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!
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!
On Saturday, January 11, 2014 , our reticulated giraffe Dotty gave birth to a calf we named Daisy (150 lbs, 6ft). Dotty was not interested in her calf. She has never seen a calf before (Dotty was born here at the zoo and is the second youngest female here) and we believe she didn’t quite know what to do after the birth! Our veterinarian made a quick, life saving decision to take her to Tufts so she can get the urgent care she needed. We get constant updates from Tufts and one of us goes up there to check on her each day. Great News! She should be coming home very soon, maybe today! We are really excited and a little bit apprehensive as she is a large calf that will need constant care and attention. However, this is one of the reasons we do what we do. It is amazing to be able to see new lives born and grow into the most beautifully amazing creatures, we are blessed. Thank you to everyone who have been asking about Daisy and her mom. Dotty is doing very well and her milk has dried up so we will have to feed Daisy till she is off formula. Can you keep a secret? We may have another blessed event here at the zoo soon…we’ll keep you updated!
On Saturday January 11, 2014 we welcomed an amazing little female giraffe “Daisy” to the Southwick’s Zoo family. However, right off our veterinarian realized that Daisy needed some immediate attention. Her mother Dotty was not taking an interest in the 150 lb, 6 foot baby and she was getting lethargic and weak. He made the decision to take her to the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine where she would get the specialized care she needed. The first few days were very touch and go as she had a low white blood cell count and fighting an infection. We are happy to report that each day she is getting stronger and hopefully will be back with us soon.
Brrrr….the weather is getting colder! We are happy to report that the new winter quarters on site for the primates is just about finished…just some last touches will be completed in the next few months. The great news is that we have been moving primates in already and we are so excited about the larger play areas and habitats for the animals! This picture was taken today of the Ring Tail Lemurs in their new winter home! As you can see they are adjusting very well and are nice and cozy together. It takes a lot of teamwork to move animals indoors for the winter and we have only a few animals left to move from their old winter quarters to the new building. Thank you to all our patrons and visitors as we wouldn’t have been able to build the new building without your admission and support!
Now that the season is over, we are starting to move our tropical animals (birds, monkeys, alligator, capybaras, tortoises, kangaroos, etc.) into their indoor winter habitats. Many of our visitors ask where the animals go in the winter…some seem to think we ship the animals to Florida! Hmm, we are not sure where this rumor started but it is FALSE and all of our animals stay HERE! We just move the ones who need more heated areas indoors to their winter habitats here on property. As a matter of fact, our construction team is finishing up new winter primate / tropical animals quarters. It has been a big project and much needed. We are really excited about the new, larger indoor habitats for the tropicals and a new food prep area as well. We have just finished the indoor alligator habitat with more space and a bigger pool for our big boy….he IS a big gator. It takes a team of 10 men to transfer the alligator and aldabra tortoises (who are at least 150 years old!) to their indoor quarters. Thank you to our visitors for helping us with this new building, it is your admission to the zoo that made it possible! We may only be open for 6 months, but we care and maintain the animals for a year on 6 months income…so again THANK YOU for visiting us this season!
We are still looking for pumpkin donations for next week to give to the animals. The carnivores won’t eat the pumpkins, but they do love to play with them! For some of our meat eaters, we will hollow out the pumpkin and fill it with juicy meat! It is very important to provide captive animals with enrichment activities as well as a nutritious diet so depending on the animal we will give the pumpkins to those who love pumpkin and others we will carve for them and put treats inside. We will also make paper mache pumpkins for the primates to tear apart to find the treats inside. We do a lot of different enrichment activities throughout the year and seasonal enrichment like “Animals & Pumpkins” are a great way for our visitors to experience it with us!
As many of you may know, our elderly male lion Leroy may not be with us much longer. He is very old and his kidneys and hips are failing him. Working with animals, we see many births and unfortunately many deaths as well. No matter who the animal, it is never easy. Those of us who have cared for Leroy for over 20 years have known his time will come and it has been an honor and priviledge to care for this incredible animal with an amazing soul. We have received a lot of wonderful messages and well wishes for Leroy and are very grateful. His health and quality of life is our top priority and we are keeping him as comfortable as possible. We are proud that he has had a wonderful life here and that his legacy will live on in his offspring.
We are gearing up for our Zoo Boo days in October. We are looking for pumpkin and cornstalk donations. The primates love eating and playing with pumpkins and cornstalks. We have a lot of animals that enjoy the pumpkins and cornstalks this time of year so we are looking for at least 50 – 100 pumpkins…all sizes from really small for the small monkeys to really big for the rhinos! As zookeepers, we are always looking for exciting enrichment activities and ideas for the animasl but always keep safety in mind. Last year, for some of our carnivores, we placed meat inside the pumpkins…they loved it! Thank you in advance and we hope to see you this year during Zoo Boo!