Rescue Animals at the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo

Did you know that many of the animals at the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo were rescued from other locations?
The JMZ believes all animals' lives are precious and strives to rescue animals that can thrive at the zoo based on its habitats and resources. When an animal is considered for the zoo, including rescued pets and wildlife, it must fit with the zoo’s animal population plan, which is updated every few years. Before any animal is acquired, zoo staff conduct a thorough evaluation to ensure that the zoo has a quality habitat for the animal and the resources required to provide high-quality care that will result in good welfare. The rescued animal's role at the JMZ is evaluated against the zoo’s mission and programmatic goals to ensure that it is at the zoo for a good purpose.

This week we feature three rescue animals at the JMZ with interesting background stories. Read on to learn more about rescue animals at the JMZ. This is the latest installment in our newsletter series with news about the new Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo!
Manusela the Moluccan Cockatoo
First, meet Manusela.

Manusela is a Moluccan cockatoo. He is named for the national park on the island of Ceram in the Moluccan archipelago of Indonesia.  The Moluccan cockatoo was originally found on four islands, but now Manusela National Park, which is about the size of the peninsula from Palo Alto to San Francisco, is the only remaining habitat left for this species. 

Manusela was rescued from a rescue center that went bankrupt. Called Wildlife Waystation and  located near Los Angeles, it was one of the first and largest animal sanctuaries in the country.  When it closed, state authorities stepped in to care for the animals and to find homes for many with the help of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.  The JMZ was looking for macaws for the new zoo and was able to take Manusela in and give him a new role as an animal ambassador.

Cockatoos have incredible personalities, so much so that for decades the San Diego Zoo had cockatoos at the zoo entrance where the birds would “greet” guests with their playful displays. JMZ zookeepers initially placed Manusela in the macaw exhibit, which is an artificial, fallen-tree limb in the tortoise enclosure that was designed for parrots.  However, he would jump down from the limb and approach the staff - it turns out some Moluccan cockatoos like to attack feet!  

Manusela currently greets visitors from the lemur exhibit, while we await the arrival of the lemurs.  He also spends time in an area at the back of the zoo and in the ambassador animal room.  Cockatoos are some of the loudest birds on the planet, and so, you will likely hear Manusela calling as he cries for companionship from the zoo staff. He rejects the company of other cockatoos and is attached to people.  Stop by and say hello to Mansuela.  You may even have a chance to see him raise his bright-pink-colored crest!
Sunshine and Wacamayo
Sunshine and Wacamayo the Macaws
Sunshine and Wacamayo are two Red and Green Macaws, also rescued from Wildlife Waystation.  Both were former pets, and their names evoke short conversations about the challenges these birds face.  Sunshine retained his original pet name as a reminder that a parrot in the U.S. is kept on average for only four years.  Yet, Sunshine may live up to 60 years.  “Wacamayo” is the word for Red and Green Macaw used by the indigenous peoples in Eastern Peru.  It is a reminder that the conservation of this species depends on the protection of indigenous peoples’ lands in the Amazon Basin.  

Both macaws arrived at the JMZ with Manusela about two and half years ago and are about 25-27 years old.  Initially, the macaws were nervous and would try to bite the zoo staff, but after several months they settled into their routines and have adjusted well to life at the JMZ.  They are big and colorful, and children love seeing them.  Best of all - they no longer try to bite the zookeepers!  

It turns out Sunshine is an avid explorer and occasionally climbs off the tree and onto the zoo netting.  When both macaws realize that they are too far from each other, they call back and forth.  Sunshine eventually climbs back down and returns to the tree, where they get a reward of peanuts from the JMZ staff.
Mortimer the Raccoon
Mortimer the Raccoon
Raccoons are doing well in nature and alongside human development and so are not a conservation priority.  However, for a children's zoo, racoons provide a connection to children of a familiar local animal that reminds us of some of the challenges of living side by side with wildlife.  The Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo has rescued orphaned raccoons for decades.
The zoo staff found Mortimer when they were searching for a replacement for Loki, a one-eyed raccoon that passed away on September 23, 2021.  The zookeepers knew that Bobby, the remaining raccoon, needed a companion, so they started contacting rehab centers to find a replacement raccoon.
Within a week, zookeeper Lee found one at the Fresno Wildlife Rehabilitation Service in Fresno.  The center had received a young, male raccoon from a private family who said they found him in a burn area in the Sierra around July.  Only a few months old, the family took him and cared for him as best they could but soon realized that, as a wild animal, he needed to go to a local animal shelter that could take care of him.  Since the raccoon was habituated to humans he couldn’t be released into the wild.
Mortimer was then transported from Fresno to the Bay Area, where he went into quarantine at a local wildlife center where he received a full health checkup.  On November 3, 2021 Mortimer arrived at the JMZ.  Mortimer was placed in an adjoining enclosure so he could smell, hear and see Bobby the raccoon.  After several days, the raccoons were placed together and now they are good buddies.  

Photo notes:  All photos taken by Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo staff

Stay tuned for more information on the JMZ’s rescue and conservation efforts!
Friends of the Palo Alto Junior Museum & Zoo