2022 Winter Wild Magazine

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Remembering SUKARI

With great sadness, Roger Williams Park Zoo recently

Sukari was born at Los Angeles Zoo & Botanical Gardens on

announced the death of Sukari, our beloved 28-year-old

February 27, 1993 and arrived at RWPZoo at just nine months

Masai giraffe.

old. She was the mother of Jaffa, our male giraffe, a matriarch

The Zoo staff worked diligently to care for Sukari; her comfort was the utmost priority while treating her for significant arthritis and age-related ailments. Given her advanced age and concern for the impact on quality of life, the teams made the extremely difficult decision to humanely euthanize Sukari on Wednesday, December 29. She had long-standing arthritis issues that had been wellmanaged with different forms of care over the past few years. What we were doing was no longer keeping her comfortable. In addition to exploring therapeutic options, the animal care team also made behavioral and environmental changes, but she didn’t respond as they had hoped. Sukari reached an age that is rare in the giraffe world.

volunteers. Giraffe populations have declined drastically over the past 30 years. There are only about 35,000 Masai giraffes left in the wild, and they are considered endangered by the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature). AZA-accredited institutions such as the Roger Williams Park Zoo have been mobilizing resources to increase awareness of giraffe conservation and conduct or support field conservation initiatives for giraffes. Of all the stories about Sukari we could share, one will forever leave a lasting impression for Rachel McClung, zookeeper and one of Sukari’s caretakers. “A young boy and his father would visit the giraffe every Saturday. After learning how much

Nearly half of the giraffe born in the wild do not make it to their

he loved the giraffe and some of the challenges he faced,

first birthday; female giraffes in captivity average a 20-year

we arranged for our young friend to meet Sukari. Although

lifespan. Sukari, who would have turned 29 in February 2022,

tentative at first, Sukari’s sweet and calm demeanor eased his

was one of the oldest Masai giraffes in human care in North

fears and resulted in happy tears from all. These two new best

America, a testament to the quality of care provided by the

friends were lost in their happy moment together.”

dedicated staff that took care of her.


to our humble herd, and a favorite among guests, staff and

February brings the perfect weather to New England for visiting the Zoo and seeing animals outside, enjoying nature’s cooler temperatures. Winter is an exciting time for red panda watchers to see these animals as they are


better adapted to cold than heat. They don’t hibernate, but rely on their heavy fur and bushy tails to keep them warm during cold spells, happily eating tasty leaves, blossoms, and berries. Red pandas have

The Zoo’s snow leopards are also happy during the winter months. The ways that snow leopards have adapted to live in colder environments include their stocky bodies, thick fur, and small and rounded ears, all of which help minimize heat loss. A snow leopard’s large, fur-covered forepaws help the animal travel on rocky surfaces and avoid sinking into

the snow.

a thick double-layer of fur. Much like humans who put on a

The Zoo is open Thursday–Monday from 10 am to 4 pm with

sweatshirt followed by a winter coat, red pandas also use

half-price admission from February 1–February 28, 2022.

layers to stay warm! If guests look carefully, they will see the

Members do not need advance tickets; all other visitors must

extra fur growing on the red pandas’ feet to help keep them

purchase tickets online. If you have not been to the Zoo in the

warm all season.

winter, come enjoy this season.


meet the curious red panda

“The most beautiful creature I have ever seen.” This was French zoologist Frederic Cuvier’s first reaction to the red panda – and we certainly can’t disagree! Even though they are incredibly cute, there is a lot more to this species than their appearance. Also referred to as the lesser panda, bearcat, and Himalayan raccoon – red pandas are actually not related to the giant panda, bears or raccoons. Instead, they’re classified in their own taxonomic family, Ailuride. Here at the Zoo, we have two of our very own red pandas: Rusty, a 16-year-old male and Sha-Lei, a 12-year-old female. Rusty weighs in at 17 lbs while Sha-Lei comes in at just under 20 lbs. The pair have fresh helpings of bamboo every morning and afternoon - a main staple in their species’ diet. Like their bamboo-loving friends the giant panda, the red panda was discovered 50 years before the giant panda bear was. The word panda is believed to have originated from the Nepali word “Ponya” which means plant or bamboo eating-animal. Much like their wild counterparts, Rusty and Sha-lei love eating fresh figs, grapes, bananas, apples, and other fruit. These beautiful animals have a bit of a sweet tooth! Zookeeper Heather has been with the zoo for 22 years and is one of the red panda’s primary keepers; she also cares for our harbor seal, red wolves and eagles, just to name a few. For enrichment, Heather and other keepers utilize a wide variety of activities and foods that the red pandas can play with. “Since they don’t possess prehensile (grasping) hands like primates, they’re unable to manipulate objects as easily and instead are often given simpler activities such as food in a paper bag, an open pumpkin and bamboo hidden in different places that they can climb to,” said Heather. Another form of enrichment that they enjoy from time to time is the use of different perfumes around their exhibit. Scent enrichment encourages them to explore and investigate their surroundings, exposing them to new and potentially exciting fragrances. Red pandas also love the winter and snow and are perfectly adapted for cold climates. Native to the temperate Himalayan mountains, they have thick fur with a woolly undercoat to help combat the winter chill. So, if you’re a big fan of the red panda now is the best time of year to see them! Unfortunately, much like many of earth’s beautiful animals, the red panda has become severely endangered, and its population has been decimated by 50% in the last 20 years. Rapid human population growth and development projects such as mining and agriculture, are destroying their habitat, sources of food,


fun fact: When threatened, these bushy-tailed pandas will either try to run or if they cannot, they will stand on their hind legs to make themselves appear larger and more intimidating. and causing direct physical harm to red pandas themselves.

species in need of

Estimates of the red panda’s population put its somewhere

care, preservation, and

between 2,500 to 10,000 left in the wild. Organizations such

works with AZA-accredited

as the Red Panda Network are committed to educating local

institutions like your Roger Williams

people in Nepal and around the world on the importance of

Park Zoo to develop breeding and transfer plans to help ensure

conserving this beautiful species, as well as utilizing trained

a healthy and genetically diverse population within the AZA

employees whose sole purpose is to protect red pandas.

community. We are hopeful that with continued help from

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums also has a comprehensive program designed to help endangered species through its Species Survival Plan program. This program identifies

organizations like the Red Panda Network and AZA-accredited Zoos, together we can ensure the survival of this essential species and ensure it is not forgotten.


Sustainability Starts with Us

Roger Williams Park Zoo’s commitment to conserving wildlife and wild places starts right here at the Zoo, where we strive to use best practices in everyday operations to contribute to a healthier planet for all. As we foster awareness of the importance of conservation, it is also our duty to help conserve our Earth’s resources through environmentally friendly behaviors. See what green practices your RWPZoo implements and learn how you can do your part to conserve energy and resources.


ECO-FRIENDLY SHOPPING & DINING All our concessions operate with “green” practices in mind and a portion of the profits come back to support Zoo animal care and education conservation programs! Reusable cups are now sold at our restaurants and the elimination of plastic bags at

All organic waste gets composted. Natural waste, such as

our gift shops takes us one step

animal bedding materials, manure, leaves, grass clippings,

closer to creating zero waste

vegetable and fruit peelings get delivered to a composting

and reducing plastic.

facility twice weekly.


New animal habitats are thoughtfully built to ensure they are

We utilize LED lighting in our offices, buildings, and outdoor

less wasteful and minimize their environmental impact. Pools

facilities. Not only do LED lights consume less energy, but the

for animals like anteater and elephants have filtering systems

bulbs also use energy more efficiently. These newer lighting

to purify and save thousands of gallons of water each year.

systems monitor our usage and keep events like Jack-OLantern Spectacular shining bright while conserving power.

GREEN EVENTS Celebrating at the Zoo has never looked so good! By composting food scraps, events like Zoobilee can save tons of organic material from entering the landfill. Recycling cups at the Zoo’s annual Brew at the Zoo fundraising event also saves hundreds of materials ending up as trash.


REDUCE & REUSE Wherever we can, we reuse and recycle. Instead of throwing away cardboard boxes or paper towel rolls, we first reuse them for animal treat enrichment. We also have comprehensive procedures for recycling paper, cardboard, cans, bottles, clear plastic bags and wooden pallets. These items are collected on Zoo grounds and then delivered to Rhode Island Resource Recovery.

RECYCLE Last year we proudly launched a new e-waste recycling

We also encourage guests to join us in recycling, reusing,

program, Gorillas on the Line, that allows visitors to recycle

and reducing waste. Refillable water bottle stations are

used cell phones and handheld electronics. Recycling

conveniently located throughout the Zoo. We’ve also gone

your phone not only prevents hazardous materials from

digital – offering digital membership cards and an interactive

entering our environment but helps protect gorillas and

online map in the place of paper brochures.

other endangered species habitats. Likewise, all funds raised through this initiative directly support conservation projects

TAKE ACTION Every day we make choices in our lives that affect our planet, wildlife, and each other. Living sustainably reduces the amount of Earth’s resources you use and, in turn, helps us protect it. By making simple changes to your lifestyle, together we can

through Gorilla Saving Animals from Extinction (SAFE) programs! Join us in the fight to protect wildlife! A collection box is available at the Zoo’s main entrance or any Providence Public Library location.

create a brighter future for generations to come. • Limit the amount of energy you use. Turn off lights; unplug idle electronics; switch to LED bulbs. • Use eco-friendly products. Look for the FSC logo on furniture, paper goods and flooring to protect the rainforest; “Follow the Frog” and look for the Rainforest Alliance


seal on products ranging from bananas and chocolate to coffee and flowers; buy products with less packaging or environmentally friendly packaging. • Reuse & recycle. Choose to buy only items you need and donate the things you no longer use; compost yard waste

We’d love to hear what you do at home to be “green!” Post it on Instagram using

#SustainableRWPZoo and we’ll share your great ideas with all our fans, too!

and kitchen waste and use it to nurture your plants naturally.

Thank you for helping us make a difference for our environment!

Click here for more ways you can make a positive impact 


n a g h o u s ’ t! t e L

Share the love this Valentine’s Day with a gift that keeps on giving GIVE A ZOO MEMBERSHIP 

Summer ZooCamp Registration Opens February 9th!

Perfect for budding scientists, zoologists, explorers, artists, and kids that just love animals. Fill their days with crafts, hands-on activities, encounters with wild animal ambassadors, and more.



Nature Swap

Have you found a unique and colorful geode? Did you stumble

crabs are not

upon a well-preserved fossil? Then head on over to the

accepted either; they

Nature Swap at the Big Backyard between 12:00 - 3:00 pm on

are highly valued in

Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays. Kids can bring in cool finds

the biomedical industry

they’ve discovered in the wild and trade them for a similar item

and a permit is required

at the swap. While it is an exciting and educational experience,

to remove them from their

the swap’s emphasis is less on the actual items themselves and

habitat. The final rules are that

more on children’s engagement, enthusiasm, and experience.

only two items can be traded at a time

The program’s goal is for families to spend more time outside together, for kids to get excited about wildlife and to create profound experiences connected to the environment. Not only are items found in the wild accepted, but also nature-oriented

and no items from domestic animals or pets such as a bunny’s fur or a pet snake’s skin. Besides those specific items, please feel free to jump into nature with your family and see what you can find!

artistic and creative items such as arts & crafts, journals,

With this program, the possibilities of learning and discovery

photos, etc. In addition, the program also holds monthly

are endless. Many people would be surprised as to what

“quests” that can be completed for a maximum of 5,000 points per quest. This allows kids to save up and trade their points for a bigger prize, such as a 50,000-point fossil.

treasures, species and other natural wonders lay hidden all around us right in our backyards. Through the activity of searching and collecting, children can build a lifelong

However, there are a few rules to the swap. Firstly, they

appreciation for exploration and the environment. An average

cannot accept anything collected from birds or turtles because

wooded area near your house, or a park in your neighborhood,

of the Migratory Birds Act, Eagle Act and the wood turtle’s

can go from seeming like any other ordinary place to a

conservational interest in Rhode Island. This might make taking

biodiverse and rich area that’s teeming with flora, fauna, and

bird or turtle items illegal, especially if most people don’t know

natural history. Most importantly, the fond memories created in

the difference between species of birds or turtles. Horseshoe

the process is what will truly tie the experience together. 8

Calling all young artists and wildlife enthusiasts!

5TH ANNUAL ENDANGERED SPECIES YOUTH ART CONTEST With support from Jerry’s Artarama of Providence The Zoo is now accepting art entries from K-12 grade students and homeschoolers depicting threatened/endangered species. Raise awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife and wild places and get the chance to win cool prizes including a family membership, Zoo swag and gift cards to Jerry’s Artarama.

2021 GRAND PRIZE WINNER Ke Qing Tan, (9-12) Red-faced spider monkey

6-8 GRADE CATEGORY WINNER Samantha Thibeault, Red Panda

K-2 GRADE CATEGORY WINNER Alia Koasanto, Aye-aye

3-5 GRADE CATEGORY WINNER Olivia Nowak, Blue-throated macaw

9-12 GRADE CATEGORY WINNER Genevieve Steever, Phillipine Crocodile Tiger

Click here for contest guidelines and to enter  9

Deadline to enter is Sunday, April 10, 2022.

Kids’ Corner

Foam cup snowy owl (From iheartcraftythings.com)

Cold weather conditions are some of the toughest environments animals can live in. Can you guess how these animals adapted to the winter chill?


Why do elephant seals have such large noses? a. A natural adaptation used to detect prey and predators b. A way to keep their faces warm in colder climates and deeper waters. c. To intimidate predators d. To assert dominance over other male bulls, and a way to show physical maturity to mates.


Supplies you will need:

What type of animal is a red panda?

• small foam cups

a. A close cousin of the panda

• yellow and black cardstock paper

b. Last surviving member of the Ailuridae family

• 1-Inch circle punch (optional) • white feathers

c. A unique species of fox

• black permanent marker

d. A sub-species of raccoon


• glue (we used tacky glue) • scissors

What is the actual color of a polar bears hair? a. White


b. Translucent

1. Start by cutting out two 1-inch circles from your yellow cardstock paper and a black bill from your black cardstock paper.

c. Light gray d. Light beige


Why do penguins have their signature tuxedo look of white feathers on their stomachs and black feathers on their back? a. A way to impress mates

2. Use your black marker to make markings on your foam cup for your owl. Also, color in black pupils inside your yellow eyes.

b. Constant exposure to minerals in the arctic ocean alters its colors

3. Glue your eyes and bill onto your foam cup.

c. It’s a natural form of camouflage evolved over thousands of years

4. Finish your owl by gluing white feathers onto the sides of your foam cup. We used two feathers on each side but you could also just use one feather.

d. Their white feathers are smoother, helping them to swim and slide faster, while black feathers are thicker, coarse, and offer protection. Answers located on bottom of page.

Guess Zoo? Can you identify these winter loving animals? 2





Wild Trivia Answers: 1: D • 2: B • 3: B • 4: C; Guess Zoo Answers: 1. Arctic Fox 2. Arctic Hare 3. Arctic Wolf 4. Emperor Penguin 5. Harp Seal 6. Moose 7. Polar Bear 8. Walrus


Answers located on bottom of page.




Events & Ongoing Happenings at Zoo MAY • ALL MONTH: Asian Lantern Spectacular (Wednesday – Sunday evenings) • Fridays: Food Truck Friday at Carousel Village • 3 & 14: Sensory-Friendly Days • 21: Endangered Species Day


JUNE: • ALL MONTH: Asian Lantern Spectacular (Wednesday – Sunday evenings)

(Open Thursday – Monday from 10am – 4pm) • ALL MONTH: Winter half-priced admission • 21-25: Open School Vacation Week


• Fridays: Food Truck Friday at Carousel Village

(Open Thursday – Monday from 10am – 4pm)


• 25: Zoobilee! Feast with the Beasts

(Now open daily from 9am – 4pm) • 3: Celebrate the Zoo’s 150th Birthday! • 9 & 10: Photos with the Easter Bunny • 13-30: Asian Lantern Spectacular (Wednesday – Sunday evenings) • 15 & 16: Photos with the Easter Bunny • 22: Food Truck Friday Kick-off at Carousel Village

JULY • Fridays: Food Truck Friday at Carousel Village • 1-4: Asian Lantern Spectacular final week • 5 & 9: Sensory-Friendly Days

AUGUST • Fridays: Food Truck Friday at Carousel Village • 2 & 13: Sensory-Friendly Days • 27: Brew at the Zoo


& Carousel for 2022


SEPTEMBER • Fridays: Food Truck Friday at Carousel Village • 6 & 10: Sensory-Friendly Days • 29: Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular Opens Roger Williams Park Zoo is supported and managed by the Rhode Island Zoological Society and is owned by the City of Providence

Editorial Roger Williams Park Zoo Department of Marketing and Public Relations Corrie Ignagni Vicki Scharfberg Nate Amaral

Designer Sara Beatrice Tandem Designworks Photo Credits Roger Williams Park Zoo

WILD is an online publication of the Rhode Island Zoological Society, Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island 02907-3659 For membership information call (401) 785-3510 x375 or visit rwpzoo.org.

OCTOBER • ALL MONTH: Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

NOVEMBER (Open Thursday – Monday from 10am – 4pm) • 24: Zoo Closed • 25: Holiday Lights Spectacular Opens

DECEMBER (Open Thursday – Monday from 10am – 4pm)

2022 RHODE ISLAND ZOOLOGICAL SOCIETY BOARD OF TRUSTEES Officers Patrick T. LeBeau, Chair Nancy Allen, Vice Chair Sandra L. Coletta, Vice Chair Margaret Ferguson, Secretary Kristen Adamo, Treasurer Board of Trustees Martha Bower Douglas Caniglia Barbara S. Cottam Sarah Denby Marta Gomez-Chiarri Kimberley M. Little Liz Rollins Mauran Jeffrey Mello Howard Merten John J. Palumbo Steven M. Parente Karen Silva, Ed.D., CHE Maribeth Q. Williamson

Ex-Officio Wendy Nillson Superintendent of Parks Providence Parks Department Chairman Emeritus Sophie F. Danforth* Trustees Emeritus Margaret E. Curran, Esq. Thomas P. Dimeo* Jocelin Hamblett James S. Harper III, VMD* Bradford B. Kopp Arthur D. Little Nancy G.R. Moger Richard Nadeau Jane S. Nelson Cate M. Roberts Philip A. Segal, Jr. Robert F. Stoico *deceased

• SELECT NIGHTS: Holiday Lights Spectacular • 24 & 25: Zoo Closed • 26: Visit the Zoo Free Day & Community Food Drive

Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information visit www.aza.org

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