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Heartfelt Thanks to Our Invaluable and Inspiring Volunteers

San Diego Zoo Global Volunteers recently marked one million hours of service. They truly light up our lives—and the lives of the animals and plants at both the Zoo and the Safari Park!

San Diego Zoo Global Volunteers recently marked one million hours of service. They truly light up our lives—and the lives of the animals and plants at both the Zoo and the Safari Park!

April 12- 18 is National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and in the spirit of the celebration, we want to shout out to the world how truly invaluable and inspiring San Diego Zoo Global’s volunteers are. At the current time, we have over 1200 active volunteers in our system, but over the course of the year that often swells to over 2,000. The ebb and flow comes as extra help is requested for an event or fieldwork—and we always have eager hands ready to help. These amazing people give freely of their energy, expertise, and time—we recently hit one million hours of recorded service!

Our gifted volunteers support all of the staff, from keepers to educators to researchers and beyond! They make enrichment items for the animals, strip the bamboo used to make giant panda bread for Gao Gao, answer “Dear San Diego Zoo” letters from children around the world, help guests find their way at the Zoo and the Park (and give them information that makes their visit even more enjoyable), and more. And if you are one of the 16 million viewers that love our live animal cams, you have volunteers to thank for finding and zooming in on the special moments you can’t see anywhere else.

The dictionary defines the word dedicated as having very strong support for or loyalty to a person, group, or cause. And that certainly describes our volunteers, who freely engage in San Diego Zoo Global’s mission and vision to end extinction. “Words cannot describe how amazing our volunteers are,” says Tammy Rach, Senior Manager, Volunteer Services. “SDZG Volunteers support all of our staff, engage in our mission and vision, and greatly improve the guest experience. They also contribute ideas and funds in support of our conservation efforts, and share their passion and dedication throughout the community with everyone they encounter.”

Through their dedication, energy, and commitment, San Diego Zoo Global volunteers are both invaluable and inspirational. They are truly heroes for wildlife!

To learn more about becoming a San Diego Zoo Global Volunteer, click here.

Wendy Perkins is a staff writer and blog monitor for San Diego Zoo Global.

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Pelican Chick Growing

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One of two Dalmatian pelican chicks being hand-reared by San Diego Zoo Global gets its weight checked.

A one-month-old Dalmatian pelican is thriving under human care at the San Diego Zoo. The young bird weighs about 12 pounds and is beginning to grow feathers over its downy fluff. The youngster was brought to the Zoo to be hand-reared after the chick’s father passed away at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Animal care staff at the Zoo’s off-exhibit Avian Propagation Center will hand raise the birds for approximately 50 to 60 days, until they are strong enough to return to their flock at the Safari Park.

“He started off a little bit slow and didn’t have very good weight gain for the first 10 days,” said Beau Parks, senior bird keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “But since then he is doing very well and we have to monitor how much he eats so he does not grow too fast.”

The youngster is one of two pelican chicks being hand-reared at the Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center.  In the wild, only one nestling is reared by the parents at a time and sibling competition and aggression have been documented. To ensure the well being of both chicks, the youngsters are being raised separately by animal care staff.

The Dalmatian pelican chicks are part of the first North American breeding program for this vulnerable species. Since the breeding program was started in 2006, 32 chicks have been hatched. Because of the success, the Safari Park has sent some of the birds to the Phoenix Zoo, where a second breeding colony is being established.

Dalmatian pelicans are one of the rarest pelican species in the world and the largest of the pelican species. When they fledge at approximately six to seven months, the birds could measure five to six feet in length and have a wingspan of nine to 11 feet. Dalmatian pelicans live and nest in freshwater wetlands and rivers throughout Europe and Asia, but have gone extinct in some of their native regions. The loss of numbers is due to damage of the delicate wetland habitats that the birds rely on for breeding and raising chicks.

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

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

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Hippo Birth: A Private Event

mom and baby

Although born in the water, Funani’s newest arrival was soon soaking up the San Diego sunshine.

There were only four keepers present when Funani, the San Diego Zoo’s resident female river hippo, gave birth to her newest calf in the pool of her exhibit. I was one of those keepers—and it is a moment I will never forget!

As the birthing window approached, we began watching for physical changes in Funani and noting her interactions with Otis, the male river hippo. A couple of weeks ago, we began to see some changes: Funani was starting to push Otis away, signaling to us it was time to separate them.

We set up Otis’s ‘bachelor pad’ in the back pool and barn area. It’s equipped with a water-misting system above the pool for the warmer days, and he gets lots of attention from keepers and special behind-the-scenes tours in this area!

Funani continued to show signs of an impending birth. A week prior to delivery, we noted another marker: Funani had developed the large udder that would hold the 500-calorie-per-cup milk for her calf. Then, on March 22, a very important and exciting change occurred!

Funani wasn’t as hungry as normal that morning, leaving much of her breakfast uneaten. She seemed uncomfortable—not “in labor” uncomfortable, but restless. I talked to her and sprayed her lightly with the hose (one of her favorite enrichment items!). All these efforts seemed to help. Her restlessness eased for a while, allowing me to clean the beach area while our water quality staff vacuumed the pool. We both did a meticulous job, as we predicted we might not have the opportunity to do so again for a few days.

At 9 a.m., I opened the door to let Funani into the exhibit. Normally, she slowly walks into the area, takes a big drink from the shallow end of the pool before wading in to sit on the large rock in the center, and eventually does her “morning laps”along the pool bottom. On this day however, she ran out, went straight into the pool and began running laps. It was pretty clear that she was getting extremely close to going into labor. I checked on her all day long, as did other keepers, veterinary staff, and supervisors— and each time she was running laps. At the end of my shift, I checked on her one last time. As she surfaced, I said goodnight and asked,her to please wait until I came back in the morning. The lead keeper of the area had arranged to have supervisors, late keepers, and security do spot checks and to contact us if she showed signs of labor. Funani kept doing laps.

underwater

Hippos can’t swim or float! Instead, they walk along the bottom of their aquatic habitat.

When I got to the exhibit on Monday at 5:45 a.m., it  still dark but thanks to underwater lights, I could see Funani in the shallow of the pool…in obvious labor! I called the lead keeper, and he and two other keepers headed over quickly. By the time they arrived, I had witnessed three contractions. While I was updating them, we saw the calf’s feet emerge. I ran to the back fence, knowing that once Funani gave birth she would push the calf to the shallowest spot for its first breath offering the best view to assess the calf. I barely made it in time. At 6:26 a.m., I saw the calf’s wiggling ears and heard the first breath, followed by snorting as the little one cleared its airways. My heart melted.

The most amazing part of this experience has been watching Funani. She is an excellent mom: protective, nurturing, and taking advantage of every teachable moment. She offers the calf abundant nursing opportunities and the little one gets stronger with each sip. It will be about three to five days before she and the calf are comfortable enough to come into the barn while keepers are present. They have access to the barn at all times with a bounty of food waiting when Funani is ready. Once she and the calf are reliably and comfortably shifting into the barn, we will begin rotating them and Otis on exhibit. This is journey has truly just begun! We are all looking forward to the moment Funani pushes the calf up to the window at just the right angle so we can determine whether it is a boy or girl, and to watching her do what she does best, being an incredible mother.

Jennifer Chapman is a keeper at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous post, Okapi: Early Arrival.

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Oh, Boy! Male Jaguar Cub at San Diego Zoo Gaining a Pound a Week

The Zoo's newest jaguar cub tips the scales in terms of cuteness!

No tipping the scales for this male jaguar cub—the bowl keeps  him stable for the weigh-in.

During a routine veterinary exam this morning at the San Diego Zoo, a jaguar cub was placed on a scale and weighed in at 4.8 pounds. It was also determined that the cub is a boy.

The cub and his mother, Nindiri, have access to two off-exhibit bedrooms at all times and are given access to a third cave bedroom, which is visible to the public, from approximately 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. However, there is no guarantee that Zoo guests will be able to see the cub, as Nindiri chooses which bedroom she would like to spend time in.

This is the third cub for 7-year-old Nindiri, who gave birth to a pair of cubs in 2012, a male named Tikal and a female, Maderas.

Photo taken on March 31, 2015, by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Jaguar Cub at the San Diego Zoo Prepares for Debut During “Play Days”

Nindiri, an 7-year-old jaguar at the San Diego Zoo, is a mother for the third time. She gave birth to a single cub on March 12, 2015. Mom and cub have been spending most of their time off exhibit while the cub’s eyes open and it starts to become steadier on its paws. The sex of the cub is not yet known.

The 15-day-old jaguar cub and its mother were given access to the cave bedroom this morning before the San Diego Zoo was open to the public. Animal care staff have been giving the mother access to this third area so the cub has a chance to explore different terrain, an important step in its development – the keepers have filled the cave area with hay and there is a rock for the cub to investigate.

Guests at the San Diego Zoo may spot the mother and cub in the cave viewing area during Play Days, which starts Saturday. This year, the event focuses on plants and animals with spots. The spotted markings on a jaguar are called rosettes.

During Play Days, animal keepers, horticulturists and Zoo staff will help connect the dots about spots and share information about the importance of these markings for camouflage or as diversions from predators, and how sometimes the spots serve as a warning to other creatures.

Dr. Zoolittle will debut his new show exploring spots and dots, and the Zoo’s costume characters will be at the Koalafornia Boardwalk for meet-and-greets with guests. And new this year, The Sand Band will keep toes tapping with their musical fun.

Say carrots! The Easter Bunny will also be returning to the San Diego Zoo, March 21 through April 5, 2015, and guests can hop on the lap of Peter and Paula Cottontail, who will trade off taking photos in the basket-shaped photo booth in front of Skyfari East.

While guests are visiting during Play Days, they’re encouraged to interact with the Zoo on social media by taking their photo at designated “selfie spots” located around the Zoo and tagging the photos with the hashtags #sdzselfiespot and #sandiegozoo. Or visitors can enter the Spotted Photo Challenge by submitting their best photos of the Zoo’s spotted animals on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #sdzspots.

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, 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.

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Guineafowl Strut Their Stuff to the Delight of Visitors at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Four African crested guineafowl gave San Diego Zoo Safari Park guests an unexpected surprise earlier today as they paraded through the Park’s Nairobi Village and delighted onlookers of all ages. The winged animal ambassadors walked at a fast pace along the pathway, checking out their surroundings and boldly approaching guests as their trainers answered questions about the cute and curious birds.

“Our guests really seem to enjoy the guineafowl walking by and many of the visitors join the parade, taking photos and laughing along the way,” said Janet Rose-Hinostroza, animal training supervisor at the Safari Park. “It is so much fun to provide an enriching experience for the guineafowl while also providing our guests with an up-close opportunity to learn about and meet these beautiful and social birds.”

The guineafowl parade is not only enriching for the birds and fun for Safari Park guests to witness, it also gives trainers a chance to demonstrate flocking behavior in birds, a behavior that can be a critical component in the conservation of social bird species.

At the end of the parade, the birds and their trainers stop to allow guests to interact with the foursome. The male birds, named Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, were hatched at the Safari Park and are just under a year old. Their sisters, the Spice Girls, are part of the daily Frequent Flyers Bird Show at the Park. Trainers hope to increase the number of birds in the guineafowl parade later this year with, you guessed it, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen and even a “different” species to join the group as Rudolph.

The crested guineafowl is a plentiful species found in sub-Saharan Africa that has been domesticated for years. The guineafowl’s plumage is dark gray to black with whitish spots, and its most recognizable feature is the mop-like crest of black feathers on its head.

Visitors to the Safari Park can see the guineafowl parade daily around 1 p.m. during Butterfly Jungle, now through April 12. At Butterfly Jungle, visitors will be enchanted as thousands of butterflies flutter around them in the Hidden Jungle walk-through aviary, which is also home to lush greenery and exotic birds. The more than 30 species of butterflies highlighted during this year’s Butterfly Jungle hail from Africa, Asia, Indonesia, and Central, South and North America.

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Hip, Hip, Hooray for Hippopotamus Born at San Diego Zoo

The newest river hippopotamus at the San Diego Zoo is just a few days old and already has an online following. The calf was born on Monday, March 23 at 6:30 a.m. with animal care staff observing. Mother Funani has had the main hippo exhibit to herself the last two weeks in anticipation of the calf’s birth.
     Mom and baby are doing fine and animal care staff witnessed the calf nursing on several occasions. Funani, who is 30 years old, has raised four other hippos at the San Diego Zoo – three females and most recently a male, named Adhama, born January 26, 2011. The sex of the newest calf has not yet been determined, as keepers and vets have not been able to get a close enough look at the animal.
     Hippo calves are estimated to weigh about 50 pounds at birth and they typically nurse for about eight months. The baby will likely stay very close to Funani during the first several weeks.
     The hippopotamus is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, known as the IUCN. The primary threats to hippos are illegal and unregulated hunting, for meat and the ivory found in the canine teeth, and habitat loss. Hippos can still be found in a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
     “If people come out to view the baby, patience will be rewarded,” said John Michel, senior animal keeper at the San Diego Zoo. “Guests may have to wait sometimes as long as half an hour, but the calf will wake up and start moving to deeper water, and mom will start to push it back up to shallow water.”
     Guests interested in seeing the hippo calf should also check out the activities happening during the Zoo’s annual Play Days celebration. Starting Saturday, March 28, the event, themed “Be Spotted,” will highlight the Zoo’s plants and animals with spots of all sorts,including the jaguars in Elephant Odyssey, the serval near the African rock kopje, and spot-necked otters and spot-nosed guenons in the lower Ituri forest area. Animal keepers, horticulturists and zoo staff will help connect the dots about spots and share information about the importance of these markings for camouflage or as diversions from predators, and how sometimes the spots serve as a warning to other creatures.
     Dr. Zoolittle will debut his new show exploring spots and dots, and the Zoo’s costume characters will be at the Koalafornia Boardwalk for meet-and-greets with guests. And new this year, The Sand Band will keep toes tapping with their musical fun.
     Say carrots! The Easter Bunny will also be returning to the San Diego Zoo, March 21 through April 5, 2015, and guests can hop on the lap of Peter and Paula Cottontail, who will trade off taking photos in the basket-shaped photo booth in front of Skyfari East.
     While guests are visiting during Play Days, they’re encouraged to interact with the Zoo on social media by taking their photo at designated selfie spots located around the Zoo and tagging them with the hashtags #sdzselfiespot and #sandiegozoo. Or visitors can enter the Spotted Photo Challenge by submitting their best photos of the Zoo’s spotted animals on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #sdzspots.
     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, 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.
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DIY Succulent Centerpiece

If you haven’t stopped to smell (or observe) the flowers and plants at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, your senses are seriously missing out. Inspiration is in full bloom! And today, the brains behind the stunning botanical arrangements at the Safari Park are eager to share this spring-inspired DIY project.

#DIY Succulent Centerpiece

Step 1.) Start by filling the bottom of your pot with soil mixture. For best results, your mixture should be equal parts soil, pearlite, and sand.

#DIY Succulent Centerpiece

#DIY Succulent Centerpiece

Step 2.) Loosely arrange larger succulents in your pot and fill in soil to the same height as your plants.

#DIY Succulent Centerpiece

Step 3.) You can also include pre-cut succulents in your arrangement. In fact, recycling these fleshy plants is a great way to reuse them and fill any gaps in your bouquet. Just be sure to let cut plants rest in a dry place for three to five days before planting. Once they’ve dried for a few days, simply stick a hole into the soil and insert your cut stem.

#DIY Succulent Centerpiece

Step 4.) Have fun with your arrangement and try to incorporate different succulent species for a colorful display. If you’re visiting the Safari Park, stop by the Plant Trader where you can pick up drought-tolerant plants from our own collection.

#DIY Succulent Centerpiece

Do you have any horticulture-based requests for our team? Leave them in the comments and we’ll gladly offer tips from the experts.

 

Jenn Beening is the social media planner for San Diego Zoo Global. Read her previous post, 19 Fascinating Butterfly Facts.

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Rare Dalmatian Pelican Chicks Being Hand-Raised at San Diego Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center

An 11-day-old Dalmatian pelican chick gobbles its morning meal of fish at the San Diego Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center.

An 11-day-old Dalmatian pelican chick gobbles its morning meal of fish at the San Diego Zoo’s Avian Propagation Center.

The Avian Propagation Center at the San Diego Zoo has two new residents, a pair of Dalmatian pelicans—11 and 2 days old. The pair arrived at the Zoo from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, after their parents were unable to raise them upon hatching. Animal care staff at the Zoo’s off-exhibit Avian Propagation Center will hand-raise the birds for approximately 50 to 60 days, until they are strong enough to return to their flock at the Safari Park. The pelican chicks grow rapidly and should be covered in their downy feathers by three to four weeks of age.

The Dalmatian pelican chicks are part of the first North American breeding program for this vulnerable species. Since the breeding program was started in 2006, 34 chicks have been hatched. Because of the success, the Safari Park has sent some of the birds to the Phoenix Zoo, where a second breeding colony is being established.

Dalmatian pelicans are one of the rarest pelican species in the world and the largest of the pelican species. When they fledge at approximately six to seven months, the birds could measure five to six feet in length and have a wingspan of nine to 11 feet. Dalmatian pelicans live and nest in freshwater wetlands and rivers throughout Europe and Asia and have gone extinct in some of their native regions. The loss of numbers is due to damage of the delicate wetland habitats that they rely on for breeding and raising chicks.

Fish is the primary diet for the Dalmatian pelican, and they often must compete for food with fishing enterprises. In certain areas, they are hunted as a food source and for their bills, which herders use to comb horses.

Guests at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park can see Dalmatian pelicans in the middle of the large pond in the South African exhibit when they take the African Tram Safari.

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

Photo taken on March 17, 2015 by Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo

CONTACT: SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL PUBLIC RELATIONS, 619-685-3291
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Transparency Leads to High Rating for San Diego Zoo Global Fiscal Management

Global_logo_color webFor the third year in a row San Diego Zoo Global has earned a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for its fiscal management and commitment to accountability. A three-year, four-star rating is achieved by only 12 percent of the 8,000 organizations surveyed. The rating system serves as a guide offering information for philanthropy.

“We are proud to be a trusted destination for conservation philanthropy,” said Douglas G. Myers, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Global. “We work hard to ensure that money raised for our mission goes immediately into the important work saving species from extinction.”

Over the last three years San Diego Zoo Global has committed more than $500 million for animal care, exhibits, education programs and conservation initiatives. Significant programs include its ongoing work to recover the California condor, head-starting and reintroduction programs for Caribbean iguanas, contribution to knowledge about giant pandas and support for fieldwork on six continents.

Charity Navigator works to help charitable givers make intelligent giving decisions by providing information on more than 8,000 charities nationwide and by evaluating their financial health. It calculates each charity’s score based upon several broad criteria, including how much is spent per dollar raised, what percentage of funds goes to programs vs. administrative and fund-raising expenses, and the organization’s long-term financial health. It then assigns a rating from one to four, with four being the best rating. San Diego Zoo Global has received a four-star rating through this system seven times in the last eight years.

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

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