Set your DVR, or fire up your internet streaming machines, or whatever else it is you do to consume televised content: tonight not just one, but two of the SF Zoo's animals will be featured on national broadcast TV. "It's like sweeps over here" SF Zoo spokesperson Abbie Tuller tells SFist. The most adorable sweeps ever!
Animal Planet's program Treehouse Masters was out at the Zoo in March for what Tuller describes as "an intense two days of building and filming" with Zoo Operations Project Manager Ignacio Hernandez and Assistant Curator Eric Krussman. The result: custom made quarters for Tenzing, the Zoo's (adorable) red panda. See how it all worked out tonight at 10 PM.
At the same time, NatGeo's show Animal Smugglers will feature Zoo Director of Conservation Jessie Bushell as she recounts the story of their Eurasian owl, Athena. And what a story it is!
As the Chronicle reported in July, 2008, Athena was part of a batch of 15 unhatched Eurasian eagle owl eggs that Redwood City falconer Jeffrey Diaz smuggled into the US from Austria. In a clever (but not clever enough, obviously) ruse, Diaz had painted the eggs as Easter eggs and put them into a basket, which is why the US Fish and Wildlife investigation that busted Diaz was code named "Operation Easter Egg."
Rescued by the Zoo, staff there kept her origins under wraps until criminal proceedings against Diaz concluded. He eventually pled guilty to four felony counts of smuggling and making false statements to government investigators, and was sentenced to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Check your local listings to catch the shows when they air—it looks like full episodes end up on the respective network's websites, as well. But their broadcast accessibility shouldn't discourage you from seeing both of these soon-to-be-national-TV-stars in person, too. Tuller reminds us that "both animals are on display every day at their respective habitats." Ticket information for the Zoo is available here, and the next free day for SF residents is July 9.