ZOONOOZ August 2015

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inside august 2015

Mammal of Mystery:

Devi the Hippo Calf

Boy or girl? Funani knew,

but everyone else would

have to wait to find out!


A Pollinator

Problem: How Do

You Value a Bee?

Honeybees, native bees,

and other pollinators are

under threat. Find out

what you can do to help!



From the Archives

New Digs for Dholes

A pack of Asiatic wild dogs has taken up residence in the Safari Park’s

former tiger exhibit, and to their pleasure, they have the run of the place!



Through the Lens

Keeping Flamingos

in the Pink at the Zoo

The once-a-year flamingo roundup

is carefully choreographed to make

sure the flock stays healthy.

Furniture Makes the Home

—Even for Animals!

From logs to tree trunks to root

balls, the Horticulture Department

provides animals with the best

seat in the house.

Chairman’s Note

You Said It

on the cover: East African river hippopotamus calf Hippopotamus amphibius kiboko

©Ken Bohn, SDZG Photographer

chairman’s note



Robert B. Horsman, Chairman

Sandra A. Brue, Vice Chairman

Judith A. Wheatley, Secretary

Steven G. Tappan, Treasurer


we at San Diego Zoo Global continue to do our part and place an emphasis on recycling and

reusing water. Overall, our organization recycles more than 16 million gallons of water annually, and we

have an active employee task force that continues to seek ways to increase that amount.

At the Safari Park, we have an onsite water treatment plant that processes and recycles 100 percent of

the Park’s wastewater, which is then reused for irrigation in the large field exhibits. We are currently applying

for funding to upgrade this system from secondary treatment of wastewater to tertiary treatment,

which will make the water available for even more uses. We use direct site drip-line irrigation in watering

our plant collections, landscaping, and browse sources, which brings water directly to the base of the plants

where it is needed.

At the Zoo, we collect rainwater in reclamation gutters and in 6 rain barrels located strategically

throughout the grounds, which can capture 3,500 gallons for various uses. You can see one of the rain

barrels at the Queenslander House in Australian Outback and read information about the importance

of water conservation. The Zoo’s ponds and pools are equipped with extensive filtration and recycling

units, so they rarely need to be drained and refilled. For instance, the hippo pool has only been drained

twice in the last 20 years. During the month of June this year, the Zoo reduced its water use by 17.1 percent,

exceeding the 16-percent reduction goal from the City of San Diego.

All of our facilities implement a wide variety of ways to conserve water, including cleaning with tools

rather than hoses, installing low-flow toilets, waterless urinals, and motion-detecting sink faucets in

restrooms, and tracking and quickly fixing any leaks. We use drought-tolerant plants, mulching, and

xeriscape methods in our general landscaping, and our employees practice conscientious water use in all

our office areas. Signs and graphic panels also inform visitors about what San Diego Zoo Global is doing

to reduce and reuse water.

On grounds and in education programs at the Zoo and Safari Park, we share water conservation

information and techniques with our guests that they can use at home, such as sweeping and using

blowers to clean patios and sidewalks instead of hosing them with water. The Safari Park’s Biofiltration

Wetland serves as an outdoor classroom, where thousands of schoolchildren participate each year in

hands-on water programs that teach the importance of preserving this precious resource. San Diego

Zoo Global partners with the San Diego County Water Authority to promote the “When in Drought”

communications campaign, which gives San Diegans tips on how to save water. We have also hosted

water conservation workshops for local water agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and the public.

Everyone needs water, and it will take all of us working together to conserve it. Every drop counts,

now more than ever.

Robert B. Horsman


Every drop



M. Javade Chaudhri

Berit N. Durler

Richard B. Gulley

Clifford W. Hague

Linda Lowenstine, D.V.M., Ph.D.

George A. Ramirez

Patricia L. Roscoe


Frank C. Alexander

Kurt Benirschke, M.D.

Thompson Fetter

Bill L. Fox

Frederick A. Frye, M.D.

George L. Gildred

Yvonne W. Larsen

John M. Thornton

Albert Eugene Trepte

Betty Jo F. Williams

James Lauth,

General Counsel

Douglas G. Myers,


Charles L. Bieler,

Executive Director Emeritus




Murray H. Hutchison, Chair

Maryanne C. Pfister, Vice Chair

Susan N. McClellan, Secretary

Richard M. Hills, Treasurer

Mark A. Stuart, President

Robert B. Horsman, Ex officio

Douglas G. Myers, Ex officio


Christine L. Andrews

Joye D. Blount

Rick Bregman

Lisa S. Casey

Douglas Dawson

Berit N. Durler, Ex officio

U. Bertram Ellis, Jr.

Arthur E. Engel

Craig L. Grosvenor

Michael Hammes

Judith C. Harris

Michael E. Kassan

Susan B. Major

Michael D. McKinnon

Thomas Tull

Margie Warner

Ed Wilson


Members get up close

FREE all year long!

Start your membership today. Call 619-718-3000

or visit sandiegozoo.org



through the lens

Photo by Ken Bohn





ruber ruber


you said it

Join our friends @sdzglobal & write “Stop

Killing Rhinos” on your hand & tweet it

using #rally4rhinos. Please RT. @Chargers

Where’s the tiger Dada

@sdzsafaripark fun!


Another wonderful visit to the park yesterday.

Your staff was helpful and so knowledgeable

about the animals, as usual. So glad to be a member and

able to visit often. Best investment!!! Beverly Hilton

Another beautiful day @sdzsafaripark! Big thanks

to Aaron for a great behind-the-scenes tour.

#stopkillingrhinos @CAO916



Most amazing experience

at San Diego Zoo, saw this a

mazing animal #soSweet #orangutan

@sandiegozoo @actornicole

Backstage Pass was awesome, during our son’s Make-A-Wish trip last year. His

favorite animal was a tiger and we got to meet Connor, and his mom is Mek from the

Fresno Chaffee Zoo. We loved the zoo it’s so beautiful can’t wait until we go again someday.

Nancy Navarro

Feeding a giraffe called

Wanda was a highlight of our

visit to @sdzsafaripark #sandiego


Since I was a wee lad, watching

Sat. morning nature shows, I’ve

wanted to come here. Dream come true.

@sandiegozoo @brandoncozart

Feeding the giraffes! #socool

#giraffe #sandiegozoo









Funani is

always ready

with an



By Peggy Scott


Photos by Ken Bohn



s mysteries go, it wasn’t so much a case of

“whodunnit” as “what is it?” It was pretty

clear to keepers on March 23, 2015, that

Funani the African river hippo had given

birth to a calf. They also knew Otis,

the father, had definitely played a role

in the arrival. But it would be more

than two months before anyone

could answer, with any certainty, whether the pair

had produced a son or a daughter. Funani, of course,

had the information, but she wasn’t telling. Nor was

the notoriously protective mother letting anyone

close enough to get a good enough look. Inquiring

minds—and camera phones—would have to wait.



Funani is a famously

protective hippo mom,

and keepers respect

her wishes.

Funani keeps

Devi, her “mini-me,”

right by her side.

Game Changer

With the baby’s birth, hippo keepers knew

that things had just become cuter—and a

bit more complicated. “The arrival of a calf

changes everything,” explains John Michel,

senior keeper. “With a male and female pair,

the routine is for them to go on and off exhibit

together. But add a calf, which must be

kept separate from the father, and the situation

completely changes.”

The youngster’s arrival turned life at the

Zoo’s hippo barn into a game of musical

chairs of sorts. “Otis is out on exhibit in the

pool Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,”

John says. “Funani and her calf go out Tuesdays,

Thursdays, and weekends.” One aspect,

John notes, did not change. “Funani

runs things. If she doesn’t want to shift off,

she doesn’t,” he explains. “She and the calf

were out in the main exhibit for about two

weeks after she gave birth. Otis moved from

the barn to another outdoor area and back

again during that time. You don’t want to

stress a mother hippo.” John adds that Otis’

personality is a big help during a change of

routine. “He is a laid-back, go-with-the-flow

guy,” John says. “You couldn’t ask for a more

mellow fellow.”

Mom Said No

With Funani, however, “mellow” isn’t usually

the first word that comes to mind. “She

has always been a doting mom,” John says.

“But with this calf, she’s been super protective.”

One reason for her hyper-vigilance, he

muses, might rest with the calf’s size. “Funani

has had 7 calves here at the Zoo in 20

years,” John says. “This calf was the smallest

and a little bit wobbly at first, so maybe

she’s just being extra careful.” During the

early days, Funani kept the calf tucked protectively

under the elephant ear plant at the

edge of their pool, always positioning herself

between her baby and the viewing glass.

She would frequently nurse the baby up on

the beach toward the back of the exhibit,

keeping one wary eye on her adoring public.

The only individuals deemed acceptable,

besides her keepers? A mother mallard who

was also raising a family in the hippo exhibit.

“One afternoon, the ducklings were napping

on Funani’s back, which was the only

part of her showing above the surface of the

pool,” John recalls. “It was quite a sight.”

Funani’s sensitivity, combined with her

species’ natural behaviors, made the gender

guessing game even more challenging. A


Funani kept

her baby safely

tucked under

the elephant

ear plant at the

pool’s edge.

Play fighting is one

way calves learn

about hippo life.

water-loving creature, the hippo’s habit of

spending up to 16 hours a day submerged

earned it its name, a Greek word that means

“river horse.” Well, you may be able to lead

a horse to water, but you can’t make a river

horse show you its calf! By the time keepers

started looking for “clues,” the calf was

already able to push up to the surface of the

pool. This meant the chance for a good look

as Funani nudged the baby upward against

the exhibit glass had already passed them

by. “It was pretty funny to see us trying to

get a peek,” John recalls. “There we were,

crouched along the glass with our cellphone

cameras, trying to get a definitive photo.”

And as senior keeper Jen Chapman noted

in a blog about Funani’s baby, sometimes

nature works against you. Those wrinkles in

a baby hippo’s skin? Yes, they’re adorable—

but they can also “often hide certain characteristics

we are looking for in determining

gender!” she wrote.

It’s a Girl—and an Honor

Once “Bellywatch 2015” finally paid off, the

calf was at last determined to be female.

Picking a suitable name was the next step.

The hippo crew had wanted to pay tribute

to David Smith, a much-beloved fellow

keeper, but when the calf turned out

to be a girl, his coworkers researched the

feminized version of his name: Devi. The

name fits in more ways than one. “Devi

also means ‘goddess’ in Hindi, which is

very fitting— since many of us were kneeling

in front of the viewing glass, as if

genuflecting, while we’d try to get a glimpse

of her belly!” Jen wrote.

These days, Devi has grown into her own

and filled out nicely. She follows her mother

around and willingly approaches her keepers.

Funani has relaxed a bit, but she still

tries to stay in front of Devi and guide her.

Mother and daughter are interacting with

their neighbors, the okapis and duikers, and

Devi’s confidence grows each day—along

with her personality. Jen calls the connection

Devi has with her mom “amazing,”

and the little one is developing into a wellrounded

hippo—in every sense of the word!

There’s a new routine at the hippo barn

these days, one that brings smiles to the

keepers’ faces. “We open the gate for Funani

and Devi to come in and here they are, trotting

toward us, looking like the Clydesdale

and the Chihuahua,” John says. “How could

it be cuter?” n 15



By Paige Howorth


Photos by Tammy Spratt


istory holds many lessons; bits of knowledge that can be applied to situations seemingly unlike

the original event. Take Black Tuesday, the day of the catastrophic crash of the stock

market in 1929 and the Great Depression that followed. I remember learning about that

in history class, and it was also presented as a warning and a caution to be vigilant—not

just regarding stocks and bonds but as a metaphor for paying attention to signs of trouble

in any situation before there’s a crash. Well, entomologists are seeing that it’s almost Black

Tuesday for bees. I can’t help but wonder: are we writing the script now for a future without them, and how

will humans deal with the consequences?

Pollinators are not as big a concern for

most people as their stock portfolios, but

they should be. Since we have not “hit bottom”

yet—and there’s no index to tell us

how close we are—it is easy to leave the

worry for another day. But rest assured, the

warning bells are ringing. Pollinators like

bees, butterflies, beetles, and flies are in

crisis worldwide, suffering from pesticide

exposure, habitat loss, and disease. Pollinators

make fertilization possible for many

plants; without them, food as we know it

would simply not exist. No fruits, veggies,

peanut butter, or chocolate—and that’s just

a start. If this sounds like the same old story

you hear about humans and nature all

the time, stay with me a little longer. This

is more than another wildlife-in-crisis story,

and I guarantee that it will affect you

personally—and definitely financially—if

people stay on the current course.

What is the cause of this alarming decline?

Most of the reasons have to do with

urbanization and agriculture. While those

may seem only marginally related to you

and me, the reality is that our culture results

from our choices—and the market

always follows demand.


ll insects are affected by contact

with insecticides. A newer class

of systemic insecticides called

neonicotinoids has been shown

to severely affect bee health. In agriculture,

this type of insecticide is most often

applied as a seed coating, and the insect

nerve poison subsequently shows up in

The last pair of hind legs on a honeybee is adapted to shape and carry a pollen pellet as

the bee goes about its daily foraging.

The pollen caught among

the tiny hairs on these

honeybees’ bodies will

be brushed off when

they visit another flower,

effectively crosspollinating

the plant.

every tissue as the plant grows: leaf, stem,

pollen, and nectar.

As a result, though the insecticide is

targeted at “pest” insects, there can be

serious consequences for any insect that

visits the plant for nectar or pollen. Some

need only be present when the planting

occurs, since some of the chemical seed

coating is released as crop “dust” in agricultural

plantings. The effects of these

pesticide exposures include immediate

death by contact, but some are sublethal,

meaning that the animal does not die

right away but experiences disorientation,

loss of navigational ability, paralysis, and

even memory loss as the result of contact.

This is not just an agricultural issue;

many products containing this type of

insecticide can be found in local home

improvement stores for landscaping use.

Federal regulations govern the concentrations

of these poisons used in agriculture,

yet there are no restrictions for home use,

and that sets up a dangerous scenario.

Consumers often do not follow the instructions

for application and the concentrations

can be many times higher than

federal regulations allow. This means

more of the poison finds its way to bees

and other animals through gardens and

runoff from irrigation.

It is important to note here that the

majority of research on pesticide effects

in pollinators has been conducted in honeybees

because they are managed commercially,

making them more accessible

and measurable. Since their biology is

very similar to that of native bees, we can

assume that the damaging effects from

pesticides are also suffered by native bees.

Why are native bees important? Because

no pollinator serves our plants better.

Native bees have evolved alongside

the flowering plants that they pollinate,

and they are usually much better at it

than non-native honeybees. It’s easy for

honeybees to get all the attention, because

they are used in commercial agriculture

and are relatively easy to study.

But native bees such as mason bees, mining

bees, and leafcutter bees have been

quietly carrying their weight in our ecosystems

for millennia.

Some bees have a different way of transporting pollen. This female masked bee, Hylaeus

sp. is about to concentrate a drop of nectar to make it easier to carry back to her nest.

By drawing the droplet in and out of her mouth repeatedly, moisture evaporates and the

nectar becomes more of a pellet than a drop. She will then swallow it and regurgitate it

back at the nest. Masked bees are a solitary species that often uses old burrows of other

insect species for a nest.



Measuring a mere 13/64 inches (5 millimeters) long, sweat bees Lasioglossum sp.—a native bee—are the largest group of bees; small

but mighty indeed!

Habitat Matters

s human populations grow, less

space remains for native pollinators

to thrive. Overgrown spaces

with wildflowers, weeds, and nesting

sites are disappearing, banished in favor

of manicured lawns that eliminate key nectar

and pollen sources—like dandelions—

and encourage pesticide use. Agricultural

practices also alter land that was once suitable

pollinator habitat. Instead of a diversity

of nectar and pollen sources, acreage is

filled with insecticide- and herbicide-laden

monocultures as far as the eye can see.

Two types of genetically modified (GM)

crops are routinely used in agriculture.

One is an insect-resistant type, in which a

bacterium that is lethal to certain chewing

insects is incorporated into the genome of

the plant, and the target insect species are

killed when they feed on the plant. The second

is an herbicide-resistant variety, which

is definitely a problem for pollinators, especially

butterflies and bees. In herbicide-resistant

GM crops, the plants are engineered

to be resistant to applications of certain

herbicides. They can withstand repeated

applications of herbicide, which kills all the

flowering weeds surrounding the planted

area—the ones the pollinators depend on.

This is of particular concern for monarch

butterflies, whose larval host plant is

milkweed. Milkweed thrives in disturbed

habitats and has historically been found

adjacent to crops. Most people are familiar

with the epic migration of the eastern monarch

butterfly population to the oyamel fir

tree forests of Central Mexico. Over the past

few years, the count of overwintering monarchs

in the protected reserves has revealed

a catastrophic drop—down an incredible 90

percent from the 20-year average and standing

at an all-time historical low since the

migration was discovered in the 1970s. Lack

of available host plants due to GM-related

herbicide application has been identified as

a key factor in this staggering decline.


here are a great many parasites

and pathogens that burden pollinators,

and the ones causing

the most damage are introduced

species. Native bumblebees suffer from a


The estimated

percentage of the

animal and plant

products in our

diets that can be

traced, both directly

and indirectly, to

insect pollination.

Direct pollination includes everything from

cucumbers to squash, coffee to basil, strawberries

to cantaloupes, cashews, and everything in

between. Indirect pollination includes the insectpollinated

foods like alfalfa and clover that we

feed to our livestock (from which we get milk,

eggs, and meat).

The percentage of

decline in overwintering

monarch butterflies in

the Central Mexican

butterfly preserves

from the 20-year average,

as measured in the winter

of 2013-2014.

The percentage

of the Earth’s

flowering plants

that depend

on insect


to set seed or

produce fruit.

The dollar

value of insectpollinated

crops in the

United States.

The percentage of

managed honeybee

colony losses


by beekeepers in

the US in

the April 2014-

April 2015 year.

Beekeeping is a tough business, and the rewards

grow smaller each year. At this time, there are only

about 2.5 million commercial honeybee colonies

in the United States. For perspective, it takes 1.6

million colonies to pollinate the annual California

almond crop alone.


The native bee house

at the Zoo shows a

number of ways humans

can provide nesting

habitat for bees.

A bundle of cut

bamboo culms

makes a good

nesting option for

some bees.



Different types of bees seek

out holes of various diameter

and depth. Use the Internet

to determine which species

you may have in your area and

what their preferences are.

A log with holes

drilled into the end

is another way to

invite native bees to

nest in your yard.


non-native fungal disease, while honeybees

struggle with introduced ectoparasites such

as varroa mites and fungal infestations from

nosema spores.

A combination of all these—and probably

other—factors has created the phenomenon

known as Colony Collapse Disorder,

which is decimating honeybee colonies in

the United States. The precise cause is still

unknown because the bees simply disappear,

taking the evidence with them. But

one thing is clear: life is hard for honeybees

these days.

Choose and Tell

he magnitude of the problem

makes it seem like there is no

stopping it, but the reality is that

a steady stream of small choices

can help turn the tide. Once the threats to

pollinators are understood, everyone can

contribute to the solution by making different


At the San Diego Zoo, we are committed

to helping pollinators recover. We’re spreading

the word about the pollinator crisis in our

education programs and through advocacy

of the Pollinator Garden, which is located

at the entrance to Elephant Odyssey. This

beautiful space is dedicated to helping sustain

bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, flies,

and beetles by providing a steady supply of

pesticide-free nectar and host plants, as well

as suitable living spaces for native bees.

The Pollinator Garden also hosts a monarch

waystation. This area includes a dedicated

section of native milkweed available for

monarch butterflies to lay eggs from spring

through fall, helping to boost the West Coast

population. Monarchs have deservedly been

in the spotlight recently; they have been advocated

for endangered species protections due

to their alarming decline and the potential

threat to the eastern population. In one response

to the 2014 Presidential Memorandum

“Creating a Federal Strategy to Promote the

Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators,”

the federal government has recently set aside

almost $2.5 million for monarch butterfly

habitat restoration and educational outreach.

The monarch is a highly recognizable,

iconic species—and many more species

need our help. As a result, we have just fin-

Pollinators need more than

just one organization’s

efforts: they need

your help, too. Just

as numerous bees

contributing a bit

of nectar to a

hive creates an


of honey,

each seemingly

small choice and

effort an individual

person makes builds

momentum in pollinator


BUY ORGANIC: If you don’t currently buy any organic foods or clothing,

think about picking even one item the next time you visit the store. You could

potentially lower the demand for crops produced using pesticides and reduce

the overall application (over one BILLION pounds yearly in the US) of these chemicals.

STEM THE GM: Even if you don’t care whether or not you eat genetically

modified crops, buying GM food supports the practice of widespread

herbicide application in agriculture and the resulting decimation of pollinator

habitat. Organic items cannot intentionally include GM crops; those labeled “Non

GMO” have been positively determined not to contain them. One non-GM item in

your basket is a small step in the right direction for pollinators.

BUILD YOUR WAYSTATION: Create a habitat in your yard, garden, or

flowerbox that invites pollinators. Plant some milkweed for monarchs and

include other plants that attract and sustain pollinators. Some great planting

information can be found online; just search for “pollinator garden.”

AVOID PESTICIDE USE AT HOME: See aphids on your outdoor plants?

Wait a few weeks, and you are likely to see them disappear into the mouths

of hungry ladybugs! Hold off on the pesticides, and give the natural system

a chance to find its balance. If you must use pesticides, read the manufacturer’s

instructions for the recommended concentration and only use it at or below that level.


overgrown grasses create a perfect habitat for nesting and overwintering

native bees, and flowering weeds are a staple nectar and pollen source for

bees and butterflies. Keep in mind that most native bees are solitary and do not sting

readily. They are good, safe neighbors—especially if you have a garden.

HELP SPREAD THE WORD: Most people have no idea that the

sustainability of food as we know it is so tightly linked with the health of

pollinators. Share what you know!


When a beehive was

discovered in an irrigation

box on the Zoo’ gorilla

habitat roof, the bees

were carefully relocated.

The sweet reward of

honey straight from the

comb went to the gorillas

and other primates!



Monarch butterflies have been in the spotlight lately due to an alarming decline in their numbers.

ished construction on a facility for rearing

lesser-known imperiled San Diego butterfly

species. We are working collaboratively

with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in

giving some of these endangered pollinators

a population boost in the near future. If you

have never heard of the quino checkerspot

butterfly, the Hermes copper, or the Laguna

Mountains skipper, it is our hope that you

will learn about them through the efforts of

the San Diego Zoo’s Butterfly Conservation

Lab—stay tuned!

Beyond butterflies, honeybees also get a

hand here at the Zoo. They gather in swarms

while looking for a new home, and when

they swarm in undesirable spots at the Zoo,

we find them a more suitable place to go.

For the past two years, we have been maintaining

honeybee colonies on grounds and

do live removals of swarms and established

hives in problem places wherever possible.

Raising Voices, Rising Action

ollinators are at a crossroads, and

it seems that their advocates are

being heard at long last. In 2013,

This female leafcutter bee Lithurgopsis

apicalis has already gathered

a good load of pollen but still seeks more.

A honeybee Apis mellifera and a green

sweat bee Agapostemon texanus share the

bounty of a cactus blossom.

the European Union banned the use of

certain neonicotinoid pesticides for two

years, pending further evaluation of their

effects on pollinators. In our own country,

tireless invertebrate conservation advocates

have facilitated state legislation in

Oregon requiring pollinator education

and testing as part of the pesticide applicator

licensing process, to avoid indiscriminate

use. And there is now a tremendous

focus on the monarch butterfly and

government-wide attention to the pollinator

crisis in general.

Most importantly, pollinators have

YOU. From The Great Sunflower Project to

Bumblebee Watch to Journey North, citizen

science projects for these vital creatures

abound. There has never been a better time

to get involved and help underscore the value

of pollinators. Your choices matter, and

the vibrant, flowering world that we live in

depends on it.

Black Tuesday for bees? Not on our

watch. So find your pollinators, make

your contribution, and help bring back the

buzz! n


The pack of eight

dholes is settling

in nicely to their

spacious exhibit at

the Safari Park.








Asiatic wild dogs, also called dholes, are energetic and highly social animals.

By Karyl Carmignani


Photos by Ken Bohn


With a mixture of grace and curiosity, the pack lopes effortlessly throughout its

new three-acre exhibit. Last spring, a family pack of eight Asiatic wild dogs

Cuon alpinus, also called dholes (pronounced “doles”), moved into the former

tiger habitat in the Asian Savanna area at the Safari Park. This is the first time

that Park visitors have been able to see these beautiful wild dogs on exhibit at

the Park. The auburn-colored dholes have erect ears, a dark tail, and a creamy

white underbelly and leg accents, making them both camouflaged and striking

in the grassy, light-dappled exhibit.

Dholes are super-sensitive animals, skittish to the point of potentially overheating under stress. But “this pack surprised

us with their hardy way of adjusting to their new environment and different keepers,” said Tina Hunter, senior

keeper at the Safari Park. Made up of one female and eight males, including Lucius, who is the father of the rest of

the group, the highly social pack has been added to the Park’s Behind-the-Scenes Safaris. “Dholes are unique animals

that most people have never seen before,” said Tina. “They will be an exciting addition to our safaris.”


Dhole House

Once the tigers moved into the new Tull

Family Tiger Trail, their former exhibit was

found to be a great habitat for the dholes. The

six separate indoor bedrooms are arranged

in a horseshoe shape. “The tigers, as a solitary

species, weren’t so keen on this arrangement,

but the highly social dholes like to

keep an eye on each other,” explained Tina.

There is a feed chute on each door that was

used to dispense bones and other treats for

the tigers, which also works for dhole treats.

The vast outdoor area of the dhole habitat

needed a few adjustments. “Dholes are great

diggers, so the underground, three-foot barrier

along the fenceline was closely inspected

and reinforced before they moved in,” said

Tina. Dholes are also devoted water lovers,

so the existing pool is a favorite hang-out

spot. “We built a shelter over part of the pool

so the dholes can spend more time in the water,

even when the sun is strongest.”

Dhole Drama

While the keepers are still getting acquainted

with each dog, there is a clear hierarchy

in the group that must be adhered to. “We

always feed them in order of dominance,”

said Tina, which avoids conflicts later. For

instance, Lucius recently lost his top-dog

status to one of his sons, Sanuk, so he is

now fed second. Each animal gets a special

ground-meat canine diet daily and a rabbit

and femur bone weekly. “We hand-feed

them so each animal gets its fair share.” It

can be difficult to tell the dogs apart, aside

from Lucius missing a piece of his ear and

the youngsters lacking white fur on their

chest and feet. But the individuals reveal

themselves in other ways. “We go by behavioral

differences more than physical differences,”

explained Tina. Even that can be

challenging, as “they rarely want to be separated

from one another.”

Dholes are pack-driven animals, and

their keepers are learning the etiquette of

the pack dynamics while also working with

individuals for husbandry purposes. To

maximize animal welfare and healthcare

and minimize stress to the animals, each

dhole—Sanuk, Lucius, Beni, Jetsan, Katsu,

Torma, Kono, and Yoshi—will be schooled

in practical behaviors like station (staying in

Dholes use water

to stay cool and

hydrated. They

enjoy their pool at

the Safari Park!

a particular spot), down, sit, target, rise up,

present paw, and open mouth. This training

is accomplished through positive reinforcement

with rewards, which deepens the

animals’ relationship with their keepers and

keeps the sessions upbeat and constructive.

Dhole Talk

Despite the dholes’ resemblance to domestic

dogs, they are still wild carnivores that deserve

a wide berth. “They can be aggressive,

so we only go in with the young ones,” said

Dholes are unusual animals that few

people have ever seen. They are a part of

the Behind-the-Scenes Safaris at the Park.

Tina, “and always with two keepers.” She

explained that the dhole’s greeting includes

snapping at each other—an expression of

endearment for them, but not so endearing

for humans. Dholes can be quite vocal, too,

calling to keep in touch over short or long

distances, which is handy when they are

cooperatively hunting. Living in close-knit

packs of 5 to 12 dogs—there is one breeding

alpha pair and the rest help tend to the

pups—communication in the form of whistles,

barks, growls, alarm calls, and other

chatter is key.

The International Union for Conservation

of Nature estimates that there are fewer

than 2,500 dholes remaining throughout

their range in Asia, with a downward trend

continuing. Threats include loss of habitat

and prey base (mostly deer and other

hoofed animals), and dholes are listed as

endangered. Besides the Safari Park, only

two other facilities in the US have dholes:

The Wilds in Ohio and the Minnesota Zoo.

San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding

dholes since 2001 in an off-exhibit breeding

site; 20 pups have been born there to 4 different

mothers. Our newest litter of dholes

was born in January 2015, bringing our

current off-exhibit pack population to 12.

Because of the breeding success, the animal

care staff was able to form the non-breeding

group that has taken up residence in the

Asian Savanna exhibit. So take a Behindthe-Scenes

Safari and check them out. I

double dog dare you! n





in the Pink

at the Zoo

By Karyl Carmignani


Photos by Ken Bohn





Athena Wilson

carefully holds a

flamingo on its

way to its exam.


Keepers Mike Touch and

Rhonda Bennett confirm

the bird’s tag number.



or decades, Zoo visitors have been greeted on the front plaza by a flurry

of pink-feathered, high-stepping, long-necked, boisterous birds whose

avian drama unfolds each day like a soap opera. To ensure these beautiful

Caribbean flamingos are “in the pink,” the Zoo’s flamingo roundup is

organized and orchestrated each spring. Instead of cowboy boots and

lassos, this roundup requires catchers, handlers, flock monitors, and a

brigade of devoted staff, all working to make sure each bird gets topnotch

care during its annual exam at Flamingo Lagoon. The Bird Department and veterinary

staff coordinate with other departments to make sure this three-hour event goes

off without a hitch.

There are about 40 staff members in with the birds, while numerous other employees

assist on the outside. They deliver bubble-wrap-covered barriers to protect the birds,

whisk away sandbags when the roundup is completed, and transport young birds to

the lower duck pond. “This is the one time of year when each and every flamingo gets a

hands-on physical exam by our veterinarians,” explained Amy Flanagan, animal care

supervisor. “We couldn’t do it without the help of many other departments!”


A vaccination is

administered by

Brian Opitz (right)

while Jessica Theule

keeps the bird still.





After the bird’s checkup, it happily

spreads its wings and returns to its

flamboyant flock.


6 and 11 pounds) and gets a West Nile virus

vaccination. A blood sample is collected and

a physical exam is conducted, which includes

inspecting the bird’s beak, legs, toes, wings,

feathers, eyes, and ears. The process is thorough,

since the birds are only handled once

a year. Zoo veterinarian Meg Sutherland-

Smith, D.V.M., explained, “The information

and experience gained by getting our hands

on the flock once a year helps us manage any

medical conditions that the birds may develop

throughout the year.”

Amelia Suarez holds the flamingo on the scale while Jessica Theule notes the weight.

Team Roundup

Flamingo Lagoon was designed with this

health-care process in mind. Five keepers

form a line, gently herding the birds toward

the holding area. As the barricades approach,

other bird species (ducks, geese, and

crested screamers) that may have been included

in the group dart out of the way past

the keepers. The flamingos are corralled

past cushioned barriers in the deep end of

the lagoon, while one spotter is stationed on

the bridge to observe the birds for signs of

fatigue. If any are noted, that bird goes to

the front of the line.

A few birds at a time are funneled into

a smaller area to be calmly caught by three

catchers and then handed off to a handler,

who holds the bird throughout the process

of visiting each health station. Amy explained

that the birds are held “like a football

under the arm,” with the head and neck

supported by the keeper’s other hand. The

legs are folded underneath the bird. “They

are pretty docile while we’re holding them,”

she said, “but they can grab your hair or

nose on occasion.”

Once a bird is secured, it is taken to various

stations on the lagoon shore. The bird’s

leg band number is matched with its information

card and its microchip is checked.

Each bird is weighed (most weigh between

Foot Map Journey

Each bird’s information card includes a

“foot map,” similar to a fingerprint for

humans, so animal care staff can monitor

each flamingo’s feet for any cracks or lesions

that may develop. Flamingos are long-lived

birds, with a possible lifespan of more than

50 years in zoos! Since they spend a great

deal of time with their feet submerged in

water, it’s important to monitor their webbing

and toes and those famous long legs.

Monitoring foot condition allows animal

care staff to decide if any changes need to be

made in the birds’ environment.

Since there are usually between 6 and 12

young birds that hatched the previous year,

they will need a follow-up booster vaccine



It takes a village for the annual flamingo roundup! A few key players (left to right): Amy Flanagan, Athena Wilson, Mike Grue, and Anne Clayton.

in a few weeks. They are gathered up and

taken to the African Marsh Pond located

at the bottom of Hippo Trail, which avoids

causing stress for the rest of the flock when

booster shot day comes. Amy explained that

cart drivers with carriers are ready to safely

move these birds.

Each bird is carefully and efficiently

handled. After the health checks, the flamingos

are released back into their lagoon,

where they shake it off and get back to the

leggy business of being a flamboyant flamingo.

“This year we were able to process

78 flamingos in just over 3 hours,” said Amy

with pride. “Each year we refine the process

and get better and more efficient. The annual

flamingo roundup is truly the biggest collaborative

avian health care project at the Zoo!”

That’s a bright feather in the Zoo’s cap. n

Special care is paid to flamingo feet, and each bird has a “foot map,” similar to a

fingerprint, that is used to monitor changes over time.






The beauty of a branch is that the animal has a choice of ways to use it.

By Judy Bell


Photos by Ken Bohn



hen people find out I work for the San Diego Zoo, they almost always say,

“How cool! You get to work with all the animals!” Well, yes… and no. As a

horticulturist, I use my knowledge of plants to try to make the animals’ habitats

enriching, fun, safe, and, more than anything else, a comfortable home.

Creating a new exhibit from scratch or even remodeling an existing space

takes teamwork. Through multiple meetings, horticulturists, arborists, keepers, behaviorists, architects,

construction and maintenance staff, curators, and operations personnel work together toward

a common goal: an excellent home for the animals. The questions in the design phase are many.

What should the habitat look like? What does the animal need to thrive, physically and mentally?

How can we foster the animal’s expression of natural behaviors? These questions help us define

what “furniture” will be needed. Huge tree stumps, logs, large trees, shrubs, tall grasses, specialty

plants, and more are supplied by the Horticulture Department.



A tangle of thick branches adds important elements to a gharial’s zoo home and gives Zoo visitors a glimpse into what its natural

underwater surroundings are like.


any of the Zoo’s exhibits have massive

logs for the animals to climb on, over,

and under. One way to get furniture

like this is to have a big storm. Then we gather

up any downed trees that fit the bill as candidates

for placement inside an exhibit. The

best trees to use are eucalyptus, because they

have hard wood and many natural oils that

make them water repellant and resistant to

rot. Other tree species can be used, but they

may have to be replaced in a matter of years,

a costly aspect to “re-furnishing.” I used to

feel a bit sad when a tree was felled, until I

realized that no tree in the Zoo could have

a better “afterlife” than to be a jungle gym

for a young orangutan or gorilla. No tree,

branch, or rootball is ever wasted here at the

Zoo. Many of the original pieces of eucalyptus

wood placed in the gorilla exhibit when

it was built in 1991 are still there. They are


considered “antique furniture” at this point!

Moving these pieces takes teamwork and

the right kind of equipment. A crane lifts

logs into a big truck for transport to a holding

area and unloads them. Cranes come into

play again when it’s time to place the furniture

in an open-topped exhibit. If the exhibit

has a roof or netted top, we also need a door,

at least as wide as a Bobcat® (the tractor-type

bobcat, not a feline). Sometimes we just use

good ol’ muscle—and a lot of it!


n occasion, an exhibit getting a “remodel”

already has some plant material

in it to work with. However,

if there are large trees positioned close to

the exhibit’s perimeter, we determine if they

need to be relocated. Trees in such a spot

may provide an avenue for escape as they

grow—especially for arboreal primates. Such


huge trees pose another problem in a closed

exhibit if they press against the wire barrier.

In either case, the Zoo’s tree crew uses

their abundant skills to artistically “reduce”

the canopy. And they continue to do so on a

regular basis for the lifetime of the exhibit.

In addition to taking steps to ensure the

trees don’t harm the exhibit structure, we

also consider and plan for ways to protect the

flora from the fauna. Barriers to guard trees

from inquisitive and diligent chewing critters

come in all shapes and sizes. Large rocks

placed around the base of a tree are one way

to prevent root damage from animals that

like to dig. Wire mesh covering branches

and tree trunks discourages chewing and

bark removal that, if continuous, could eventually

cause the death of the tree. These solutions

work well with most hoofed species and

small primates.

Creating naturalistic habitats for great


Unlike most pet

domestic cats, zoo

felines are encouraged

to use the furniture as a

scratching post!

apes provides a completely different challenge.

By nature, they are in a constant state

of “eating their environment,” and as a result,

they need regular reminding that the

landscape is not their lunch. This reminder is

usually reinforced by a protective “hot wire,”

which sends a mild electric pulse to discourage

contact. The large trees will continue to

provide shade as long as the protection is in

place and the animals don’t figure out how

to get around it. In the case of many primate

exhibits, we use fake trees or metal armatures

with rope hammocks for convenient

and comfy places to hang out and relax. We

have also created faux ficus trees by using

cuttings of ficus rooted in manmade structures.

These are placed within arm’s reach of

the primates, so they can browse on the material

at their convenience.


Carefully selected and installed furniture

provides a safe environment in which zoo

animals can exhibit natural behaviors.


he overall selection and placement of

plant material is critical to the ultimate

success of an exhibit. A plant’s

roots stand a much better chance of survival

if they can be sheltered by a deadwood log

or tucked away between rocks. If plants that

are not typically used as browse are used as

exhibit plantings, the inhabitants may not

see them as edible and pass them by.

Regular replanting and reseeding of exhibits

is a way of life for our horticulturists.

By using a variety of grasses —clumping

and running, warm season and cool

season—there will always be something

green to prevent erosion and compaction

from the pitter-patter and heavy footfalls

of the animals. Any plant material with the

ability to reseed and naturalize within the

exhibit holds a distinct advantage in these

tough conditions.

The best strategy is to plant early and

often, hoping to engage the animal inhabitants

with many types of plant options, including

enrichment in the form of browse

(cut material and leafy branches, sometimes

with fruit or flowers). We seek to keep animals

occupied by climbing on deadwood,

swinging on ropes, and munching on

browse that has been tossed into a hammock

by a keeper, rather than destroying

the landscape plants. All of these strategies

work wonders to keep animals away from

the live plants inside an exhibit.

From big statement pieces to the small

flourishes, plant material has a positive effect

on our animals’ homes, and it’s a part

of being a zoo horticulturist that brings a

great deal of satifaction. On your next visit

to the Zoo or Safari Park, watch for the

ways we use logs, branches, and plantings

to help the animals thrive. Who knows,

you might even get some ideas for your

own pets at home! n


Clockewise from top left: A dead tree stump

makes an excellent nest site for many cavitynesting

bird species; in their native range,

cheetahs often perch atop low tree branches

(and termite mounds) to get a better view of

their surroundings; a massive tree trunk in

the Safari Park’s cheetah habitat gives the

cats there the same ability; trees add a

veritcal element to an animal’s habitat; large

boulders placed around the base of a tree

protects the plant’s roots from the curious

snouts and hooves of these peccaries; a stout

tree trunk, also called deadfall, makes a

perfect perch for this Andean bear.



A plush toy

might just be a

cheetah cub’s

best friend.



Orangutan Indah explores her creative side with paper and nontoxic paints.

By Mary Sekulovich


Conversations with keepers at the San Diego

Zoo or Safari Park often begin with

“What if. . . ” or “Did you know. . . ?” Stay a

little longer and you might hear what they

use to help enrich the lives of animals in

their care. It could be a favorite scent for

giant pandas, a giant bone for jaguars,

large balls for elephants, tigers, and bears,

or a veggie ladder for parrots. Even new

mulch or plants in a habitat can interest

animals and encourage them to investigate

their home. They may also look for

new—and often yummy—surprises, like

raisins strewn among leaves for the bonobos

or meatballs hidden for big cats.

Our keepers may not have a fairy godmother

who grants wishes, but they do have

Photos by Ken Bohn


an amazing group of generous Zoo and Park

donors who check out our Wish List each

month. These supporters purchase items as

diverse as Panda Cam equipment, a clock

radio to entertain great apes, or hammocks

for marmosets and clouded leopards. You

can even feed a gorilla or lion for a day or a

week. And don’t forget “snow day” enrichment

for polar bears and giant pandas: one

snowball is just $5 and fits most budgets.

Looking back to November 19, 2006,

when our first Wish List debuted on the

Zoo’s website, we added up the numbers

and realized that we’ve raised over

$900,000 for our animals. More than 6,500

donors have purchased close to 26,000

items for the species they love! In the first

10 minutes after the Animal Enrichment

Holiday Wish List program went live that

first year, we received 2 donations. Our first

purchase was for an enrichment food puzzle

for gorillas: $42. Great apes and other

primates love manipulating the feeders until

the treat falls out or they scoop it out—

providing hours of stimulation and fun for

these intelligent animals. Our most expensive

item back then was for a necropsy table

for the Zoo hospital: $25,000.

So if you have ever wanted to buy a gift

for your favorite cheetah, macaw, orangutan,

or meerkat that will help them live a

healthy lifestyle, you can visit the Wish List

on the Zoo’s website at sandiegozoo.org/

wishlist. Each month you will see who is

celebrating a birthday and can choose from

items that will make them and their keepers

smile. And, yes, we do believe that animals

can smile! n

You can help secure the future for wildlife!

Heritage Guild

By creating a Charitable Gift Annuity or including the Zoological Society of San Diego

in your will or trust, you can help protect wildlife. To receive more information,

please call 619-557-3947 or visit our website at zoolegacy.org.


from the archives

Be Fruitful...

Arriving in San Diego as a pair from the Calcutta

Zoo in 1940, Rube and Rubie the African river hippos

quickly became popular with visitors and staff—not

to mention the stork! Their first calf, a “little” lady named

Lotus, was born in 1943, and over their 40-plus years at

the Zoo, they produced 10 more offspring together.

One of Rube and Rubie’s favorite things was watermelon,

and watching them enjoy the juicy fruit became

a “must-see” among Zoo visitors. The pair would scoop

up the whole melons and chomp down, popping the treat

like humans would a grape. Rube also impressed anyone

within earshot with his vocalizations. Cued by a keeper

mimicking the sound, Rube would open his mouth, lift

his chin, and let loose with what sounded like a cross

between a bellow and a snore. The sound reverberated

throughout the canyon where the hippo pool stood. It

caused more than a few people to cover their ears!

Hippos have an average life span of 25 to 30 years in

the wild, but Rube’s 51 years made him one of the oldest

hippos in zoos. The legacy of this beloved “power couple”

lives on—today, the pair have been immortalized as two

of the Zoo’s popular costumed characters! n





























The Zoological Society of San Diego was founded in Octo ber 1916 by Harry M. Wegeforth, M.D., as a private, nonprofit corporation that

now does business as San Diego Zoo Global.

This digital edition of ZOONOOZ ® is currently published every month. Versions are available for download on iPads and a PDF version is

available for viewing on Kindle Fire, desktops, Android devices, and smartphones. Publisher is San Diego Zoo Global, at 2920 Zoo Drive, San

Diego, CA 92103, 619-231-1515.

Copyright ® 2015 San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved. “ZOONOOZ” Reg. U.S. Pat. Office. All column and program titles are

trademarks of San Diego Zoo Global. Annual Memberships: Dual $125, new; $110, renewal. Single $102, new; $90, renewal. Membership

includes unlimited entrance to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.


August 1–31: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; September 1–7: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

September 8–25 and 27–30: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; September 26: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


August 1–16: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; August 17–31: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

September 1–6: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; September 7–30: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information about our animals and events, visit sandiegozoo.org or call 619-231-1515.

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