Zookeeper Report – Giraffe Born

babygiraffe1What an exciting day we had today.  We knew our female giraffe Dottie was getting close to her due date, but we didn’t expect it to happen this soon and on exhibit for all to see!  Dottie went into labor at 10 am this morning when her water broke in the main giraffe habitat.  We immediately set up watch and worked on a game plan.  We were hoping to coax her inside so she would have some peace and quiet, but she was determined to stay outside on this beautiful day.  About an 1 hr 1/2 in to the labor, the feet appeared.  It took a total of 2 1/2 hours of labor before the baby dropped.  We all gave a sigh of relief and we were happy it was a textbook birth.  Right now it is early and we are watching closely to make sure Dottie and the baby bond.  If the baby doesn’t nurse within a few hours, we may have to intervene.  We are keeping a close watch right now and we hope all is well! Thanks to everyone who stopped up and talked with us today!

Zookeeper Report

kyasnowWe have been getting many comments and questions about all of the snow we have been having here in New England.  Yes, it is a LOT of snow!  As Zookeepers, we work in all weather conditions to care for the animals.  We think it is harder for us humans than the animals!  The cats love playing in the snow and the Yak are in their element!  The cheetahs experienced snow for the first time this year and watching them run and play in the snow is incredible.  All of our animals can go inside and warm up if they choose, but many times we will find them outside in the craziest weather!  There has been a lot of snow removal and shoveling on our end so they have easy access to the outside, but it is all part of the job.  Our luckiest zookeepers this time of year work in the primate winter quarters where it is toasty warm!  We have had a few babies born like a mandrill and african crested porcupines. We are always looking for enrichment ideas and donations for enrichment.  Primates & Birds love “safe” children’s toys with mirrors, balls, noisy toys, blankets, towels, etc.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact the zoo at 800-258-9182 x 200.  Thank You and let’s hope the snow will be gone for Spring opening!

Zookeeper Report

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

Taj (left) and Kya (right) with enrichment snowman Feb 2014

Wow, we can’t believe it is already after Thanksgiving.  We have much to be thankful for!  We have been working hard bringing the tropical animals into their winter quarters here on property at Southwick’s Zoo from their outdoor habitats.  Luckily, we accomplished everything right before the snow fell!  Many of our animals love the snow and during those long winter months for those who do venture out into the snow, we make snow figures and ice boxes and bury enrichment and goodies for them to forage and find among many other enrichment activities.  The animals that we move to the winter quarters, we provide lots of enrichment since it is too cold to go outside in the forms of surprise boxes, fresh herbs and veggies to forage under hay and in tubes, toys, blankets, etc.  We are always looking for towels, blankets, baby toys, boomer balls, kong balls, etc.  If you are interested in donating to the animals for the winter, please don’t hesitate to call 800-258-9182!

Inclement Weather

Just a heads up that all rides and shows are closed today due to inclement weather (Sat 10/11).  Sunday and Monday are looking great!  Have a Great Columbus Day Weekend!

Zookeeper Report

coati1We can’t believe October is just around the corner.  There are a lot of goings on here at the zoo and when the season changes, care for the animals change as well.  Some of the animals like the tortoises and birds will be moved to their winter quarters area.  We have welcomed a family of cotton top tamarins and we welcome a education ambassador “Coco” the Coati.  Coatis are native to South America and are a part of the raccoon family.  She mostly stays at the Earth Discovery Center but until she is a little bigger she does need round the clock feeding.  She is a little handful and this is one of the areas of our jobs that we love!  The leaves are starting to turn so the giraffe’s will start “sticking out their tongue” at the colored leaves (they only like bright and healthy green leaves!). We are also accepting donations of towels and blankets for the animals.

Zookeeper Report


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


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