primate keeper


Going Ape, Part II


Karyl shadowed the Zoo’s primate keepers during a Visit-A-Job program. Be sure to read Going Ape, Part 1.

Another interesting aspect to a zoo keeper’s job is “shifting animals,” where you bring the animals that are out on exhibit inside, and send out the group that has been off exhibit. Sounds easy, right? I went to bonobos to see how it’s done.

The trick is to keep the animals’ lives as positive as possible, giving them pleasant, upbeat associations with doing your bidding, particularly when the animals are unbelievably smart, incredibly strong, and look suspiciously like you. Brief positive reinforcement training sessions in holding areas, which reward the animals for desired behaviors like presenting an arm or shoulder, also gets the animals where you want them to be. It was astonishing to watch. Not easy by any stretch, but quite effective.

Sometimes more than one bonobo would scamper into the holding area at the same time, and the keeper could tell if “these two would get along” in the closed quarters for a minute or two or not. Each presented its shoulder for a finger poke, then an empty syringe poke, and a treat. They seemed to enjoy this bit of interaction, and it will pay off for staff when the bonobos are desensitized to “pokes” and can accept shots and blood draws in a stress-free manner. Like their human caregivers, bonobos (and other primates) get annual TB tests, so it is helpful when they can just present an arm for the procedure.

Meanwhile, the group that came inside was rummaging around for treats and enrichment items, and in the excitement they were all communicating loudly at an ear-splitting pitch. The keeper looked on calmly, watching the group mingle and move (they have a fission-fusion society) with his hands on a wheel that will bring down hydraulic gates to separate them in different areas. It is better if they are good friends with all the group members, rather than BEST friends with one other animal, as that will invite aggression and the potential of an inseparable duo ganging up on others. Keepers do their best to let the animals’ natural behaviors shine through and make their lives as positive and interesting as possible. Often the biggest challenge is keeping these intelligent apes engaged and challenged every day. I was dazzled by the keeper’s deft talent for shifting the bonobos quickly and safely.


We then headed back up to orangutans to see if Karen had yet cracked the code of the hot wire to tear up the plants we’d put in that morning. Smart, dexterous, and patient, an orangutan can really give their keepers a run for their money, and it is so interesting to see the big “red apes” cogitating some riddle (like how to touch the newly planted shrubs), then see them methodically solve it. We arrived to find Karen lying on her belly, stick in hand, poking between the charged wires to touch the new foliage. Clever primate! (See post Karen: Will She or Won’t She?)

Time to finish off the day back at gorillas and say farewell to my buddy, Frank. His troop was off exhibit that day, so we went to the bedroom areas where the family was hanging out, resting, nibbling biscuits, and relaxing. (Everything but checking their e-mail!) Frank came over and began swinging from his rope with one hand and beating his chest with the other hand. I swear he was grinning.

At the risk of being a champion for the obvious, gorillas (and all apes) are incredible primates that deserve our utmost respect and conservation efforts. Gorillas are blessed with more strength than they need, enough social graces to get along in groups, and a calm intelligence that has kept them moving through African forests for millions of years. They are fearless when necessary and rely on convincing displays of their brawn before coming to blows. As humans, we should take note. I thought about the oil mess in the Gulf of Mexico, the bushmeat trade in Africa, the ways we are trashing the planet with pollution and overpopulation, and, looking at little Frank, I felt deeply ashamed as a human about how we treat our collective, finite “nest.”

“We’ll do better,” I whispered to him. “I promise, Frank, we’ll do better.”

Karyl Carmignani is a staff writer for the San Diego Zoo.


Going Ape, Part I

Karyl tossed food to Memba and his troop, out on exhibit that day.

Few things in life get me leaping out of bed at 4:48 a.m. like the prospect of “shadowing” primate keepers at the San Diego Zoo. We have a terrific Visit-a-Job program where a dozen employees are randomly selected each month to visit an area of their choice within the Zoological Society of San Diego for a day. It’s a great learning experience and also gives employees a clearer understanding of the “big picture.” I chose to visit the great apes, as Frank, the one-and-a-half-year-old baby gorilla, is my primate soul mate, and I’d give anything to feed him breakfast (and lunch and dinner) and gaze into his chocolate brown eyes. I’d give him a kidney if he needed it, but I hope it won’t come to that.

In preparation for my Visit-a-Job, I got a TB test (mandatory to be around primates), avoided people with colds and sniffles like a hornet’s nest (primates are susceptible to many human diseases, and I didn’t want to be an accidental vector), worked like a maniac to get my assignments caught up in the office, and baked cookies for the keepers to help keep them motivated (positive reinforcement works with all apes!). Striding through the Zoo at 5:50 a.m. to meet the keepers, I was astonished by all the people already hard at work. Within minutes, I’d be joining them.

Our first stop was orangutans. We walked past clean, gleaming counters, down the steps, and into the orangutan bedrooms. Leaving the lights off, we walked down the dim hallway checking on each animal without waking them. Then the keeper expertly prepared the juice bottles for individuals who need medication (birth control, arthritis, etc.). Back upstairs I got to help plant some shrubs inside the exhibit: $500 had been donated by a school class, the plants purchased at a local nursery, and they had just been released from horticulture quarantine (a protocol to ensure no chemicals or pests are inadvertently brought into the exhibit). The horticulturist explained the challenges of exhibit landscaping, including making sure the plants, buds, and seeds are not toxic to the animals, the varieties of grasses necessary to keep an exhibit area green all year, and how to protect the plants from the ever-curious primates. Our plants were going in behind “hot wire,” which is a gentle deterrent at best.

Slathered in sweat by 7:30, it was then time to head over to gorillas and “help” get them ready for the day. I all but tap danced in the foot bath in the doorway, as the heady, sweet smell of gorillas met my nose. They were up and about, and not too rowdy. I had met the troop several months before while writing an article about Frank and his family for the Zoo’s member magazine, ZOONOOZ (September 2009), and believe me, it was high praise when Avila, an adult female, came over and carefully stared me down, perhaps trying to place where she knew me from. Paul Donn, the imposing silverback, sat with his (huge) arms crossed while little Frank checked in with everyone, waiting for breakfast.

The keeper opened a partition about a foot high, and Frank ambled into a holding area in which he is given his special breakfast. When Frank was born, his mother was not able to hold him properly to nurse, so keepers intervened to ensure he was getting enough to eat while leaving him with his troop to learn the rules of gorilla-hood (see Frank the Gorilla: First Year). He’s had the best of both worlds! He will be weaned from his bowl of warm morning porridge soon, but thankfully the spoon-feeding task is still necessary…and the keeper let me do it!

Frank is a good eater, and he peered unblinking at me scooping his gruel into his pink mouth. I could see his tiny baby teeth in the front, white as fresh snow. He also gets fresh fruit and seemed to really enjoy the slices of green bell peppers. He weighs a sturdy 31 pounds (14 kilograms) now. I was ecstatic having the honor of being this close to this amazing animal. I’m sure Frank could feel the adoration exuding from me; clearly no malfeasance could come from this love struck “naked ape,” so he continued to stare at me throughout his breakfast. And I stared right back, tickled pink.

Zoo keepers are busy bees, especially in the crunch time before the Zoo opens at 9 a.m. Scooping, sweeping, and hosing exhibits and bedroom areas, slicing, dicing, and preparing diets (and meds), checking on animals, inspecting exhibits for animal and public safety, the list goes on and on, and are all chores that need to be done seven days a week, every day of the year. The keepers’ deep commitment to the well-being of the animals in their care (and their wild counterparts) is remarkable, as is the patience for husbandry training practices they manage to include in an already jam-packed work day. I was grateful the keepers also made time for me!

Stay tuned for Part II of my exciting Visit-a-Job day, where we meet up with the bonobos and drop back in on Frank.

Karyl Carmignani is a staff writer for the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Chicken Noodle Soup (Part 2).


Langur Name Revealed

Zoli and her mother


We have been so excited to learn the results of all your votes (see post Name the Langur). It looks like the name Zoli is the winner by a landslide! It received 216 votes (the names Kayla and Kalani received 37 and 38 votes, respectively—a close call for second place.) We even got 71 comments on the San Diego Zoo’s Facebook page about the contest.

Little Zoli is doing great, and since the weather has been warmer, she is exploring the outdoor exhibit. All the silvered leaf langur babies are having a great time climbing to the very top of their exhibit, then just letting go, using the trees as a trampoline.

I am so thankful to all of you for putting Zoe into your thoughts. I think Zoe would be greatly honored to know that her memory lives on in Zoli. Thank you.

Beth McDonald is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.


Name the Langur

Help us name this little langur!

Our youngest silvered leaf langur was born on October 14, 2009, to father Aden and mother LiLi. She is the third baby born in this troop (see Langurs: From Orange to Silver). I have been referring to her as “Teeny-Tiny Baby,” because she was the smallest of the three babies at birth. When she was born, the other youngsters, Bala and Aluna, were very interested in the new addition.

Female silvered leaf langurs help each other care for the young; Bala and Aluna were no exceptions. They tried to hold the baby and hug her, but LiLi would not allow them to care for the little one on their own as they were just babies themselves. The young females were only allowed to greet her. Female langurs greet each other by doing what looks similar to hugging. However, when Zoe, another adult female, was caring for Teeny-Tiny Baby, she let Bala sneak in and hold Teeny for a while. Bala held Teeny-Tiny just like she had seen the adults do (with the baby clutching the stomach of the adult), but because Bala was still small herself, the pair kept tipping over! So Zoe held Teeny-Tiny’s hand to help them stay upright. Once LiLi realized what was going on, she came over to claim her baby. That story is my personal favorite.

Zoe loved taking care of all the babies in the troop. When Bala was born, Bala’s mother would not allow Zoe to hold her for the first two weeks because of Zoe’s inexperience with infants. But by the time Teeny-Tiny came along, Zoe was a pro. She would seek out LiLi and snag Teeny-Tiny away so she could hold her and carry her around like Teeny was her own. Sadly, in November we lost Zoe to cancer.

Teeny-Tiny is outgoing and loves to play with Bala and Aluna; occasionally she has trouble keeping up with them, but for the most part she holds her own. She never gives up and always finds a way to entertain herself, like using her mother’s tail as a swing and leaping from branch to branch. But now, at six months old and growing fast, the “teeny-tiny baby” name no longer suits her. She needs a great name to match her great personality. I’ve come up with three names for Teeny-Tiny that are in honor of Zoe, and I’d love to see which name you like best for our growing girl. Here are the choices and meanings:

Zoli – derived from Zoe and is an ancient Greek name meaning “life”
Kayla – means “beloved” in the Tigrinya language
Kalani – Hawaiian for “the heavens”

Please offer your suggestion for the baby langur’s name as a comment below. We’ll see which name receives the most comments in the next few days and announce the winner. And be sure to visit our silvered leaf langur exhibit at the San Diego Zoo, located in the Asian Passage zone on Sun Bear Trail. Thank you for your help!

Beth McDonald is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

Note: You can help our silvered leaf langur family, and other Zoo primates, by purchasing a toy from our May Animal Care Wish List. The langurs have requested cube toys and snack toys!

Another note: Thanks for voting! We’ll add up the votes on Monday, May 10.


G’Day from Australia!

Ring-tailed lemurs

Ring-tailed lemurs

My name is Steve, and I am an ungulate keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Currently, I am on a three-month exchange with a keeper from the Melbourne Zoo, Jason Barry. Why, you ask? Last year two keepers did the same exchange: Adam from the San Diego Zoo and Brent from the Melbourne Zoo. (Read Adam’s post, Hopping along the Exchange, and Brent’s post, An Aussie in San Diego.) I was so intrigued by this that I thought I would give it a shot. I must thank Adam for laying the groundwork!

It was pretty easy to get started on my quest because I had Jason’s name from Brent. So I decided to send Jason an e-mail to see if he was still interested in a keeper exchange, and it turned out he was. We e-mailed each other for about six months and decided it was a perfect fit. As soon as we decided it would work, I bolted to my supervisor’s office. My supervisor thought it was a great idea, too.

October 18, I touched down in Melbourne; Jason arrived in San Diego on the 18th as well. Back in the States, I work with large ungulates, with some exceeding 800 pounds (360 kilograms). It’s a little different out here, where I work with tamarins that weigh as little as 5 pounds (2 kilograms). That’s right, primates. My round consists of ring-tailed lemurs, ruffed lemurs, and tamarins. Also, in my area we have capuchins, gorillas, gibbons, baboons, and mandrills.

After meeting my new crew, I set off with Uli. She has been here for a long time, so she knows the animals just by observing them on a daily basis. For me, identifying each will be a little more complicated; nope, no ear notches to help me…darn!

Everyone, from the keepers to the vets as well as the curators, has been very welcoming. I may not know the Australian lingo or even feel right saying it on the radio, but it is fun to listen to. Well, I “reckon” I should go play with the ringies. G-Night!

Steve Wieczorek is a keeper for the San Diego Zoo.


Langurs: From Orange to Silver

The silver-leaf langur babies at the San Diego Zoo are doing very well (see previous post, Langurs: Bright Orange Babies). Tevy’s baby, born on February 26, 2009, is almost all silver with only a little bit of orange left. Adamena’s baby, born on April 13, is still mostly orange. The babies play together throughout the day. I have seen them climbing around and jumping from one branch to the next. They will swing around on branches, holding on with one hand, and hang upside down.

We have not yet confirmed the babies’ genders, but we suspect they are females. We let the mother take care of the babies, and we do not interfere unless there are complications. They stay close to their mothers, which makes them difficult to sex. Once the babies start getting more confident, they will spend more time away from their mothers when they are close to us.

Tevy’s baby gets around very well and is a great climber. Adamena’s baby is learning fast. This mother is very protective of her baby; she doesn’t let her baby travel too far away. Tevy, on the other hand, is an experienced mother and is very laid back.

The babies like to play with Zoe, who is considered a subadult (not a juvenile but not quite an adult). Tevy’s baby especially is fond of Zoe; she will follow her around and grab onto her whenever she passes. Zoe tolerates the babies and for the most part seems to enjoy interacting with them. Come watch them on the Sun Bear Trial in the Zoo’s Asian Passage zone.

Beth McDonald is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read Beth’s previous post, Keeping Up with Lion-Tailed Macaques.


Keeping Up with Lion-Tailed Macaques

We have a troop of six lion-tailed macaques (one male and five females) at the San Diego Zoo. They have a beautiful habitat on the Sun Bear Trail in the Asian Passage zone. These energetic monkeys are very entertaining to watch: they love ripping boxes and bags open to see what’s inside, like opening a present. The troop likes to keep busy, so we provide enrichment for them at least three times a day.

Their food is presented differently every day, too. They get fed five times a day and, as a Zoo visitor, you can watch them hunt and manipulate their food and enrichment twice a day. The first feeding and enrichment is in the morning between 8 and 10, and the second is in the afternoon between 1 and 2:30. Don’t worry if you miss their release onto exhibit, because they can be found throughout the day foraging for food, hunting for insects, grooming each other, and interacting with their enrichment—such fun to watch!

Antoinette, Adam, and Etienne

Antoinette, Adam, and Etienne

Each macaque has a distinct personality trait. See if you can find these individuals on your next Zoo visit:

Adam is the dominant male and is the oldest macaque in our troop, born at the Woodland Park Zoo in 1984. He has two distinct characteristics to his personality: easy going or mischievous. Adam is kind of aloof to or confused by the female dynamics of this troop. He is a very good-looking male lion-tailed macaque, and he is unmistakable on exhibit as he is significantly larger than the females.

Etienne is the dominant female, born at the Wild Animal Park in 1994. She is strong, VERY confident, and acts as if she believes herself to be the troop’s boss. No one challenges Etienne: she is “Number One” in the troop. Etienne rules mostly by dominance displays rather than aggressive threats. She walks with a strut and can easily be identified by the way she carries herself on exhibit. Etienne is very beautiful and has the shiniest coat.

Antoinette (pictured above) is just under Etienne in the troop’s social ranking, yet she is the largest of the females. She will displace lower-ranking females to keep her “Number Two” spot, mostly by aggressive threatening. Antoinette is always hunting, either for browse she can reach or insects she can find. She really enjoys playing with all the enrichment she gets. Antoinette can be identified by her large size and shorter tail. Born at the Wild Animal Park in 1992, she is the largest female. Antoinette has the same father as Etienne.

Marie is the oldest female, born at the Zoo in 1986. She is very wise and confident but stays out of the way. In her day, she was the dominant female of her own troop. Today, when challenged by the other females, Marie, who is the smallest and is out-weighed by several kilograms, will hold her own and not back down. Etienne is respectful of Marie, usually does not displace her, and will defend her, if necessary. Marie is significantly smaller than the others, and her middle finger on her right hand does not bend. She has the same mother as Etienne.

Jean is laid back and independent. She is leery of the other females and likes to stay on the outskirts. Basically, Jean does her own thing. Upon release to the exhibit after I’ve prepared it, Jean will head straight for the upper part by traveling on the ground instead of on the “furniture” in the exhibit. She is very submissive to Etienne, although she is the second-largest female. Jean has a box-shaped body. She was born at the Wild Animal Park in 1989.

Grace is the lowest-ranking female; she gets displaced by the other females, mainly because she does NOT stay out of their way. She includes herself in everything! Grace is very defensive, even when she is not being challenged; she will often challenge her keepers rather than the other females in the troop, and she seems to gain confidence by doing so. Grace has a bald patch on her back and a slight curve to her back. Born at the Zoo in 1987, she, Antoinette, and Jean have the same mother, Ginger.

Beth McDonald is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Gibbon Siblings Reunited.


Langurs: Bright-Orange Babies

You may think most newborn monkeys would blend in with their mothers. However, with silver-leaf langurs it is quite the opposite: their babies are a beautiful bright orange! There are several theories as to why this is; unfortunately, it is unknown which theory is accurate.

Theory 1: It makes it easy for the mothers to find them, as young langurs like to explore. They can sometimes travel a little too far away from their mothers. Being bright orange, their mothers can easily spot and retrieve them.

Theory 2: The orange actually helps the babies blend into their surroundings. It seems hard to believe that bright orange could be used as camouflage, unless maybe the orange would make them appear as a bright-colored flower on a tree. Most predators are color blind and cannot tell the difference between orange and green.

Theory 3: The coloration lets the other troop members know a new baby has arrived and they need to all share in the caring for the infant. A baby langur can wear a mother out, so having a troop full of babysitters allows Mom to rest. The babysitters can also relieve the mother so she can get something to eat.

The theories I have mentioned are a lot more detailed than what you have just read. It is a matter of opinion as to which theory you believe to be the most likely. Silver-leaf langur babies turn from orange to silver at about three months of age, slowly changing color starting as early as just under a month old.

We now have two orange additions to our troop: one born on February 26, 2009, to Tevy and Aden, and the other on April 13, 2009, to Adamena and Aden. Tevy’s baby is already changing color around her face. So to see two bright orange babies, you will have to hurry to the Zoo’s Sun Bear Forest habitat, because Adamena’s baby is following close behind. They will both be silver before we know it!

Beth McDonald is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

Read Beth’s previous blog, Silver-leaf Langurs.


Little Guenon and Mother


Gigi at five months

Installment #6
Read Installment #5, Little Guenon, Big Step

By early March 2009, Gigi was making the transition to Wolf’s guenon life well. She was obviously fully accepted by devoted sister Mimi, tolerated by her stoic father, and her older brother Dru was as gentle and tolerant as we could reasonably hope for. Things were not perfectly harmonious, though. There were times when Gigi’s mom, Fifi, would show some behavior that was concerning to us.

Fifi is an excellent mother and was attentive to both her previous offspring, Dru and Mimi. The family of Wolf’s guenons at the San Diego Zoo’s Monkey Trails exhibit was very cohesive and united, but some of the family dynamics changed when Gigi joined the group. There were times when Gigi was being held or carried by sister Mimi that Fifi would either tolerate well or ignore. Other times it seemed to irritate Fifi when sister Mimi was carting Gigi about so carefully. At these times Fifi would forcibly separate the two girls and then scold Gigi. We were also distressed to see that Fifi would discipline Gigi roughly by grabbing at her in the morning as she lay in her sleeping hammock. Fifi never hurt Gigi, but we weren’t sure what was prompting this behavior.

To address the problem, we tried to limit or eliminate any extra attention or special treatment that Gigi received from us and tailor our daily routine accordingly. Our goal was to make Gigi a full member of the family, without any special privileges. At this point we were separating Gigi from her family briefly each day to give her a bottle, weigh her, and allow her some time alone with solid foods. We suspected that the times when Gigi was separated from the family might be encouraging Fifi’s negative behavior. First we deleted Gigi’s bottles as soon as we could. Next we eliminated her time alone to eat solid foods while carefully monitoring her weight using a remote scale that did not require handling. Fifi soon calmed down after the special privileges lavished on Gigi were discontinued.

On exhibit, Gigi was sometimes included in family activity and other times she was observed sitting or playing alone. We would see Fifi grooming Gigi one minute, then chasing her away the next. We surmised that while Gigi was fitting in well, there were still some subtle lessons (at least they were subtle to us humans) that Gigi still needed to perfect. Even knowing this, it was difficult to observe little Gigi as she struggled to keep up with her family.

We are happy to announce that things are changing for the better now. On April 7,2009, keeper Chad Summers saw a long five-minute nursing bout between Gigi and her mother! (Fifi is still producing milk for Mimi) This was truly a welcome and exciting development. Since the first nursing bout was spotted, we were delighted to see several more.

Curatorial administrative assistant Barbara Nichols is an avid fan of Gigi and a trusted observer. Barbara has followed Gigi’s progress regularly and takes a daily stroll to visit and observe Gigi and her family. Recently Barbara noticed that Gigi was spending more and more time with the family and less time alone. She also noted some new behavior: Gigi has now begun to carefully watch Dru and Mimi closely as they play wildly. Gigi follows Dru and Mimi with her eyes as they wrestle, play fight, and display their incredible agility. Clearly, Gigi is studying up. The most recent nursing bout seen by Barbara was different and was perhaps the most exciting yet. Barbara said that instead of Fifi sitting calmly while Gigi nursed; she saw Fifi put her arms around Gigi in a full embrace, holding her close and tight.

That hug from Fifi is the final snapshot, an image that we have hoped to see from the beginning of this project. Gigi’s bravery and determination have finally paid off; she is now truly part of a whole family. Gigi, way to go!

Janet Hawes is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.

Update: The San Diego Zoo is very sad to announce that Wolf’s guenon Gigi died on September 1, 2009. Although Gigi’s integration into a social group was going well, she was caught in the middle of an aggressive interaction between two other monkeys and was injured. Animal care staff immediately rushed the little monkey to our veterinary hospital, but her injuries were too severe, and we made the difficult decision to end her suffering.

We know that many of you have been following her story and will be sad to hear of her passing. Please share your condolences with the animal care staff who have been working so closely with her and are feeling her loss.


Gibbon: New Home for Gaby

A red-cheeked gibbon mother with youngster

A red-cheeked gibbon mother with youngster

Gibbons are monogamous and, unlike most primates, they maintain a matriarchal society. The natural living arrangements for gibbons are a monogamous pair and their young offspring. When the offspring are mature, they will take cues from their parents and leave in search of starting their own family. The stronger the family bond is between the parents and their young, the more confident they are. They will be more vocal, more defensive of their territory, and more protective of their young. This is reflective of a strong, thriving family of gibbons.

Gaby was housed with the family of red-cheeked/Gabrielle’s crested gibbons in the San Diego Zoo’s Sun Bear Forest: CJ, the dominant female, Max, and their baby, Bohdi. Since Gaby is Max’s sister, she had “visitor” status in the gibbon family’s home. The older Bodhi got, the more confident her parents became. Over time, Max and CJ no longer allowed Gaby in their home. This may seem cruel to us humans, but it is actually a sign of a very healthy family group.

The gibbon family moved to Illinois, a family of silver-leaf langurs moved in (see Beth’s blog, Silver-leaf Langurs), and Gaby moved to a temporary area off exhibit. We renovated an existing exhibit in Bear Canyon to suit Gaby, removing everything so we could start from scratch. We based our design on information given by keepers who have taken care of Gaby over the years. We used materials she prefers and the size of the furniture that she uses the most, and we attached all the furniture so that Gaby can exercise by brachiating from branch to branch without having to stop.

On April 17, we finished Gaby’s new home. She moved in first thing the next day. As soon as Gaby went outside we knew all of our hard work had paid off: she was swinging around, vocalizing and introducing herself to all the visitors. Gaby likes hanging around people, especially babies and children. She will interact with them all day by looking at them, talking to them, and showing off for them. Gaby appears to be very happy in her new home between the sloth bears and the grizzly bears. We know Gaby would love it if you came by and said hi.

Beth McDonald is a senior keeper at the San Diego Zoo.