What’s new at the zoo?

Simon and Garfunkel once said, “It’s all happening at the zoo.”
That certainly seems to be the case at the Sacramento Zoo, which this year is celebrating its 85th anniversary with many new attractions.

Small Wonders

The zoo’s main focus right now is on its capitol improvement project called Small Wonders, for which the zoo is currently working on construction plans and permits, according to director Mary Healy.

Healy says the new exhibit will be located across from the zoo’s giraffe exhibit, aptly named Tall Wonders, and will feature four new species of animals – a pair of African monkeys called Wolf’s Guenon, an African bat called a Straw-Colored Fruit Bat, an aardvark and a mongoose.

The zoo has already acquired the Wolf’s Guenon and will acquire the other animals as the project moves forward, Healy said.
Healy said the Small Wonders exhibit will help complete an area of the zoo where consistent improvements have been made to make the animals much more visible to guests.

She also said bringing in new species of animals provides new educational opportunities.

“We’ve never had any bats on exhibit,” Healy said. “We used to have one in the education department, but we’ve never had any on exhibit, and that’s going to be a fun opportunity. Kids like bats, they’re not intimidated by them. Some adults tend to still think they’re kind of creepy, so it’s kind of fun to bring in something like that that the kids are into.”

Wild affair

Although there is currently no opening date set yet for Small Wonders, Healy hopes the zoo will be able to give a timetable update to guests at the upcoming Wild Affair fund raising event on Oct. 6.

According to marketing coordinator Marisa Hicks, Wild Affair is the zoo’s annual black tie gala dinner and auction.

“It’s our grandest event focused on adults and just raising as much money as possible for the zoo, and this year that money is going toward Small Wonders,” she said.

During this year’s event, attendees will start the evening with appetizers and cocktails, plus the chance to take special behind-the-scenes tours of zoo exhibits.

“That includes behind-the-scenes in the primate area (and) the carnivore area, the lions and tigers,” Hicks said.
Wild Affair attendees will enjoy a plated dinner by Mulvaney’s B&L, a live auction hosted by Dave Bender from CBS13 and a show put on by zoo staff.

“The show is put on by the very same staff that has done tours, so somebody who was just showing you behind-the-scenes in the primate area may now be on stage in costume,” Hicks said. “There is no end to what our passionate zoo staff will do to raise money for our exhibits here.”

For the community

In addition to Wild Affair, the zoo has a number of events coming up to help benefit its surrounding community.
For example, now until the end of August, zoo guests can bring in a new, unwrapped school supply for a school supply drive and receive $1 off general admission.

Hicks said the supplies will be donated to a school in need in the local community. In November and December, patrons can bring in a donation for either Toys for Tots or the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services and again receive $1 off general admission.

In October, the zoo’s popular Boo at the Zoo will return for two days, Oct. 30 and 31. Here kids can come in costume, visit 17 different candy stations and take rides on the “spooky” train and “creepy” carousel.

“Generally what people do on Halloween is they come to Boo at the Zoo and then they go out into Land Park and do the rest of their trick-or-treating, so it’s a real fun night,” Hicks said.

Additionally, the zoo has been hosting a number of nonprofits through different programming. For example, each night of the zoo’s summer Twilight Thursdays series gave a different nonprofit an opportunity to share its information with patrons.
Healy feels it’s important for the zoo to help out their fellow community nonprofits.

“We’re in kind of a unique position since we do get a half-million visitors to our zoo and we feel that we are in a position, kind of like the big brother, to help out some of the other organizations,” she said. “We just try to be a good partner and feel like we’re all in this together and a lot of the nonprofits are struggling.”

The next 85

As the Sacramento Zoo celebrates its 85th birthday, what’s in store for the next 85 years?
Healy says part of it will be focusing on offering more intimate experiences for zoo patrons.
“We know we’re limited with the 14 acre site (and) we want to make sure when people come here, they can see the animals up close and have interactions,” she said.

The zoo has already been moving in that direction with the all-glass river otter exhibit that allows kids to come “nose-to-nose” with the animals, the Tall Wonders giraffe exhibit that features supervised feedings twice a day and a window in the tiger exhibit where guests can sit next to the tigers.

“We just want to keep creating those kinds of special, up close experiences that make our zoo unique,” Healy said.
And Hicks says the zoo will continue to work on its main mission, which is to educate the next generation on conservation.
“They’re not going to conserve what they have today without being educated on what there is,” she said. “All of our programs (are) aimed toward engaging our audience and getting them to pay attention to conservation and observing that education so they carry it with them. And hopefully we’re creating that connection with wildlife that a lot of urban city kids don’t have.”

corrie@valcomnews.com

Empty Bowls aims to raise awareness of hunger issue in Sacramento

Hunger is a bigger problem in Sacramento than you may think, according to Eileen Thomas, executive director of the River City Food Bank based in midtown Sacramento.

EMPTY BOWLS is a major fundraiser for the River City Food Bank. This year’s ninth annual event will be held March 6 and March 6. / Photo courtesy, River City Food Bank

EMPTY BOWLS is a major fundraiser for the River City Food Bank. This year’s ninth annual event will be held March 6 and March 6. / Photo courtesy, River City Food Bank

In 2011, the food bank served 47,408 people, with about every fourth person a child. Thomas said the food bank is also seeing an increase in seniors – who are living on fixed incomes and pensions with not enough money to go around – as well as those on disability.

To help raise awareness about the hunger problem in the Sacramento area, for the past nine years River City Food Bank has hosted Empty Bowls – an annual fund raiser designed to raise funds for the food bank and awareness about hunger in the community. Thomas said this year’s event will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center on Monday, March 5 with a dinner session from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for $60 per person, and Tuesday, March 6 for a lunch session from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for $30 per person.

“Hunger is one of those problems that can be hidden very easily because you look around and you go ‘Oh, there’s nobody really starving in our community,’” Thomas said. “Starvation looks a little different to us in America than it does like in a third-world country, so some of the people who are starving are actually suffering from malnutrition. They’re not eating healthy because they don’t have enough money for healthy food. Empty Bowls really speaks to the idea that hunger is something that is here in our community and it can be helped.”

At Empty Bowls, attendees come to either a dinner or lunch session to enjoy a soup of their choice donated by a Sacramento area restaurant.

HAND-CRAFTED bowls created by local artists and students are the must-have item at this annual event. / Photo courtesy, River City Food Bank
HAND-CRAFTED bowls created by local artists and students are the must-have item at this annual event. / Photo courtesy, River City Food Bank
“We try to get the very best restaurants in Sacramento to donate,” Thomas said. Participating restaurants include Cafe Bernardo, Classique Catering, Scott’s Seafood Grill and Bar, Vizcaya and Greek Village Inn. To serve the soups to hungry patrons, the food bank enlists the services of honorary servers from local government and businesses, Thomas said. Some notable servers on tap for this year include City Councilmembers Rob Fong and Steve Cohn.

However, the real draw to the event is the handmade bowl that each attendee gets to pick out to take home. Thomas said this year they will have about 1,200 bowls for guests to choose from made by both professional and student artists. Additionally this year, the event will feature a selection of wood and glass bowls, plus some of the professional artists will showcase their other art at the Potters’ Market held in conjunction with the event.

This year’s Empty Bowls also includes a change in venue. For the first time, the event will be held at the Sacramento Convention Center. This is because the event has grown in popularity.

“We started out nine years ago and we had about 350 people attend – we thought that was pretty good, and then it’s grown and grown,” Thomas explained. The new location also means tickets for the event will not be sold at the door. However, Thomas said patrons will be able to purchase tickets online at www.rivercityfoodbank.org (including the day of the event). Tickets can also be purchased in person at The Avid Reader and the Cathedral Book Shop at Trinity Cathedral on Capitol Avenue.

For Empty Bowls 2012, Thomas said the River City Food Bank hopes to hit its goal of raising $125,000, which will “help us keep the lights on, to keep our building and operation running. It will also pay for some of the food that we have to buy for our food bank,” she explained.

Additionally, Thomas said they hope this year’s Empty Bowls will help them spread the word about the food bank and the hunger issue in Sacramento.

“We hope to gain support for River City Food Bank and raise awareness in the community that this is a real problem and there are people who need not only food, but they need healthy food, they need good nutrition, they need education about nutrition,” she added. “We want to make sure that we explain the programs that we provide the way that people can help to make a difference in their community.”

American Red Cross helps military families reunite, reconnect and rebuild after military deployment

The Capital Region Chapter of the American Red Cross is offering Reconnection Workshops, presented by Walmart, on March 3 and March 24 at its Sacramento office, located at 1565 Exposition Boulevard in Sacramento.

Four facilitated sessions will be offered to focus on skills building to enhance the likelihood of positive reconnections with armed forces personnel and their families following a military deployment.

“Deployments are a fact of life in the military,” said Trisha Johnson, emergency services manager. “Whether a service member’s absence is due to a training exercise, sea duty, combat, or unaccompanied duty in a remote location, separation and reunification pose unique opportunities as well as challenges for all family members. The American Red Cross, with support from Walmart, developed a series of workshops to assist all military families in managing the family’s readjustment to the service member’s return.”

Actively licensed and specially trained Red Cross mental health professionals lead participants through information and discussions designed to help them identify and respond to the challenges of readjusting to and transitioning back to a changed family dynamic. The workshops are targeted to service members and their spouses, children, parents, siblings and significant others. Topics include Communicating Clearly, Exploring Stress and Trauma, Relating to Children, and Working Through Anger.  Participants have the option of choosing any or all of the workshops.

Each workshop is approximately two hours in length. Participants can take them in any order and select those most applicable to their situation. Workshops are free to military members and their families and occur in a supportive and confidential environment.

For more information about the current workshop being offered or to register for future workshops visit www.redcrosscrc.org or contact Samantha Clark at (916) 993-7087 or clarksam@usa.redcross.org.

Flea market fundraiser to benefit Sac County Animal Shelter

The public can demonstrate their support for Sacramento County’s state-of-the-art Animal Shelter and at the same time shop for bargains during the weekend of June 25–26 at the Save Our Shelter “Flea” Market.

Like most government agencies, the Department of Animal Care and Regulation has had to endure budget cuts but community supporters and animal lovers continue to help raise funds to sustain operations. The “Save Our Shelter” effort raises funds to care for the 15,000 animals that come through the shelter every year. Through donations and various fundraisers, including last year’s very successful “Whiskers and Wine” event, supporters have been able to raise almost $100,000.

“The Department of Animal Care and Regulation makes a tremendous difference in the lives of animals that are lost, abandoned or subject to abuse,” said Sacramento County Supervisor Susan Peters. “With the departmental budget being stretched thin by current constraints, community support is needed now more than ever to help supplement funding for the shelter’s operations. The Flea Market is an opportunity to have fun and help the animals at the same time.”

The Flea Market will be held over the weekend of June 25–26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at the Animal Shelter, which is located at 3839 Bradshaw Road in Sacramento. All proceeds will benefit the animals. Merchandise available for sale will include household items, furniture, clothing, pet products and crafts created by shelter volunteers.

New or gently used items may be donated. To schedule a drop off or pick up of usable items call (916) 361-7604 or email saccountyshelterfleamarket@yahoo.com. Due to limited storage space, items cannot be dropped off at the shelter. More information is available online at www.saccountyshelter.net.

And attention all shoppers: please be sure to visit your ATM in advance because flea market purchases are cash-only.

18th annual Doggy Dash is June 4, rain or shine

The 18th annual Doggy Dash will be held this Saturday, June 4 – rain or shine – in Sacramento’s beautiful William Land Park. There are two walks (a 5K and a 2K) to benefit the animals at the Sacramento SPCA, also a “Bark in the Park” afterward. / Photo courtesy

The 18th annual Doggy Dash will be held this Saturday, June 4 – rain or shine – in Sacramento’s beautiful William Land Park. There are two walks (a 5K and a 2K) to benefit the animals at the Sacramento SPCA, also a “Bark in the Park” afterward. / Photo courtesy

Some 5,000 animal lovers will gather with and without their canine companions for the 18th annual Doggy Dash, a 5K or 2K walk to benefit the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on June 4. The event will be held at Sacramento’s beautiful William Land Park.

For 17 years, two- and four-legged participants have attended this event, creating a tradition in Sacramento and transforming the Doggy Dash into one of the biggest “can’t miss” events of the year.

Be sure to stay after the Dash for a Bark at the Park Festival, where you can enter your canine pal in the Pup Show, high-flying Disc Contest, or our ever-popular Pug Races. Visit with pet-friendly businesses, learn about Sacramento-area animal rescue organizations or just have lunch while watching all the action.

The days activities include:

  • 5K or 2K walk
  • Fifth annual Pug Races
  • Pup Shows: Ugliest Dog, Best Wag, Best Smile, Best Kisser, Best Tricks, Most Magnificent Pup and more
  • Pet-friendly businesses
  • Demonstrations by the Sacramento Police K9 Unit, Sacramento Flyball, Touch and Go and First Fun Agility and the Disc Dogs of the Golden Gate “Disc Toss and Fetch” contest

On-site registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and events begin at 8:30 a.m. and run through 12:20 p.m.

Register today

Whether you choose to bring a canine companion or invite a two-legged friend, mark your calendar and join your friends and neighbors for the Doggy Dash and Bark at the Park Festival. By doing so, you will help to make a difference in the lives of homeless animals sheltered at the Sacramento SPCA. Register as a solo participant, start a team or join an existing team. For more information, visit www.sspca.org.

Free e-waste recycling day on March 26

Get rid of your old televisions, computers, laptops, cell phones, printers, scanners, copiers, fax machines, ink cartridges, stereos, VCRs, DVD players, cable boxes, video game consoles and household batteries. Please, no microwave ovens, kitchen electronics or light fixtures. This free event benefits JFK High Grad Night 2013.

The e-waste drop off day will be held at the John F. Kennedy High School parking lot, located at 6715 Gloria Drive in Sacramento, on March 26 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The public is welcome and there is no charge to drop off e-waste. For more information, contact Chris Yun, JFK parent volunteer, at JFKgradnight2013@gmail.com.

Big bands to swing at Northern California Society’s annual Presidents Ball

Northern California ballroom and swing era dancers, singles and couples will dance to two leading orchestras at the 10th annual Presidents Ball on Sunday, Feb. 27.
Fred Morgan and his professional big band will headline at the 10th annual Presidents Ball at Elks Lodge No. 6 in Sacramento on Feb. 27. / Photo courtesy

Fred Morgan and his professional big band will headline at the 10th annual Presidents Ball at Elks Lodge No. 6 in Sacramento on Feb. 27. / Photo courtesy

Hosted by the Nor Cal Big Bands Preservation Society (NCBBPS), the event will be held at Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Mike Souliere, music director and his 18 member Pleasant Grove High School Jazz Band spotlight the school’s fourth appearance from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Their program will featuresa vast array of swing favorites including “Sentimental Journey,” “String of Pearls,” “Tuxedo Junction” and “Stompin’ at the Savoy.”

The 15-piece professional big band of legendary Fred Morgan will perform at 2 p.m. The band will present three hours of swing, fox trot, cha-cha, waltz, rhumba and blues dance tempos in NCBBPS’ salute to America’s famous presidents.

Morgan’s song sequence list features swing hits such as “How High the Moon,” “Sunny Side of the Street,” “Hot Toddy” and “Shiny Stockings;” waltzes such as “Moon River,” and “Alleghany Moon;” and Latin hits “Magic Tango” and “Spanish Eyes.”

Dance hosts, mixers, snacks and prizes will round out this Sunday afternoon lineup that brings music lovers of all ages to the Elks Club No. 6’s huge ballroom. The all-wood floor is perfect for dancing to America’s musical hits of the past century.

Tickets will be sold at the door only. Admission is $12 per person, $11 per person for groups of ten persons, and $10 per person for Society’s Gold Card Holders. Elks Lodge No. 6 is located at 6446 Riverside Boulevard in Sacramento. For additional information, call (916) 444-6138.

Karate kids to ‘Trick-or-treat’ for donations benefiting Sacramento Food Bank

This Halloween if you are responding to the throngs of children seeking a candy hand-out, you might want to be prepared for what karate kids from Zen Martial Arts in Sacramento will be asking for this year. The students are teaming up with the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services by staging a Trick-or-Treat Food Drive in local communities.

The idea for a trick-or-treat food drive came from Zen Martial Arts instructor, Mike Oliver.

“The martial arts have always been about kindness and compassion,” Oliver said. “Now we are taking those lessons out of the dojo (school) and into the world.”

“Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services is thankful that some of our tiniest donors are thinking of others in our community on Halloween,” said Kelly Siefkin, director of communications at the food bank. “Donations of non-perishable food times go a long way during the holiday season to help families in need.”

The kids will be dressed in their costumes like everyone else, but don’t worry; students will be practicing their leadership skills by asking residents directly for canned food item donation.

“These kids are as young as three years old so doing a project like this will do wonders for their self esteem and speaking skills,” Oliver said. “It’s good for the kids, and the community.”

All collected donations will be delivered to Zen Martial Arts at the Coloma Community Center for collection and delivery to Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services on Monday, Nov. 1 and Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The Coloma Community Center is located at 4623 T Street, in the UCD Medical Center area in Sacramento.

Senior Awareness Day Oct. 26

Seniors-smiling
Seniors-smiling
Special services available to seniors will be the focus at “Senior Awareness Day” at the Pannell/Meadowview Community Center on Oct. 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Seniors can learn about free services, including:

  • Free flu shots with Medicare Part B
  • Eye screenings
  • Dental exams
  • On-site pharmacists
  • Home and fire safety
  • Haircuts/grooming
  • Massages
  • On-the-spot legal assistance
  • Crime prevention workshop
  • “Free Bookstore”
  • Gardening tips
  • Much more.

There will be leisure enrichment resources, a senior café and more. Language translation available.

The Senior Awareness Day is sponsored by the City of Sacramento’s Neighborhood Services Division and Department of Parks and Recreation. The Pannell/Meadowview Community Center is located at 2450 Meadowview Road (corner of 24th Street and Meadowview Road) in Sacramento. For more information, call (916) 808-6525.