Events at the Safari Park

Events at the Safari Park

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Win a Spot for Lorikeet Landing Tweet-up

Photo by Lisa Diaz

Photo by Lisa Diaz

*PARK ADMISSION REQUIRED FOR NONMEMBERS*

UPDATE 12/26/13: ALL TWEET-UP SPOTS ARE FULL. STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT TWEET-UP!

The Safari Park’s Lorikeet Landing experience now has twice as many birds, resulting in twice as much fun! To celebrate, we’re giving our loyal Twitter followers exclusive access to the exhibit on Saturday, January 4, at 9:30 a.m. before the experience opens. Because of limited capacity, only 20 people will be allowed to join.

Want in on this awesome VIP experience? All you have to do is tweet these exact words starting Friday, December 20, 2013:

Hey @sdzsafaripark I want to go to the #lorikeetlanding tweet-up on January 4th!

The first users to tweet the exact words above (one tweet per user) will win spots for the tweet-up. *By tweeting the above, you confirm that you agree to the terms and conditions below.* Please only enter if you are available to attend the event on the morning of Saturday, January 4, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. The winners will receive a tweet or direct message from @sdzsafaipark with more information on how to claim the prize. Space is limited for this event, so get moving!

Guests are also encouraged to participate in our Lorikeet Landing Instagram Contest, which ends the day after the tweet-up. Simply tag your Instagram photos and videos with #LorikeetLanding for a chance to win a private Balloon Safari for ten.

Terms and Conditions

*PARK ADMISSION REQUIRED FOR NON-MEMBERS*

1. NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Participation constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park Lorikeet Landing Tweet-up Contest (“Contest”) will be held online from 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time (“PT”), December 20, 2013 (“Sweepstakes Start Date”), to 9:00 a.m. PT, January 4, 2014 (“Contest Period”). Contest is sponsored by the Zoological Society of San Diego DBA San Diego Zoo Global (the “Sponsor”) who is solely responsible for all aspects of this Contest.

2. ELIGIBILITY. The Contest is open to legal residents of the United States of America who are 18 years of age or older as of “Contest Start Date.” Sponsor’s employees and their immediate families are not eligible to participate or claim a prize. Void where prohibited or restricted by law. All federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations apply. By participating, entrants agree to abide by all terms of these Official Rules and to the decisions of the judge, and waive any right to claim ambiguity in the Contest or these Official Rules.

3. HOW TO ENTER. 1.) As of 12:00 a.m. PT, December 20, 2013, the entrant must:

a. Have a Twitter® account: If you are not a member, you may sign-up here: http://twitter.com

b. Tweet the specified text: Hey @sdzsafaripark I want to go to the #lorikeetlanding tweet-up on January 4th!

No mechanically reproduced entries will be accepted.

4. INTERNET LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY. If for any reason this Contest is not capable of running as planned due to infection by computer virus, bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical failures, or any other causes beyond the control of the Sponsor which corrupt or affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity or proper conduct of this Contest, the Sponsor reserves the right at its sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process, and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Contest in whole or in part, at any time, without notice and award the prizes using all non-suspect eligible entries received as of this termination date. The Sponsor assumes no responsibility for any error, omission, interruption, deletion, defect, delay in operation or transmission, communications line failure, theft or destruction or unauthorized access to, or alteration of, entries. The Sponsor is not responsible for any problems or technical malfunction of any telephone network or telephone lines, computer on-line systems, servers, or providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any e-mail or entry to be received by the Sponsor on account of technical problems, human error or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any Website, or any combination thereof, including any injury or damage to participant’s or any other person’s computer relating to or resulting from participation in this Contest or downloading any materials in this Contest. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE ANY WEBSITE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THE CONTEST IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS AND SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, THE SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK DAMAGES OR OTHER REMEDIES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON (S) RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ATTEMPT TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. In the event of a dispute as to the identity of a winner based on a Twitter account, the winning entry will be declared made by the authorized account holder of the Twitter account submitted at time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the natural person who is assigned to a Twitter account by Twitter Inc.

5. SELECTIONS AND NOTIFICATION OF WINNERS. Winners will be determined by chronological order of entries (first come first serve); the first users to enter earn priority spots. Winners will be notified by Twitter direct message or tweet  and need not be present to win. Only one winner per household. Winners will be required to execute and return an Affidavit of Eligibility/Release of Liability/Publicity Release and completed IRS W-9 form within 30 days of issuance. Winners are solely responsible for all travel costs that might be required to visit the San Diego Zoo. The winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected if a selected winner fails to comply with these rules, cannot be contacted, is ineligible, fails to claim a prize, or fails to return the completed and executed Affidavit and Releases in the stated time period as required, or if the prize notification or prize is returned as undeliverable. Acceptance of a prize constitutes permission to use the winners’ names, likenesses, and statements for promotional and publicity purposes without additional compensation or limitation unless prohibited by law. All decisions of the Sponsor regarding the selection of winners, notification and substitution of winners in accordance with these Official Rules shall be binding and final.

6. PRIZES AVAILABLE. Winners will receive a TBD amount of spots for the Lorikeet Landing tweet-up on January 4, 2014. The prize is not transferable, assignable, or redeemable for cash and if not used will be forfeited.

7. INDEMNIFICATION AND RELEASE. By entering the Contest and participating in any promotions relating thereto, each entrant agrees to release and hold Sponsor, its respective affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, officers, directors, shareholders, employees, agents, participating retailers, and any other companies participating in the design, administration, or fulfillment of this sweepstakes and their respective officers, directors, employees, and agents, harmless from any and all losses, rights, claims, injuries, damages, expenses, costs, or actions of any kind resulting in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, from participation in this sweepstakes or any sweepstakes-related activity, or acceptance, possession, use or misuse of the prize or parts thereof, including without limitation personal injuries, death, and property damage and claims based on publicity rights, defamation, or invasion of privacy.

8. TAX INFORMATION. All applicable Federal, state and local tax liabilities and any other incidental expenses, fees or costs associated with the receipt or use of any prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.

9. WINNERS LIST. For an Official Winners List (available after January 4, 2014, and through December 31, 2014) or a copy of these Official Rules (PLEASE SPECIFY WHICH), send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to: San Diego Zoo Global, P.O. Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112-0551.

10. SPONSOR. San Diego Zoo Global: P.O. Box 120551 San Diego, CA 92112-0551

Matt Steele is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global.

 

 

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Choose Your Favorite Butterfly GIF

Butterfly Jungle is in full swing at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. You have until April 7 to bask in the fluttery glory, but in the meantime, check out these gifs of butterflies in the exhibit and let us know which one is your favorite. You can tell us in the comments below or tweet it to us at www.twitter.com/sdzsafaripark. Enjoy!

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Safari Park Brewmaster Dinner Featuring Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits

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Johari the cheetah stopped by during the reception.

Last Saturday’s Brewmaster Dinner at the Safari Park featuring Ballast Point Brewing Co. held no surprises. Guests came expecting to make some animal friends, enjoy four courses of delectable food paired with equally delectable brew, and have an amazing time—and that’s exactly what happened.

The reception appropriately began with BBQ shrimp and grits crisps, jalapeño shrimp and tasters of Habanero Sculpin IPA. If you’re not familiar with Sculpin IPA, then you’ve clearly been living under a rock. It won gold in the 2010 World Beer Cup and has since been a craft beer staple. Take one of the best IPAs in the world, add a hint of habanero spice and pair it with spicy Creole appetizers, and you have instant melt-in-your-mouth awesomeness. After rubbing elbows with Johari the cheetah (of Cheetah Run fame) and Julio the female Eurasian eagle owl with a male’s name (long story), it was time to get the show on the road.

The first course was a sunburst salad with mesclun mix, port-soaked cranberries, sliced almonds, crumbled stilton, and cinnamon-raspberry Tabasco vinaigrette paired with Wahoo Wheat Beer. Head Brewer Colby Chandler from Ballast Point introduced this pairing as a no-brainer way to kick off the dinner (in more or less words), and he was right. The subtle tang of the beer played nicely with the fresh and fruity salad, allowing the dish to take center stage but not falling completely into the background.

Out came the second course, a Louisiana gumbo with shrimp, Andouille sausage, crab, okra, and all the trimmings, paired with a decidedly hoppy, big-boy beer—Big Eye IPA. The rich, bold gumbo needed a beer that could match it, and Big Eye IPA was up to the challenge. The copious amounts of the American Columbus and Centennial hops in the beer punched through the gumbo’s wall of flavor, enhancing the spice in all the right ways.

Brewmaster Colby and the culinary minds at the Safari Park put on their thinking caps for the next pairing, combining an incredibly unique beer, Smoke Screen Smoked Lager, with bacon-wrapped stuffed Berkshire loin with apple trinity pepper chutney, haricots vert and three potato boulanger. Whereas the previous course punched you in the face with flavor, this course took a more nuanced approach, massaging your palate with depth and complexity. I’m not even sure I have the lexicon to describe everything that was going on with this course, but trust me, I enjoyed every second of it.

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Smoke Screen Smoked Lager paired with bacon-wrapped stuffed Berkshire loin with apple trinity pepper chutney, haricots vert and three potato boulanger

By this time I was about to explode, so I tragically couldn’t fit more than a few bites of the brioche bread pudding with whipped cream, Ballast Point Three Sheets Rum, and caramel butter raisin sauce paired with my favorite beer on the face of the planet, Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial porter. This pairing was as decadent as it sounds, rounding out a finely executed dinner.

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Brioche bread pudding with whipped cream, Ballast Point Three Sheets Rum, and caramel butter raisin sauce paired with Victory at Sea Coffee Vanilla Imperial porter

Cheers to Colby Chandler and Ballast Point Brewing for proving just how beautiful and complex beer can be, and cheers to the Safari Park staff for pulling off yet another flawless event. I’m already excited for the next one.

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Ballast Point Brewmaster Colby Chandler (front), schmoozing with guests.

Matt Steele is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global.

4

Earn Your Master’s with the Zoo!

We here in the Conservation Education Lab at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research are always looking for new and exciting ways to bring conservation to you, and our newest method is sure to intrigue many of you! We are extremely pleased to announce that San Diego Zoo Global is partnering with Project Dragonfly, housed at Miami University in Ohio, to bring a unique new Master’s degree program to southern California!

As many of you may already know, the Conservation Education Lab is dedicated to connecting people to conservation by offering meaningful, hands-on conservation science experiences to middle school and high school students; immersive teacher workshops in conservation biology to middle school and high school life science teachers across the nation; and in situ conservation education to local communities at our many field sites around the globe.

Our latest undertaking will extend the teacher workshop experience into the relevant and affordable Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) Master’s. Participants can opt to pursue a Master’s of Teaching in Biological Sciences or a Master’s of Art in Zoology. This program can be completed part time in 2.5 years while working and is tailored to educators and other professionals interested in community engagement and environmental stewardship.

Join us for a free information session on October 9, 2012, at the Beckman Center for Conservation Research in Escondido, or on October 16, 2012, at the San Diego Zoo. Both sessions run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Enjoy light hors d’oeuvres, an animal encounter, and hear about this exciting new Master’s program!

For more information, click here….

Kimberly Kutina is a research technician for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.

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Nairobi Station: All New!

Touch and brush friendly African goats in our remodeled Petting Kraal.

Have you been to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park recently? If not, you’re missing out! We have an amazing new interactive space, Nairobi Station, which has multitudes of fun things for you to discover. I know, because I work in this new area!

Formerly known as the Animal Care Center, Nairobi Station still provides top-notch animal care, but on a wider scale. The babies needing to be hand raised are still living here, but they are sharing the space with some of our famous animal ambassadors. There is always an educator, such as myself, available to tell you about our special animals. Throughout the day, stop by for an introduction. You never know which animal might be out to meet you!

Welcome to the Nairobi Station at the Safari Park!

These animals are pros at showing off what is awesome about their species, and they get a little help from us to get their stories across. Tina the tenrec, Gibnut the paca, and Irazu the black milksnake are just a few of the animals waiting to meet you in Nairobi Station.
Someone else who is excited to show off his new digs is Robert the Zebra! If you have never had a conversation with a talking zebra, I gotta tell ya, you need to meet Robert. Thanks to attending talking animal school, he is prepared to give you directions around the Safari Park and even some fun facts… straight from the horse’s… ahem, zebra’s, mouth.

After hanging out with Robert and meeting our animal ambassadors, head down Nairobi Walk and check out Nairobi Nursery’s animal exercise yard. Bounding antelope and gazelle babies are waiting to impress you with their newfound skills! Want some hands-on time with some of our furry friends? Just beyond the nursery yard is the newly remodeled Petting Kraal, where you can pet and brush three different species of African goats. Want to know your favorite goat’s name? A keeper will be happy to tell you “who is who.”

Have some fun in the new Village Playground!

Aside from our animal interaction areas, Nairobi Station also has spaces where kids and adults alike can get their wiggles out, show their athletic prowess, and just plain have fun. Just past our Petting Kraal is a brand-new play area where you can acquire some new skills, like learning to balance a jug filled with water on your head. Water elements, drums, and a brand-new ropes course round out our new area. Come check us out…bring the fam!

Alex Higley is an educator at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

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Free Preview: Jungle Ropes Safari

The new treetop aerial adventure, Jungle Ropes Safari, opens at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on July 20, and we’re inviting a few adventurous families to join us for the media preview event on Thursday, July 19, at 9 a.m. to try out the experience the day before it opens.* Sound like fun? Here’s what you have to do to score the experience of a lifetime for you and your kids:

1. Follow the Safari Park on Twitter

2. Tweet these exact words: “My family wants a free ride on #JungleRopesSafari at the @sdzsafaripark on July 19!”

3. Sit back and see if you won.

The first few people who tweet the above will get a direct message from us with an invite to the event. If you’re not one of the first, you’ll be put on the waiting list. We can’t wait to introduce a few lucky families to the awesomeness that is Jungle Ropes Safari. Now hurry and get tweeting!

*Due to the strenuous nature of this adventure, children must be at least 7 years old to participate. Safety restrictions require that only guests who are between 50 and 275 lbs., fit in the provided harness, and have a reach of 55 inches (measured from the sole of the foot to the up-stretched tips of the fingers) can take the Safari.  Secure, close toed shoes are required footwear.

Matt Steele is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, Ropes What!? Jungle Ropes Safari Opens 7/20 at Safari Park.

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Ropes What!? Jungle Ropes Safari Opens 7-20 at Safari Park

Matt rides the Jungle Ropes Safari zip line.

It wasn’t until I completed the first few challenges that a huge grin appeared on my face. I was getting the hang of the clicking and unclicking of the “smart belay” system. The ducking and dodging and balancing and climbing became more comfortable and familiar. I was learning to exist in another world–an arboreal world high above the ground full of pulleys and wires and intricately designed floating obstacles. The rush from accomplishing previous challenges drove me forward, and the anticipation of the challenges ahead manifested in a big, defiant smile that said “bring it on.” I was hooked.

When I first heard a “ropes course” was being installed at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, my first reaction was “ropes what!?” I had never heard of a ropes course. I had an idea that it might be some kind of obstacle course, but I never envisioned the otherworldly treetop labyrinth that is Jungle Ropes Safari. When you head to the Safari Park and see it for yourself, you’ll know what I mean. It’s pretty impressive. I was lucky enough to be offered a sneak peek at Jungle Ropes Safari, and I can safely say it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done.

After suiting up in a super-stylish harness and watching a quick safety briefing, I was let loose on the course. It took me a few minutes to get in the groove, but soon I was brachiating with the best of them. I could say I felt like a monkey or an orangutan, but I’d be lying. I was way too clumsy with my awkward, bipedal human body that was clearly adapted for ground dwelling. It didn’t make me feel like an arboreal ape, but it gave me A TON of respect for them. Honestly, an orangutan wouldn’t bat an eye at Jungle Ropes Safari. Child’s play.

When I was about halfway through the course, I noticed a peaceful feeling falling over me. Sure I was breaking a sweat and trying not to fall, but after a while I forgot about all that. I was focused on nothing but finding my next footing. It was just me and the trees and the course as I conquered challenge after challenge. It was an unexpected kind of meditation, but very welcome.

Think you have what it takes to make it across?

I finally arrived at the zip line portion of the course. It’s nothing compared to our Flightline Safari zip line, which is 2/3 of a mile long, but it’s a nice breather from the rest of the course. You get to sit back and enjoy the ride to the next platform without expending much energy. I clicked my smart belays onto the line and attached my trolley. I knew where to put my hands, almost like second nature at this point–one on the trolley and the other on the straps. I leaned back and pushed off the platform. Gliding through the lush canopy with dappled sunlight lighting my way, I found myself thinking, “I could do this all day.”

Jungle Ropes Safari opens to the public on July 20, 2012.

*Due to the strenuous nature of this aerial adventure, children must be at least 7 years old to participate. Safety restrictions require that only guests who are between 50 and 275 pounds and have a reach (measured from the sole of the foot to the up-stretched tips of the fingers) of 55 inches can take the Safari. We don’t have a price solidified yet, but we’ll keep you in the loop.

Matt Steele is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read his previous post, Garden Fest Insect House Tweet-up.

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Cinco de Rhino

One way to help rhinos? Throw a party!

It sure seems like we are having a party, but this is serious, official rhino conservation business! May was a particularly busy month for rhino conservation, and the keepers at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park contributed the best way possible by throwing a happy hour event! A couple of weeks ago, the Safari Park’s rhino keepers hosted the first-ever Cinco de Rhino event at Hacienda de Vega in Escondido. Although the International Rhino Foundation has been celebrating Cinco de Rhino for four years, this was the first year we hosted a celebration. There were friends, food, drinks, and prizes, and all of the proceeds directly support Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) in South Africa!

At the Safari Park, we carefully observe our animals every day, monitor their health and behavior, and attentively follow up on any concerns. In Asia and South Africa, Rhino Protection Units guard some of the wild populations of rhinos. Their trained staff are the front lines of defense against poaching. The job is risky and dangerous, yet very necessary. And we are here to help support them. In zoos, rhinos act as ambassadors for their species, demonstrating their beauty and importance. In their natural environments, they are an integral puzzle piece in a symbiotic relationship with nature, acting as gardeners for the forest by dispersing seeds to help maintain biodiversity. Rhinos are a flagship species, and saving them can influence an entire ecosystem.

It’s a pretty scary time for wild rhinos right now; they are incredibly threatened by poachers and the insatiable mis-belief that rhino horn is a cure for cancer. Rhino poaching is now conducted as organized crime and is a deadly threat to the future of this species. The latest tally of rhinos poached in South Africa is 227 this year alone, and the number keeps growing. Approximately 1 rhino is poached every 18 hours! It’s hard to sit back and watch the disappearance of these prehistoric creatures, and that’s why we are not sitting here—we’re partying!

An array of items were auctioned off to raise money for Rhino Protection Units.

While party guests sipped drinks, relaxed in the secluded seating areas, and mingled among tables of exciting and highly coveted prizes, we raised $4,489.37 for the International Rhino Foundation’s RPUs. More specifically, the money purchased 2 GPS units, 2 digital cameras, several transponders, and over $2,000 to be used at the Foundation’s discretion.

Initially, when we started planning the event, we hoped to gather donations for prizes and sell tickets to 200 people. Rhinos are so popular here at the Safari Park, and we have such a supportive organization, that we quickly sold out! It was an exciting night; we raffled off T-shirts, gift baskets, and tote bags to many lucky winners. The silent auction featured a private field tour at the Safari Park and paintings created by the rhinos themselves. Finally, our fearless supervisors volunteered their time by auctioning off their services, such as helping keepers complete some of their daily tasks, like loading a few hundred pounds of feed onto our trucks and completing tedious paperwork that is a necessary part of our job. It’s a nice reminder that our love of animals, and our goal to protect them, brings us all together, working toward wildlife conservation.

The Cinco de Rhino planning committee extends its sincere appreciation to everyone who attended and supported this event to benefit rhino conservation. I’d also like to give special thanks to Charlie Hyde, Jennifer Minichino, and Matt Gelvin for helping pull the event together. We are already looking forward to next year’s event, which will be held on May 5, 2013, at the Town and Country Resort in San Diego. All are welcome to attend!

Jonnie Capiro is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read her previous post, Ungulates: Underdogs of the Zoo World.

Follow Jonnie’s tweets on the Safari Park’s Twitter!

 

4

Elephant Serenade

Akaayla leads the group in a traditional African drum circle.

I love drumming. So, when I heard about the LivingSocial Drum Circle experience at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where I work, I had to get a ticket and see what it was all about. Not only would I get to play the drums, but I’d get to play them with members of our elephant herd as an audience! I wondered if the drumming would be bothersome to the herd or if it might actually bring out some sort of instinctual reaction to a sound that their species and family of origin were accustomed to. Only one way to find out! So I got my ticket to attend the May 19 drum circle event.

When I arrived for the event, I walked the path to the Safari Park’s Tembo Stadium and saw boxes and baskets full of instruments waiting to be played: drums, hammers (wooden sticks with round ends to beat the drums), shakers, and a variety of hand-made African instruments. I also saw and heard our own Dr. Zoolittle as he playfully chided people walking through or taking their seats. It was a great way to bring out the smile in everyone and prepare us for the experience we were about to have. Some of Dr. Zoolittle’s inquiries revealed that we were a very diverse audience, with guests visiting from places as far as Russia and Guyana to Los Angeles and Fresno and even Escondido, home of the Safari Park! But we were all there with a common interest: playing drums and appreciating the beauty of animals.

A variety of drums and shakers were available for use.

Dr. Zoolittle guided us as we collectively created the sound of African rain approaching, becoming heavier and then subsiding—all using just our hands. I closed my eyes and listened, and it was magic. I actually imagined myself being in South Africa with elephants and other animals listening in the distance. It was then that I knew this drum circle would prove to be even more than I expected.

Our leader for the more complicated portion of the drum circle was Akaayla, a professor at a San Diego university who teaches African drumming. What a privilege to be able to spend this time with her! She told stories of life in Africa, where women socialize by gathering together and clapping hands rhythmically, and how music and chanting were, in the truest sense of the word, instrumental in changing the political climate in South Africa during years of apartheid. She taught us, and we sang, a Soweto fight song that celebrated victory!

By the end of our time together making music and learning about Africa, the elephants that were previously at the farthest end of their yards had moved as close as they could get to where the drumming and singing was. And so, my initial question about how this event would be received by the elephants was answered.

I might never be able to visit Africa, though I hope to one day. This drum circle brought me close to it, and I have no doubt I’ll attend another. And I’m even more excited now about the arrival of the Summer Safari at the Safari Park that begins on June 30. Jambo!

Valerie Stoddard is a senior administrative assistant at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Read her previous post, Gorilla Exam Takes a Village.

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Biomimicry, Biomaterials, Biomimetics

Our armadillo demonstrates the use of keratin, the wonder protein.

On Wednesday, September 28, the San Diego Zoo hosted the second in our series of fall Biomimicry Receptions. This special evening, sponsored by the City of Murrieta, welcomed David Kisailus, Ph.D., and several of his students from the University of California, Riverside, who work on biomaterials and biomimetics. Guests were treated to an after-hours walk through the Zoo to the Treetops meeting room, where wine and appetizers were served while guests mingled with each other and got to know to UC Riverside students. The students gave us some insight into their research through posters and biological artifacts from the animals they work with, such as abalones and marine snails.

Photo credit: Shadow Van Houten

The theme of this evening’s animal presentation was keratin, the wonder protein used to make everything from armadillo scales to rhino horns to human hair. Even though our armadillo ambassador was a bit shy that night and stayed rolled up in a ball, he still had a lot to tell us about the inspiring adaptations found in nature.

Next, City of Murrieta Councilmember Rick Gibbs shared with us all the benefits Murrieta has to offer. All over California there are designated Innovation Hubs or iHubs. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spearheaded this initiative in March 2010, and in August 2011 the San Diego iHub was expanded to include Temecula, Murrieta, and part of Riverside. We were excited to have this opportunity to visit with Murrieta and spread the word of biomimicry throughout the range of the Innovation Hub.

Photo credit: Shadow Van Houten

The keynote speaker of the evening, Dr. Kisailus, then shared with guests his exciting research in biomimetics. In his lab at UC Riverside they research the question, “What can biology teach us about the synthesis of new materials?” Current engineering processes tend toward the use of unnaturally high temperatures and environmentally unfriendly methods. Dr. Kisailus is trying to amend these practices by studying the processes that occur in nature. Structures are created at ambient temperatures with available materials and biodegrade at the end of their lifetime. Perhaps even more amazing is that these structures often perform better than our human-engineered products. Abalone shells, enamel, and chiton teeth are among the most abrasion-resistant materials, ranking significantly higher than most human-made metal alloys.

Don’t miss the final reception of the series! We are changing up the location and on Thursday, October 27, we’ll be at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research, on the grounds of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. This LEED-certified building houses the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, the largest zoo-based research effort in the world. This reception will feature Richard Lieber, Ph.D., of University of California, San Diego, who will be speaking to his experience linking animal biomechanics to orthopedic surgery. Please visit our Biomimicry website for more information and to register.

Dena Emmerson is a biomimicry research assistant at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, The Da Vinci Index.