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January 21, 2013

I Care: Volunteer can help you get cozy with a zoo hawk

Carefully, calmly, confidently, Judy Gregory handles Steve, a red-tailed hawk, in front of a group of mesmerized visitors at the Sacramento Zoo. His talons sink into her leather glove.

Carefully, calmly, confidently, Judy Gregory handles Steve, a red-tailed hawk, in front of a group of mesmerized visitors at the Sacramento Zoo. His talons sink into her leather glove. His sharp beak and intense, piercing eyes are just inches from her face. Once a wild hawk, Steve has become blind from cataracts, so now he serves to educate the public. Gregory supports him with grace and respect. The bird spreads his wings to soak in rays of sun on a chilly day.

Since 2008, Gregory has volunteered as a zoo docent. She has served as docent president, given tours and introduced visitors to animals such as Steve the hawk, Pantanel the snake and Bing the alligator. "I just love animals," she says. "I love the bond you can have with them." Conservation is also important to her: "We need to make room and keep the animals we have." To suggest a community volunteer for the I Care column, contact apayne@sacbee.com

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