Out and About

November 2023
By Jessica Laskey

Commitment to Conservation

Sacramento Zoo welcomes its first rhino

The next time you’re at the Sacramento Zoo say hello to the zoo’s newest resident, 28-year-old southern white rhinoceros J Gregory—the first rhinoceros in the zoo’s 96-year history.

“J Gregory is a calm guy who loves scratches from his keepers, likes to take naps and play in his wallow,” says animal care supervisor and ungulate keeper Jocelyn Katzakian, who first met her new charge at his former home at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

The rhino’s arrival means the zoo can continue conservation work that is integral to its mission. Both subspecies of white rhinoceros—the threatened southern white rhinoceros and the critically endangered northern white rhinoceros—need all the help they can get. For information, visit saczoo.org.


Cesar Chavez Plaza is getting a makeover. Thanks to a SMUD Shine Award implemented by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, new amenities have been added with more to follow.

Upgrades include seating areas and umbrellas, a mobile outdoor reading room with bilingual books, corn hole and table tennis sets customized by local artists Gabriel Romo and Jolene Rose Russell, and an “Imagination Playground” with oversized building blocks for kids.

Community stakeholders, including city leaders, Downtown Sacramento Partnership, Ernesto Delgado (owner of plaza restaurant La Cosecha) and Sacramento Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, are building up the historic plaza named for the iconic labor leader and civil rights activist. They’ve already seen a 47% increase in park users this year thanks to activations and activities like the Bodega Days farmers market every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and weekly Zumba classes sponsored by La Cosecha.

“We have community coming together and recognizing that this is a civic plaza that belongs to everyone and is capable of so much more,” Delgado told Fox40 during the Shine Award ribbon cutting. For information, visit downtownsac.org.


The Sacramento History Alliance has honored five local businesses with Burnett Awards, recognizing local legacy businesses that have a history of contributing to the community.

The 2023 honorees are The Firehouse Restaurant; La Esperanza bakery and supermarket; North Sacramento Land Company, which contributed to building the California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento History Museum and others; Pucci’s Pharmacy; and Sacramento Pioneer Association, a nonprofit formed in 1854 to preserve the history of early pioneers.

“Owning a business with such a long history in Sacramento is a great joy,” says Joel Hockman, COO/CFO of Pucci’s Pharmacy, which, since 1932, has made a name as an independent pharmacy that gets medicine to those who need it most, including the unhoused and people living with HIV. “It also comes with great responsibility. … We work hard each day to deliver on that longevity and commitment to our community.”

The awards are named in honor of the late former mayor, philanthropist and business leader Burnett Miller. For information, visit burnettawards.org.


Applications are open for the 2024 Saul Wiseman Grants awarded by the Sacramento Perennial Plant Club.

Since 2015, the grants have provided funds to schools, nonprofits and community groups that serve Sacramento County’s diverse population through gardening and horticultural activities.

The awards are named for longtime SPPC President Saul Wiseman, who launched the grant program and helped the club build financial stability through fall and spring plant sales. He died in 2021.

“His energy and passion seemed boundless,” says Anita Clevenger, chair of the grants committee and longtime SPPC member. “Under his leadership, the Perennial Plant Club meetings were full of excitement, as he brought in good speakers and encouraged people to learn. The club continues to thrive because he helped build it into a wonderful resource for area gardeners to network and learn.”

Grant applications are due Jan. 12. For information, visit sacplants.org/grants.


The Downtown Sacramento Foundation has selected 10 business concepts to move forward in the 2023–24 Calling All Dreamers business incubator program.

The cohort includes Baker for Hire offering hands-on baking courses; eco-friendly tour company Capital Tuk-Tuk; upcycled and handmade artisan goods purveyor Ecojoyous; Gondo Fusion, a Cuban/Mexican fusion food truck; luxury home décor brand Lola Earl; Naan Tikka, a food truck featuring flavors from Peshawar, Pakistan; holistic care provider Nouvelle Healing; wellness café Planted Foods; Sour & Soul Baking Company; and Dreamland Cinema focusing on independent, arthouse, international and cult films.

The cohort now embarks on a multi-month business development boot camp where they are paired with mentors to prepare for the next evaluation in December. Upon completion, one business will be awarded the coveted start-up package, including $20,000 in cash and in-kind services valued at $100,000.

The second-place awardee will receive $10,000. All other entrepreneurs who complete the program will be awarded a cash prize of up to $5,000 each if they open a business Downtown. For information, visit callingalldreamers.org.


For the second time, Sacramento Soccer Alliance U-13 team the Knights has won the Palo Alto Tall Trees Tournament. The team of 16 local boys under age 13 bested four other teams to claim the title.

“We had our backs against the wall in the championship,” says coach Grant Yoshimura, who’s led the team since 2019.

“What impressed me most is that our boys never quit and continued to fight until the very end. They showed true grit and resilience!”

The Knights were happy to repeat history—they also won the tournament in 2021. For information, visit sacramentosocceralliance.com.

Jessica Laskey can be reached at jessrlaskey@gmail.com. Submissions are due six weeks prior to the publication month. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.

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