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!
Fall is mating season for many of the animals here at the zoo. The Sika Deer and the Elk are some of the animals with the loudest vocals during mating or rut season. The elk have a series of loud vocalizations to attract the females and to show the other males who is boss. The males will spar with other males using their antlers which is an amazing sight to see. The males will eventually shed their antlers later this fall. You can see the elk when taking the Woodland Express Train ride. We have quite a few elk and we have some young elk with their mothers. Don’t worry if you hear a loud pitch scream type of sound, that is just the bugling of the elk!
Tanzania or Tanzie for short is a very active and rambunctious adolescent. Many times she is the ruler of the chimps as all the adults seem succumb to her whims; some might call her “fresh” :-). She has mommy, daddy and Auntie Jingles looking after her and of course keeping her entertained. We do help them by providing daily enrichment for all the chimpanzees. Many of our visitors have asked us “what is that in their habitat”…well we are constantly providing all forms of enrichment for them to explore, play with and destroy! A lot of times there will be treats inside the enrichment where you will see them use tools to forage them out. Tanzie is very active and you can see her swinging from the tree, doing flips and somersaults in the grass, climbing, spinning and jumping all over…even on top of the other chimps. We think her chimp family adores and spoils her! Of course, we do too!
We are in that time of year again when the male deer start to get antsy as the mating “rut” season is approaching. For your safety and the safety of the deer, we will be moving the male deer into a temporary exhibit. The females and young will be in Deer Forest where you can walk among and feed these beautiful creatures. It does take some time to move these animals so if you see a male or two, don’t worry and just be aware of their antlers! You also may notice that the antlers may have blood on them. This is because they will be shedding their velvet, this is perfectly normal and healthy. Our Elk may also be rubbing their racks too! It is a very exciting time for these animals and we are happy to share them with you, just use caution when approaching the deer!
Many of our visitors have been asking how the animals do in this extreme heat. Actually, they handle the heat much better than humans! Just like with humans we have to keep a closer eye on baby & senior animals and make sure all the animals have plenty of water. The zoo is situated under some really tall oak trees and the shade has kept all of us very comfortable. We took this picture yesterday of the Muntjac deer reaching for some leaves. Muntjac deer, also called barking deer, are native to South East Asia are a very small species of deer (less than 2 ft tall and under 40lbs) and are the reported as the oldest deer species appearing 15 – 35 million years ago! Our little family of Muntjac deer are located right next to the zebra cafe and are one of the first animals you will see as you enter the zoo!
Just as the zoo opened on June 26, 2013 our female Yak was in labor! Some of our very lucky visitors witnessed the birth of the Baby Yak…a very special experience! Momma and baby are doing great and are under our watch. Yaks are very hearty animals and the baby stood to nurse right away. In the heat that we have been experiencing we have taken special precautions with cooling down animals under our care and providing extra shade! It takes a lot of teamwork and diligence to make sure every animal is safe and comfortable in the heat….especially mommas and new babies! To be honest, animals do handle the heat much better than us humans!!! Stay hydrated and safe in the heat everyone…and if you are visiting the zoo; take advantage of our mist tents and drink plenty of water! We have a lot of shade in the park so we are very lucky!
You may have noticed our peacocks roaming around the zoo. Many of our guests have commented “Your Peacock escaped the zoo!” This is because they have free range on our entire zoo property including inside and outside the zoo! They especially love to posture and display in the zoo parking lot first thing in the morning right next to the entrance doors and you may find them many times there late afternoon as people leave for the day! Their plumage is full at this time of year and they will start to drop the feathers as the summer winds down. They display mainly for mating purposes but sometimes they will display to intimidate to appear bigger when startled. Our peacocks enjoy roosting on top of our entrance building…so look up when you enter. They love to give out a loud call early mornings and throughout the day. Our peacocks especially love windows, mirrors or shiny surfaces where they can see and peck at themselves! We do ask that you please do not chase them as this is their home and if you’re lucky you may see them walking right through the entrance building…they think they own the place!
Cheetahs have come to Southwick’s Zoo! Soon you will be able to meet Kate and Logan who are 1 1/2 yr old cheetahs who have come to us from another facility. We are very excited to have them here and we are in the process of building an exhibit for them to be ready soon. Cheetahs are amazing creatures and they are already here off exhibit waiting for their new home to be ready. They are very even tempered animals and they are built for strength, speed and agility….and are incredibly beautiful! We are so happy to have them as a new addition to the zoo!