Zookeeper Report

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On behalf of the zookeeping staff at Southwick’s Zoo, we’d like to thank everyone for a great summer.  The weather was very good and we have been very busy.  Thank you to the folks who have donated items for the animals, we truly appreciate it as you can see from some of the pictures of the chimpanzees, all the spare towels, bedding and t-shirts go to good use!  We have completed the cotton top tamarin exhibit and are working on a new wolf’s guenon exhibit (they are in a temporary exhibit at this time) and we can’t wait until completion so these amazing primates will have lots of space to live and play!  We also wanted to remind everyone that it is rut season for the deer and elk.  This means that we are separating out the big, dominant males from the population so it will seem that there are less deer in the deer forest.  Also at this time of year, the deer generally slow down or stop feeding in the afternoon so we suggest to visit the deer forest earlier in the day!

Zookeeper Report

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Zookeeping is an amazing profession.  We work some of the most amazing creatures on the planet and with it are definite highs and lows.  We have tremendous respect for the animals and all of the people working to make a difference in the world with their conservation efforts to make sure generations to come will be able to learn and advocate for wildlife.  When working with animals we celebrate many births and sadly, many losses as well.  In order for many facilities and species to have a sustainable future, we have to move animals to other facilities for many reasons including breeding, specialized care, space, genetic diversity, etc.  Very shortly, one of our young male giraffes “Rocket” will be moved to another zoo in Wisconsin.  Although we will miss him very much, we know it is in his best interest and in the best interest of the other giraffes to move him now while he is young and will be able to bond with his new giraffe family and care givers.

Inclement Weather 4/26

Due to inclement weather, All Rides, Parakeet Landing, Mining Sluice and some retail/food outlets will be CLOSED today.  Main zoo grounds, Zebra Cafe and Purple Peacock Gift shop will be OPEN 10 am – 5pm today.

Zookeeper Report

max1Meet Maximus “Max” born 4/3/14 to mom Pinda and father Midas.  Max is the third giraffe born here at the zoo since January joining siblings (from Midas) Daisy born 1/11/14 and Rocket born 2/19/14.  Max’s mother Pinda is a great mom and they are both doing well.  Unfortunately, Daisy and Rocket’s mothers (Dotty & Mazey) did not bond with their calves and therefore would not let them nurse so their milk and colostrum dried up quickly causing us to take them to Tufts Cummings School where they received the vital antibodies and nutrients needed for survival.  We are happy to report that they are doing great and are growing tall and strong.  Max will stay with Pinda as long as she continues to nurse and do well.  We hope the weather is warm enough to be able to let all the calves out into the outdoor yard…fingers crossed!  We have been really busy getting all our animals’ outdoor homes ready for the zoo opening this Saturday.  The weather is looking good so today we focused on the kangaroo, capybara and monkey exhibits!

Hope to see you this weekend for opening!

Giraffes, Giraffes, Giraffes

It has been a busy off season here at the zoo with the birth of 3 giraffes!

Daisy was born 1/11/14, Rocket born 2/19/14 and Maximus “Max” born 4/3/14!  All the calves are doing very well and are growing big and strong.  Hopefully we will be able to let the calves out into the outer yard for opening, but we do have to be careful of the weather and make sure it is nice and warm for their safety!

Reminder: Giraffe Encounters will begin in MAY (weekends only)

Rocket and Daisydaisyrocket

Rocket was born February 19, 2014

Max born 4/3/14

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Zookeeper Report

wolfguenonWow, only 10 days till we open!  We are so excited and it is always a crazy time here before we open.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate!  We have to move out of the freezing temperatures before we can move the monkeys to their summer habitats safely!  It has been a long winter and let us wish for warm sunshine and the wonderful scent of Spring!  On another note, our lion cubs (not so little anymore!) have been moved to the big lion habitat!  They are adjusting well and we can’t wait till you see them in their new home!

Zookeeper Report

Taj (left) and Kya (right) with enrichment snowman

Taj (left) and Kya (right) with enrichment snowman

Well it is almost Spring and we still have snow here at the zoo.  The snow is slowly melting when we get the beautiful sunshine. Many people have asked us about enrichment for the animals.  I think we enjoy enrichment as much as the animals do as it is a way to be creative and fun!  We made different types of snow creatures for the animals this winter since there was A LOT of snow.  We stuff the snow creatures with goodies for the animals so they have to dig around, destroy and find the treats.  Above, we used marrow bones for the big cats.  After this picture was taken, the girls destroyed the snowman to get to the goodies.  We want to thank you for sending emails asking us if we would like donations for the animals.  We say YES!  If anyone is looking to donate for enrichment, we are looking for big Boomer Balls for the large animals and small boomer balls for the smaller animals.  We are also looking for blankets and towels.  We can’t thank our supporters and visitors enough for their love of animals and generosity!

Zookeeper Report

1890653_10151681060022465_843054183_oWe recently celebrated the 5th birthday of Molly, a reticulated giraffe.  We made her a “cake” of carrots, sweet potatoes, romaine lettuce and grain to celebrate her special day.  She devoured the goodies, but we were able to share some with the rest of the giraffes!  As you have probably seen, we have had two baby giraffes born here since the New Year.  Daisy was born on Jan 11, 2014 and was very sick shortly after birth.  However, with the help of Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Daisy is a healthy giraffe and stands at over 7 feet tall!  Rocket was born on February 19, 2014 and was smaller than Daisy at birth, but we think he will grow big and strong. We are really excited about the babies and can’t wait to share them with our visitors in April.  This has been a long winter for all of us and we are ready for Spring!

Zookeeper Report

Watusi

Happy Valentine’s Day!  When working with animals, there are definitely times when “Love is in the Air” around here!  We are proud of our successful breeding programs here at the zoo and for those who do not breed, successful companion relationships.  The picture above is of our Watusi (Ankole Cattle) native to Africa.  As you can see they handle the winter very well!  The male is larger in weight and stature, but the female has longer horns.  This pair had a very beautiful calf born last summer and many of our guests were able to witness the amazing birth.  As many of you know, we recently had a few babies born like Daisy the giraffe and a pair of African Crested Porcupines.  We’ve also had a llama born and a Debrazza guenon.  As zookeepers we are very lucky to be able to witness these exciting events and to care for these wonderful animals…and we are expecting a few more babies before we open!  Again, THANK YOU for sharing our love for animals on this cold, snowy Valentine’s Day!  We are looking for some towels, boomer balls and blankets as donations for the animals!

Zookeeper Report

Hyena in Winter

Hyena in Winter

We have been getting a lot of questions about how the animals handle the colder/snowier than usual winter.  Yes, the temperatures have been colder and we have seen a lot of snow but the zoo has been here for over 40 years and we have faced a lot of extreme weather from hurricanes and droughts to blizzards.  Because we are in New England, we are prepared for the changes in the weather.  Animals are amazingly adaptive as their survival instinct is very strong.  We take every precaution and provide all that they would need to make their winter warm and cozy but sometimes even we are surprised how some of our animals choose to venture outside their warm dens to brave the winter…like the hyenas pictured!  The biggest challenge for zookeepers is to keep the water supply from freezing by refreshing it often.  Hydration is very important during the winter months for the animals as the air is much drier.  We also make sure the animals get additional vitamins and proper nutrition to keep them strong and healthy during the winter that they may not need during the summer.  However, if you’re a yak, you are in your element.  They thrive in this weather and surprisingly so do the camels!