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JULY 2016

Giraffe Conservation Cub Scouting Rhino Rescue Center Peninsular Pronghorn 100 Years of History


THE SAFARI PARK BREAKFAST WITH ELEPHANTS Saturday, July 30, 2016 The Elephant Viewing Patio, 8 a.m. Treat yourself to a bountiful buffet while enjoying the scenery from our Elephant Viewing Patio. You’ll see first-hand as our elephants rush for treats, as well as learn fun facts from an elephant keeper.

$45 plus tax and parking; nonmembers add Park admission.



Saturday, August 13, 2016 Hunte Pavilion, 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 10, 2016 Hunte Pavilion, 5:30 p.m.

The special evening begins with an animal presentation followed by local urban wines. These delicious wines are paired with a unique four-course menu customized by Executive Chef Joshua Mireles. A winemaker from Abnormal Wine Company will be present to speak about the different pairings.

Join us for our very first Spirits Dinner, featuring St. George artisanal cocktails prepared by professional mixologists and presented by a St. George Spirits expert. A four-course custom menu designed by our Executive Chef Joshua Mireles will complement the unique craft spirits. Be sure to arrive early to see our exciting animal presentation.

$89 plus tax and parking. Must be 21 years of age or older to attend.

$94 plus tax and parking. Must be 21 years of age or older to attend.




July 2016 VOL. LXXXIX–NO. 04


Nooz Notes 2

CELEBRATE OUR CENTENNIAL Visit our centennial website

Chairman’s Note; President’s Note; Save the Date; Centennial; What’s In Store; It’s Only a Number

Graphically Speaking 8 Rescuing Rhinos

Saving the northern white rhino will require several fascinating steps in conservation research. BY AMY BLANDFORD AND JUDITH COATS

Cover Story 10 Looming Large

Discover the quiet plight of giraffes and what San Diego Zoo Global is doing to help. BY KARYL CARMIGNANI

Features 15 Cub Hub

With the arrival of cubs, conditions at the Safari Park are sunny with a 100-percent chance of cute! BY ESTON ELLIS

18 To the (Rhino) Rescue

San Diego Zoo Global has a new resource to help save rhinos with the construction of the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center. BY WENDY PERKINS

20 Viva El Berrendo!

Long live Peninsular pronghorn! A conservation program is boosting the numbers of the species. BY PEGGY SCOTT

22 100 Years of Zoo History

We entered a new era in the mid-1960s, as did conservation’s role in our story. BY KAREN E. WORLEY


26 Support 28 That Was Then 29 WorldWild Tours

ON THE COVER: Reticulated giraffe Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata | PHOTO BY: Ken Bohn, SDZG Photographer



Centennial Summer

Vintage-inspired centennial T-shirts, $21.95 each; women’s sizes Small–2XL.


Vintage Vibe SHOP ONLINE Find these and other gift items at our new online store

Celebrate our first 100 years with our historical collection of mugs and T-shirts featuring Zoo heroes from our past: Prince the lion, Hua Mei the giant panda, Carol the Asian elephant, and Alvila the gorilla (not pictured). Visit our main stores at the Zoo and Safari Park to shop our entire Centennial selection.

Centennial blend coffee, $16.95; centennial mugs, $12.95 each.


Roar: How to Build a Resilient Organization Written by Tim Mulligan, San Diego Zoo Global’s Chief Human Resources Officer, and Sandy Asch, principal at Alliance for Organizational Excellence LLC, Roar: How to Build a Resilient Organization the World-Famous San Diego Zoo Way is a new book on business leadership that shows how SDZG has built its values, vision, and mission to achieve the resilience that has helped it thrive for 100 years.

2 / ZOONOOZ / JULY 2016


his summer will be a memorable one, as we continue to celebrate our 100th birthday. It was off to a spectacular start with our Centennial Community Celebration that took place in Balboa Park on May 14—what a wonderful experience! More than 15,000 San Diegans joined us for quite a party, helping us to set an official record with Guinness World Records, for the most people participating in a puppet show, and enjoying the multimedia show at Spreckels Organ Pavilion. It was a dazzling performance by an orchestra, choir, dancers, and Broadway star Heather Headley, and the grand animal puppets wowed everyone. The orangutan puppets were particular favorites with kids; the giraffes were graceful; the rhino and elephant were truly impressive; and when the lion appeared, there were astonished gasps throughout the audience. His roar at the end perfectly captured the San Diego Zoo’s beginnings, when Dr. Harry Wegeforth heard Rex the lion roar; and our future, as we roar forward to end extinction. If you weren’t able to join us that night, you can still see the show in the videos on our website, and you can still experience the puppets in person—they are the stars of our Nighttime Zoo event, which continues through Labor Day. Summer is always a great time at the Zoo and the Safari Park, and this year in particular we have much to celebrate. I hope you will be able to visit us for our nighttime events at both parks during this centennial summer.


Save the Date What’s happening at the Zoo and Park this month and next


(Z) Zoo events (P) Park events THROUGH AUGUST 14

JULY 8, 29; AUGUST 13, 27

Summer Safari presented by SunPower

Adults Only Roar & Snore Safari

Discover a full roster of special activities and live entertainment at the Safari Park. (P) THROUGH SEPTEMBER 5 Nighttime Zoo presented by Cymer

Enjoy a summer full of fun activities, animal birthday parties, and live entertainment at the Zoo. Hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. July 1–August 20 and September 2–5; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. August 21–September 1. (Z) JULY 1, 2 Fourth of July Fun Roar & Snore

Celebrate Independence Day weekend at the Safari Park, with a fireworks-free Roar & Snore sleepover. Call 619-718-3000. (P)

Breakfast with Elephants

Guests will enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet at the Elephant Viewing Patio with exclusive viewing of this dynamic pachyderm group, followed by a fascinating keeper talk. For reservations, call 619-718-3000 or visit dining-events. (P)

At this Safari Park sleepover for adults 21 and over, you’ll discover the secret lives of animals through the kind of information we can only share with no children around! Call 619-718-3000. (P) JULY 9 Brewmaster Dinner

Following a visit with our animal ambassadors, a representative from The Lost Abbey brewery will present selected beers, accompanied by a fourcourse gourmet meal. Must be 21 or older to attend. Call 619-718-3000 or visit dining-events. (P) Wildlife Sleepover

This overnight educational camping adventure is designed for school, scout, and youth groups

(grades 3–12). Sleepover activities are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Private sleepover nights are available any day of the year for groups of 35 or more. Please call 619-718-3000 for more information. (Z) JULY 9, 16, 22, 23; AUGUST 6, 12, 20, 26 All Ages Roar & Snore

Spend the night at the Safari Park with your family! Select a camping sleepover that has some


The Joys of Summer


thing for everyone. Call 619-718-3000. (P) JULY 15; AUGUST 19

Plant Day & Orchid Odyssey

Take a self-guided walking tour of the Zoo’s world-class botanical garden, or a Botanical Bus Tour, and get a rare look inside the Zoo’s Orchid House. (Z) JULY 17 Breakfast with Tigers

Watch our tigers start

their day—then start yours with a buffet breakfast. Call 619-718-3000. (P) AUGUST 13

Summer Winemaker Dinner

Enjoy wine selections paired with a four-course meal in the Park’s Hunte Nairobi Pavilion. Must be at least 21 years old to attend. Call 619-718-3000 or visit sdzsafaripark. org/dining-events. (P)

Let’s Talk

hat an exciting summer this is for San Diego Zoo Global! Follow @sandiegozoo & Our centennial year has been filled with joyful celebra@sdzsafaripark. tions so far, and now the fun is under way for a spectacuShare your lar summer. Nighttime Zoo is always a treat, but this #SanDiegoZoo & year’s event, presented by Cymer, is not to be missed: some of the amaz#SDZSafariPark ing, larger-than-life animal puppets from the Centennial Celebration we memories held in May are the stars of each evening’s live performance, as they saunter along Front Street and interact on Twitter & Instagram. with visitors, accompanied by music and Zoo costumed characters. A variety of shows, presentations, and musical performances take place throughout the afternoon and evening, all in celebration of the San Diego Zoo’s 100th birthday. Summer is also in full swing at the Safari Park, as we feature the wonders of Asia during Summer Safari presented by SunPower. I hope you enjoy the excitement of both our summer events! Our friends at the Living Coast Discovery Center have some summer fun planned as well, with their annual Farm to Bay food and wine event on August 6. Their culinary celebration brings together some of San Diego’s finest names in food, wine, craft beer, and spirits to support the center’s coastal wildlife conservation and education programs. Visit the Living Coast Discovery Center website for full details. 4 / ZOONOOZ / JULY 2016

This summer, the San Diego Zoo continues celebrating its centennial year in a big way during Nighttime Zoo. Join us for toe-tapping tunes, Dr. Zoolittle’s Zany Zoo show, amazing trampoline acrobatics, and The Journey: a spectacular procession of pageantry puppets.

The Safari Park’s Summer Safari Asian Celebration is an exciting extravaganza you won’t want to miss! Enjoy rhythmic drumming, astounding acrobatic feats, interactive Bollywood dancing, the new “Taste of Asia” food sampler, and more.


SAN DIEGO ZOO GLOBAL OFFICERS Robert B. Horsman, Chairman Steven G. Tappan, Vice Chairman Judith A. Wheatley, Secretary Richard B. Gulley, Treasurer

Keeper Ken Stott, Jr., made sure Mickey, the Zoo’s first Baird’s tapir, received plenty of attention (and snacks).

It’s only a number Lucky number seven: through the years, the month of July has brought good fortune to the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.





On July 20, our first elephant seal arrived, and for a number of years, the San Diego Zoo was the only institution in the US to exhibit them.

Mickey, the Zoo’s first Baird’s tapir, arrived July 4, and would become a favorite of guests and Zoo director Belle Benchley.

California Fish & Game Commission agreed to a California condor breeding program. A pair was taken from the wild and housed at the Wild Animal Park.

At the age of 20, Bai Yun gave birth to Xiao Liwu on July 29, making her one of the oldest giant pandas known to give birth to a cub.




The Zoological Society of San Diego was founded in Octo­ber 1916 by Harry M. Wegeforth, M.D., as a private, nonprofit corporation that now does business as San Diego Zoo Global.

August 1–20: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.







The printed ZOONOOZ® magazine (ISSN 0044-5282) is currently published bimonthly, in January, March, May, July, September, and November. Publisher is San Diego Zoo Global, at 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92103, 619-231-1515. Periodicals postage paid at San Diego, California, USA, and at additional mailing offices. ADDRESS CHANGES: Please send to Membership Department, P.O. Box 120271, San Diego, CA 92112.






SAN DIEGO ZOO HOURS July 1–31: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Copyright® 2016 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.

August 21—31: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. SAFARI PARK HOURS July 1–31: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. August 1–14: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. August 15–31: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. WEBSITE PHONE 619-231-1515

Annual Memberships: Dual $135, new; $120, renewal. Single $111, new; $99, renewal. Each membership includes unlimited entrance to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

ZOONOOZ® Online web publication

Subscription to ZOONOOZ magazine: $25 per year, $65 for 3 years. Foreign, including Canada and Mexico, $30 per year, $81 for 3 years. Contact Membership Department, P.O. Box 120271, San Diego, CA 92112, for subscription information.

FSC® is not responsible for any calculations on saving resources by choosing this paper.






6 / ZOONOOZ / JULY 2016

As part of San Diego Zoo Global’s commitment to conservation, ZOONOOZ is printed on recycled paper that is 10% post-consumer waste, chlorine free, and is Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) certified.

BOARD OF TRUSTEES Sandra A. Brue Javade Chaudhri Berit N. Durler Clifford W. Hague Linda Lowenstine, D.V.M., Ph.D. Patricia L. Roscoe Steven S. Simpson TRUSTEES EMERITI Frank C. Alexander Kurt Benirschke, M.D. Thompson Fetter Bill L. Fox Frederick A. Frye, M.D. George L. Gildred Yvonne W. Larsen John M. Thornton Albert Eugene Trepte Betty Jo F. Williams James Lauth, General Counsel Douglas G. Myers, 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 Amy B. Parrott, Vice President Robert B. Horsman, Ex officio Douglas G. Myers, Ex officio BOARD OF DIRECTORS Christine L. Andrews Joye D. Blount Rick Bregman Lisa S. Casey Douglas Dawson Berit N. Durler, Ex officio Chris L. Eddy U. Bertram Ellis, Jr. Arthur E. Engel Craig L. Grosvenor Michael N. Hammes Judith C. Harris Michael E. Kassan Susan B. Major Michael D. McKinnon Joshua Pack Philip C. Seeger Ryan Sullivan Thomas Tull Margie Warner Ed Wilson

Looking for a tour that’s

head &


above the rest?

Book a premier adventure at the Park or Zoo! Let one of our experienced guides introduce you to the incredible wildlife you love most during an Exclusive VIP Experience at the San Diego Zoo or an Ultimate Safari at the Safari Park. All Exclusive VIP Experiences and Ultimate Safaris are customized to your specifications. All requests must be made a minimum of 72 hours in advance.

This very popular tour requires advance reservations and upon request, is subject to availability. Please call 619-718-3000, as soon as possible to request and confirm!




8 / ZOONOOZ / JULY 2016

At the Rhino Rescue Center at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, multiple collaborative efforts and cutting-edge technology combine to make it possible for a baby northern white rhinoceros to be born. ILLUSTRATIONS BY AMY BLANDFORD | SDZG ILLUSTRATOR


âž” Learn more about the Rhino Rescue Center, pages 18, 26




The tallest land mammal is facing unprecedented threats to its survival across Africa. But hope is on the way! KARYL CARMIGNANI | STAFF WRITER



angly yet graceful, this two-story-tall animal both blends in and stands out among the thorny acacia trees. Nimble, skittish, and quiet (to our ears), the giraffe is an iconic species of the African plains and a vital link in the dance of predator and prey. But the population of this once-ubiquitous herbivore has declined by nearly half over the past 20 years: from 140,000 animals to about 85,000 today. While the giraffe is one of the most recognizable species on Earth, few people are aware of its dire situation, dubbed a “silent extinction” by experts. As is the case with many other species fighting to survive, threats to the giraffe are humandriven: habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and overhunting. While some populations of giraffe are stable, many are in rapid decline. San Diego Zoo Global is collaborating with organizations and local communities to give these quiet giants a voice and help reverse this disturbing trend. STAND TALL There are nine recognized subspecies of giraffe living in geographically distinct areas across Africa. Once roaming across arid savanna zones in sub-Saharan Africa wherever trees and bushes occurred, the giraffe’s range has shrunk significantly. They have already vanished from seven African countries. Most populations are in decline, but only two subspecies of giraffe are formally listed as endangered: the Rothschild’s (also called the Ugandan or Baringo giraffe) and the West African (also called the Nigerian giraffe). But following a recent review, another five subspecies will likely be reclassified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, giraffes have plunged from about 350 animals two decades ago, to about 38 animals today, according to a recent survey in Garamba National Park. In rural communities in Africa, bushmeat (wild game) is an important source of protein, and surplus meat is sold for added income. Though wary, giraffes are large targets that can be taken with a single bullet, poison arrow, or wire noose. The animal can provide about 1,000 pounds of meat. In a cruel twist of fate, some people now believe that con-

suming giraffe brains and bone marrow will cure HIV/AIDS. In some areas, this myth has placed a higher value on the giraffe and accelerated the illegal hunting of this slow-to-reproduce animal. Setting leg or neck snares in giraffe habitat is an inexpensive

Camera traps installed at various heights on trees reveal the secrets of giraffes and other wildlife.

way to kill them and peddle their parts. Over the past year, San Diego Zoo Global has been collaborating with others to help save the graceful longnecks of the savanna.

JUST BROWSING Gliding across the landscape, giraffe groups—called towers—are virtually silent in their quest for

leaves. With hooves the size of dinner plates, attached to 6-foot-long legs, even an effortless stroll can carry them 10 miles per hour. It takes a 20-pound heart in an adult giraffe to pump blood up its characteristic long neck. Fuzzy little horns called ossicones poke from the top of the giraffe’s giant head. Deep, dark eyes dramatically fringed with thick lashes peer down at the world, and at stands of prickly, delicious trees. The giraffe is equipped with an 18-inch-long, prehensile tongue that can reach between needlelike thorns for leaves. It has a wellpadded mouth and saliva thicker than motor oil that helps send said vegetation southward. Its large, powerful jaw moves sideways and up and down, making the animal completely enchanting while it’s chewing. Eating about 75 pounds of leafy food a day, giraffes open up habitat for other wildlife and spur new growth of tender acacia leaves. And eating all that roughage while on the move makes them ideal seed dispersers, essentially regenerating their own food sources. Giraffes “play well with others” and are often associated with plains zebra, eland, and other species that rely on the towering animals to spot danger in the distance and flee accordingly.



Years a giraffe lives in the wild; 25 or more in zoos


How many giraffes have been born at the Safari Park


Number of Kenyan researchers hired and trained for giraffe conservation and monitoring


Number of camera traps used in our research


Number of Kenya giraffe orphans SDZG is supporting that are being rereleased to the wild


DID YOU KNOW? The closest living relative of the giraffe is the okapi. Male giraffes compete by swinging their neck and head at an opponent until one backs down. This behavior is called “necking.” Both males and females sport furry little horns called ossicones. Giraffes face daunting threats: habitat loss and rampant poaching with rifles, spears, and neck or leg snares have depleted many populations of this noble species. Though largely silent, recent evidence suggests giraffes do vocalize in ranges beyond what we can hear. Our ears can hear when giraffe mothers make a hissing snort when protecting their young. Giraffes do not seem to have a discernible hierarchy, but do have surprisingly complex social lives.

12 / ZOONOOZ / JULY 2016

Three orphaned giraffe calves are being raised by the Samburu community.

TWIGA RESEARCH It’s hard to imagine that an animal nearly 20 feet tall could stay “under the radar” for so long, even as its numbers declined dramatically. Conservationists hadn’t given too much attention to giraffes, called twiga in Kiswahili, until around 2010, when it became clear something was amiss with this oncereliable accent on the landscape. “We’re learning a lot more about their ecology, but what we know is still way behind what we know about other species,” said David O’Connor, research coordinator with San Diego Zoo Global. Committed to conserving land, livelihoods, ecosystems, and wildlife, recently David has developed a collaborative effort with a cohort of organizations (Giraffe Conservation Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, Loisaba Conservancy,

Namunyak Wildlife Conservation Trust, the Northern Rangelands Trust, and Sarara Camp/Sessia Ltd.) and local pastoralist-herder communities to foster multipronged, community-based conservation of giraffes in Kenya. To better understand humangiraffe coexistence and conflict, the

Giraffes are called the watchtowers of the savanna for good reason.

team seeks to uncover the attitudes, perceptions, beliefs, values, knowledge, and behavior of the people who live among giraffes. Later, a team of five Kenyan pastoralists—two experienced research coordinators and three trained citizen scientists—will manage a network of camera traps used in giraffe identification. Over time, they will become known as Twiga Walinzi—giraffe guards—supporting giraffe conservation in the region. “People in local communities are the key to conservation over the long term,” said David. “Through finding sustainable conservation strategies that work for both giraffes and people, our collaborators and San Diego Zoo Global will try to help prevent the extinction of these iconic giants of the savanna.” When funded, a future component of the collaboration will be placing GPS collars on 12 giraffes. The critical data collected will elucidate the animals’ activity patterns, social structure, range, and encounters with humans and livestock.

CAMELS AND COMPETITION Part of David O’Connor’s research has focused on giraffes in East Africa, specifically human-livestock-

ing more of them. David noticed fewer reticulated giraffes in areas where the camels grazed. Since this subspecies of giraffe has declined by about 80 percent in 20 years (from about 38,000 to just 8,600), it is important to understand the dynamics between the introduced camels and the native giraffes, as well as tackle other aspects of threats to giraffes. “Local communities need quality education and sustainable sources of protein, and collaboratively developed land and wildlife management plans,” explained David. In short, we need to make a living giraffe worth more to local communities than a dead one. San Diego Zoo Global is committed to saving species from extinction. It’s a tall order, but one we can accomplish with your support at

The decline of giraffes has been called a “silent extinction.” Below: David O’Connor uses camera traps to learn about giraffe movements.

giraffe interactions. By studying how reticulated giraffes forage— what plants they eat and how high they browse—David will also observe how the giraffes co-exist with a newly introduced livestock species: dromedary camels. Hefty and hardy, these camels can go extended lengths of time without water, so pastoralists are raisYouDeserve_SanDiegoZoo-PrtMkt_8.5x5.4375_HalfPage_ZooNooz_06May16-v1.pdf






SHOUT OUT Get the inside scoop on the giraffes at the Safari Park in a special ZOONOOZ Online article at zoonooz.

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FROM FOLLY TO WORLD-CLASS When Dr. Harry Wegeforth founded the San Diego Zoo on October 2, 1916, most people thought he was joking. How could a sleepy town of only 50,000 people support Dr. Harry’s vision of creating a world-class zoo?

Centennial Campaign for San Diego Zoo Global

Even though his endeavor was initially dubbed “Dr. Harry’s folly,” within a few years the Zoo went from being a source of amusement to a source of pride for the community—all because of Dr. Harry’s determination, enthusiasm, and persistence!

But that’s not all that helped propel the San Diego Zoo into the international spotlight: Dr. Harry convinced the people of San Diego JULY 2016 | VOLUME 2 to support the Zoo! Thanks to early benefactors such as Ellen Browning Scripps, who provided money to build the first fence around the Zoo as well as a Zoo hospital, and John D. Spreckels, who funded the first elephant enclosure as well as an expedition to bring the first koalas to North America, the San Diego Zoo was well on its way to becoming the #1 zoo in the world. Today, as the San Diego Zoo roars into its second century, we are grateful to you—our members and donors—for your unflagging support and invite you to learn more about our plans for 2016 and beyond.




Our Roaring Forward Campaign has already raised a transformational $304 million—we’re moving closer to our $400 million goal! We invite you to learn more about Roaring Forward on our website at Every gift matters, and with your support, we can end extinction together!

“We are proud of our reputation as a world-class zoological organization, yet we won’t rest on our laurels but will keep developing and improving the San Diego Zoo every day!” –DWIGHT SCOTT, DIRECTOR, SAN DIEGO ZOO

Always Looking Ahead With animals and plants thriving in our care, we’re looking ahead to creating FUTURE HABITATS that always promote the best animal care—our number one priority!—and memorable guest experiences that ensure an EMOTIONAL CONNECTION with the natural world. We’re on our way to updating every Zoo exhibit: 45 of our 100 acres are currently dedicated to animal habitats, and we have PLANS TO ADD ANOTHER 31 ACRES to new animal homes. Also, there will be IMPROVED ADA ACCESS for all our visitors throughout the Zoo as each area is renovated. And as exciting as this CENTENNIAL YEAR is, we like to think some of our best days are still ahead!

How Will We Do It? Your gifts support Roaring Forward’s

three priority areas:

IGNITE a passion

for wildlife in every child.

GROW the Zoo’s

worldwide leadership in animal and plant care as well as exhibits.

SAVE critically

endangered species for future generations while working with local and global partners.

Here’s How You’ve Already Helped Every day, our animal care and conservation research teams keep our animals healthy with the best diets, hand raise fragile newborns that need extra help, find strategies to solve diseases, and dedicate their careers to protecting wildlife here and around the world—yet we could not do all we do without your support!

Because of you... PROTECTED

At our Zoo and Safari Park veterinary hospitals, the doctor is always in, including “house calls” into the Park’s field exhibits. With incredible teamwork and skill, our keepers and veterinarians protect the health of nearly 7,000 animals representing close to 1,000 species.


Ours is the largest animal care and wildlife research team of any zoo in the world. As we lead the fight against extinction, we have bred 165+ endangered species and reintroduced 40+ endangered species back into the wild—more than 13,000 individuals!


We make wildlife education accessible and fun by inspiring children and adults of all ages with life-changing experiences at the Zoo and Safari Park. Our innovative youth programs reach 300,000+ students each year while Zoo Express and Animal Express bring educators, animal friends, and smiles to those in nursing homes and pediatric facilities.

Caring for Congo

With thousands of animals in our care representing hundreds of species, there are so many stories of keeper dedication. Everyone on the team jumps into action to help when a mother can’t care for a newborn or the little one is orphaned and needs special attention that can last for days or even months. Last summer, Safari Park keepers found themselves hand raising young Congo, a male giraffe that lost his mother soon after birth. Caring for giraffe calves is a tall order in many ways. They would normally nurse for a year, so when their mother is gone the keepers may need to coax the youngster to drink from a milk bottle. Luckily, Congo’s keepers were able to bottle-feed him at the Paul Harter Medical Veterinary Center until he was two months old. Next, he was transitioned to a boma, or barn, in the East Africa exhibit and paired with two-year-old Leroy, another calf that was also bottle-fed. Our goal is to introduce youngsters to their family group as soon as possible. The next challenge was hoping he could be bottle-fed in the field exhibit, from the back of a keeper truck. Congo drank 2.6 liters of milk formula with gusto 3 times a day, finishing his bottle in 5 minutes! Even after joining the herd and making friends with other young giraffes, Congo still comes running when his keeper arrives with a bottle. Your support helped us give Congo’s story a happy ending and encouraged us to support giraffe conservation with our partners in Kenya, including the Giraffe Conservation Foundation.

Join our pride and help us Roar Forward! | 619-557-3947

With six fast, feisty cheetah cubs, mom Addison has a lot to keep track of.

CUB HUB There’s a big cat baby boom at the Safari Park, with six cheetah cubs and three tiger cubs growing bigger every day—as guests watch. BY ESTON ELLIS | STAFF WRITER PHOTOS BY KEN BOHN | SDZG PHOTOGRAPHER


“baby boom” of big cat cubs is creating a purr-fect opportunity to see how cute, fluffy furballs grow into sleek, skilled hunters—with a lot of help from their mothers—at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Last November, Addison, a South African cheetah Acinoynx jubatus, gave birth to six healthy cubs—males Copley and Donald and females Darlene, Geisel, L.C., and Mary Jane—the Park’s biggest cheetah litter ever. In January, Joanne, a Sumatran tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae, became the proud mama of three rowdy, rambunctious cubs: sisters Cathy and Debbie, and their brother Nelson. Addison and her cubs can be seen on exhibit in the Okavango Outpost area, adjacent to East Africa; and Joanne and her cubs can be seen on exhibit at the Tull Family Tiger Trail. Addison and Joanne have proven to be great mothers, and the cubs are growing up fast—right before the adoring eyes of Safari Park guests.


On November 21, 2015, nine-yearold Addison gave birth at the Park’s off-exhibit Cheetah Breeding Center. This is one of nine Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition member facilities worldwide, which are working to create a sustainable cheetah population and prevent extinction of the world’s fastest land animal. Two years ago, Addison raised a litter of four cubs. This time, she gave birth to six. “That’s not a record number for cheetahs, but it’s a record for us at the Safari Park,” said Autumn Nelson, animal care supervisor. Despite the large number of cubs, none had to be removed for hand rearing, said Melodi Tayles, lead keeper at the Cheetah Breeding Center. “Addison had it dialed in: she knew what she was doing.”


When they moved into their exhibit in March, Addison’s cubs were fluffy “live wires,” eager to explore every inch of their territory.



Number of cheetah cubs born at the Safari Park since the 1970s

10,000 Number of cheetahs left on Earth


Number of Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition member facilities worldwide (including the Safari Park’s Cheetah Breeding Center)

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Addison is a calm and confident mom, but she has been more protective with this litter, explained Paula Augustus, senior keeper at the Cheetah Breeding Center. “At any given moment, her six cubs could be running in six different directions.” In March, Addison and the cubs moved to their current exhibit at the Safari Park. It has bedrooms that Addison and her cubs can go to anytime, along with open space for running and playing. The cubs are now eating meat, and the keepers are giving them gourds and Boomer Balls as enrichment. Plus, the sights, sounds, and smells of the other animals in the East Africa enclosure are “the best entertainment they could have,” Melodi said. The cubs weighed 15 to 20 pounds at four months old, and they have their own unique personalities. “Darlene is the boldest,” Melodi said. “She is also the biggest, and is an easygoing, confident cub.” Mary Jane, the “best eater,” is easy to spot by her light coloration. “L.C. is a close second as a good eater,” Melodi said.

Geisel, the last female, “has the most spit and vinegar of the group. Her color is a little darker, and she always holds back from the group and waits for mom to call her.” Donald is a “mama’s boy,” Melodi said. “He’s the one you might see calling for mom, as if to say, ‘Help me, I’m here by myself and I can’t figure this out!’ And Copley is a confident male cheetah cub, with a stately bearing.” Their personalities help keepers tell the cubs apart, but their overall appearances are so similar that it can be a challenge, Paula said. The cubs are expected to stay with Addison in the exhibit for at least a year, as they will not reach sexual maturity until age three or four. “For guests, it’s especially fun to watch them play—stalking each other, chasing, and pouncing—and realize that these activities translate into behaviors they will use later in life,” Melodi said. “Mom is a good sport, or at least a good target, for playful sneak attacks.” According to Melodi, the best

times to watch them are early in the morning or late in the afternoon. “You’ll see a lot of behaviors you see with your cats at home, like when they are mouthing things,” Melodi said.

TIGER TRIO It’s no exaggeration to say that when tiger Joanne gave birth to three cubs, the whole world was watching. “For the first time, we were able to get a birth video, thanks to a new type of camera system we are using,” Autumn explained. “Leading up to the birth, we gave Joanne a nice, soft den in a bedroom where she was able to prepare herself. Those cameras allowed us to let Joanne stay comfortable and have some privacy, while we closely monitored the entire birth process.” On January 28, Joanne grew restless, said Janet Lawhon, a lead keeper at the Safari Park. “About 10:30 that morning, she was showing signs of labor. Around 11:30, the first cub was born, and at 12:30, the second birth. There were close to two hours between the second and third birth.”

While Joanne’s previous single cub, Suka, born last September, had to be hand-raised after the first-time mom stopped caring for the youngster, she has proved to be a doting mom this time. “She is also very tolerant of us being with her cubs,” Autumn said. “We go in to socialize with the cubs every day, while she chews on a bone in a separate area. This helps the cubs build bonds with the keepers, making our presence and taking care of them part of the routine.” Teddy, the father of Joanne’s three current cubs, and Suka have been “nice neighbors,” in adjacent bedrooms, Autumn said. “We have an appropriate barrier for them, but Teddy loves to go over and greet his cubs. In the wild, the male tiger will not have anything to do with his cubs, so this is out-of-theordinary behavior. He vocalizes, chuffing to greet the cubs, and Suka makes the sound back at him. Suka and the three cubs chuff at each other, too. Mom’s a little lukewarm about it, but each morning, we give them a chance to say ‘hi’ to each other.” The three little cubs have big personalities. Debbie is the most petite, but she is also the most vocal, inquisitive, bold, and independent of the three cubs, Janet said. Nelson is the biggest, but he is the most laid-back, Janet explained. In early training sessions, “while I was scratching his neck as a reward, he would kind of go to sleep in my hands.” Cathy is not quite as feisty as her

siblings, Janet said. “She’s a little more reserved.” All three are growing up quickly, and are getting more playful and daring every day. “Right now, they seem to think mom is some sort of chew toy,” Janet said. Weaning typically

takes place when the cats are around six months old. “Instead of just sampling meat, as they are doing now, they will start eating about a quarter-pound a day, and then a half-pound, and it goes up from there.”

Keepers are watching to see how high the cubs jump as they grow. “We know they’re becoming adults when they can jump up onto a bench in their bedrooms,” Janet said. “That’s a sad day for mom, because that’s her get-awayfrom-the-cubs place right now.” In April, the cubs made their debut at the Park’s Tull Family Tiger Trail, going out in the yard with Joanne for half days at first. “Everything is new and fresh and novel for them,” Janet said. “As tigers, they tend to be brave, stalking branches, hiding, chasing each other, and chasing mom.” Being alone may be typical for adult tigers, since this is a solitary species, but the cubs are very social right now, as they’re learning the behaviors and gaining the physical abilities they will need as grownups, Janet said. “They may be clumsy, tumbly, and cute as cubs; but they will become graceful and agile adults.”



Number of Sumatran tigers at the Safari Park


Number of Sumatran tigers left in the wild


Number of tiger cubs born at the Safari Park since the 1970s

Joanne and her cubs can be seen at the Tull Family Tiger Trail. Playful pouncing helps cubs learn grown-up hunting skills.




Six southern white rhinos at the Safari Park’s new Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center have a vital role to play in white rhino conservation research. BY WENDY PERKINS | STAFF WRITER



hinos in their native habitats are under siege from poaching. The effect is alarming: it’s estimated that three rhinos are killed each day for their horn. San Diego Zoo Global is committed to saving this iconic animal from extinction by supporting anti-poaching efforts, changing attitudes, and using science and technology at the Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center (RRC). Located at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, the facility is dedicated to the conservation of white rhinos—including northern white rhinos—through assisted reproductive techniques. Six female southern white rhinos arrived at the facility from South Africa last November, and the project is moving forward. Nola, the Park’s beloved northern white rhino that passed away last year, is the project’s muse. “A lot of the urgency for developing the Rhino Rescue Center and working toward saving the northern white rhino was inspired by Nola,” said Steve Metzler, associate curator of mammals. The idea has been under consideration for years. However, “the loss of all but a few remaining northern white rhinos in just the past several years has been a big blow and a catalyst to saving them. Having Nola here as we were beginning this project was certainly a big motivation,” Steve added.

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The RRC is located in the former black rhino exhibit and barn. The area was remodeled and upgraded to meet the long-term needs of this type of project. A field lab has two different storage rooms: one for food and another for veterinary and reproductive equipment. A lab outfitted with a stainless steel work space allows staff from our Institute for Conservation Research, as well as visiting researchers, to prep and examine samples as soon as they’ve been collected. There are computers for the researchers to use, as well as some dedicated to the record-keeping needs of the rhino keepers and trainers. The RRC was created with the future in mind. “We built this so we can grow for years to come, throughout the goals of the project,” explained Steve. The facility includes a two-acre exhibit, eight large outdoor yards, a temperature-controlled barn, and a training chute. The latter will be a vital tool for the project. It was designed based on input from the trainers, veterinary staff, and researchers, among others, with a scale in the floor of the chute that allows for obtaining accurate weights. Panels and doors in the walls make it easy to do procedures like collecting a blood sample from the lower leg, palpating an abdomen, or performing an internal ultrasound. The keepers spend a good part of their day building relationships with and gaining the trust of the rhinos. The rhinos are being trained, through positive reinforcement, to receive any needed medical procedures, since they may serve as future surrogate mothers for northern white rhinos (see infographic on page 8). Dion Rice is one of the RRC keepers. “It is so inspiring and exciting to be a part of this,” she said. “This could be one of the the biggest contributions I can make toward conservation.” Dion has years of experience caring for and training elephants and other animals. “I am taking what I’ve learned and using it with these animals—which are very different—to establish a solid program.” The long-term training goal for the rhinos is to be able to stand comfortably and calmly in the chute for a variety of examinations. But first things first: how do you

get a rhino to go where you want? “We’ve been working with them on a group ‘recall’ right now,” said Dion. “They are learning to come to keepers when they hear three short blasts of a coach’s whistle. They’ve caught on very quickly—they are quite smart!” Having a strong bond with their keepers is important, but as Steve points out, “these rhinos also need to be comfortable with strangers and groups of people showing up.” San Diego Zoo Global is working with specialists from other zoos and universities, so there will be many people visiting and working at the RRC. “We’ve already had folks come from Cincinnati and Germany to do exams and establish a baseline of how the females look reproductively,” Steve said. On any given day, visitors to the Safari Park may be able to see one or more of the southern white rhinos as the Africa Tram passes by the RRC. In collaboration with other accredited facilities, San Diego Zoo Global has been working for decades to keep a sustainable population of rhinos safe in zoos, while also working to protect them in their native habitat—an uphill battle for all concerned. The RRC expands our commitment to help save rhinos. “We’re doing what I believe is the future of saving wildlife by using assisted reproductive techniques,” said Steve. “There are species for which there is no hope for natural breeding anymore—like the northern white rhino. This is really, I think, the future.”

Opposite page: The six females settled in quickly to the Rhino Rescue Center (RRC), delighting in the delicious, fresh grass. This page, above: The wellplanned design of the RRC includes pens for up-close observation. Center: Keepers work with the rhinos daily to establish a bond of trust.


Fewer than 500 Peninsular pronghorn remain in Mexico. (Inset) Fawns can be easy targets for predators such as coyotes.





s the second-fastest land mammal (the cheetah takes first place), the Peninsular pronghorn Antilocapra americana peninsularis can reach speeds of 60 miles per hour. One thing this fleet-footed animal can’t outrun, however, is the threat that habitat fragmentation poses to its existence. Once numbering in the thousands and roaming across the Baja California Peninsula and as far north as Southern California, the Peninsular pronghorn population is now critically endangered. Only 400 to 450 animals live in a range within the El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve in Baja California Sur, Mexico. The loss of living space, along with hunting and competition for resources, may seem to have started the extinction clock ticking for the Peninsular pronghorn. But a collaboration of zoological organizations on both sides of the border, the Mexican government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is working on a conservation project that just might buy this enigmatic creature enough time to rebuild its numbers—one adorable fawn at a time.

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A COOPERATIVE EFFORT The Peninsular Pronghorn Recovery Project involves the efforts of Mexico’s Espacios Naturales, Los Angeles Zoo, the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida, The Living Desert in Palm Desert, El Paso Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas, and Chapultepec Zoo in Mexico City. The project’s goals include not only protecting the existing Peninsular pronghorn population but also adding to it. When the facility joined the project in 2002, Jeff Holland, curator of mammals at the Los Angeles Zoo, noted

that “Essentially, we didn’t want to have all of our eggs in one basket. At that time, there was only a very small population remaining in the wild, and only one zoo with a herd of this subspecies. We felt we should have insurance populations in accredited zoos in the US, in case a disease outbreak affected that one population.” Today, there are seven zoological facilities involved with the housing and breeding of Peninsular pronghorn.

SEEING “GHOSTS” Living in desert and semi-desert conditions, the hardy Peninsular pronghorn is known locally as el berrendo. They survive on shrubs, forbs, broad-leaf weeds, cacti, sagebrush, leaves, and herbs. They drink when water is available, but they can go for weeks without it, obtaining moisture from their food. Measuring up to 35 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 125 pounds, these animals sport coats of golden-brown or tan with white markings. Their white underbellies deflect heat from the ground. This coloration helped earn the Peninsular pronghorn its somewhat mystical nickname. “They’re called the ‘ghosts of the desert’ because they blend in so easily with their surroundings,” explains Andy Blue, associate curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, who joined the project in 2002. “And they’re so fast, they disappear from view very quickly.”

eral vision, allowing them a field of view spanning 300 degrees! Pronghorn can see for miles, and they have the largest eyes of any North American hoofed animal their size. The eyes are also high on the sides of the head to watch for predators. Pronghorn are the only surviving members of the family Antilocapridae, a group of hoofed animals that appeared during the Pleistocene (10,000 to 1.8 million years ago). By contributing supplies, equipment, expertise, and a lot of work, the partners of the conservation project aim to keep that long survival streak going.

Lissa McCaffree, a lead keeper at the Safari Park, bottle feeds one of the fawns, improving both its chance of survival and tractability.

A UNIQUE SPECIES Male Peninsular pronghorn are larger and darker than females. The distinctiveness of their horns only adds to the animals’ mystique. They occupy a niche between deer and goats, and they are the only animals with branched horns (not antlers). Their horns’ outer sheaths are shed annually. Females’ horns, if they have them, are spiky and present for two to five years before they shed. Because pronghorn are built for life as potential prey, their pupils constrict to horizontal slits. This maximizes periph-

PRONGHORN PLANS The Peninsular pronghorn’s range has been decreasing as the human need for land increases. “Fences have gone up to contain livestock and allow them to graze, and this limits the pronghorns’ access to their regular territory,” Andy says. “Protective enclosures have been put up around the groups of pronghorn, so they can be fed and taken care of. We provide a safe environment for them.” That early protection for the fawns

is important, notes Melodi Tayles, a lead keeper at the Safari Park. “At birth, these babies are so small, only five to seven pounds,” says Melodi, who is also the keeper of the Peninsular pronghorn studbook. “When they are born outside of the enclosure, they often don’t survive. They are easy prey for coyotes.” With the safety of the animals in mind, the teams focused on getting the newest herd members used to being around people. “We have seven teams going to the La Choya region for twoweek stints to start the fawns on bottles,” Melodi explains. “These animals can be skittish, and we don’t want them in distress during handling. By bottle-feeding the fawns, they are more comfortable when being brought into managed care when they’re a little older. A couple of calm animals help calm the whole herd.” Currently, an insurance population of 30 Peninsular pronghorn live in US zoos. Their first stop is the Los Angeles Zoo for quarantine, and then they move on to one of the other project facilities. A small bachelor herd lives at the San Diego Zoo, and it includes one youngster hand raised by Melodi, who notes that progress has been very encouraging. “All the fawns that were brought into managed care in 2011 have reproduced,” she says.

REASON FOR OPTIMISM Not only is Andy optimistic about the future of the Peninsular pronghorn, he says he was impressed with the teamwork involved in the project’s success. “The Mexican government is doing a great job of protecting these pronghorn,” he says. “And a lot of people put a lot of resources into saving them.” Melodi adds that participating in the project was rewarding on many levels. “This is a great coalition of facilities, giving their time and labor to see these pronghorn thrive,” she says. “When you see the whole picture, and you live in it, it’s something you’ll have with you your whole career.”



Part 6: New Era, 1967-1976 & Part 7: Conservation,




uring the 1960s, planning began for one of the Zoo’s most monumental undertakings: the Wild Animal Park (now San Diego Zoo Safari Park). The Park was Dr. Charles Schroeder’s dream. He saw it as a place that would make a vital contribution to breeding and caring for rare and endangered species. Initially, he didn’t plan to open the Park to the public, but he soon realized it could provide visitors with a unique and educational experience, in addition to its role in conservation. Dr. Schroeder was passionate about making his vision for the Park come true, and he was involved in every step of its development. The Park was a huge endeavor that took three years to complete. People pulled off Highway 78 to get a glimpse of what was taking place, watching construction and the first animals through binoculars. Zoo designer Chuck Faust designed Nairobi Village based on sketches he drew while on an African

The Wild Animal Park opened on May 10, 1972, the dream of director Dr. Charles Schroeder (above).

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safari. The Park opened on May 10, 1972 to much celebration and acclaim. It was dubbed “the zoo of the future,” unusual at the time for its large, open field enclosures. Guests and the media remarked on an exciting switch: the people were enclosed in the monorail tram, and the animals were the ones roaming. In 1970, another San Diego Zoo claim to fame arrived: Joan Embery. At 18 years old, she was working as an attendant in the Children’s Zoo. The Zoo was looking for someone to act as ambassador for the media, and advertised for applicants to become “Miss Zoofari.” Hundreds of applications were received, and after extensive interviews, one young lady was chosen, but it wasn’t Joan—not yet. As it turned out, the first Miss Zoofari was nervous around animals and

not all that thrilled with public speaking, and she left after a year. Dr. Schroeder’s wife had met Joan and suggested that she might be just who they were looking for. Joan was hired on a trial basis, while continuing to work in the Children’s Zoo. One of the animals she worked with was Carol the elephant, and Joan taught her to paint pictures, a novelty that delighted guests. Joan’s confidence and ability with animals were quickly apparent, and she officially became the San Diego Zoo Goodwill Ambassador. In 1971, she appeared for the first time on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, with her friend, Carol the elephant. That show was a milestone—Johnny Carson continued to ask Joan and the Zoo animals back. Carson used his comedic talents to great effect with the animals and with gently teasing Joan, and the Zoo segments became a well-known and eagerly anticipated part of the show. After the tremendous success of building and launching the Wild Animal Park, Dr. Schroeder officially retired in January 1973. He had served as director for 19 years, and worked at the Zoo for a total of 26 years. More than 700 people packed the Town and Country Convention Center to honor the man known as “Mister Zoo.” However, his many friends and associates said he never really retired, since he continued to stay in touch with and promote the Zoo and the Park. He flew around the world as a zoo consultant and headed up a committee to work on the Endangered Species Act in 1974. But when he was in town, he enjoyed the “Park that Charlie built” and visited regularly—often with a few exhibit or operation suggestions in hand. Dr. Schroeder’s successor was Charles “Chuck” Bieler, who had worked at the Zoo for many years. Dr.

DIEGO ZOO 1977-1986

Schroeder thought highly of him, which showed because he kept adding to his duties. Chuck started as event sales director. Then Dr. Schroeder put him in charge of the Bus Tours, and also added the Skyfari. Then Chuck became his management assistant. With each new responsibility, Chuck asked if he was still in charge of the former ones. Dr. Schroeder would say, “Yes. Can you do it?” And Chuck would respond, “Certainly.” So it seemed entirely appropriate that he would eventually become the director. Could he do it? Certainly! This decade in the Zoo’s history marked the Zoo’s expanding expertise in conservation science. Dr. Kurt Benirschke, a physician, researcher, and professor, had been on the board of trustees’ Science and Research Committee and saw the need for research to help endangered species. He and Chuck Bieler worked together to expand Dr. Schroeder’s research ideas and founded

A new era for the Zoo included a new director, Charles Bieler (seen here with Jim the gorilla), and the beginning of the extraordinary career of Joan Embery as San Diego Zoo ambassador (left, with Johnny Carson).

Dr. Kurt Benirschke founded CRES in 1975 and established the Frozen Zoo®.

a groundbreaking new arm of the organization: the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES). On January 1, 1975, Dr. Benirschke assumed directorship of CRES. This achievement positioned the Zoological Society of San Diego as the world’s largest zoo-based conservation organization. Part of this new endeavor included cryogenically preserving tissue and cell samples from a wide variety of animal species. It became known as the Frozen Zoo®—and is more important than ever in our conservation efforts today.


One of our organization’s conservation successes is the comeback of the California condor. By 1982, there were only 22 California condors left in the world. In collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, The Peregrine Fund, and Los Angeles Zoo, the San Diego Zoo created a plan to bring all the remaining wild condors into zoos for protection and breeding. The decision was highly controversial and met with considerable resistance. However, when the last female in the wild died of lead poisoning in 1986, permission was granted to bring the remaining male birds to the Los Angeles and San Diego zoos. In 1983, an egg that had been laid in the wild but incubated at the Zoo began to hatch. Everyone was excited, but anxious as well—this chick, later named Sisquoc, was more precious than gold.


BACK IN TIME Discover much more about the San Diego Zoo’s 100 years of history on our centennial website:

Clockwise from left: Sisquoc was the first California condor hatched in a zoo facility, raised with the help of a condor puppet. Senior keeper Pat Whitman feeds a harpy eagle chick at the Avian Propagation Center, which opened in 1980. The return of the Arabian oryx was cause for celebration.

Zoologist Cyndi Kuehler helped the chick, gingerly removing eggshell pieces to help him emerge. Then she heard him squawk, and she knew he was okay. She recalled that, “I wish I could say I felt happy and exhilarated—but what I really think I felt was relief. I knew we were going to be able to hatch condors.” And hatch they did: between 1983 and 1986, 14 condors were hatched from eggs collected in the wild. Because the goal was reintroduction, it was important to keep the condor chicks from imprinting on humans. But how could they feed the chicks without letting them see people? Enter the now-famous condor puppet! The keepers worked with a local artist to create a lifelike hand puppet with condor features, which could be used to feed and interact with the chicks like a parent condor would. In 1988, the condor keepers were keeping an eye on female UN-1 at the Park’s off-exhibit condor facility, dubbed the “Condorminium.” They suspected she had laid an egg, but they couldn’t see it yet on the remote

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camera. Then she moved, and there it was! The egg was too precious to take any risks, so keepers collected it and incubated it until it hatched. That chick was Molloko, the first chick from an egg that was both laid and hatched in a zoo. His growth to maturity showed that California condors could be successfully raised in zoos. Another of the San Diego Zoo’s conservation successes during this era was breeding the critically endangered Arabian oryx. The species was near extinction in the wild, and zoos stepped in with Operation Oryx, a collaborative effort between officials in Jordan, conservationists, and zoos to save the species. A group of oryx was sent to the Phoenix Zoo to establish the World Herd for breeding, and six came to the Safari Park in 1972. The Park’s first birth was in 1973, with more than 120 births in succeeding years. As a result, starting in 1978, the Zoo was able to send offspring born at the Park to Oman, where they were introduced to the native habitat.

In 1980, the Zoo built the Avian Propagation Center. This off-exhibit facility was designed to meet the special needs of raising birds, from hornbills to hummingbirds. This center’s main purpose was to care for and breed endangered bird species in a controlled environment, and to raise the delicate chicks in order to increase the populations. This decade saw some very rare animals born and hatched for the first time at the Zoo. They included our first Przewalski’s horse in 1974, our first greater one-horned rhino in 1978, the hatching of a brown kiwi in 1983, and a sloth bear cub in 1985. Particularly notable were the first hatchings of critically endangered Fiji Island banded iguanas in 1981 and the birth of the first Somali wild ass foal in the Western Hemisphere in 1986, a species that was nearly extinct in the wild. Coming in September: 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo, Part 8: Expansion (1987 to 1996), and Part 9: Vision (1997 to 2006).



CELEBRATING ANIMALS & NATURE IN BALBOA PARK! Inspired by the San Diego Zoo’s 100th birthday celebration, five prominent Balboa Park institutions are collaborating to bring you a menagerie of animal-themed exhibitions. Come celebrate with us!

San Diego History Center San Diego Natural History Museum San Diego Museum of Art Timken Museum of Art Museum of Photographic Arts Exhibition schedules and descriptions are available at:



HEART Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center BY JUSTIN WEBER






Our six southern white rhinos are the best hope for saving the northern white rhino.

Our six southern white rhinos are the best hope for saving the northern white rhino.

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s a young girl growing up in Ukraine, Nikita Kahn fell in love with animals at an early age. Like many of us, her dogs, cats, and even her grandmother’s farm animals were among her best friends. “Animals are innocent and beautiful,” she shared. “They bring happiness to our lives every day, and some of my best friends are animals.” Today, as an animal advocate, one of her newest friends is a 2,861-pound southern white rhinoceros named after her!

Nikita the rhino, along with five of her gal pals, arrived at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park last November as part of San Diego Zoo Global’s efforts to save their cousin, the northern white rhino. A year ago there were five northern white rhinos left on our planet, but with the passing of Nabire last July, and our beloved Nola last November, today only three remain on Earth. Nikita Kahn first met Nola during a visit to the Safari Park and fondly remembers their time together: “It touched my heart. I’m forever grateful to have met Nola.” It was an encounter that would change the course of rhino conservation forever. With time quickly running out for Nola’s species, a sanctuary for rhino conservation needed to be built—and it needed to be done quickly! Nikita Kahn came forward with a transformational gift and was joined by 3,000 others to build a home for 6 southern white rhinos

en route from South Africa to join the rescue effort. The Nikita Kahn Rhino Rescue Center officially opened on May 18, 2016, and Nikita and other top-level donors welcomed the rhino residents to California. Nikita’s vision for the Rhino Rescue Center was clear: “We hope to save the northern white rhino from extinction. I’m so very proud to be a part of this important effort to save these majestic animals.” At this one-of-a-kind safe haven, San Diego Zoo Global scientists, veterinarians, and animal care staff will partner with others from around the globe to discover alterna-

tive methods of assisted reproduction and create the cutting-edge technology that will be necessary to save the northern white rhino from extinction. Our battle to save Nola’s species will be challenging. In fact, many of the techniques we are developing have never been attempted, much less used successfully! But as an organization on the forefront of saving species, we know that with the generous support of newfound friends like Nikita, and countless others like you, we can save these iconic animals so that Nola’s family will be here to meet your family for generations to come.

QUOTED “We all came into this world with a responsibility to protect and preserve the planet that we inherited and pass it on undiminished to future generations.”



Number of rhinos killed every day Rhinos like Nola and Nikita are disappearing at an alarming rate. San Diego Zoo Global is leading the fight to save these critically endangered species—but we need your help! Become part of this revolutionary effort to save them and learn more about this state-ofthe-art center dedicated to rhinos by visiting sandiegozoo. org/rhinos.



Life of a Baby Cheetah A short article in 1971 about the San Diego Zoo’s first cheetah birth highlighted the start of an important breeding program for this endangered cat species. TODAY AT THE ZOO San Diego Zoo Global has been breeding cheetahs for more than 40 years, with more than 150 cubs born. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is one of nine breeding facilities in the cheetah Breeding Center Coalition (BCC). It is estimated that the worldwide population of cheetahs has been reduced from 100,000 in 1900 to just 10,000 left today, with about 10 percent now living under protection in zoos and wildlife parks.

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The first birth of cheetahs in the collection occurred on November 22, 1970 at 8 a.m....Unfortunately, two of the litter of three had been killed by other adults in the enclosure before the research team in charge of the project on the reproductive behavior of cheetahs could come to the rescue. The surviving cub was brought to the Children’s Zoo Nursery. The little male was given the name “Juba,” taken from the scientific name of the species, Acinonyx jubatus jubatus. He weighed 19 ounces at birth, 21½ ounces at ten days, and 32½ ounces when a month old....At one month, he takes six teaspoons of formula at each feeding....He is fed every three hours from 7 a.m. until midnight. Three times a day, he is offered small amounts of commercial cat food. He sleeps between feedings, and when he awakens, he utters birdlike calls, said to be associated with eating or being alarmed. As Juba seems to awaken promptly at feeding times, he may be calling for food.


Travel with San Diego Zoo’s WorldWild Tours™ to some of the wildest places on Earth in 2016 and 2017. Our itineraries highlight the wildlife at each destination and include expert naturalists and a San Diego Zoo Global escort, plus a group of like-minded travelers. For brochures, visit or call Julia Altieri at 619-685-3205.

Exclusive Private Jet Tours



POLAR BEAR ADVENTURE OCTOBER 28 –NOVEMBER 3, 2016 Chill with polar bears in their native habitat of Churchill, Canada. $6,073 plus airfare (per person, double occupancy).

ALOHA & ALALAS FEBRUARY 7–12, 2017 Stay in a historic mansion on

the Big Island and visit our Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program. Prices start at $3,695 plus

airfare (per person, double occupancy).

Experience a lifetime of must-see iconic destinations, including Machu Picchu, the Great Barrier Reef, the Serengeti Plain, and Angkor Wat. $76,950 plus round-trip

airfare to and from departure city (per person, double occupancy).


GIANT PANDAS MAY 14–27, 2017

Come face-to-face with giant pandas and experience China’s cultural treasures. $5,590


plus airfare (per person, double occupancy).



Experience an unforgettable African safari featuring beautiful landscapes and vibrant wildlife. $7,995 plus airfare (per person, double occupancy).

WILD TREASURE OCTOBER 13–22, 2017 Find yourself

inches away from giant tortoises, blue-footed boobies, sea lions, and penguins. Prices

start at $6,933 plus airfare (per person, double occupancy).

WILD ENCOUNTERS FEBRUARY 17– MARCH 8, 2017 Set off on a wildlife

adventure and come faceto-face with the world’s legendary creatures in their natural habitats, including India’s jungles, the Serengeti Plain, the mountains of Rwanda, and Borneo’s rain forest. $83,950 plus round-trip

airfare to and from departure city (per person, double occupancy).





Box 120551, San Diego, CA 92112





THIS YEAR WE’RE CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF THE SAN DIEGO ZOO! Party to help #endextinction and support the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy.

Celebrate All Night!

Food, Drink & Fun!

Party from 6:30 to 11 p.m. with live music, animal presentations, and tastings at the San Diego Zoo!

Savor delicious bites from more than 65 of San Diego’s finest restaurants! Experience San Diego’s best wine, beer, and more!

Now offering two ticket levels: VIP 6:30 -11 p.m. with access to multiple lounges. General Admission 7:30 -11 p.m.

Come nose to nose with wild animals from around the world while enjoying live music, fun activities, and more!

Early Bird Discount! Buy now & save! or call 619-718-3000


ZOONOOZ July 2016  

Looming Large: The tallest land mammal is facing unprecedented threats to its survival across Africa. But hope is on the way!

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