With furry new faces and falling temperatures, fall is a busy season at Como Zoo
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is still operating at lowered capacity to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but behind the scenes, it’s as busy as ever. Here’s what to know about Como Zoo’s new spaces and fresh new faces for your next fall visit.
A New Pack for the Wolf Woods
The eerie and distinctive call of the gray wolf will echo again at Como Zoo with the arrival of Nicky and Cerberus, two and a half year old littermates born at the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy, Minnesota. Since 17-year-old gray wolf Shy-Anne passed away in 2020, Como’s Critical Infrastructure Team has cleaned up and updated the Wolf Woods habitat, removing buckthorn and other shrubs. New fencing in the interior of the habitat was added with funding from Como Friends’ donors to make it easier for keepers to access the Wolf Woods while the wolves are outdoors. “The result is that visitors will have a much better view of the wolves,” says keeper Hans Jorgensen. Thanks to the remote location of the Wolf Woods, and Nicky and Cerberus’s clean bill of health, the wolf brothers will be ready to meet their public sooner than usual.
That cute baby kudu born in June now has a name. Sabi, which means “young girl” in Arabic. The name was chosen by Como supporters who bid on the chance to pick a name for the female lesser kudu at Sunset Affair: Sparky Splash. The fourth offspring born to five-year-old Fjorda, Sabi is making public appearances on her own now in the African Hoofstock building.
Building Community in Como Harbor
After a celebratory summer-long “open house” in the new seals and sea lions habitat, keepers are taking advantage of the back-to-school calm to help Como Harbor’s nine inhabitants acclimate to each other and their new home. Daily seal and sea lion training sessions are now open to the public in the KSTP Amphitheater every day at 11:30 a.m., but don’t expect a splashy “Sparky the Sea Lion Show” quite yet. While the younger sea lions and harbor seals are just getting used to seeing visitors in the amphitheater, and hearing voices over the loudspeakers, hormones are also running high during fall breeding season. “Even though our animals won’t be mating, their wilder tendencies do tend to come out at this time of year,” says Senior Keeper Allison Jungheim. “It’s not uncommon for them to be pretty distracted during breeding season.” Stanley and Wallace, the two Atlantic gray seals, are also taking time to adjust to their new habitat, and are currently keeping to themselves in the Aquatic Animals building. Rescued from the wild, both gray seals have vision impairments that may keep them from diving right into the action for the time being. Meanwhile, harbor seal Kilian has been crushing it in his daily training sessions. “He is vying for the role of Sparky number eight,” Jungheim says. “He is an eager participant in training, and steals the show every time.”
As night-time temperatures start to drop into the 50s this fall, fair-weather residents like the giraffes, kudu and lions start to move indoors, where it’s a little cozier. Meanwhile, cold weather lovers like the arctic foxes, the reindeer and the bison will start to rev up, now that the scorching summer heat is behind us. Making the most of all four seasons has been the goal of many recent improvements at Como Zoo, including the heated rocks in Gorilla Forest and the saltwater pools in Como Harbor, which have helped to extend the seasons that Como’s primates and pinnipeds spend outdoors. Thanks to your contributions, it’s possible visitors will be seeing Subee the sea lion and her friends swimming outdoors throughout the winter months.
Did you see the news about the successful procedure to splint Skeeter the Giraffe’s fractured hoof? (Click here to watch video.) The male reticulated giraffe is now fitted with a specially designed boot at the bottom of his hoof to help as he heals. Keepers expect the 17-foot giraffe to be on the mend and out of his boot by the end of October.