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inside april 2014 wildlife

Scorpions: Pinch Perfect

The Boojum’s Tale

From males putting females on a pedestal to moonlight fluorescence, there’s more to scorpions than meets the eye.

Named for a fearsome figment of literary imagination, these desert denizens have a story all their own.

Mila’s Big Move: Globe Trotting with an African Elephant Pachyderms never pack light. Find out what it takes to transport an elephant from New Zealand to San Diego.


more

conservation

 oing to China Is Coming G More Black & White News Home: New Frontiers in Panda What are the Zoo’s pandas up to Conservation these days?

What’s in Store

Our panda team leader shares updates and nostalgia from a recent panda symposium in China.

explore

Support

Through the Lens Avian Eggs: Cracking the Code G  roundbreaking Partnership to Benefit Wildlife Oval, round, spotted, or smooth,

Chairman’s Note

bird eggs are nature’s perfect package.

You Said It

San Diego Zoo Global joins forces with the Audubon Nature Institute to help endangered species.

on the cover: Pink-backed pelican Pelecanus rufescens ©Ken Bohn, SDZG Photographer

From the Archives


chairman’s note WORKING TOGETHER FOR ANIMAL HEALTH Photos by Tammy Spratt SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER

SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL OFFICERS Richard B. Gulley, Chairman William H. May, Vice Chairman Sandra A. Brue, Secretary Robert B. Horsman, Treasurer BOARD OF TRUSTEES M. Javade Chaudhri Berit N. Durler Clifford W. Hague Nan C. Katona Patricia L. Roscoe Steven G. Tappan Judith A. Wheatley David S. Woodruff, Ph.D., D.Sc. TRUSTEES EMERITI Frank C. Alexander Kurt Benirschke, M.D. Weldon Donaldson 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 William E. Beamer, General Counsel Douglas G. Myers, President/CEO Charles L. Bieler, Executive Director Emeritus

The Foundation of San Diego Zoo Global OFFICERS Murray H. Hutchison, Chair Maryanne C. Pfister, Vice Chair Susan N. McClellan, Secretary Richard M. Hills, Treasurer Mark A. Stuart, President Richard B. Gulley, Ex officio Douglas G. Myers, Ex officio

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any of you may have been following the story of the Safari Park’s newest gorilla, a girl born to mother Imani on March 12, 2014. Because Imani’s labor was not progressing normally, a c-section was performed, a rare occurrence for a zoo and a first for our gorillas. At San Diego Zoo Global, we are fortunate to have an extremely talented staff of veterinarians, veterinary technicians, keepers, and nutritionists, and they have been handling this situation with their usual professionalism, expertise, and caring concern. They were also able to consult with colleagues and specialists outside of San Diego Zoo Global and enlist their help, not only with the birth but also with the care the little gorilla required afterward because of respiratory problems. Over the years, our veterinary staff members have developed longstanding relationships with many specialists in veterinary medicine, such as Keith Richter, DVM, owner of the Veterinary Specialty Hospital, and their collaboration has been invaluable. In the current case with Imani, veterinary surgeon Lynn Richardson, DVM, came to the Safari Park to help our veterinarians in performing Imani’s c-section. In addition, our staff has also worked with human medical doctors, especially in cases

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BOARD OF DIRECTORS 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 Judith C. Harris Craig A. Irving Michael E. Kassan Susan B. Major Michael D. McKinnon George A. Ramirez Thomas Tull Margie Warner Ed Wilson


In 2009, he came to the Zoo to help Jewel, an Asian elephant, by removing part of a molar that was preventing her from chewing properly. He returned in 2010 to remove the molar completely, since it turned out to be very loose and was still causing Jewel problems. Dr. Fagan has practiced at the Safari Park as well, and in 2013 he did a pulpotomy—akin to a root canal in humans—on two of our African elephant calves who injured a tusk: Emanti in February and Khosi in June. Our veterinary staff has been working with Dr. Fagan for more than 20 years, and he has consulted on a variety of dental issues and performed some unusual procedures. It is always our veterinary staff’s goal to provide the best, high-quality care for our animals. It takes a dedicated, talented team to accomplish

involving great apes. Anesthesiologist Stan Perkins, MD, has been assisting our veterinary staff for more than 20 years with cases from great apes to rhinos to elephants. For the baby gorilla, specialists from UC San Diego Medical Center have been providing their expertise: Caitlyn Forrest, RN; Mark Greenberg, MD, chief of pediatric anesthesiology and critical care; Dawn Reeves, MD, neonatologist; and Lance Prince, MD, PhD, division chief of neonatology. We are very grateful for their consultation and efforts to help this particular baby. This case is similar to another of our great apes who needed help: Karen the orangutan, who our veterinarians discovered had a heart problem and needed surgery. In 1994, a routine exam showed that Karen had a heart murmur. Alan Bier, MD, a cardiologist with the Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, came to the Zoo and did a cardiac ultrasound, which revealed a congenital defect, a hole in Karen’s heart. Open-heart surgery was the solution, but it had never been tried with a zoo animal before. Experts from UC San Diego Medical Center came to help then, too: cardiac surgeons Stuart Jamieson, MD, and Jolene Kriett, MD, performed the surgery to successfully repair Karen’s heart. Karen did develop some post-surgery respiratory problems, and a neonatologist doing a residency at UC San Diego Medical Center at the time came to the Zoo veterinary hospital to set up an intensive care unit—Dr. Mark Greenberg, the same neonatologist who is now working with our baby gorilla. Karen recovered completely, and she is still at the Zoo today. Another aspect of animal health that has brought together both veterinary and human doctors is dentistry. Zoo veterinarians have to be the ultimate generalists, working with all species and in a variety of medical disciplines, so they are our animals’ dentists, too. But on occasion there is a more involved case, such as extracting bad teeth from a tiger or assessing gum disease in a giant panda, and for that our veterinarians call upon David Fagan, DDS, of the Colyer Institute.

that, including extensive collaboration with all the animal care staff, veterinary and laboratory technicians, nutritionists, pathologists who provide diagnostic services, and consultants who bring different perspectives and skills. Zoo Medicine is a specialty recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association, and training is intense for those seeking specialty board certification. I know that our expert veterinary staff members and their colleagues are providing state-of-the-art health care for all the animals at our facilities. Imani the gorilla and her baby are in very good hands.

Rick Gully Chairman SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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Do you have the digital ZOONOOZ?

ZOONOOZ is now available in three digital formats: for iPad, Kindle Fire, and desktop computer. At home or on the go, you can now have ZOONOOZ at your fingertips!

Download ZOONOOZ for your iPad Download ZOONOOZ for your Kindle


Members get up close FREE all year long! Start your membership today. Call 619-718-3000 or visit sandiegozoo.org SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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through the lens Photos by Ken Bohn, SDGZ Photographer

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Cattleheart butterfly Parides photinus

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Rice paper butterfly Idea leuconoe

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you said it

Gao Gao is cute sleeping in the tunnel under the Lord of the Rings tree. I don’t think the builders expected a panda to sleep in there, but it will be nice on warmer days for him. carol_lizard What a wonderful and “sweet” story about Sweet Otter. The zoo staff and vets took such good care of her that whole time. You are all just fantastic and I’m sure she appreciates the surgery now that she’s recovered and can use her leg normally. Poppy Cheetah and dog friends on a Safari Park walk. Very cool to see. Dave M-anionn

Awesome sunset on the @sandiegozoo Skyfari! Already miss San Diego. @jeffreyswaim

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One of my favorite moments at the @sandiegozoo yesterday! @mrsgraham30


Seems like the Ellies [elephants] love romping in the mud by the pool in the east yard. I’ve witnessed them a few times this week playing. Qinisa has her, “I’ve fallen and can’t get up,” moments, after she has slid down the hill. She looks like a little bug on her back, swinging her legs to catch her footing to get up. They all look like little piggies out there. Too cute! Jan

Sorry, Addison, there are no more rabbits in the bag. Funny image shows that big or small, all cats are alike. Bob Worthington

That was a real eye-opening post. Given all the work that is being done to protect species, it’s sad to think that something (DDT) that contaminated land and water 60 years ago is still affecting wildlife. We humans have a lot to answer for. Mary from Brooklyn

Feeding the giraffes at the @sandiegozoo today! Great weekend in San Diego with family and lots of animal love for Mspn’s birthday! @melissajoanhart

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The Pelican Brief Skimming the Surface with Wonderful Water Birds

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By Peggy Scott ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Photos by Ken Bohn

W SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER

hile this limerick, written in 1910 by Dixon Lanier Merritt, could be the bestknown ode to the pelican and its bill, members of the Pelecanidae family have been celebrated in literature, art, and song since Ancient Egypt. From tomb paintings and hymns to royal heraldry and national currency, the pelican is a symbol of self-sacrificing parental dedication and introspection and has been lauded as much as that bountiful beak. Mike Houlihan, a keeper at the Zoo, would like to see that acknowledgement gain a foothold with today’s public. “They are amazing, intelligent birds, and some people don’t realize that,” Mike says. “Just watch them here at the Zoo, and you can see it.” Sheila Murphy, senior keeper at the Safari Park, calls pelicans the most amazing birds in the world. “Working with them is such a joy,” she says. What makes these birds worthy of this mouthful of praise? Here’s the scoop!

Equal Billing

There are seven living pelican species, one of which can be seen at the Zoo and three that are on exhibit at the Safari Park. The great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus, the second-largest species, is native to parts of Africa and the Mediterranean. Measuring up to 5.7 feet long and weighing 22 to 24 pounds, the great white pelican soars with a wingspan of 8 to 10 feet.

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“A wonderful bird is the pelican, His bill can hold more than his belican, He can take in his beak Food enough for a week, But I’m damned if I see how the helican.”

The largest species, the Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus, weighs up to 26 pounds and has a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet. It can be found from southeastern Europe to India and China. Noticeably different from the great white, the Dalmatian sports gray legs and grayish-white plumage. Its nape feathers earn the Dalmatian its alternative name: the curly-headed pelican. The more diminutive pink-backed pelican Pelecanus rufescens does, in some cases, feature pinkish feathers on its back to complement its gray-and-white plumage. Sized at over 4 feet in length, the pink-backed pelican weighs a dainty 8.6 to 15 pounds and uses its wingspan (up to 9.5 feet) to make its way through the skies over Af-

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rica, the Seychelles islands, and the southwestern Arabian peninsula. The pink-backed pelican also differs from its great white and Dalmatian brethren in its choice of homesteads: it nests in trees, while the great white and Dalmatian prefer ground nests. Pelicans are built for swimming—they have totipalmate feet, which means the webbing connects all four of their toes, even the back one. They also get a little help staying afloat: air pockets in the skeleton and beneath their wings provide added buoyancy, enabling them to float. But these birds are also quite at home in the air. Their giant wings can take them far—once they get their feet off the ground. To become airborne, pelicans must first run across the wa-


The small hook at the end of a pelican’s beak, as seen on this pink-backed pelican, helps the bird keep its feathers tidy.

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A pelican’s throat sac, like the one on this pink-backed pelican, serves as a net for the bird’s “scoop-and-gulp” eating method.

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The water in this pink-backed pelican’s submerged throat sac is being filtered out, leaving the bird with a tasty meal.

ter, beat their wings, and pound the surface of the water with both feet in unison to get enough speed for takeoff. Pelicans are adept at co-parenting. During the breeding season, both male and female pelicans use their pouch to carry nesting materials such as twigs, grass, and feathers. Sheila has seen the effort that some birds put into this process. “Our hand-raised males come up and take the nesting materials right out of our hands,” she says. “They run back to the females, so proud of themselves, sort of like ‘look what a good provider I am!’”

Other changes take place around breeding season as well. “The great whites get pinkish for breeding, and the males get their occipital [back of the head] crest,” explains Angela Ray, a lead keeper at the Safari Park. “The female’s facial skin turns pastel orange, and males get a pale yellow coloring on their face.”

Grabbing a Bite

When it comes to dining, pelicans have different approaches— sometimes literally. A pink-backed pelican paddles along in the waSAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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A pelican’s throat pouch, which is made of skin and can be seen on this pink-backed pelican, is also called a gular pouch.

ter, taking advantage of the cover provided by vegetation, and uses its bill to scoop up prey with a quick grab. Great white pelicans make it a group activity. “They hunt cooperatively,” Mike says. “Great whites will form a ring around their prey and surround it.” Dalma-

The Park’s Africa Tram experience offers the chance to see all three pelican species. tians prefer to let someone else do most of the hard work. They follow cormorants, and while those diving hunters go to great lengths (depths, actually) to drive fish to the surface, the Dalmatian pelicans wait at the surface to seize their seafood. Once a pelican has its meal within reach, it puts that famous bill to use. “Their throat pouch is designed like a net,” Mike explains. “They drag it along the surface of the water to scoop up food. The water gets forced out, and they’ve got their dinner.” Should the scoop-and-gulp method fail, Mike notes that pelicans have a back-

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up plan. “Their beak has a little hook at the end of it that can be used to hook fish,” he explains. It’s a good thing the pelican is a prolific “fisherman,” as an adult bird can gulp up to four pounds of fish per day. And while the pouch is a great fish trap, it is not Tupperware: contrary to popular belief, pelicans do not store the catch of the day in their pouch for later.

Pondering Pelicans Up Close

The Zoo and Park’s pelicans have bird lovers flocking to see them. At the Zoo, four young great white pelicans, two males and two females, live in an exhibit on Park Way, just down the slope from the birds of prey aviaries. They share their home with cormorants, ducks, and other water birds. “These birds are youngsters, so they’re still figuring things out,” Mike explains. “The boys are getting into everything, like teenagers.” The girls, on the other hand, are a little bit shy, at least until mealtime. “One of the females has the biggest appetite of all four of them!” Mike says. At the Safari Park, pelicans have been one of its big success stories. Michael Mace, curator of birds at the Park, notes, “The Park has assembled the most comprehensive and productive collection of pelicans of the 225 AZA [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] members,” he explains, adding that the Park is the only AZA-accredited


The largest species, the Dalmatian pelican Pelecanus crispus, weighs up to 26 pounds and has a wingspan of up to 10.5 feet.

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accessible by boat. Sheila agrees, adding that during nesting season, keepers can “spend more time in the boat than on dry land.” In the Central Africa field exhibit, a dozen pelican youngsters, from all three species, spend their weaning period with two older birds that serve as mentors. Penny, an older female pink-backed pelican, is sort of the bird in charge, helping them learn the ropes. And lending some weight to the “birds of a feather” adage, Angela points out that while all three species live in this area, they seem to group together along species lines. The Park’s African Forest houses three pairs of pink-backed pelicans and also features a small island, which again requires keepers to hop aboard a boat. “My rowing skills have gotten pretty good,” Angela says. Sheila adds that sometimes, she doesn’t make the trip alone. “In the South Africa exhibit, one of the Dalmatians likes to jump on the end of the boat and catch a little ride,” she says. All of the keepers are fond of pelicans and appreciate the beauty and strength these water birds have to offer. And people who haven’t taken the time to notice? Well, they’ve simply missed the boat. n

Above: When they are old enough to eat whole fish but not yet ready to hunt, pelican chicks, like this pink-backed pelican, may turn Mom or Dad’s throat pouch into a serve-yourself diner. RIght: Once the first egg is laid, a pelican’s pre-laying knob, seen on this great white pelican, starts to deflate, and the facial skin’s breeding color gradually goes back to pinkish-purple.

facility with great white, Dalmatian, and pink-backed pelicans. “We currently have 13 great whites with 15 hatches, 17 Dalmatians with 27 hatches, and 14 pink-backed pelicans with 55 hatches.” The Park’s Africa Tram experience offers the chance to see all three pelican species. In the South Africa field exhibit, Dalmatian and great white pelicans live together. Angela notes that the Dalmatians are fond of nesting on the island in the exhibit, which is only

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By Chris Mooney SENIOR KEEPER, ENTOMOLOGY

Photos by Ken Bohn SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER

sk people what animals frighten them the most, and scorpions are likely to rank high on the list. This is certainly understandable at first glance; with their large pincers, hard exoskeleton armor, and long, curving tail tipped with a needle-sharp, venom-filled stinger, these other-worldly arthropods appear to be straight out of central casting for a monster movie. Frightening as they may seem, however, scorpions are not out to get you—they prefer to hide rather than confront. A closer, careful, and more open-minded look at these fascinating arachnids reveals animals uniquely evolved to their way of life.

HUNT SOMETHING YOUR OWN SIZE Scorpions are predators that help control the populations of the animals they eat, and they have special tools to help them catch their prey. All scorpions are armed with the trademark stinger on the end of a curved metasoma (tail) extending from their abdomen. The venom, however, varies from species to species in potency and amount. A few species can be dangerous to people, but the vast majority are not. This is because the main purpose of a scorpion’s sting is to hunt, and they aren’t hunting humans! Scorpions are small animals, and they only hunt prey that they can ambush and grasp in their pincers—like insects, small lizards, and small rodents. Because they rely on their venom to subdue prey, that venom is a valuable resource. They definitely don’t want to waste it on stinging if they don’t have to, but they will if they feel they have no other option for protection. The bottom line is that if you leave scorpions alone and observe them from a distance, they’ll extend the same courtesy to you.

Most scorpion species are solitary animals, coming together in the wild just to mate. SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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PUT YOUR PINCERS WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS The true nature of scorpion weaponry is somewhat surprising. Their pincers are actually modified mouth parts, called pedipalps—those intimidating claws are simply there to help the animal eat. A few species have pincers that are large and strong enough to grab small prey and crush it, which allows them to save their venom for pursuing larger prey or defending themselves. Even more fascinating is the fact that they actually have two sets of claws: the large, visible pincers and a much smaller set called the chelicerae, which usually remain hidden unless the animal is eating. These smaller claws extend out from around the animal’s mouth and help tear prey into bite-sized pieces. It’s an intriguing process, akin to something out of a sci-fi movie that could be frightening to watch—if the scorpion weren’t so small.

PUTTING HER ON A PEDESTAL

Unlike most other arthropods, scorpions are born rather than hatched. After birth, they ride on their mother’s back until after their first molt.

Scorpions are usually solitary animals, coming together in the wild just to mate. Even scorpion reproduction is a strange and unique ritual. The male locates a female using comb-like sensory organs called pectines, which are found only in scorpions. These organs are located on the underside of the animal, near the spot where the legs join the body. If he finds a female, and she is receptive to his advances, the male produces a packet of sperm called a spermatophore that is then suspended over the ground on a small stalk, as if on a pedestal. A complicated dance ensues in which he guides her onto that stalk. She picks up the spermatophore with her body, and fertilizaton occurs. Depending on the species, gestation can last from a couple of months to well over a year. When the babies are fully developed, they emerge and climb onto her back. This ability to give live birth is rare in arthropods. Most scorpion species are mediocre parents. Usually, after the young have molted once and begin to venture off their mother’s back to explore, they must leave her or run the risk of being cannibalized by their siblings—or by Mom herself! This


Top: Emperor scorpions Pandinus imperator are the largest species, measuring as much as nine inches long. They are native to rain forests in western Africa. Center left: A scorpion’s venom is injected into prey by the sharp, hooked aculeus. Center right: Fine sensory hairs located on most parts of a scorpion’s body pick up vibrations that give the animal information about its surroundings. Bottom: The pedipalps, or pincers, of an emperor scorpion are so powerful that the scorpion doesn’t always need to use its venom to subdue prey.

is a reflection of the solitary nature of most scorpions: they can be a risk to each other. A few species, however, can be quite social. They may form groups of several dozen animals living in close proximity under leaf litter or in shallow burrows—as long as everyone in the group is well fed.

HAIL THE EMPEROR One of the world’s most sociable scorpion species— and one of the largest and most beautiful—is the emperor scorpion Pandinus imperator. Found in the rain forests of western Africa, emperor scorpion babies can stay with their mother until they are adults themselves, an adolescence that can last more than three years. The white newborns molt to a light brown within about a week and begin exploring. But unlike other scorpion species, young emperors can stay with and around their mother for years, eventually living as fellow adult members of the same larger group. At the San Diego Zoo, we’ve been lucky to have several attentive emperor scorpion mothers. We can usually predict impending births, because the abdomen of a gravid (pregnant) female becomes noticeably swollen as her babies develop. As soon as the babies emerge, we separate the new mother and her babies from the larger adult group. This allows her to raise the kids without the risk of other adults preying on them. After the kids grow to nearly adult size (the equivalent of mid- to late-teenage years in a human), everyone rejoins the main adult group.

FASCINATING, NOT FEARSOME If you’re a small insect on the menu, scorpions can be frightening. To nature admirers and students of ecology, however, they’re highly specialized arachnids that help control populations of insects and small vertebrates. Though they might seem scary at first, they are truly fascinating creatures! n SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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GROUNDBREAKING

PARTNERSHIP

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Alliance: noun 1. A pact, coalition, or friendship

between two or more parties, made to advance common goals and to secure common interests. By Karyl Carmignani STAFF WRITER

Photos by Ken Bohn SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER

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t was a fantastic way to kick off the New Year: officials from San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) and the Audubon Nature Institute cemented their partnership and commitment to wildlife by breaking ground on a new breeding center for rare and endangered species in early January 2014. Located in dense forest along New Orleans’ West Bank on the Mississippi River, the 1,000acre Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife will house groups of roaming animals in a habitat that will facilitate breeding and lead to sustainable populations. The Alliance “ark” will be home to more than two dozen endangered and threatened mammal and bird species, including giraffes, okapis, bongos, flamingos, storks, and pelicans. “We are in a critical era when species are disappearing almost every day,” said Doug Myers, SDZG president and CEO. “It is our hope that the leadership we show today in joining together to combat extinction will start a trend that will continue around the world until all species have been preserved for future generations.” The project will unfold in four phases over the next four years, with the first animals arriving in the fall of 2014. The first phase entails building access roads, installing fences, and raising barns for giraffes and okapis. The Alliance, which will be one of the largest facilities of its kind in the nation, is based on the model that certain animals more readily breed, survive, and maintain genetic diversity when they can roam in large herds or flocks. “This is such an incredible opportunity for us to work with a likeminded institution for the sustainability of wildlife,” said Randy

A handsome saddlebill stork Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis checks out the site.

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The Mississippi sandhill crane Grus canadensis pulla can only be found in Jackson, Mississippi, and there are only about 200 of this subspecies left.

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Even the partnership between Audubon and San Diego Zoo Global is groundbreaking, as it marks the first time two organizations are tackling conservation with such a broad scope.

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Above: The alliance between San Diego Zoo Global and the Audubon Nature Institute will be an important one in helping several endangered species. Bird keepers tend to a flock of endangered Mississippi sandhill cranes with great care.

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Above: A herd of eland browse and bond at the spacious conservation facility. Right: The gray plumage and red head and face are characteristic of both male and female Mississippi sandhill cranes.

Rieches, Henshaw Curator of Mammals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “It will help both organizations fulfill our mission to save species.” Even the partnership between Audubon and San Diego Zoo Global is groundbreaking, as it marks the first time two organizations are tackling conservation with such a broad scope. As Rick Gulley, chairman of the SDZG board and a New Orleans native explained, “Animals that live in herds or flocks, by their very nature, roam to form large social groups and roam to breed.” By providing the animals room to ramble and “friends” to choose from, populations will be strengthened and offspring will be better adjusted, which “could provide them with the skills needed if they were ever released into the wild,” said Bob Wiese, SDZG chief life sciences officer. The Alliance will establish a one-of-akind resource for zoos and aquariums to rebuild animal collections that are in danger of collapsing. Originally called the Species Survival Center, Audubon has invested about $30 million in its development since its 1993 opening. The partnership with San Diego Zoo Global marked the change of its name to the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife. San Diego Zoo

Global will contribute funding over the next five years for more capital improvements and will share operating costs of the Alliance. The facility will not be open to the public, but it is likely that universities will be given access, and eventually, classroom field trips may be offered. This type of collaboration and commitment is sure to benefit a wide range of species. n SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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e m o H g n i m o C s I Going to China da Conservation New Frontiers in

Pan


By Ron Swaisgood, Ph.D. DIRECTOR OF APPLIED ANIMAL ECOLOGY, SAN DIEGO ZOO INSTITUTE FOR CONSERVATION RESEARCH

Photos courtesy of Zejun Zhang, Chinese Academy of Science and the author.

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ext year will mark my 20th year working with pandas in China. I’ve spent so much time there that it feels like a second home. So it’s no surprise that when I have a reason to return to China, I’m always happy to go, arriving with a sense of nostalgia for the good ol’ days. And I am always among lao pengyou (old friends). Times have changed, though, no doubt about it, and for panda conservation, that’s a good thing. The awareness of change was strong when I attended an international panda conservation symposium last year, hosted by the Chinese State Forestry Administration, the Chinese Wildlife Conservation Association, and the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens. The gathering brought together distinguished leaders of panda conservation, new and old, “to exchange strategies for protection of giant pandas and summarize progress in the research, in hopes of guiding the conservation and research of giant pandas for the rest of this millennium.” While not quite the same experience as tracking wild pandas through the dense, wet bamboo forests of the Chinese mountains, this conference brought its own reward and joy. It was with a sense of pride that I delivered the only invited presentation. That’s what 20 years of guan xi (or connections, though I prefer to think of it as trust) will get you. It was a terrific opportunity to showcase all San Diego Zoo Global has done for panda conservation over the years and to express gratitude to the many, many partners who have worked alongside us. But it was sitting in the audience, listening to all the other talks, that really impressed me. “Wow, how far we have come!” I thought. Hit rewind and go back 20 years, and you would find a panda population struggling to maintain itself, only a handful of protected habitat areas for pandas, and a

Right: A female in estrus reclines high in a tree as her “suitor” below defends his territory from other males.

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Above: A juvenile giant panda in the Foping Nature Reserve takes in the view. Young pandas often climb higher in trees than adult pandas. Below: This panda has a radio collar, which provides critical data about its habitat use.

declining and perilously small population in the wild. And we knew almost nothing about panda biology and ecology. But at this conference it was evident that China had recruited and trained skilled scientists and managers and, together, we had opened up new horizons of understanding and insight. Heck, now we even know why pandas like to scent mark on rough-barked trees: the increased surface area ensures the scent lasts longer. More importantly, we know that they prefer to inhabit old-growth forests, a significant finding for forest protection policies. In most of the world, particularly in Asia, forests are being lost at alarming rates, but, incredibly, they are increasing in China. Another important reason for attending this meeting was to discuss the status of giant pandas with my colleagues. I chair the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Giant Panda Expert Team and have been tasked with reevaluating its Red List conservation status for pandas. The IUCN’s Red List is the definitive authority for determining whether a species is endangered, threatened, or vulnerable. The panda, of course, is the iconic representative of the term endangered. I asked the biologists what they were observing in the panda reserves where they were working. It might be difficult to believe, but all of them reported increasing or stable habitat and panda numbers. That means the panda may no longer meet the criteria for endangered status! This conclusion is premature, as there are other factors we need to evaluate, such as the degree of population fragmentation, but wow—to think we might be on the verge of “downlisting” the panda! This would be one of the greatest milestones in the history of endangered species conservation. Regardless of their status, of course, pandas will be dependent on solid conservation management for many years to come, and this is not the time to sit back and rest on our laurels. These milestones were followed by another event of great significance: Wolong Nature Reserve’s 50th anniversary. After the conference in Chengdu, a sprawling megalopolis in the Sichuan basin, I headed by bus up to Du Jian Yan for the party. Again, several dignitaries spoke about the remarkable achievements of this seminal reserve, which holds the largest wild panda population and is the home of the Wolong Breeding Center. Before the 2008 earthquake, the center was the largest and most successful panda breeding center in the world. Relocated and continuing to thrive,


Above: A giant panda with a radio collar provides researchers with much-needed data about panda behavior and ecology. Left: Lao Zhang, a talented local tracker, assists reseachers in finding wild pandas.

the center will move back home to Wolong in the near future. It is Wolong that will spearhead the panda reintroduction program, releasing captive-bred pandas into the wild. It was in Du Jian Yan that nostalgia hit hard. I was among the “Wolong guys” again. Back at the end of the last millennium, I lived and worked side by side with them for several years, shared their joys and sorrows, and developed deep, abiding friendships. I even got to see my Chinese godson, all grown up and college-bound. I feel incredibly fortunate to have shared these experiences with these good friends, to be present when things changed for pandas, and to have been a part of the revolution in panda biology and conservation. Panda biology, like my godson, has grown up. I returned home full of a renewed sense of hope. I can’t wait to see what the next 20 years bring! n SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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In other

e t i h W & Black News

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By Karyl Carmignani STAFF WRITER

Photos by Ken Bohn SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER

San Diego Zoo Global has had a long and

illustrious history with giant pandas on loan from China. With six cubs born at the Zoo to date, our success has contributed to a baby boom of more than 300 pandas in zoos and breeding centers, the target population size necessary to sustain the species into the future. The “mitochondrial Eve” of our cubs is the calm and competent Bai Yun, age 22. She has delivered and raised the six cubs since her arrival here in 1996: Hua Mei (who was born following artificial insemination), Mei Sheng, Su Lin, Zhen Zhen, Yun Zi, and, most recently, Xiao Liwu. “A substantial amount of what we know about panda reproduction we learned from Bai Yun,” said panda narrator Janet Pollack. And that’s a great deal more than we knew 20 years ago! Hua Mei, Bai’s first cub, moved to China in 2004, and she has

had 10 cubs of her own, including 3 sets of twins. Those bears have now also grown up and reproduced, and Barbara Durrant, Ph.D., director of reproductive physiology, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, had the pleasure of meeting one of Hua Mei’s sons in 2011 (read more here http://blog.sandiegozooglobal. org/2011/12/15/meeting-hua-mei-son/). Mei Sheng, Su Lin, and Zhen Zhen are now in China, too, to take their places in securing a future for their species. In early January 2014, four-year-old Yun Zi moved to China to join the breeding program. Although we may sorely miss him here in San Diego, “he is helping the whole species,” explained Janet. Much preparation went into his move. Elizabeth Simmons, keeper, explained how the panda team worked with him for weeks to get him used to his crate. “He stayed in it for an hour at a time, and

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Xiao Liwu (pronounced “sshyaoww lee woo”), born on July 29, 2012, is affectionately called Mr. Wu.

Zhen Zhen, born on August 3, 2007, was a quiet and demure cub.

Hua Mei was the first cub born at the San Diego Zoo, in 1999, creating “pandamonium”!

PHOTO BY TAMMY SPRATT, SDZG

Yun Zi, born on August 5, 2009, is adapting well to his new home in China.

Mei Sheng was born on August 19, 2003, he was the first cub sired by Gao Gao.

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we even moved it with a forklift to get him used to sensation and noise on moving day,” she said. Keepers also worked to bulk him up a bit to better manage the cooler temperatures of the mountains in China. “We transitioned him from his biscuits onto ‘bamboo bread’—different than the type prepared for Gao Gao and what he will receive in China—and he liked it!” said Elizabeth. It all paid off, as Yun Zi was no worse for wear after his long journey, and he has settled in well at his new home. The San Diego Zoo now has three giant pandas. Lovely Bai Yun is our mother extraordinaire. Gao Gao, who is about 24 years old, is a bit on the petite side. He is father to the last five of Bai Yun’s cubs. Then there is 20-month-old Xiao Liwu, who has been one of the most precocious offspring of all. “He’s a cheeky one,” said Janet. “He’d even take the bamboo right out of Mom’s mouth!” He is a tad on the small side for a panda youngster—clearly “Mr. Wu” is a chip off the old black-and-white block! Xiao Liwu is still the “baby bear” at the Zoo, although the weaning process began in January. In preparation, keepers kept a close eye on him and Bai

Yun for signs that it was time. “When Mom started to consistently push him away, we opened the area next door to provide them with extra space,” Elizabeth said. She noted that while Bai Yun enjoys her “non-bamboo items” like apples and biscuits, Xiao Liwu prefers bamboo, which minimized competition between them for the “good stuff.” Keepers train basic husbandry behaviors and, with a squirt of diluted applesauce for a reward, Xiao Liwu has already mastered touching his nose on a target, sitting up, and placing his paws down when asked. “He’s a smart little bear,” said Elizabeth. Bai Yun, our superstar Mama Bear, is aging well as she rolls through her 20s. “She’s healthy and as great as she’s ever been,” remarked Elizabeth. Watching her snap bamboo stalks like twigs and devour those tasty leaves, she’s a poster bear for a vegetarian diet! Papa Bear Gao Gao is a geriatric bear, but despite dental issues, he still savors his specially made-from-scratch panda bread and biscuit balls. “We are learning a lot about geriatric bear care with Gao Gao,” explained Elizabeth. “We are being creative with what and how we feed him and care for him.” The biscuit balls are a new menu item for Gao Gao, and these morsels, each about the size of a ping pong ball, contain healthy bamboo-based nutrition that is easier for him to eat. “We’re happy to have Bai Yun and Gao Gao here,” she said. “And we are looking forward to watching Mr. Wu mature…soon, he won’t be a baby bear anymore!” n

Su Lin, born on August 2, 2005, was a mischievous little cub.

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n a i Av g n i k c a r C e d o C e th

s g Eg


By Karen E. Worley MANAGING EDITOR

Photos by Ken Bohn SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER

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hat’s in an egg? In addition to a growing chick, quite a lot. An egg is one of nature’s marvels, a well-constructed container that not only protects a developing embryo but also provides it with almost everything it needs, all in one perfect package. While most of us are familiar with the white and sometimes brown chicken eggs at the grocery store, the variation in these avian vessels covers a wide spectrum of sizes, shapes, and colors, depending on the species. Plus, the structure of an egg is a remarkable puzzle in itself. Ready for a little “eggs-ploration?”

Sizing It Up

It makes sense that a big bird lays a big egg, and the ostrich lays the biggest: seven inches long, five inches wide, and weighing three pounds. At the other end of the scale are hummingbird eggs, which

can be about a half-inch long and a quarter-inch wide, weighing less than a pea. And there are eggs of just about every size in between. Some bird species lay clutches of several eggs, while others lay only one or two. Species that have more developed, precocial chicks tend to produce larger eggs than those with less developed, altricial chicks. That’s because precocial chicks typically spend more time incubating inside the egg before they hatch, and they need more yolk and protection to support them. But there is one unusual bird that stands out in the egg department: New Zealand’s kiwi. The female kiwi manages an incredible feat—she produces one egg that is almost one-third the size of her entire body, taking up a huge amount of internal space until it is laid. Apparently, nature decided that after all that, she needed some help, since the male kiwi takes over incubation duty.

Same contents, different size: Whether it’s a seven-inch ostrich egg, a two-inch chicken egg, or a quarter-inch hummingbird egg, each one contains all the structures and nutrients needed to make a chick.

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EGG ANATOMY Shell and Membranes Cuticle Chalazae

Shell

Chorion Yolk Blastodisc

Inner Membrane

Outer Membrane

Thick Albunim Thin Albunim Air Space Structural “Int-egg-rity” The architecture of an egg is truly impressive. It contains all the structures, genetic material, and biochemical processes required to build a bird, all in a streamlined, efficient, and quite beautiful form.

THICK AND THIN ALBUMEN: These layers make up the albumen, known as the egg white, which accounts for about 65 percent of an egg’s weight. The albumen provides hydration and acts as a shock absorber when the egg is moved, such as during incubation when a parent bird turns the egg to keep heat distribution even. The albumen also contains proteins and enzymes that have antimicrobial properties. These enzymes are activated by heat, so incubation helps an embryo develop and protects it from infection. CUTICLE: Just before an egg is laid, a thin coating called the

cuticle or bloom is applied. In some birds, like the tinamou, this layer is almost lacquer-like and partially fills in pores, creating a very glossy, shiny egg. SHELL: The outer shell is made of layers of mostly calcium carbonate, which are deposited within the female bird’s body as the egg travels down the oviduct. It takes about 20 hours to complete the shell. While the shell is rigid and looks smooth, it is actually semi-permeable, with tens of thousands of microscopic pores that allow for gas exchange and the release of water vapor. In other words,

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eggs breathe! Some shells have more and bigger pores or a looser construction, and they can appear rough, bumpy, or chalky. Tighter construction and smaller pores make a smoother egg. CHORION: This membrane encloses the yolk and embryo, but it is permeable to let water in and allow for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. CHALAZAE: If you’ve ever noticed those white, threadlike pieces when you crack open an egg, you’re seeing the chalazae, which are twisted strands of protein fibers that attach the main compartments of the egg to the shell to aid in stability. INNER AND OUTER SHELL MEMBRANES: These two membranes sandwich a layer of air, which provides additional cushioning. Like the chorion, these membranes are permeable to allow gas exchange. They also act as barriers to prevent the egg from drying up and to prevent bacteria from getting in.

AIR SPACE: A cushion of air between the shell membranes provides extra shock absorption. YOLK: This is the nutrient-rich food source for a developing embryo. It contains fat, cholesterol, protein, vitamins, and minerals that the chick absorbs, and the yolk reduces in size as the chick grows. All bird egg yolks are yellow or red (yes, red!). Why? Because they contain high levels of carotenoids, which provide nutrients and are thought to protect the embryo from free radicals that might damage the DNA of the developing chick. BLASTODISC OR GERMINAL DISC: In a fertilized egg, this is the combined genetic material from the female and male birds that will develop into a chick. In an unfertilized egg, this spot is only genetic material from the female and is unable to become an embryo.


PHOTOS BY SDZG

Left: Flamingos lay eggs that are the classic oval shape. Center: The violet turaco’s egg is almost round rather than elliptical. Right: Wood partridge eggs are pyriform in shape—they have one smaller, more pointed end, which keeps them from rolling like a round egg would.

Works of Art

Only bird eggs come in colors other than white. Every egg starts out white, and then a base color is added to the eggshell from cells that secrete pigment as the egg passes through the female bird’s oviduct. Only two major pigments make up the amazing number of colors seen in bird eggs: protoporphyrins, which create colors from yellow to red to brown; and biliverdins, which make blues and greens. Different amounts of these pigments mixed together can also result in colors from violet blue to olive green. Of course, some bird species do not add color to their eggs, especially those that nest in tree cavities or deep nests where the eggs would be hidden from predators and don’t need to blend into their surroundings. In addition to the base color of an egg, some birds deposit additional pigments on the eggshell just before it is laid, marking it with blotches, streaks, speckles, or dots. If the egg is moving at the time, the marks may come out looking like a modern painting or obscure calligraphy. Scientists think that these dots, dashes, and lines may be more than just artistic: the additional pigment can serve to fill in weaker parts of the shell and make it stronger. Plus, these patterns often help camouflage the egg in its environment. Egg color is largely determined by a bird species’ genetics. The females of some species all lay eggs of about the same color, although the strength of the pigment may vary from bird to bird, resulting in lighter or darker eggs. In some species, however, the added markings are unique to individual birds. It is thought that in colony nesters, parent birds can pick their own eggs out of thousands, based on the markings. Now that’s a good eye for pattern and line!

In “Egg-cellent” Shape

Saying that something is “egg shaped” is a familiar description. But if you really look at a variety of eggs, the description is not so clear after all. Bird eggs can be oval, round, or elliptical. The shape is a result of the internal structure of the female bird, but it is also influenced by factors such as the nest environment. Some birds lay eggs with one pointed end; the pointed end of each egg faces toward the center of the nest—an efficient arrangement that minimizes the space needed. Some birds lay eggs in a sandy spot on a ledge or cliff, and their eggs are more teardrop or pear shaped—referred to as pyriform—so that if bumped, the egg spins in a circle rather than rolling right off the edge like a round egg would. Round has advantages, though: a round egg can hold more contents with the same amount of shell as an oval egg, and a round shape tends to make the shell a bit stronger. Oology? Oh! The branch of zoology that studies eggs is called oology, but the human fascination with these highly variable yet entirely effective containers started long before it had a name. Beyond being a protein-packed and easily obtained food source, people have sought, collected, shared, and admired eggs for centuries. Poems and stories have been written about them, and they symbolize new beginnings, potential, and the Earth in some cultures. They’ve even been a topic for philosophers: who among us hasn’t wondered, at some point, which came first, the chicken or the egg? So be a good egg and don’t take the mighty oval object for granted: consider the wonder and beauty of this marvel of nature before you crack into that shell. n SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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The

Boojum

Tale

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m’s

e

By Wendy Perkins STAFF WRITER

Photos by Ken Bohn SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER

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ome people think it looks like an upside-down carrot. Others can’t make heads or tails of it. Broad at the base then tapering to a point, with sparse, spindly branches sprouting from the sides like hairy roots, this otherworldly looking plant can cause you to tilt your head, squint your eyes, and furrow your brow as you try to figure out what it is. Say hello to the boojum!

Imagine That According to Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of the Snark,” a boojum is a mysterious form the mythological snark takes— and anyone who looks at it disappears. The boojums of Baja California, Mexico, aren’t sinister like their literary counterparts, but these rare plants do look as bizarre as their name suggests.

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Above: The San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Baja Garden is home to 200 boojums, making it the largest collection of its kind outside of Mexico. Right: The first leaves to appear on a boojum branch are long-stemmed. When the single leaf at the tip dies and falls off, the hard stem remains as a spine. A cluster of new leaves then sprouts where the spine joins the branch.

Outside of Lewis Carroll’s imagination, the boojum Foquieria columnaris is a tree-like succulent with a water-storing trunk that can measure almost two feet wide and is covered by an array of spines and tiny leaves. These plants were given their literature-linked common name by Godfrey Sykes, a southwestern naturalist of the early 20th century. They are also known as cirio, the Spanish word for altar candles, which some people think they resemble. Indeed, when this plant blooms, the yellow flowers adorning the top add to its candle-like appearance.

It’s Harsh, but It’s Home Boojums thrive on the rocky hillsides and alluvial plains of Baja California, where in some areas there are boojum “forests.” A separate, small population grows in the Sierra Bacha, south of Puerto Libertdad on mainland Mexico. Outside of their native habitat, the largest collection of boojums is at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which has more than 200 specimens.

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The boojum has a shallow root system that quickly soaks up water. The life-sustaining liquid is stored in its trunk—a cache for survival during the long dry season. Most of a boojum’s growth occurs during winter, when rain and thick fog provide moisture. Boojums grow slowly, taking most of a lifetime (up to 300 years!) to reach a height of 50 to 60 feet. One researcher’s documentation revealed that some boojums on the Baja California coast grew less than one inch per year.

Generation Next When it comes to reproduction, boojums might be considered late bloomers—the time from new shoot to first flower can take more than 50 years. Yet while these plants have a slow-but-steady pace through most of their life, they are speedy sprouters. The seed of a boojum has quite a thin coating; this allows water to penetrate easily, and that results in rapid germination. Getting off to a quick start while water is around is a good reproductive adaptation in a dry habitat. When boojums flower in summer and fall, they become popular stops for hummingbirds, bees, and other nectar seekers. Once pollinated, the blossoms wither and undergo the transformation into threesectioned seedpods. When the dried pods burst open, the seeds drop to the ground, where they are soon buried by soil blown by the wind or kicked up by animals. Some seeds are likely eaten by birds, mice, or other creatures, but enough survive so that the population can advance—slowly, as is the way of the boojum. Although sharp spines prevent wildlife from biting into the stout trunk, boojums are not invulnerable. Intense winds from tropical storms and hurricanes can bring a boojum down, and mature boojums are treasured by plant collectors. Now fully protected by the Mexican government, boojums are only available in the US if they have been germinated and grown in a nursery. Although one might not want to encounter Lewis Carroll’s terrifying boojum, the plants that bear its name are a sight to see...hopefully, for a long, long time. n

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MILA’S

BIG MOVE

Globe Trotting with an African Elephant

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By Peggy Scott ASSOCIATE EDITOR

Photos by Ken Bohn

H SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER

ow does a 7,700-pound elephant travel halfway around the world? Any way she wants to! Old jokes aside, relocating a pachyderm to the other side of the globe involves much more than buying a plane ticket and packing her trunk. In reality, it took months of planning, permits, paperwork, and protocols to bring 41-year-old Mila from New Zealand to her new home in San Diego. It also involved a whole lot of teamwork. Ann Alfama, animal care supervisor at the San Diego Zoo’s Conrad Prebys Elephant Care Center, recalls the precision and complexity of the move. “We

worked closely with the Franklin Zoo Wildlife Sanctuary in Auckland and its charitable trust,” Ann says. “Everyone wanted the best for Mila and to make her move as safe and comfortable as possible.”

Planning Makes Perfect “Mila lived at the Franklin Zoo for two years, learning to make her own decisions,” explains Jenny Chung, the administration manager and trustee for the Franklin Zoo Charitable Trust, which governed the moving process. Jenny notes that San Diego wasn’t Mila’s only option. “There were six facilities that were willing to take Mila,”

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Mila became completely comfortable with her specially built transport crate, often eating snacks or taking naps inside it.

Once Mila was loaded into her crate and settled down with a hay snack, the crate was cranelifted onto a chartered Evergreen International Airlines 747. Jenny says. “The San Diego Zoo had the best resources, skill base, and experience to care for her. The partnership between Franklin Zoo and the San Diego Zoo was a natural. But it took some time to happen.” While our curatorial staff waited for permits to be approved and waded through reams of paperwork, elephant keepers at the Franklin Zoo prepared Mila for the journey that awaited her. Elephant trainer Erin Ivory came to New Zealand and created a training program for Mila based on positive reinforcement. Erin then trained

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three keepers—Shane Fox, Matt Coker, and Richard Johnston—to work with Mila as well. Erin managed the move along with Mila’s training, medical testing, transport, logistics, and documents for the relocation. “For the 10 months leading up to the move, trainers worked with Mila, familiarizing her with the behaviors she would need for a comfortable experience,” Ann explains. “She had a great planning team that supported her.” There was no doubt that Mila could master any new behaviors needed for the trip. She had spent decades with circuses, and in the two years she lived at Franklin Zoo, she delighted her keepers with her intelligent, inquisitive nature. “She had been in circuses, where she had no choice of her own,” Jenny says. “We supported her as she rediscovered her ability to make her own decisions. She put a lot of effort into the training sessions, but as smart as she is, she learned it all very quickly.”

On the Move Prior to the flight on November 14, 2013, a specially built transport crate, measuring 17 feet long, 7.7 feet wide, and 9.7 feet tall, arrived in two pieces at the Franklin Zoo and was lifted by crane into place. The crate had to be designed so that it would fit into the cylindrical shape of an airplane, and it had to be built to withstand G forces


The 13½-hour flight from Auckland to Los Angeles International Airport was uneventful, with Mila “eating the whole way,” says Ann. in case of an emergency. Access panels allowed keepers to replenish Mila’s food and water during her trip, and support straps were attached to the inside of the crate just in case she needed a rest. A sliding pole system guided Mila’s entry and exit into and out of the crate, all while following strict protected-contact protocols. Once Mila was loaded into her crate and settled down with a hay snack, the crate was crane-lifted onto a chartered Evergreen International Airlines 747. “It was a pretty big load,” Ann says. “The crate itself weighed 15,000 pounds, with Mila’s 7,700 pounds and another 200 pounds of wood pellets on the floor.” The 13½-hour flight from Auckland to Los Angeles International Airport was uneventful, with Mila “eating the whole way,” says Ann.

The Franklin Zoo elephant team accompanied Mila on the plane, along with Jim Oosterhuis, D.V.M., a veterinarian with San Diego Zoo Global. Our team of veterinarians, keepers, technicians, and other staff met the flight when it landed in Los Angeles. The crate was unloaded from the plane, Mila was checked, and then it was San Diego or bust, with the crate now on an escorted flatbed truck. A welfare check along the way revealed that Mila had, again, eaten the whole way, something she was still interested in doing once she arrived here. Given the heavy load and number of vehicles involved, it was understandably slow going, and the trip to the San Diego Zoo took roughly five hours. Those accompanying and meeting Mila weren’t the only people

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When Mila landed in Los Angeles, a team of San Diego Zoo Global staffers was there to greet her and accompany her on the next leg of her journey.

working. A crane was already set up and stationed at the San Diego Zoo to get Mila from the crate to her temporary housing. The New Zealand team guided Mila out of her crate upon arrival at the Zoo and got her settled in. “The unloading went great, with Mila calm the whole time,” Ann says, adding that there are strict medical protocols that must be followed when a new animal is brought on grounds. “She was gently sprayed for ectoparasites before entering the facility and going into quarantine,” Ann explains. “The crate had to be treated and the contents (soiled wood pellets) bagged and disposed of like biohazardous waste. The entire crate had to be thoroughly cleaned before it left with the transport company.” The hard—and dirty—work was far from over, and everyone pitched in. “We had heavy-duty cleaning, whatever needed doing, being done by many people,” Ann says. “Some of the keepers worked 24 hours straight.” Erin and Shane performed the required medical tests, including trunk washes to test for tuberculosis. “They were able to achieve this because of the strong relationships they had built with Mila in New Zealand,” Jenny explains, adding “They accomplished all the testing very quickly, which allowed Mila’s quarantine to be as short as possible.” While Mila was sequestered, she could still hear and smell the herd at Elephant Odyssey—and vice versa. “The others had their

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trunks up in the air—like periscopes—scanning the smell of the newcomer,” Ann says.

Settling In Mila has now become accustomed to her new home. Keepers report that she is a smart, spirited elephant that already possesses many of the behaviors she needs in acclimating to life at Elephant Odyssey. “She ‘stations’ when we open doors and will present all four feet for foot scrubs and foot work,” Ann says. “We can rub her sides, tail, and around her eyes, ears, and tusks. She gets on the scale and enjoys her bath several times a week.” Mila’s personality makes her a joy to work with, Ann reports. “She tries very hard to figure out what we want, and even overthinks things, sometimes offering you even more than you asked for.” Mila’s caretakers have experienced one particular thing they didn’t ask for but find endearing. “Mila honks,” Ann says. “We’ve never heard anything like it. If she’s excited or surprised, she makes this gooselike honking noise. It’s so cute!” While Mila is adjusting to life at the San Diego Zoo quite nicely, Ann points out that every new phase is handled with caution. “She has been given opportunities to explore all areas of the exhibit, and she is now starting to meet some of the other elephants,” Ann explains. “We take notes and film every interaction and evaluate every


Mila quickly familiarized herself with the sights, sounds, and smells of her exhibit area at Elephant Odyssey.

Got your tail! Mary’s acceptance of Mila knew no “end.”

step. If elephants are introduced for an overnight visit, someone stays here overnight with them. It took eight months before the current five elephants in Elephant Odyssey stayed together overnight.” Mila’s support team from New Zealand is doing its part to make sure her relocation continues to be successful and stress free. Jenny and other members of Mila’s former care team are temporarily staying in San Diego, visiting her frequently and monitoring her progress. The two zoos have much in common, especially their hopes for Mila. “Mila hasn’t been with other elephants for decades,” Jenny says. “Here in San Diego, we hope she can integrate into a life with a herd of her own. The Trust had enough money to care for her, but she would still have been alone. And while she’s known humans her whole life, and they can provide a lot of her needs, there are some we can’t— because we’re not elephants.” Luckily, there are five other Zoo residents that are. n SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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support

Remembering Mary Minshall A Passion for Art and Animals By Mary Sekulovich SENIOR EDITOR, DEVELOPMENT DEPARTMENT

Photos courtesy of Larry Baber

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hen you walked into Mary Ladd Minshall’s home in the San Diego community of Point Loma, you knew she loved animals. The walls were covered with her artwork: paintings, ink drawings, and rocks and driftwood transformed into animal shapes, which revealed a deep love for the natural world. This longtime San Diego Zoo Global member was also a talented middle school art teacher, and both her love of art and animals led Mary to include us in her estate plan. Always an independent spirit, she moved from her family’s farm in Swayzee, Indiana, to attend Ball State University 30 miles away, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art in 1933 and then went on to the Cincinnati Art Academy for one year. In Ohio, she was an art supervisor for schools for five years before she married Buford Saul and moved to San Diego in 1941. Because of Buford’s military service, they moved away in 1946 and then resettled in San Diego in 1949, where they built their home in Point Loma and enjoyed sailing as members of the Southwestern Yacht Club. Mary displayed her art along with other artists in Balboa Park and became very active in San Diego’s art community in the 1950s as one of its organizers and leaders. Her happy marriage to Buford lasted close to 40 years. Several years after his death, she married fellow artist Herbert Minshall. Avid painters, they added an art studio to their home, where her husband specialized in waterfowl paintings that he exhibited in galleries. While she survived Herbert by more than 20 years, they definitely had shared values. Both Mary and Herbert had a great love for nature and conservation, and close to half of their estate was willed to organizations that shared their values, including San Diego Zoo Global.

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Mary definitely lived in the moment, enjoying painting, reading, and traveling. When she died on Valentine’s Day in 2013, soon after her 100th birthday, she was the same dynamic, independent spirit who came to San Diego more than 70 years earlier. She enjoyed

watching sunsets over the ocean from her home, keeping in touch with her many nieces and nephews, and continuing to create art. Teaching, painting, family, a great love of cats and all animals, and many longtime friendships—most of us could not ask for more. n

A few examples of Mary’s lovely artwork.

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 619-744-3352 or tap to visit our website at zoolegacy.org.

For information on how you can include San Diego Zoo Global in your estate plan, please call Planned Giving at 619-744-3352, email us at donations@sandiegozoo.org, or visit us at zoolegacy.org.

SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL

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what’s in store

Elephant Stool $110

Red/Yellow Wooden Fish $150

Add some colorful, exotic flair to any dĂŠcor with unique folk art from Africa. Beautifully carved and hand-painted in vibrant hues, these wooden pieces are the work of Bamana craftspeople in the Republic of Mali.

Visit our shops at the Zoo and Safari Park to purchase these featured items.

Wooden Zebra Puppet $330

Items and prices may vary based on availability. Available in select stores.

Blue Wooden Fish $220

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from the archives

The Voice The Zoo abounds with wildlife sounds. But in the 1940s, one of the most impressive was the voice of Hammerhead, a Grevy’s zebra. As one of the Zoo’s guided tour buses pulled up to his yard, Hammerhead would trot briskly to the front. After encouragement from the bus driver, the exceptional equine would fill the air with the sound of zebra—not a single, drawn-out note but more like a staccato song. ZOONOOZ editor Ken Stott, Jr. wrote: “The song itself defied description; no words could do justice to its awesome thunder…nothing like it had ever been seen or heard in Southern California…” Hammerhead’s performances were always followed by applause and, at times, standing ovations. His fame spread beyond San Diego through the stories that visitors shared when they returned home, newspaper articles, and even newsreels. Most of all, Hammerhead was a hometown hero. As Mr. Stott wrote, “There is scarcely a child of grammar-school age in San Diego who did not know him well, both by sight and by sound.” n

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PUBLISHED SINCE 1926

APRIL 2014

MANAGING EDITOR

KAREN E. WORLEY

ASSOCIATE EDITORS

PEGGY SCOTT DEBBIE ANDREEN

STAFF WRITERS SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL™ PHOTOGRAPHER DIGITAL IMAGING TECHNICIAN DESIGN AND PRODUCTION

SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL™ VIDEOGRAPHERS

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WENDY PERKINS KARYL CARMIGNANI KEN BOHN TAMMY SPRATT DAMIEN LASATER CHRISTOPHER MARTIN HEIDI SCHMID STEPHANIE BEVIL-PAGADUAN DENNIS CORBRAN KAMBIZ MEHRAFSHANI KRISTIN NIELSEN TIM REAMER LISA BISSI JENNIFER MACEWAN LEE RIEBER MARIA BERNAL-SILVA DUSTIN TRAYER

The Zoological Society of San Diego was founded in Octo­ber 1916 by Harry M. Wegeforth, M.D., as a private, nonprofit corporation. The Zoological Society of San Diego does business as San Diego Zoo Global. This digital version of ZOONOOZ® is currently published every month and is available for the iPad and Kindle Fire. Publisher is San Diego Zoo Global, at 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92103, 619-231-1515. Copyright® 2014 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 $119, new; $104, renewal. Single $98, new; $86, renewal. Each membership includes unlimited entrance to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

SAN DIEGO ZOO HOURS: April 1–20: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; April 21–30: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. SAN DIEGO ZOO SAFARI PARK HOURS: April 1–4: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; April 5–27: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.; April 28–30: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about our animals and events, visit sandiegozoo.org or call 619-231-1515.


ZOONOOZ April 2014