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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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Little Green Guards Excitement!

The Little Green Guards were excited by our surprising camera-trap discoveries. (Photo by Lei Shi)

The Little Green Guards were excited by our surprising camera-trap discoveries. (Photo by Lei Shi)

The feeling of love and empathy for animals is very much influenced by one’s culture and upbringing. How can people conserve endangered animals if they do not love them? How do people come to love and appreciate animals? These are the kinds of questions I often ponder, and I am eager to find ways to help people, especially children, bond with animals.

Over the last five years, I have been exploring the topic of love and empathy toward animals and learning how to cultivate these sentiments in children who are in my Little Green Guards program. Little Green Guards are children living in conservation priority areas that have an underdeveloped economy and education system. The goal of the program is to build a strong and lasting love for animals in children, ultimately empowering them to become conservation stewards of their natural heritage.

Because personal experience can create deep impressions, it is important to include many field trip opportunities for Little Green Guards to fall in love with animals and nature. In Fanjingshan, China, my collaborators and I recently used our camera-trap research project as a way to introduce local schoolchildren to wildlife that may be difficult to see in the nearby forest.

Before going to the field we explained the science behind our camera-trap research to the children, how the cameras have helped us understand the “secrets” of many amazing animals, some active in the day and some at night. We then tantalized the children with our best photos and the “surprises” we discovered. The children would “Ooh!” and “Aah!” as they looked at the photos—the excitement for camera-trapping was escalating!

Fanjingshan nature reserve biologist Lei Si showed children how to mount a camera trap on a tree. (Photo by Kefeng Niu)

Fanjingshan nature reserve biologist Lei Si showed children how to mount a camera trap on a tree. (Photo by Kefeng Niu)

Out in the forest, we selected a relatively flat area with a sturdy tree. We then showed the kids how to properly install batteries and the memory card, program the settings, and finally mount the camera. When all the preparation was done, the children practiced taking “selfies,” one by one, by triggering the sensor in front of the camera and saying “Qiezi!” (the Chinese version of “Cheese!”). Beyond just having fun, this Little Green Guards lesson allowed us to teach the children not only about animal biology and caring for their wildlife neighbors but also essential life skills so they can develop healthy self-esteem, despite their rural circumstances.

Two Little Green Guards inspect the camera trap,

Two Little Green Guards inspect the camera trap,

The success of the Little Green Guards program will require long-term efforts and reaching out to as many communities as possible around Fanjingshan and other protected areas in China as well as in Vietnam and Madagascar. As the citizens who live adjacent to natural habitats form the front line of defense in protecting local biodiversity, we imagine that our Little Green Guards program may have a substantial positive influence on people’s attitudes toward conservation. We hope that one day every child in the Little Green Guards program will develop affection for wildlife so that when that day comes, we can all smile and say “Qiezi!”

Chia Tan, Ph.D., is a senior scientist in the Conservation Partnership Development Division of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read her previous post, Have Camera Trap, Will Travel.

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Training For Conservation

Zoo InternQuest is a seven-week career exploration program for San Diego County high school juniors and seniors. Students have the unique opportunity to meet professionals working for the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, and Institute for Conservation Research, learn about their jobs, and then blog about their experience online. Follow their adventures here!

This week interns had the opportunity to meet Nicki Boyd, an animal behaviorist who has been working at the Zoo for 23 years. Ms. Boyd is the Behavior Husbandry Manager at the Zoo, where she runs the training program for all different types of animals. The program’s mission is to advance animal welfare using operant conditioning with an emphasis on positive reinforcement. Training animals is a very long process, where patience is key. As an animal behaviorist, Ms. Boyd is very important to the conservation effort the San Diego Zoo partakes in. The training program plays a crucial role in the welfare of the animals at the Zoo, and how they are able to use their research to help animal populations in the wild.

Ms. Boyd’s first big training project was with the red pandas, where she was able to train them for research and medical purposes. By being able to open their mouths on command, veterinarians were able to check their dental health, and figure out if a broken tooth was the cause of unusual behavior. By training the red pandas to be comfortable with undergoing an ultrasound, it gave keepers and veterinarians an opportunity to prepare for the coming arrival of a newborn. Additionally, Ms. Boyd trained the red pandas to be relaxed while taking their measurements. Their measurements showed a correlation between the red panda’s demeanor and size. The keepers found they were breeding smaller and smaller because the larger ones tended to be more dominant. The smaller, more placid red pandas were the ones chosen for breeding.

Besides working with red pandas, Ms. Boyd also works with training service animals at the Zoo. Not only are dogs a man’s best friend but they are also a cheetah’s. Many cheetahs at the Zoo encounter guests for educational purposes, and for 35 years, the Zoo has paired dogs with cheetahs. To pair these animals, the dogs meet the cheetah as a newborn, in order to create a close, special bond. The role these canines play in the well being of the cheetahs is that they supply comfort, and set an example for the cheetah to follow. An example that Ms. Boyd gave us was that when cheetahs are brought to a new environment like a television station, the companion dog is able to set the mood for the cheetah. These companion dogs are desensitized to loud noises and foreign environments, which comforts the cheetah in stressful situations. When you normally think of service animals you think of guide dogs, police dogs, and detection dogs that help our community; but never their role in conservation of the cheetahs at the Zoo.

Other efforts by the Zoo include working with the US Geological Survey researching the current decline of the polar bear population as related to climate change. To do this, the Zoo is currently studying the movements of Tatqiq, a 520 lb female polar bear, by putting a tracking collar on her. Before they could start collecting data, Tatqiq needed to go through a training process to help her feel comfortable with an object on her neck. Initially, Tatqiq started with a fake piece of seaweed as a makeshift collar. Keepers, with food as an incentive, led Tatqiq to a training chute where she had to put her head through the collar to receive food. By doing this, it made the collar feel less foreign to her. Throughout this training process, the mock collar then made of zip ties, got tighter and tighter. However, she could always take it off if necessary. The data that she transmits back to the researchers will enable them to compare her movements with wild polar bears. Climate change is causing polar bears to travel further in search of food and mates, thus exerting more energy than necessary, causing a decline in birthrate. Ms. Boyd explained to us that the data collected may give evidence that climate change is a growing issue and could be the cause of the population decrease of this magnificent animal.

Humans working with animals are able to make a huge contribution towards the conservation effort. With training and patience, animal behaviorists like Ms. Boyd are able to communicate with a wild animal making a safe environment for both trainer and animal. Once trained, animals like Tatqiq or service animals are able to make a huge impact by collecting data or enhancing an animal’s well being.

Julianna, Conservation Team
Week Two, Winter Session 2015

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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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Ambassador Mi Ton Teiow Receives a New Posting

Mi Ton Teiow explores the archaeology and classical culture of ancient Greece, which included stories and myths about bears and people.

Mi Ton Teiow explores the archaeology and classical culture of ancient Greece, which included stories and myths about bears and people.

Bear Conservation Ambassador Mi Ton Teiow was posted to San Diego Zoo Global for one year following the 22nd conference of the International Association for Bear Research and Management (IBA) in Provo, Utah, but he has now moved on to new adventures!

En route to the 23rd conference of the IBA in Thessaloniki, Greece, Mi visited some of the world-famous archaeological sites in Athens, and admired a statue of a little bear dedicated to the Greek goddess Artemis. This was a beautiful reminder that bears have played an important role in European culture since the rise of European civilization, and they still do. This point was reiterated at the conference during a special session on human-bear conflict. In addition, a session on conservation of Mongolian Gobi bears was attended by representatives of the Mongolian government, further illustrating the importance that some people around the world continue to place on bears and bear conservation.

Mi also heard updated assessments of the conservation status of the eight bear species by the IUCN’s Bear Specialist Group. Six of the eight species of bears are now considered at some risk of extinction, which is a sobering reality in a changing world. As part of the discussion of the status of Asiatic black bears and sun bears, Mi heard about ongoing efforts to reduce the impact of the harvest of these bears’ bile, which is used in some traditional medicinal practices. Mi’s previous travels have not dealt much with the issue of bear bile harvest, but Mi is now gaining much more exposure to this topic.

During the conference, a select committee of international bear biologists decided that Mi could now best serve bear conservation by traveling with Matt Hunt, Chief Executive of Free the Bears Fund, a non-profit, non-governmental organization focused on the conservation of bears in Asia. Since leaving Greece, Matt and Mi have already visited India, Cambodia, Australia, and Laos. So, although Ambassador Mi Ton Teiow has already explored bear conservation in many countries, there are many opportunities for further discovery. Good luck, Mi!

Russ Van Horn is a scientist with the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read his previous post, What to Eat When There’s Nothing to Eat.

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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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Watch the Birdies! Open House at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center

Special displays allow curious visitors to understand the "why" and "how" of the program.

Special displays allow curious visitors to understand the “why” and “how” of the program.

Last December, we held our annual open house here at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center. This is our largest public event of the year and always an exciting time for us. Although we are normally closed to the public in order to focus on breeding our rare birds, this even is our chance to open our doors to those interested in learning about our program.

Since we are located on a remote ranch, we can only accept as many people as can fit in our shuttles for each tour—and the tours filled up fast again this year! It was so encouraging to see such an outpouring of interest and support from our local, island, and global community. In addition to many local residents, we had guests this year fly in from other islands and from as far away as Montana!

Our staff met visitors at our outer gate, situated everyone in the shuttles, and then drove guests through nearly three miles of beautiful, restored native forest to the facility. Upon arrival, everyone gathered inside our main office building to learn a little of the history of the program and to admire our fantastic mural depicting the array of unique wildlife and environments found here on the Big Island of Hawaii. We talked about the species we work with—Palila, ‘Alalā, Kiwikiu, and Puaiohi—and the multifaceted pressures they face in the wild.

The author acting as tour guide for a group of interested visitors.

The author acting as tour guide, giving visitors the inside story about the birds being bred at KBCC.

 

Next, everyone gathered around the windows to get a close up and personal view of our education birds, including two ‘alalā, before heading up to one of our forest bird barns to see our species in their breeding aviaries. It was wonderful to see smiles spread across the faces of everyone, young and old, as they watched some of the world’s rarest birds go about their business.

Throughout the tour, visitors demonstrated great interest and concern for the future of these special birds, and many of our staff received excellent questions such as “What can I do at home to help?” and “Is there a way for me to help restore the forests so our birds have somewhere to go?” We encourage people in our area wanting to help to plant native species such as ‘ōhi‘a lehua, in their yards to attract endemic forest birds. Getting rid of standing water on the property is another great way to make life easier for our birds since it eliminates breeding grounds for mosquitoes, which carry dangerous diseases for both humans and wildlife.

Our entire staff was available after the tours to talk with everyone, and it was so heartening to see such passion and respect for the birds that we work with on a daily basis. Open House is an important reminder for us that the work we do is valued, but most significantly it is our chance to give back to our community for their support, interest, and enthusiasm.

For all of you reading this post, thank you. I will say to you the same thing I said to my tours: Your being here (even if it is just through the Internet!) is a vital part of our program. We could breed birds all day long, but without your interest and support it would be for naught. You are an essential part of the future of these birds, and we at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center are proud to have your support and partnership as we move forward together to make this conservation story a success!

Chelsea McGimpsey is a research associate at the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center.

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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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Good Weather, Good Food

Gao Gao has been in fine form lately, climbing trees and scent marking.

Gao Gao has been in fine form lately, climbing trees and generally giving keepers quite a show!

Lately, as I have been narrating down at the panda enclosure, I’m seeing the bears relax, sit back, and enjoy the food. As many of you know, we feed several different types of bamboo to our bears, and in recent days they have really been enjoying themselves! Bai Yun will often eat for a few hours at a time, and even Mr Xiao Liwu has been doing very well ripping the bamboo apart. And it seems while they’ve been relaxing, panda fans have been thinking; we have been getting a lot of questions about breeding the bears this year.

As of last week we have not seen any change in Bai Yun hormone reading or physical state. However, on a fairly regular basis we have observed her scent marking repeatedly around the enclosure, and even engaging in “water play”, a behavior we typically see when there is a hormone shift. As it is still early for her regular breeding season, we expect to continue watching her closely over the next couple of months and will monitor any progression towards an estrus. She is extremely healthy; one of the benefits about being captive born is a fantastic health package!

Gao Gao has been eating extremely well in his off-exhibit digs, and has been climbing up and down the trees giving our keepers quite a show in the back area. Engaging in handstand scent markings is always fun to see, and having him this active is a nice change of pace.

Now, please remember: even though he is quite vigorous right now and showing a lot of enthusiasm, we cannot put him in with Bai Yun unless we have positive evidence showing her in estrus. Our vet staff will ultimately have the final word on breeding the bears, and rest assured they always keep the animals’ best interests in mind and at heart.

Little Mr. Wu has also been showing lots of energy and spunk. On a daily basis we see him run around the enclosure, playing with enrichment that keepers have put out for him. Our guests have enjoyed watching him and his moves, and it has been great to show our guests what these bears are capable of. Over the next few months we may see more activity and more growth spurts!

Come see us soon!