Zoo: Animal Superstars Tweet-Up Photos

Yours truly filming Phu Ket and ZooKeeper Rick. Photo by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Global Photographer.

Last week, I posted a video of some of the highlights of the recent Animal Superstars Tweet-Up event at the San Diego Zoo. Today, I’ll try to give you a little better idea of what went on and what animals we were introduced to. If you haven’t watched the video yet, I highly recommend you do so. Once you have, read on for the inside scoop.

This was the second tweet-up that I’ve attended. The first was a VIP preview of Cheetah Run at the Safari Park, which brought us within arm’s length of Amara the prancing cheetah. This time, we were introduced to three animals specially trained by the zoo’s loving staff to be brave, strong and proud in the face of unfamiliar onlookers.

Our guide was Rick Schwartz, a.k.a. ZooKeeper Rick (Twitter: @ZooKeeperRick), a trainer and ambassador for the zoo and Safari Park. If someone is on television showcasing the Zoological Society’s animals, chances are it’s ZooKeeper Rick. He has appeared on everything from local newscasts to the Today Show.

So here’s the deal. I’ll tell you a little about what went down, show a few photos and give the video a little context. But I’m not going to do a blow-by-blow of the tweet-up. If you want sneak peeks and special access, follow the zoo and Safari Park on Twitter (@SanDiegoZoo @SDZsafaripark) and be on the lookout for news about upcoming tweet-up events.  The tweet-ups are free with paid admission, and extra free for members, who come and go as we please.

Isa the fossa plays on a perch above ZooKeeper Rick.

The day started in the Butterfly Garden area of the Children’s Zoo. Rick told us all about Isa, a four-year-old male fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) from Madagascar. Isa climbed around on the branch-like structure, sometimes playing and sometimes watching with a predator’s longing as birds flew by overheard.

Isa can be visited in western most area of the Children’s Zoo, next to Diego the ocelot.

Phu Ket the binturong, or bearcat, allows guests to gently pet him. Photo by Ken Bohn, San Diego Zoo Global Photographer.

Next, the show was moved a few yards away to the covered Clark Theatre. Rick brought out a binturong (Arctictis binturong), perhaps more commonly known as a bearcat, named Phu Ket––no doubt named after the island off the coast of his native Thailand. The one-and-a-half-year-old tree dweller climbed on Rick and did some friendly wrestling before being walked through the crowd to allow visitors to feel his coarse, waterproof coat.

Several binturongs are on display in the Outback area near Map Location 7.

ZooKeeper Rick and Rio, the Double yellow-headed Amazon parrot.

Finally, Rick introduced us to Rio, a 20-year-old male Double yellow-headed Amazon parrot (Amazona oratrix). Rick explained that Rio believes they are soulmates, most likely because Rick bears a resemblance to a man that raised Rio (male Amazon parrots look for mates that resemble their mother). Rio did several vocal tricks on command–as seen in the tweet-up video–and ate some nuts while balancing on one foot.

Follow me on Twitter, as well as the zoo and Safari Park for info about upcoming tweet-ups.

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