Hello fellow conservation heroes, Zena the Zookeeper here. The summer excitement just keeps on rolling here at Oakland Zoo! This month, we are celebrating the arrival of two totally beautiful new warthogs. Yes, you heard right – bea-u-ti-ful wartrhogs! I could just watch these two lovely ladies for hours on end! We got them from two zoos in the southern United States, the Atlanta (Georgia) Zoo and the Jacksonville (Florida) Zoo. I hope Simon, our resident male warthog, thinks they are as beautiful as I do. If Simon agrees with me, then maybe we’ll be lucky enough to have some baby piglets join the sounder (sounder means a small group of warthogs).
We zookeepers are pretty proud of our little three-warthog sounder, and of how well the three of them are all getting along. Sometimes it can take many weeks for female warthogs to learn to get along, but our ladies had not problems at all adjusting to their new home or to Simon, or each other. Hmmm… I wonder if it was all the fresh grasses, fruit, and enrichment items we put in their enclosure
And here’s a little fascinating fact for you – warthogs really do have warts! The warts are on their heads, where they also have not one but TWO sets of tusks.
Warthogs are also powerful diggers, using their disc-like snout with their legs to dig for roots and tubers. They often lower themselves closer to the ground by bending their wrists (like Simon is doing in this picture).
Looks pretty awkward to me, but don’t worry, it doesn’t hurt. They have special thick, calloused pads of skin to protect them when they’re bending down like that. And just like all species of pigs, warthogs love to roll around in the mud when the weather gets too hot for them.
So see? These creatures are sweet and loveable and oh so fun to watch – just bea-u-ti-ful. I’m sure you’ll agree with me when you come visit them for yourselves. See you at the Zoo!
Over 660 animals reside in Oakland Zoo (one hundred and sixty species), each requiring a different meal:
- Large cats such as lions and tigers, along with vultures, eat different types of meat
– pork neck bones, ground meat, chicken, and more.
- Fruit bats eat fruits like cantaloupes, apples, and pears.
- Chimpanzees and sun bears eat different types of fruits and vegetables. Sun bears will also eat small amounts of insects and meat.
- Giraffes eat edible tree parts (browse), different types of grass hays, and small amounts of chopped vegetables.
- Warthogs eat different types of vegetables, small amounts of fruit, and small types of grass hays.
- Carnivores (meat eaters) consume dead rabbits, guinea pigs, deer, pig feet and skulls, and horse meat.
- Herbivores (plant eaters) have a sweet tooth. This allows the keepers to insert medications in their meals such as hiding pills in Fig Newtons.
- Food is donated or purchased, from different vendors such as “U.S. Foods,” “Concord Feed,” “North Bay Meat,” and other vendors. For some of the animals, keepers use branches and leaves found on Zoo grounds.
Do you want to feed our animals? You can at our upcoming Feast for the Beasts event – bring in fruits and vegetables and watch as our elephants and other animals enjoy your treats. Find out more here.
You know what I love best about being a zookeeper? No, it’s NOT all the poop I have to shovel. What I love best is taking care of the sun bears. They’re so fun to watch, especially when they’re moving around their exhibit, searching and sniffing, climbing and clawing to find their food.
In case you didn’t already know, our bears are omnivorous (om-NIV-er-us). That means they eat a variety of food—meat as well as veggies, just like you do (okay, maybe with the exception of the meal worms!) And here at Oakland Zoo, we like to give them as much variety as possible. Here’s some of the fun food treats that the bears get every day:
- SWEET MIX: made up of popcorn, dates, peanuts, raisins, coconut and Fruit Loops (the only cereal they like.)
- FRUIT & VEGETABLES: like grapes, pineapple, melon and yams to make sure the bears have a well-balanced diet, which is as important for animals as it is for kids.
- HOMEMADE RICE CAKES: cooked and mixed with fun flavors such as almond, coconut or maple syrup
- PEANUT BUTTER: mixed with other treats, or big dabs of it on tree trunks, or leftover jars from home for them to lick clean with their long tongues.
- MEAL WORMS: yummy crawly treats like the ones wild bears find in rotten tree trunks
But I don’t just toss this stuff in a bowl on the kitchen floor like you do with your pets at home. I hide it inside all kinds of fun containers that I put around the exhibit for the bears to find and explore with their tongues and claws, such as:
- PLASTIC DRINK BOTTLES with grapes or raisins inside
- HARD PLASTIC PLUMBING PIPES with holes drilled in them for getting at the treats
- HOLLOW BAMBOO STALKS stuffed with small treats
- PINE CONES smeared with sticky treats like peanut butter or honey
- HOLLOW PLASTIC PET TOYS filled with treats and frozen into popsicles
- HARD PLASTIC BOOMER BALLS I smear peanut butter or jam on the outside for them to lick off
I bet your meals at home aren’t this much fun. But your mom probably has enough work to do already, don’t you think? Luckily, I’ve got a lot of helpers here at the Zoo.
ZENA’S QUICK QUESTION: How many sun bears do we have at Oakland Zoo and what are their names?
The next time you come to the Zoo, be sure to check out the bear exhibit and you’ll find out the answer. Also, if you want to check in on the sun bears from home, did you know you can watch Oakland Zoo’s Sun Bear Cam? Here’s a link to it: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Sun_Bear_Cam.php
You’ll also see how much fun it is to be an Oakland Zoo sun bear. Well, that’s all for now. This is Zena the Zookeeper saying “See you next time!