some wild Mallards, Canada Geese, and little Wood Ducks.

As I was walking, I took a few “Facebook Live” videos.  They posted immediately to my Facebook page so people could see what I was seeing just a few seconds after I saw them.  I’m listing them below, but I don’t know if you can see them:

By the time I’d posted the lunch video, my brother Marty posted the comment: “OK – enough videos!  ” Hahahahaha!

I spent about 3 hours at the zoo and then went home. It was a lovely morning…

Lots of Babies at the Zoo, 08-20-16

I got up around 8:00 am this morning, and headed over to the Sacramento Zoo. I’m still fighting off a little bit of the vertigo and the drowsiness from the medication, but I needed to get moving and get some fresh air… and I felt that if I got super-dizzy while at the zoo, at least there would be a lot of people around who could help me… I walked slowly and used railings wherever I could and I made it through most of the zoo.  I didn’t get over to the chimpanzee house or the reptile house, but I still got to see a lot of stuff.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE WHOLE ALBUM of photos.

Over the previous several months a lot of babies had been born to the zoo, and I got to see several of them today which was fun.  The Red River hoglets are getting big and are out of their stripes and into their more adult coats now. They’re still smaller than mom and dad, and don’t have the tassels on their ears that the adults have but I still think they’re cute.

Then I saw the baby Masai giraffe.  When you see it in photos by itself, it doesn’t look all that small.  But then its dad walked by and, wow, the baby is still small.  Like all of the giraffes, it has such a gentle face, and gorgeous long eyelashes… I actually sat down on a bench next to the giraffe enclosure and watched it for almost 20 minutes…

Next to the giraffe enclosure is the on-site animal hospital. They have windows along the front of it, so you can look in at the exam rooms and see what’s going on, if anything.  Today, there were two female veterinarians in there working on one of the guinea fowl.  They had the bird sedated and on a table with IV’s, but I don’t know exactly what they were doing to it…

Then I went to see the new baby Wolf’s Guenon (born on June 5th); it’s just a little stick with fur that is always on the go.  It was sometimes hard to get pictures of him, he was moving so fast.  But he was soooo adorable.  It’s mom was right near the baby and huffed and growled at me when she felt I getting too close to their habitat. I’d never heard her make any kind of noise before, so it was kind of a surprise.

None of the big cats were out today except for the male lion – and he sat with his back to the fence, so I didn’t get any really good photos of him. I did get to see a lot more animals, though, including the aardvark who was out of his cave; this was the first time I’ve seen him out in the sunlight…

After about 2 hours, I was getting a little nauseous and tired, so I headed back home.