Public Relations

Public Relations

1

Baby Bonobo Climbs, Plays at San Diego Zoo

PrintThe youngest member of the bonobo troop at the San Diego Zoo could be seen playing, climbing ropes and rolling in the grass on Friday morning, Aug. 28. The female, named Belle, is 20 months old and is one of four bonobos that arrived at the San Diego Zoo last month, from the Cincinnati Zoo. Bonobos live together in integrated family groups. Belle, her mother, older brother and sister integrated easily into the existing bonobo troop providing them the opportunity for the kind of social interaction they would have in the wild.

Bonobos are a very rare and critically endangered great ape species native only to the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the wild populations are being decimated at an alarming rate. They are very closely related to humans, sharing 98.4 percent of the same DNA. The San Diego Zoo is one of only a handful of zoological institutions in the United States that house and care for this rare species.

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 on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, 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

2

Bottle-fed Giraffe Calf Rejoins Herd at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

SafariParkBlogAnimal care staff at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are taking extra-special care of one of the giraffe calves in the East Africa habitat. Starting today, Congo, a 2-month-old giraffe calf, will be bottle-fed three times a day while he’s with his herd. Eileen Neff, a senior mammal keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, fed Congo his bottle this morning from the back of a keeper truck. Congo gets 2.6 liters of formula at each feeding—and he finished his bottle in about 5 minutes.

Congo is being bottle-fed by animal care staff following the death of his mother, earlier this month. The giraffe calf, who was born June 22, 2015, began taking bottles from animal care staff while he was being cared for at the Park’s veterinary hospital. He was then transitioned to a boma, or barn, in the East Africa habitat and paired up with a 2-year-old giraffe named Leroy, who was also bottle-fed as a young calf.

Congo and Leroy were re-released into the East Africa exhibit at the Safari Park this morning, and Congo was soon seen playing with two other female calves, Siri and Yamakaui. All three calves were born this summer at the Safari Park.

San Diego Zoo Global is partnering with the Giraffe Conservation Foundation to help conserve giraffes in East Africa. This year, a team of scientists from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research has been developing a conservation project with Kenyan pastoralists, to find ways to collaborate and protect giraffes in the savanna.

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 on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, 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.

5

San Diego Zoo Safari Park Loans African Elephant to Fresno Chaffee Zoo

SafariParkBlogA team of animal care staff from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park went on the road this week with a 7,500-pound (3,432-kilogram) traveling companion named Vus’Musi. The 11-year-old male elephant—who is affectionately called “Moose” or “Moosey” by his keepers—was moved to a new home at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo on Thursday, Aug. 20 as part of a breeding loan recommended by the Species Survival Plan program, managed within zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Vus’Musi’s keepers worked with him for weeks to prepare him for the move, so when the day came for him to leave the Safari Park, he walked into his moving crate easily. To ensure that Vus’Musi was safe and confortable, he was monitored throughout the entire drive by two of his Safari Park keepers and a veterinarian. During the trip, there were frequent stops to reward him with treats, including watermelon and cuttings from leafy tree branches.

Upon his arrival, Vus’Musi was placed in a holding area that allows him to see his two new herd members, females Amy and Betts. He won’t have physical access until he has completed his quarantine at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo. Two of Vus’Musi’s keepers from the Safari Park, Mindy Albright and Curtis Lehman, will stay with him in Fresno to assist in his transition to new keepers and surroundings.

“He’s all grown up,” said Curtis Lehman, animal care supervisor, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “Being a male, we knew that someday he’d probably move to another place and start a family of his own—and it turned out to be the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.”

This fall, all three elephants will be living in the multi-species African Adventure habitat. Opening October 15, the area features savannas, pools, waterfalls and mud wallows. The other species included in the new African Adventure habitat include lions, cheetahs, rhinos and meerkats.

Vus’Musi was born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 2004. He is the first calf born into a herd of elephants that was relocated from Swaziland to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 2003, to prevent them from being culled in their homeland. His name, Vus’Musi, means “to build a family”—and now that he is in Fresno, animal care staff hope that he will become a father.

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 on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, 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
2

San Diego Zoo Global Awards Conservation Medals to Two Scientists Working to Save Elephants

Global_logo_color webSan Diego Zoo Global today is honoring the work of two leading field biologists and researchers who have dedicated their lives to saving elephants: Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Dphil (doctorate), founder of Save the Elephants; and Michael Chase, Ph.D., founder of Elephants Without Borders. Both honorees were awarded San Diego Zoo Global’s 2015 Conservation Medals during a luncheon Thursday, Aug. 20 in San Diego, attended by San Diego Zoo Global staff and members of the board of directors. Since 1966, the Conservation Medal awards program has recognized world leaders in conservation who share San Diego Zoo Global’s vision to end extinction.

Douglas-Hamilton was awarded the 2015 Conservation Medal for “Lifetime Achievement,” due to his invaluable leadership of the Save the Elephants organization, which he founded in 1993. He and Save the Elephants have contributed to legislation against ivory trade and importation, and have been rallying efforts to end the poaching crisis facing this species.

When he was 23 years old, Douglas-Hamilton completed the world’s first in-depth scientific study of elephant social behavior, based on elephants in Tanzania’s Lake Manyara National Park. After earning his doctorate in zoology from the University of Oxford, Douglas-Hamilton went on to investigate the status of elephants throughout Africa in the 1970s, and he chronicled how Africa’s elephant population was cut in half between 1979 and 1989.

Chase was presented with the 2015 Conservation Medal for “Conservation in Action,” for providing data on the status of elephants and other wildlife, identifying cross-border corridors, and discovering new migration routes. He is also the principal researcher leading and coordinating the Great Elephant Census—which started two years ago, spans 21 countries, and is expected to conclude later this year.

“This (Conservation Medal Award) came as an unexpected surprise and I’m overwhelmed…It’s a tremendous honor,” said Michael Chase, Ph.D., co-founder of Elephants Without Borders. “This award does come with a very generous gift, and I hope to use the money to establish the first elephant and rhino sanctuary in Botswana that will rehabilitate and reintroduce orphaned animals back into the wild.”

Chase has been studying the ecology of elephants for more than 15 years, but he has spent time in the bush of Africa since he was a child on safaris with his father. Chase received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Natal in South Africa. He returned to his homeland of Botswana and worked with Conservation International to conserve the Okavango Delta and its rich variety of wildlife.

Chase received his doctorate in conservation from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. While finishing work on his degree, he founded Elephants Without Borders to continue his lifelong work with elephants. In 2007, he was the first person from Botswana to read for a doctorate specifically in elephant ecology. Chase also served as a post-doctoral research fellow for San Diego Zoo Global and has conducted groundbreaking studies of the ecology and movements of elephants.

The San Diego Zoo Global Conservation Medal for Conservation in Action is given to individuals who are making an active and important contribution to the conservation and recovery of endangered species, habitats or ecosystems in the field through applied research, breeding and reintroduction programs, community education or the establishment of protected areas. Both the Lifetime Achievement and Conservation in Action medals are presented with a $10,000 prize.

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, 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

0

San Diego Zoo Brings the Animal Kingdom to Patients at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas

Global_logo_color webAnimals and young patients were brought together today at Arkansas Children’s Hospital to unveil a groundbreaking collaboration designed to entertain and educate patients and their families about wildlife. Funded through a generous gift by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, San Diego Zoo Global, Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH), Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas, and the Little Rock Zoo announced the arrival of San Diego Zoo Kids — an innovative closed-circuit television broadcast channel that features entertaining and educational programming about unique and endangered animal species. The channel is available on TV monitors in every patient room, as well as in hospital waiting areas.

“At ACH, we’re fans of any initiative that brings huge smiles to children,” said David Berry, senior vice president & COO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “The animal stories our patients are watching through San Diego Zoo Global take their minds off stressful situations, and remind them of the incredible world waiting for them outside when they’re healed and leave our hospital.”

San Diego Zoo Kids offers up-close video encounters with popular animals, all hosted by San Diego Zoo’s national spokesperson, Rick Schwartz and San Diego Kids host, Lauren Ayers. Viewers can observe the Zoo’s famous Panda Cam, other online cameras, as well as content from zoos across the country.

“We have heard from medical professionals that animal interaction and animal stories can help promote well-being,” said Doug Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “San Diego Zoo Global has a wealth of animal stories, and through the generosity of T. Denny Sanford; we are able to bring these stories to families at hospitals around the country.”

The channel will also feature animal stories from the Little Rock Zoo — which brought a few of their animals to the today’s launch to meet patients and their families.

“Animals capture our interests, touch our souls, and remind us of our own humanity,” said Mike Blakely, Little Rock Zoo Director. “In addition, nature has the power to soothe, inspire and restore.  The more of the natural environment we can give to our children, and to those around us, the more we can hope for renewed health and change.”

The service is also making its debut at the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas in Little Rock.

“What an exciting opportunity for our families at the Ronald McDonald House,” said Katie Kirkpatrick Choate, Executive Director.  “Both the patients and their siblings will enjoy this quality programming and, at least for a little while, will get to focus on just being kids.”

San Diego Zoo Kids debuted in 2013 at Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. Since then, it has been installed at 13 other children’s hospitals and Ronald McDonald House centers across the country.

About ACH
Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is the only pediatric medical center in Arkansas, and it is one of the largest in the United States serving children from birth to age 21. Over the past century, ACH has grown to span 29 city blocks and house 370 beds, with a staff of approximately 500 physicians, 80 residents in pediatrics and pediatric specialties, and more than 4,000 employees. The private, nonprofit health-care facility boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking medical research — all dedicated to fulfilling its mission of championing children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow. For more info, visit archildrens.org.

About Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas
Ronald McDonald House Charities® of Arkansas enhances the lives of children and their families by creating and supporting programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children. These programs include: the Ronald McDonald House and the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. The Ronald McDonald House is a home away from home for families with an ill or injured child being treated at local hospitals. The Ronald McDonald Care Mobile is a 40-foot, state-of-the-art mobile unit that provides free dental care and education to underserved children in their own neighborhoods. To learn more about RMHCA and its work, visit rmhclittlerock.org.

About the Little Rock Zoo
The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and provides engaging experiences that inspire people to value and conserve our natural world. Founded in 1926 with an abandoned timber wolf and circus trained bear, the Zoo now features 700 animals representing more than 200 different species. The Zoo is noted for its breeding programs for the maned wolf, sloth bear, Malayan tiger, western lowland gorilla, chimpanzee, and others. It is also noted for its historical Workers Progress Administration (WPA) buildings that can still be seen throughout the Zoo as well as the renovated Over-the-Jumps antique carousel. The Zoo is located in the heart of central Arkansas at War Memorial Park and is one of Arkansas’s leading family attractions and tourist destinations. For more information on the Little Rock Zoo, visit LittleRockZoo.com, or search Little Rock Zoo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

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 on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, 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

1

San Diego Zoo Welcomes Four Capybaras

PrintVeterinarians gave their first exam this morning to four capybaras, members of the world’s largest rodent species, born Monday at the San Diego Zoo. The exam included weighing the youngsters; checking their eyes, ears and overall physical health; and taking a sample of hair for use in determining the sex of each one. Like many other species of rodents, there are no visible signs to indicate the sex of these animals until they reach maturity, which is about 18 months to 2 years.

The four capybaras, which weighed between 3.5 and 4 pounds, were born on-exhibit in the Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey. They were discovered by keepers at around 6 a.m. Aug. 10. Their mother, Buttercup, is an experienced mom: This is her sixth litter, and she has given birth to a total of 23 babies. The father of these four is a capybara named Wesley.

Guests visiting the San Diego Zoo can see the capybaras, who are walking and swimming on their own. All of the females in the group help to care for—and even nurse—the babies.

Capybaras are the world’s largest rodent and are found east of the Andes, on Central and South American riverbanks, beside ponds and in marshes, or wherever standing water is available. Due to its dry skin, the capybara requires a swimming hole as part of its lifestyle, to stay healthy.

The capybara is not currently classified as an endangered species, although it is threatened by deforestation, habitat destruction and illegal poaching. It was in trouble not too long ago, though, due to hunting. Local people have used this animal as a food source for centuries, and have been seen wearing capybara teeth as ornaments.

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 on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, 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
0

Endangered, Captive-bred Tadpoles Reintroduced into Native Habitat

Debra Shier (left) and Nicole Gardner from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research release frogs into Fuller Mill Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest. The frogs were hatched at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research in Escondido, Calif., as part of the recovery program for the Southern California mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa)—one of the most endangered frogs in North America. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, along with its partners, has been working to save this species from extinction since 2006. This year, the program, which includes captive breeding, resulted in more than 5,600 eggs laid and the most viable embryos in a single season: nearly 1,800. On Aug. 6, 200 tadpoles that hatched this year, along with 27 metamorphs from last year’s breeding season, were released into Fuller Mill Creek. In addition to breeding the endangered frogs, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research participates in the field monitoring of the species, led by the U.S. Geological Survey. The monitoring is critical to determining if the releases are successful, and documenting population declines and increases in this native Southern California species. The mountain yellow-legged frog is a species watched over by a team of scientists, land managers and regulators, while it maintains a perilous toehold in the mountains of Southern California. Mountain yellow-legged frogs in Southern California live in perennial streams in portions of the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains.

Debra Shier (left) and Nicole Gardner from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research release frogs into Fuller Mill Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest.

Just before dawn on Thursday, Aug. 6, a team of staff and volunteers from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research was preparing to load and transport young frogs and tadpoles from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center for Conservation Research in Escondido, Calif., to release them into the wild at Fuller Mill Creek in the San Bernardino National Forest. The process is part of the recovery program for the Southern California mountain yellow-legged frog Rana muscosa—one of the most endangered frogs in North America. The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, along with its partners, has been working to save this species from extinction since 2006.

This year, the program, which includes captive breeding, resulted in more than 5,600 eggs laid and the most viable embryos in a single season: nearly 1,800. On Aug. 6, 200 tadpoles that hatched this year, along with 27 metamorphs from last year’s breeding season, were released into Fuller Mill Creek.

The animals were moved into buckets with a few inches of chilled water, and kept cool with ice packs underneath the buckets. Water temperatures in the buckets were kept close to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, to match the facility where the frogs were hatched and the wild streams where they would be released later that morning. Buckets with frogs and tadpoles were transported to the release site in a temperature-controlled vehicle.

The release site was surveyed by staff from the Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey, who looked for the deepest pools with some overhangs where the frogs naturally like to live. The deep-water locations with banks are also the least likely to dry out before fall, when rain is expected. The team carried the buckets to three pools that had been selected as the release site, and measured the temperature of each pool.

Water from the pools was added to each bucket—about one-half inch to one full inch—to slowly bring the temperature and pH level of the bucket water into alignment with the creek water. Staff gave the frogs five minutes to acclimate before adding more creek water. This process continued until the temperature and pH levels of the water in the transport buckets matched the creek. Then, staff slowly poured the frogs into the pools.

“We vaccinate the frogs before release, to provide some resistance to the Chytrid (Chytridiomycota) fungus once they are released into the wild,” said Debra Shier, associate director of Applied Animal Ecology at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “Our goal with captive breeding and reintroduction is to facilitate species recovery by increasing the numbers of mountain yellow-legged frogs in the wild, as well as buying the species time to evolve resistance to the fungus.”

In addition to breeding the endangered frogs, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research participates in the field monitoring of the species, led by the U.S. Geological Survey. The monitoring is critical to determining if the releases are successful, and documenting population declines and increases in this native Southern California species.

The mountain yellow-legged frog is a species watched over by a team of scientists, land managers and regulators, while it maintains a perilous toehold in the mountains of Southern California. Mountain yellow-legged frogs in Southern California live in perennial streams in portions of the San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto Mountains. The upper-elevation stream segments inhabited by the frogs are generally 1,214 to 7,546 feet above sea level.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed the mountain yellow-legged frog in Southern California as endangered in 2002, and fewer than 200 of the frogs remained by 2003. Efforts to boost the species’ population have included captive breeding, reintroducing captive offspring to historic habitat, regular surveys to assess the species status and conducting scientific research into the causes of the species’ decline.

Myriad factors have influenced the species’ decline, including introduced trout and bullfrogs, pesticides, large wildfires that bury the species’ stream habitats in ash and debris, and recreational activities that can impact frog recovery by damaging egg sacs when people swim or cross streams. And, while land managers are making headway on removing some of these threats, there is an even more serious one that cannot be removed: a fungus called Chytridiomycota. Chytridiomycosis, a disease that occurs when an amphibian is infected with a large amount of the fungus, is a serious threat to thousands of frog species in the U.S. and around the world, and will never be removed from the wild.

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 on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, 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.

Photo taken on August 6, 2015 by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Global

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

9

No Pregnancy for Panda at San Diego Zoo

PrintSan Diego Zoo Global scientists have confirmed that the female giant panda, Bai Yun, is not pregnant.

During a naturally-occurring estrous cycle in March 2015, Zoo staff performed an artificial insemination procedure following unsuccessful breeding sessions with male, Gao Gao. Since the artificial insemination procedure, veterinarians, animal care personnel from the San Diego Zoo along with scientists and researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research have been tracking her hormone levels and watching for behavioral signs of pregnancy. In addition to the hormone tracking, ultrasounds and thermal imaging were conducted to check for any fetal development. All methods used for monitoring for a possible pregnancy are providing conclusive negative results.

Female giant pandas experience estrus just once a year and it only lasts for 48 to 72 hours. If Bai Yun had been pregnant, she would have been one of the oldest giant pandas to give birth. Her mother currently holds that record.

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
4

A Party to Remember for Giant Panda Xiao Liwu: The Small, but Mighty Bear Celebrates His Third Birthday

Xiao Liwu seemed delighted by his ice cake!

Xiao Liwu seemed delighted by his ice cake!

It’s a birthday extravaganza at the San Diego Zoo today! Giant panda Xiao Liwu (pronounced sshyaoww lee woo)—“Mr. Wu” to his keepers and fans—was all energy as he celebrated his third birthday in spectacular pirate-themed fashion. The birthday bear, whose name means “little gift,” came out of his den to find a festive atmosphere, complete with decorations, a brand-new swing, and a beautiful ice cake proclaiming, “Happy Birthday Mr. Wu.”

Hundreds of guests watched as the easy-going bear opened gift after gift. The crowd’s excitement grew as he finally made his way over to his cake and began devouring the slices of fruits and vegetables layering the top. The Zoo’s nutritional services team—the imaginative force behind this year’s impressive cake—spent weeks freezing and sculpting the blue and orange icy treat. The two-tiered cake was made of water mixed with food coloring and frozen into layers. Bamboo stalks, a favorite of Mr. Wu’s, were used to support the top tier. The cake was decorated with sliced fruits and vegetables, colored pieces of ice, pureed yam frosting, and a little honey.

As a special birthday gift, a new swing set was hung inside his exhibit. The swing was built by the Zoo’s exhibit team, with all of the parts donated by fans. Mr. Wu’s keepers also hung decorations, and placed tiny gift boxes filled with hay, pine shavings and his daily food items around the exhibit for him to enjoy. The cake, swing, and gifts are a form of enrichment, which is important to the panda. The items keep him stimulated and active, and allow him to show natural behaviors.

Keepers describe Mr. Wu as a small but mighty bear, who’s extremely smart and adventurous. He enjoys playing with ice cubes and climbing the tallest tree in his exhibit. He also enjoys rolling in different scents, with his favorites being wintergreen and cinnamon. He weighs just over 155 pounds today—but when he is full grown, he could weigh as much as 250 pounds. Visitors can see Mr. Wu at Panda Trek at the San Diego Zoo, or watch him on the Zoo’s Panda Cam, at www.zoo.sandiegozoo.org/cams/panda-cam

The San Diego Zoo is home to three giant pandas: Xiao Liwu; his mother, Bai Yun; and his father, Gao Gao. Giant pandas are on loan to the San Diego Zoo from the People’s Republic of China, for conservation studies of this endangered species. Those who want to help San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy lead the fight against extinction can celebrate Mr. Wu’s birthday by becoming a Hero for Wildlife. To find out how, visit www.endextinction.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 on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, 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

0

Zoo Brings Animal Kingdom to Patients at Children’s Hospital of Orange County

Global_logo_color webAnimals and young patients were brought together today at Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children’s Hospital) to announce the arrival of the San Diego Zoo Kids television channel. Funded by a generous gift by businessman and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford, San Diego Zoo Kids is a closed-circuit television broadcast channel that features entertaining and educational programming about unique and endangered animal species. It is available on TV monitors in every patient room and in waiting areas.

“It only takes an encounter with one of our pet therapy dogs to believe in the positive impact of animals.  We are very excited about this collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global, connecting our patients with so many different animals and providing a wonderfully entertaining distraction for them that we believe will promote healing,” said Dr. Maria Minon, chief medical officer and vice president, medical affairs, CHOC Children’s.

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, hosted by the San Diego Zoo’s national spokesperson, Rick Schwartz.

“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 hospitals around the country.”

The service will also debut at the Orange County Ronald McDonald House. San Diego Zoo Kids debuted at the Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego on December 18, 2013.

 

About CHOC

Named one of the best children’s hospitals by U.S. News & World Report (2015-2016) and a 2013 Leapfrog Top Hospital for the highest quality of care, Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC Children’s) is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach, education and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. Affiliated with the University of California, Irvine, CHOC’s regional health care network includes two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, many primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four clinical centers of excellence – the CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopaedic and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.

 

About San Diego Zoo Global
The San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy is dedicated to bringing endangered species back from the brink of extinction. The Conservancy makes possible the wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) of the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and international field programs in more than 35 countries. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

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