Public Relations

Public Relations

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Two Eggs Mark Start of California Condor Breeding Season at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Holding an egg up to a warm light, a process called candeling, gives a glimpse inside an egg to see if it is fertilized and developing properly

Holding an egg up to a warm light, a process called candeling, provides a glimpse inside to see if it is fertilized and developing properly

Senior keeper Debbie Marlow carefully held a 2-week-old California condor egg up to a warm, bright light during a process known as candling this morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. This egg, laid on Feb. 13, is one of two California condor eggs laid this year, marking the start of the breeding season for the highly endangered species.

After removing the egg from an incubator, staff carefully placed the egg on a scale to measure the weight. The egg weighed 249 grams this morning, and keepers were pleased to see a 14-percent weight loss for the egg from the previous weight check, which means the fluids inside the egg are decreasing and the chick is growing and developing at a healthy rate.

“All eggs lose weight as they develop,” said Debbie Marlow, senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “It seems counterintuitive because as the chick grows you would expect there to be a weight gain, but egg shells are porous and moisture is lost through the shell by evaporation during the incubation process.”

Once weighed, staff will hold the egg up to the warm light to candle the egg and check the air cell, the position of the embryo, and monitor the growth and development of blood vessels.

This egg will remain in the incubator until the chick is ready to pip, or begin the hatching process. It is customary that condor eggs are removed from the nest and placed in the incubator so staff can monitor the development of the egg, and an artificial one is put in the nest in its place. Once the chick is ready to pip, which happens about 55 days after being laid, animal care staff will carefully remove the artificial egg and replace it with the fertile egg. By making this switch, it provides the parents with the opportunity to assist with the hatching of their chick and they can then attend to their chick.

In the 1980s, there were only 22 condors left in the world. The Safari Park has now hatched 185 chicks and released more than 80 birds into the wild. Currently, there are more than 400 condors, more than half of which are flying free in California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

Photo taken on February 27, 2015, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Strategy to Save Northern White Rhino Is Launched; New Genetic Technologies Offer Hope for Species

Global_logo_color webWith support from the Seaver Institute, geneticists at San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research are taking the initial steps in an effort to use cryopreserved cells to bring back the northern white rhino from the brink of extinction. Living cells banked in the Frozen Zoo® have preserved the genetic lineage of 12 northern white rhinos, including a male that recently passed away at the Safari Park. Scientists hope that new technologies can be used to gather the genetic knowledge needed to create a viable population for this disappearing subspecies.

  “Multiple steps must be accomplished to reach the goal of establishing a viable population that can be reintroduced into the species range in Africa, where it is now extinct,” said Oliver Ryder Ph.D., Director of Genetics for the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “A first step involves sequencing the genomes of northern white rhinos to clarify the extent of genetic divergence from their closest relative, the southern white rhino.”

The next step would require conversion of the cells preserved in the Frozen Zoo® to stem cells that could develop into sperm and eggs.  A process to do this was successfully developed in the laboratory of Dr. Jeanne Loring of the Scripps Research Institute and published in 2011.

“If we can take reprogrammed cells and direct them to become eggs and sperm, we can use in vitro fertilization to generate a new animal,” said Jeanne Loring, Director of Regenerative Medicine for the Scripps Research Institute. “Bold new initiatives are required to save endangered species, and we recognize the application of stem cell technology using cells in the Frozen Zoo® provides hope for preventing extinctions, with scientific innovation helping to lead these efforts.”

Researchers at the Safari Park have been working for decades to breed the species but had only four aged individuals to work with. After the recent death of the male rhino, Angalifu, reproductive physiologists from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research collected and cryopreserved 200 vials of sperm and 75 vials of testicular tissue.  This sperm, along with previously collected semen saved in the San Diego Zoo’s Frozen Zoo®, will be utilized for future assisted reproduction efforts.

“The reproductive system of rhinos is very complex and there is still so much we do not know,” said Barbara Durrant Ph.D, reproductive physiologist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “We will meet the challenge to save this beautiful animal by combining recent advances in genetic and reproductive technology with our expertise in animal care and welfare.”

The Seaver Institute has awarded San Diego Zoo Global $110,000 to fund whole genome sequencing of northern and southern white rhinos in an effort to characterize genetic diversity. Understanding the genetic differences between rhino species will allow scientists to determine what assisted reproduction mechanisms may be used for future conservation.

“The Seaver Institute supports fundamental research and innovative inquiry for particular projects that offer the potential for significant advancement in their fields,” said Victoria Dean, President for the Seaver Institute. “We are interested in supporting this project which will take advantage of the, until now, theoretical value of the Frozen Zoo.”

Only one northern white rhino, an elderly female, remains at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Three other northern white rhinos are in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and one is in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. The five remaining rhinos are all of an advanced age and have not reproduced.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.  The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network reaching out through the internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide.  The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
 

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Safari Park Flock Receives Avian Vaccine

SafariParkThe flock of small parrots living in the Lorikeet Landing habitat of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are back in their aviary and ready to greet guests beginning on Sunday, February 22. The aviary was closed and the group of nectar-feeding birds has been residing in a behind-the-scenes enclosure as animal care staff undertook thorough medical exams and an upgrade to the habitat.

Twenty out of the flock of 60 birds received both an oral and injectable vaccine at the hospital over the last couple of days. The remainder will be vaccinated soon. The newly developed vaccine, technically an autogenous bacterin, was administered with the hopes that it will help protect the birds from future effects of salmonella infections.

“We recently lost some birds to salmonella.” Said Bruce Rideout, DVM, Ph.D, Director of the wildlife disease laboratories for San Diego Zoo Global. “Although unfortunate, we were able to use this loss to take biological samples necessary for isolating the bacteria. These samples became the basis for the vaccine.”

To develop the vaccine Safari Park veterinarians collaborated with scientists at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine Infectious Disease Lab. Bacteria isolated from infected birds at the Safari Park were inactivated and provided the basis for vaccine development. Vaccinations are an important part of the effort to conserve species both in zoos and in the wild and are a tool that becomes particularly important when facing the threat of an emerging disease or a disease (like West Nile Virus) that has newly arrived in a location.

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Feeling Better and Getting Her Nails Done: Northern White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Gets Pedicure

Northern white rhino Nola receives a regularly scheduled pedicure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Northern white rhino Nola receives a regularly scheduled pedicure at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Nola, a critically endangered 40-year-old northern white rhino, received some pampering and a pedicure earlier today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. While keepers Jane Kennedy and Mary Weber-Evans gave Nola a rub down and scratched her ears, keeper Ken McCaffree trimmed the 4,000-pound rhino’s nails. The elderly Nola, who was under veterinary care for a sinus infection until recently, is feeling much better and seems to enjoy the extra-special care by her keepers.

Most rhinos wear their nails down just by walking, but Nola’s nails grow at a particularly fast rate. To provide optimal health, keepers provide Nola with nail trims about every three weeks. She is the only rhino at the Safari Park who receives pedicures. Keepers use the same type of tools to trim Nola’s nails as are used to trim horses’ hooves. Most pedicure sessions last about 30 minutes, but keepers work as long as Nola will allow. When Nola is done, she lets the keepers know by standing up and walking away.

Nola is one of just five northern white rhinos left in the world. Three other northern white rhinos are in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya and one is in the Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic. The five remaining rhinos are all of an advanced age and have not reproduced. Poaching for its horn has brought the northern white rhino to such critically low numbers. 

Photo taken on Feb. 19 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Strutting His Stripes, Baby Okapi Steps Out in New Habitat

Amaranta, a four-week-old male okapi calf, explored his outdoor habitat for the first time today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Amaranta, a four-week-old male okapi calf, explored his outdoor habitat for the first time today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

A four-week-old male okapi calf explored his outdoor habitat for the first time today at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The young okapi, named Amaranta, previously had been spending time in the okapi barn and outside yard, but after showing signs of curiosity, staff provided the calf and his mother, Makini, access to the main forested habitat, which is viewable by guests.

This is the 41st okapi calf born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Safari Park has taken a leadership role in conservation awareness through its ongoing support of the Okapi Conservation Project. This project provides wildlife protection, alternative agriculture methods and community assistance in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The okapi calf and his mother will be on exhibit Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Photo taken on Feb. 13, 2015, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291

 

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Zoos Bring Animal Kingdom to Patients at Primary Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities in Salt Lake City

Global_logo_color webToday, a unique collaboration designed to entertain and educate patients and their families about wildlife was announced through a partnership between the San Diego Zoo, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Primary Children’s Hospital, and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area. Funded through a generous gift by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, Primary Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area, the Utah’s Hogle Zoo and San Diego Zoo Global announced the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids in Salt Lake City.

San Diego Zoo Kids is a television broadcast channel that features programming about unique and endangered animal species. It is now available on TV monitors in every patient room at Primary Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area.

“Primary Children’s Hospital is honored to be a part of this partnership with Hogle Zoo and San Diego Zoo to further enhance the healing environment for our patients,” says Katy Welkie, CEO of Primary Children’s Hospital. “The patients we care for and serve love the interaction with animals and the outside world, and our parents and families enjoy the connection to nature. This is also an important extension of our ongoing partnership with Hogle Zoo and elephant research related to cancer.”

The channel features video from the San Diego Zoo’s famous Panda Cam as well as other live, online cameras, fun and educational pieces about a variety of animals and up-close video encounters of popular animals with the San Diego Zoo’s national spokesperson, Rick Schwartz.

“We at the Ronald McDonald House are so delighted to be part of the launch of the San Diego Zoo Kids Channel. Many of the families with sick or injured children, staying at our Ronald McDonald House, have traveled to Salt Lake City from small rural towns throughout Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Montana for needed specialty pediatric care,” said Carrie Romano, Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Intermountain Area. “They come from communities that may not have a zoo and when they’re here for medical care for their children, the child is often not well enough to visit local sites, like our Utah’s Hogle Zoo. The Zoo Channel will bring the animals to the children and their families – along with countless smiles!”

“Connecting kids and animals – what could be more natural? Hogle Zoo is proud to partner with San Diego Zoo Global, Primary Children’s Hospital, and Ronald McDonald House Charities in launching the ‘San Diego Zoo Kids’ Network here in Salt Lake City,” said Craig Dinsmore, Executive Director, Utah’s Hogle Zoo. “We hope that providing this entertaining and educational programming will bring a little joy to kids and families who are dealing with serious health challenges.”

“We have always believed in the importance of putting people in touch with animals as a way to conserve species,” said Doug Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “What we have heard from medical care professionals is that animal interaction and animal stories can also help promote well-being. San Diego Zoo Global has a wealth of animal stories and, through the generosity of Denny Sanford, we are able to bring these stories to the families at Primary Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Salt Lake City.”

San Diego Zoo Kids debuted at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego on Dec. 18, 2013, Los Angeles Children’s Hospital on February 14, 2014, Sanford Children’s Hospital on March 3, 2014, Children’s Hospital Colorado on March 5, 2014, and all three Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta hospitals on June 20, 2014.

About Primary Children’s Hospital
Primary Children’s Hospital is a free-standing children’s hospital located in Salt Lake City, Utah. The 289-bed hospital cares for children with complex illness and injury from across the western United States. Primary Children’s is the only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center serving the intermountain region. It is part of Intermountain Healthcare, a non-profit healthcare system, and it is the pediatric teaching hospital for the University of Utah School of Medicine.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities
It’s something we see every day children – healing faster because they’re surrounded by their families. For over 25 years we have provided a comforting, supportive and healing place for families seeking medical care for their ill or injured children. Ronald McDonald House Charities® of the Intermountain Area (RMHC) provides stability and resources to families so that they can keep their child healthy and happy. Since opening our doors in 1988, we have helped over 45,000 families to stay close in a place that feels like home through our two core programs: Ronald McDonald House® and Ronald McDonald Family Room®.

There are many ways to get involved. You can make a charitable donation, volunteer with your family, company, church or other group. You can participate in the Adopt-A-Meal program, collect pop tabs, hold wish list drives, fundraisers or any other needed projects.

Your support is vital to our mission and will directly impact the lives of thousands of families each year experiencing one of life’s most heart-wrenching moments. Through your involvement, you can give families the ability to spend more precious time together. This means more hugs, more kisses and more “I love you’s.”

To find out more about Ronald McDonald House Charities in Salt Lake City and how to help families stay close when it matters most, visit www.ronaldmcdonaldhouseutah.org or call 801.363.4663.

About Utah’s Hogle Zoo
Utah’s Hogle Zoo is a Utah treasure. Located since 1931 on 42 acres in a unique canyon setting in the eastern foothills, the Zoo is Salt Lake City’s most visited paid attraction and one of the top visited attractions in the state. Utah’s Hogle Zoo is one of just over 200 facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. For more information visit www.aza.org

About San Diego Zoo Global
Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents. The work of these entities is made accessible to children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide. The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Collared Polar Bear at San Diego Zoo Participates in Energetics Research

Collared Polar Bear at San Diego Zoo Participates in US Geological Survey Energetics Research  	 Tatqiq, a 14-year-old polar bear dives to the bottom of her pool this morning at the San Diego Zoo, while wearing a collar outfitted with an accelerometer, thTatqiq, a 14-year-old polar bear, dives to the bottom of her pool at the San Diego Zoo while wearing a collar outfitted with an accelerometer, which measures her movements. She is wearing the collar as part of a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) project studying energy needs of polar bears that live in the Arctic.

Over several months, polar bear keepers trained the 520-pound polar bear to wear a 2.5-pound collar that measures three types of movement—up and down, side to side and back to front—16 times per second.

The data recorded from the accelerometer will be compared with video taken by USGS researchers of her activity on exhibit. Joining these two types of data will give scientists the ability to read the wave-graphs created by the accelerometer data and understand the behavior they represent, including swimming, pouncing, walking or running. By looking at data from collared polar bears in the wild, researchers will then be able to determine what the bears were doing without needing to observe them directly.

The polar bear’s remote Arctic sea ice habitat makes it nearly impossible to collect these kinds of detailed, direct observations of polar bear behavior in the wild. The data gained from accelerometers on collared polar bears in the Arctic will provide USGS scientists with new insights into the bears’ daily behavior, movements and energy demands, which will be used to better understand the effects of climate change on polar bears.

The San Diego Zoo is home to three polar bears: Tatqiq, her brother Kalluk and another female, Chinook. Polar bears are a threatened species due to climate change-driven habitat loss.

Photo taken on Feb. 9, 2015, by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Teens Digging In and Making a Difference: San Diego Zoo Safari Park Conservation Corps Members Restore Native Habitat at Lake Hodges

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FEB. 7, 2015 CONTACT: 	SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL 		PUBLIC RELATIONS 		619-685-3291 WEBSITE: www.sdzsafaripark.org DOWNLOAD PHOTO AT:  https://sandiegozoo.box.com/s/yevg436yvqu3gqxcj5py9v9tq1ee3i3o PHOTO NEWS RELEASE Teens Digging In anTeens from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park Conservation Corps dug in and got their hands dirty as they helped to plant 825 native plants at Lake Hodges in Escondido earlier today. The area was ravished by wildfires in 2007 and the teens were part of an ongoing project to restore native habitat.

The volunteer project, with the goal of planting 10,000 native shrubs across 25 acres at Lake Hodges, was spearheaded by the team from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research Applied Plant Ecology Division, in conjunction with the San Dieguito River Park, with a Wildlife Conservation Society Climate Adaptation grant and a Climate Ready grant from the State of California Coastal Conservancy. To date, over 7,000 plants have been planted.

Coastal sage scrub is a disappearing habitat in Southern California, much of it being lost to invasive grasses, especially after fires. By restoring coastal sage scrub the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and Conservation Corps volunteers are helping to provide habitat to much of the unique wildlife that makes San Diego County special, including the threatened California gnatcatchers, the San Diego horned lizard, and coastal cactus wrens.

Photo taken on Feb. 7 by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Balloon Safari Takes Flight at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

SafariParkBlogA yellow tethered helium balloon ascended into the air this morning at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as staff prepared for the re-opening of the Balloon Safari experience. A newly designed balloon will be lifting guests 400 feet in the air starting this Saturday, Feb. 7, as guests observe clear and unobstructed views of giraffe, rhinos, impala and other exotic and endangered animals at the Safari Park.

Modeled after the hot air balloon tours of the Serengeti, the Balloon Safari can hold up to 30 passengers in an open-air gondola as the tethered balloon rises silently into the sky. The Balloon Safari allows guests to hover in place over the Safari Park, experiencing the view that the hawks, eagles, and other birds in the San Pasqual Valley see. Designed by the company Aerophile, the system consumes no more energy than an elevator and is completely noiseless.

“Now that we have the new balloon, we will be able to take more passengers on more flights daily,” Dami An Jones, operations manager of admissions and guest services said.  “We have a better capacity for the different weather conditions that we have here in the valley, so we will be able to offer more flights for our guests to enjoy a wonderful scenic view.”

The Balloon Safari takes 8-10 minutes and costs $20 for guests. Children 11 and younger must be accompanied by an adult, and the safari availability is subject to weather conditions.  For more information visit sdzsafaripark.org. 

Bringing species back from the brink of extinction is the goal of San Diego Zoo Global. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes onsite wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as international field programs on six continents.  The work of these entities is inspiring children through the San Diego Zoo Kids network, reaching out through the Internet and in children’s hospitals nationwide.  The work of San Diego Zoo Global is made possible by the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy and is supported in part by the Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Heads Up! Baby Gorilla Takes a Look Around

 Heads Up! Baby Gorilla Takes a Look AroundA four-week-old western lowland gorilla peered up to observe his surrounding while resting on his mother, Jessica, at the San Diego Zoo. The five-pound baby is now more alert and starting to learn about the social dynamics of his troop by observing other members.

This infant is part of a troop that includes silverback leader Paul Donn, 26, mother Jessica, 34, and another female, Ndjia, who is 20 years old. They are expected to have access to the outdoor exhibit as long as weather permits.

San Diego Zoo Global is taking a leadership role in conservation awareness and hosts more than 275,000 schoolchildren on grounds at the San Diego Zoo each year. Guests viewing the gorillas at the San Diego Zoo can observe these animals and learn about threats they face in the wild such as habitat loss.

Photo taken on Jan. 30, 2015, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291