SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Changes are coming to the Sacramento Zoo.
A post on the Zoo’s website revealed a number of improvements and changes being made to the 91-year-old zoo, including expanding the lion exhibit, adding meerkats and okapi, and re-locating several animals to other parts of the zoo and other zoos in the country.
The lion exhibit will now be combined with the adjacent tiger exhibit. It’s been empty since the Sumatran tiger, Jillian, moved back to the San Francisco Zoo in February. The decision was made after it was determined she was having trouble adjusting to her new surroundings. The 4-year-old tiger was moved from San Francisco to the Sacramento Zoo in 2017 but never settled in. The additional exhibit space will nearly double the space the lions, Kamau and Cleo, have to live in and explore.
The Sacramento Zoo will also add two new animal species: meerkats and okapi. Five meerkats will be moved from the Brevard Zoo in Florida. Meerkats are active during the day and live in large groups called clans.
The okapi, known as “forest giraffes,” will move into a new exhibit across from the red pandas. The space, which is adjacent to the Kampala Cafe, is currently used as the summer camp lawn area. Construction will start on the new exhibit in the fall. Okapis are the only living relatives to the giraffe; however, their bottom halves are striped black-and-white, like a zebra.
With the creation of the okapi exhibit, zookeepers are saying goodbye to the great hornbills, rhinoceros hornbills, knobbed hornbills, king vultures, and several straw-colored fruit bats. The hornbills will all be placed in AZA-accredited zoos, while the king vulture pair went to the Bronx Zoo. Some of the straw-colored fruit bats went to other zoos, but 4 of them remained and will eventually join the Animal Ambassadors program.
The critically endangered mongoose lemurs are moving into the Small Wonders of Africa exhibit that did house the straw-colored fruit bats. The mongoose lemurs are currently housed in a small exhibit next to the chimpanzees.
Sacramento Zoo visitors can also start to catch a glimpse of Jake, the white-nosed coati. The 5-year-old, who looks like a raccoon, has been behind the scenes at the zoo while his new exhibit was prepared. The exhibit is located in the rare feline courtyard area and features an overhead shift tunnel that now joins two exhibit spaces that used to be separate. Jake’s exhibit used to house the tamandua.
Another change for parents to be aware of: the playground is moving from the front of the zoo to the area near the Australian Outback exhibit. The space that currently houses the playground will eventually be the site of a new classroom.
The 14 acre Sacramento Zoo opened in 1927.