If fish could talk, the 40 koi that call the Lacerte Family Children’s Zoo home would be singing the praises of water features mechanic Ruben Pacheco. His quick thinking kept them alive after a recent water filter break.
The 7,500-gallon koi pond is one of more than 30 different water features at the Zoo, but it’s the only one that is life-sustaining.
The koi pond’s multiport, an essential part of the sand filtration system, broke in early July and a shipping mishap left the Zoo without the correct replacement.
The previously crystal-clear pond was looking like a swamp without the correct multiport.
“The water was so green, you couldn’t see below the surface,” Pacheco said.
With time ticking and the ammonia levels rising, it quickly became a life-or-death situation for the beloved koi, until Pacheco took action on a sweltering Saturday.
He and assistant Danny Baker installed a working replacement multiport – one they built themselves! Using parts from non-working multiports and other random parts they found in our warehouse, they “frankensteined” a replacement.
The quick fix cleaned the pool, kept the koi swimming and gave the Zoo time to order the correct part.
“Ruben is fantastic. He’s a lifesaver,” zookeeper Stephanie Evola said.
For Pacheco, who’s been a Zoo employee for more than a decade, it’s all in a day’s work. It’s all about keeping the animals safe.
“I love the challenge,” he said.