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Zoo Keepers Have Fun for Conservation

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Sacramento Zoo Keepers promoting Dining for Rhinos Cards

Among the Sacramento Zoo staff and volunteers there are people who take on an additional role to raise funds for conservation efforts as well as aid in the professional development of zoo keepers. They comprise the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Sacramento Chapter. Zoo keepers Matt Ardaiolo and Christa Klein are the current chapter president and vice president. Together they’re executing big ideas to help animals and their fellow professionals.

As part of a national effort, AAZK chapters concentrate on raising funds for organizations like the Red Panda Network, Orangutan Outreach, Action for Cheetahs and wild rhinos through the LEWA Wildlife Conservatory and the International Rhino Foundation. Each of these tasks are of great priority as the animals all face many threats and their survival also represents the sustainability of unique ecosystems

Near and dear to the heart of all AAZK chapters is the annual Bowling for Rhinos bowl-a-thon that takes place throughout the country. Did you know there are only five species of rhinoceroses left and that not all of them live in Africa? Protecting rhinos and their habitat is of great concern for the species, but their protection also ensures the sustainability of other animals that share their habitats such as elephants.

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This year, Ardaiolo and Klein worked with fellow members to develop the Dining for Rhinos coupon card featuring 15 Sacramento area restaurants. With just a $10 donation, one can receive a card and save more than $50. It’s also filled with information on the five species of existing rhinos. The funds raised will benefit the Bowling for Rhinos fundraiser to help save these incredible creatures. If you’re interested in more information on the dining card, please contact mardaiolo@saczoo.org.

The busy group doesn’t stop with just one event. Throughout the year, the Sacramento Zoo hosts several AAZK events such as the Stuffed Animal Clinic, where kids of any age bring stuffed animals to be evaluated and even treated by veterinary staff and volunteers who give a full medical examination and are even capable of stitching the soft plush back together if needed.

AAZK's Stuffed Animal Clinic
AAZK’s Stuffed Animal Clinic

On Saturday, September 27, AAZK will hold Red Panda Day; a day of interactive and educational fun centered on Red Panda awareness and conservation. The event will take place throughout the zoo and will include face painting, a raffle and Red Panda Stations with various activities for kids. All proceeds from this event go directly to Red Panda Network.

Keeper Mike welcoming guest to Red Panda Day, happening this year on September 27
Keeper Mike welcoming guest to Red Panda Day, happening this year on September 27

The events organized by AAZK provide guests with fun and information, but they also provide a revenue source for members to have the opportunity to further their skills and education though conferences. Each member is also given the opportunity to designate $100 per year to the conservation nonprofit of their choice.

For the more adventurous, a Flamingo Flocking can be ordered with a donation of $40. Donors sit back as AAZK members discretely leave plastic flamingos on the lawn of their choosing. Of course it’s all in good fun without harm to yards or animals. Flocking is also a great way to wish someone a happy birthday, share a welcome home or welcome baby message or to just surprise someone with delight – and it’s all for a good cause.  If you’re interested in more information on the Flamingo Flocking fundraiser, please contact cklein@saczoo.org.

Local Resident gets Flocked
Local Resident gets Flocked

Whether it’s attending an event, surprising someone with flamingos or trying a new restaurant, you can get involved with AAZK and become a resource to help wildlife.

 

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About the author

April Mae Saenz Johnson

April Mae Saenz Johnson

On a daily basis, I see animals from all over the world in one special place: the Sacramento Zoo. I am happy to share inside info, fun facts and photographs of the zoo's animals, staff and events.

In my personal life, I enjoy the sleepy, gross and amazing moments of motherhood, time with my husband and our labradoodle, with a bit of traveling, yoga and volunteering on the Leadership Team for Social Media Club Sacramento.

I am embarking on a new adventure as co-founder of Aging UP, a nonprofit empowering youth with experience in foster care to successfully transition into adulthood.

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