Spring Zoo attendance blooms as animals take center-stage

Animals get busy time at Sacramento Zoo as springtime arrives

Mike Owyang, education specialist at the zoo, says springtime mornings are when animals are active. Zoo attendance ramps up every spring.
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Mike Owyang, education specialist at the zoo, says springtime mornings are when animals are active. Zoo attendance ramps up every spring.

The coming of spring at the Sacramento Zoo signals the arrival of baby animals – and a big increase in humans through the gates, especially around Easter break when parents are looking for somewhere to take the kids.

Hatchlings expected this spring include burrowing owls, whistling ducks and thick-billed parrots

The only recent births at the zoo are four Western Pond turtle hatchlings. The turtles hatched at the zoo pond and are now being cared for in the zoo’s reptile house.

As for mammals and birds, there’s something of a pregnant pause. However, zoo spokeswoman Tonja Candeleria says stand by.

“I am sure we will have some (births) in the near future,” she said. “Also, we are in nesting season for a lot of birds. So, while we have not had any hatchlings yet, we do expect quite a few this spring, including burrowing owls, whistling ducks, possibly thick-billed parrots and hopefully some others.”

Easier to predict is the arrival of mammals of the two-legged variety who seemingly come out of hibernation in March and show up at the zoo en masse with offspring in tow. Last year’s admissions totals tell the story: 21,914 visitors paid to enter the zoo in December 2015. By March, the total climbed to 61,364. The month with the highest attendance was May with 72,410 visitors.

Zoo officials keep track of when the different school districts have spring breaks. That way, they can estimate how many people will be outside the gates buying tickets and later eating in the zoo cafe or snack shack.

Mike Owyang, education specialist at the zoo, said one of the best times to visit the zoo is a spring morning when the animals are active.

“It’s a great time to come out and enjoy the weather, enjoy the zoo,” Owyang said.

The zoo has two events planned for April that are expected to boost attendance. Earth Fest, billed as a “party for the planet,” is April 2.

The celebration of conservation and cultures includes dance performances, talks about animals in the stage area, zookeeper chats and hands-on activities offered by nature groups.

Then, on April 30, the zoo will present “Star Wars Day: May the Forest Be With You.” Costumed characters from two groups of Star Wars fans will roam the zoo, allowing visitors to pose for pictures. Stage shows will have a Star Wars theme and the zoo merry-go-round will play the movie score.

Bill Lindelof: 916-321-1079, @Lindelofnews

Sacramento Zoo

3930 West Land Park Drive, Sacramento

General admission, $11.77; ages 2 to 11, $7.75; children under 2 enter free