By Jules Shane
‘Africa Rocks’ receives award
The Association for Zoos and Aquariums has recognized San Diego Zoo’s work designing and marketing its new Africa Rocks exhibit, awarding it top honors.
Africa Rocks aims to educate visitors on the diversity of the African continent in both flora and fauna. The zoo’s marketing department was recognized for its ability to represent the entirety of the exhibit in a single image or 30-second video.
“Creating any marketing initiative without the ability to use imagery from the actual product is very challenging,” Ted Molter, chief marketing officer at SDZG, said in a press release. “Working with our agency of record, M&C Saatchi, we were able to create a fun, playful approach for the campaign using a variety of rock music genres, as well as illustration and animation styles, to effectively highlight the six habitats at Africa Rocks and their amazing animals.”
The SDZG team was also awarded honors for the design of the exhibit. which occupies over 8 acres and replaced an older section of the zoo. The nearly $72 million rework offers modern animal enclosures, garden spaces with a variety of exotic and endangered plant species, and dozens of native African animal species curated specially for the exhibition. Animals housed within include African penguins, vervet monkeys, leopards, ibex, five species of lemur, and more.
“We are thrilled to share Conrad Prebys Africa Rocks with our zoo members and guests. Not only is Africa Rocks an incredible exhibit, allowing us to connect people to fascinating African wildlife, but it adds another dimension to San Diego Zoo Global’s efforts to save endangered species, such as the featured African penguins and lemurs,” Douglas G. Myers, SDZG president/CEO, said in a press release.
Panda returns to homeland
The San Diego Zoo bid farewell to its 28-year-old male giant panda, Gao Gao, on Oct. 30. A father of five cubs with the zoo’s panda matriarch Bai Yun, Gao Gao’s return to China marks the next step in the zoo’s research loan agreement with the country. Partnering with the Chinese Center for Research and Conservation for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) for the move, San Diego Zoo Global (SDZG) plans to work jointly with local researchers and handlers to acclimate the patriarch to his new habitat.
“Preparations to move any animal internationally takes a great deal of planning, where the needs of the animal are considered in all preparations,” senior zoo keeper Kathy Hawk said in a press release. “For Gao Gao, it was important that we acclimate him to travel accommodations, adjust his diet and monitor him carefully, to provide him a seamless transition for repatriation to his homeland.”
Gao Gao’s return comes at a time when members of SDZG and the CCRCGP are working to redefine the current understanding of panda conservation, as well as the programs that support the cause.
After more than 25 years of work and research, keepers and animal scientists have learned a great deal about panda behavior, gestation, birth and life cycles. Today, the global population of giant pandas living in the wild is estimated around 2,000, and the species has been downgraded by the International Union of Conservation of Nature’s red list from endangered to vulnerable — a positive milestone for conservation efforts the world over.
While threats to panda populations still exist due to loss of native habitat and food sources, the zoo hopes that with continued efforts on the parts of conservationists, these animals will be around for generations to come. Zoo patrons can still visit the zoo’s two pandas — Bai Yun, and her son with Gao Gao, Xiao Liwu — in their Panda Canyon exhibit.
Wild Night Out at the Zoo
On the evening of Dec. 13, the San Diego Zoo will remain open after hours for adult guests who want to get into the holiday spirit, animal style.
This 21-and-up event invites visitors to preview the zoo’s Jungle Bells holiday celebration and includes talks with zoo keepers and staff, up-close encounters with animal ambassadors, and a voucher for a complimentary beverage within the event.
The zoo will remain open until 9 p.m. for the event. Food and beverages are available for purchase and will be served throughout the park. Tickets to the event are $40 and can be purchased at purchased online.
Return of Jungle Bells
The zoo’s annual holiday celebration, Jungle Bells, returns this season from Dec. 14 through Jan. 6. Visit the zoo as it’s transformed into a winter wonderland with unique decorations, animal exhibits, zoo characters, and live entertainment. It is rumored that even the big elf himself will be there to enjoy the festivities.
Patrons are invited to holiday shopping at their retail locations and can enjoy special dining offers from the zoo’s restaurants and food stands. Discounted drinks and appetizers will be available from 3–5 p.m. each day of Jungle Bells. The zoo will be open 9 a.m.–8 p.m. during the event, except on Dec. 24, when the zoo closes at 5 p.m.
To learn more about AZA’s honors and awards, visit aza.org/honors-awards.
—Jules Shane is the editorial intern at San Diego Community News Network, parent company of San Diego Uptown News. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.