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!
The temperature is getting cooler and we’re approaching the close of the zoo season. The questions we get most frequently this time of year is “Where do your animals go in the winter?”
All of our animals stay on the zoo grounds through the winter. We have a number of heated buildings so they stay warm and comfortable. Our birds and much of our primates were moved to a large heated building, while some of our animals, such as the lions and tigers, have heated enclosures as part of their normal habitats. Some of our animals even have the option of going outside during the winter.
We frequently see the camels, yaks, and even the big cats outside during the winter. It isn’t uncommon to see the tigers playing out in the snow.
On October 17 our lions, Leroy Jr (L.J. for short) and Levanna turned 2 years old! We celebrated their birthday on Saturday October 18 by giving them carved pumpkins filled with meat. Check out the photos below to see them play with their birthday treats! If you couldn’t make it to the zoo on Saturday to see them get their pumpkins, they will be getting pumpkins, as well as the tigers, for Zoo Boo Days on Sunday October 26 at 1-2pm.
We 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.
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!
Intern Diary #3
When people think of internships at Southwick’s Zoo, their minds may automatically go to animal care positions. However, there is a lot more to running a zoo than just the animals. I am fortunate enough to have a marketing internship here at Southwick’s Zoo and I can say that it is a truly unique experience. My job changes from day to day depending on what events are coming up and what is new to the zoo. Although I primarily work in the office, I get the chance to take breaks during the day to walk around the zoo to take some photos to share with our fans on social media.
I also get the chance to help out with the planning of the larger events here at the zoo. I am able to talk to employees and owners of the zoo and help out with brainstorming how to best promote the event. For example, I was able to help out with Lions, Tigers, and Beers which turned out to be a huge success and it was something that I learned a good amount from. I also worked on Earth Awareness Day and advertised for the Earth Bash booth to encourage visitors to purchase discounted tickets to the event that day. Unfortunately, the weather did not work out like we had hoped, but it is something that everyone who deals with an outdoor venue must cope with. We still made the rainy day work and we hope that our visitors still enjoyed their visit!
Finally, although I’m more on the business side of the zoo, I do get to interact with the animals on a more personal basis. Sometimes, the zookeepers allow us to hold the animals, or go “behind the scenes” to take some pictures that no one else is able to get. For example, I was able to take a picture of Cricket, the baby tapir, before he was even let out into the exhibit. It’s amazing to be able to be so close to these beautiful creatures and it’s something that I wouldn’t be able to do at any other internship.
Being a marketing intern here at the zoo is a rewarding job. Each day, I think about what I can do to keep visitors interested in the zoo and how to ensure that they visit us again. I get to spend time taking beautiful, and sometimes humorous, photos of our animals and share them with our fans. Sometimes, our visitors get the best photos though. We get to share photos that professional photographers take, or the average visitor takes on a day with perfect lighting at just the right moment. It is so rewarding when visitors send us photos of their favorite moments of their visit and express how much they loved their experience, and it’s even better when we get to share those positive messages with the rest of our fans.
I have learned so much from this internship and it has been a great summer here at Southwick’s Zoo. I encourage anyone interested in getting an internship to apply, because working at this zoo is an experience like no other.
Intern Diary #2
As an intern at Southwick’s zoo, I have spent plenty of time being completely amazed by many of the magnificent creatures that inhabit our zoo. One animal that I have spent a lot of time around is a nine month old Red Kangaroo called Rufus. Rufus was hand raised by zookeepers after being found out of his mother’s pouch in the kangaroo habitat over the winter. He was completely hairless and weighed less than a pound!
Since that day the zookeepers have acted as Rufus’s mom feeding him a bottle and making sure he was well taken care of. Today, eight months later Rufus is a strong, healthy, and handsome kangaroo who seems to be growing bigger every day! Over the past week, Rufus has been slowly introduced to the kangaroo habitat and the all the other kangaroos that live here; so far Rufus has done excellent with meeting and greeting the kangaroo mob. It has been a fantastic experience for myself, and many others at the zoo, watching him grow and begin to integrate into the mob. Next time you come and visit, be sure to take a close look at our kangaroo exhibit, you may see Rufus out and about socializing with his kangaroo family.
We’re doing something a little different. The next few entries are going to be written by our interns.
Intern Diary #1
Being an intern at Southwick’s Zoo is definitely a dirty job at times, but more often than not, it is very rewarding. Over the past couple months I have learned quite a bit about the animals around the zoo, and I’ve learned even more about the animals in the EARTH building where I spend a majority of my time. We are responsible for roughly 60 animals at the Earth Discovery Center. This includes feeding them, cleaning their enclosures, training them, and creating enrichment for them.
One animal that I have been working closely with over the last few weeks is a blue and gold macaw named Spaz. Spaz is 22 years old and was hatched here at the zoo! He and his half-brother Merlin have lived with us ever since. Spaz has fascinated me since I started my internship back in May. He is extremely intelligent (as most birds are) and knows many different words and phrases such as “cracker”, “hello”, and “goodbye”. He can even laugh and roar! I watched one of my supervisors bond with one of our other birds in the building by spending time with him and sharing her lunch with him on occasion. I learned that the act of sharing food with the bird resembles what some birds do for each other, which is regurgitating food for one another in order to bond.
To build a relationship with Spaz I began spending more time with him doing different things such as sharing snacks, talking to him, and asking him to roar or say things like “cracker” for small treats. This went on for about a week until one of my supervisors decided it was time to test the bond. He was going to see if Spaz would step up onto my arm. This definitely requires trust on both sides. Blue and gold macaws are large birds that have a bite strength of 500-700lbs of force! Needless to say, this was a little intimidating at first. After learning exactly what I had to do in order to make sure I giving all the right signals and commands to Spaz, in a way that he and I would both be comfortable, he stepped up onto my arm. It doesn’t sound like much, but knowing the power that these birds have in their beak, it was pretty exciting. The fact that he did step up meant that he remembered who I was out of all the interns and, according to my supervisor, actually likes me! I have never known much about birds and what they are capable of, nor had much experience handling them. I cannot wait to continue to work with Spaz and build our trust bond even more.
This Sunday is ZooBabies Day! If you follow our news blog and Facebook page, you probably know that we’ve had quite a few new additions this season. We have babies in over 20 different species including giraffes, red kangaroos, pygmy goats, potbellied pigs, lemurs, numerous monkey species, sloth, and more! On ZooBabies Day we highlight our newest arrivals by placing birth certificates around the zoo. Our docents will have tables set up in different locations with activities to learn more about baby animals. There will also be two scavenger hunts: one for younger children, and a more challenging version for older kids and adults.
We also have a few events around the zoo scheduled. Stop by the EARTH Discovery Center at 11:00am to watch us feed a baby African Crested Porcupine. Did you know that porcupines are born with quills? Then head to the giraffe habitat for a 12:30 baby giraffe feeding. We’ll also be doing baby primate enrichment at the Schmidt’s Guenon habitat at 2:00pm and then there will be a presentation about baby animals at the EARTH Discovery Center at 3:000pm.
If you love baby animals be sure to stop by the zoo Sunday July 20th! ZooBabies Day is included with normal zoo admission and lasts from 10am-5pm.
Right now we’re in the middle of Rhino Week! We are celebrating rhinos and rhino conservation all week long with activities and events.
We are currently holding a raffle for prizes including rhino encounters and zoo passes, so if you are in the zoo between now and Sunday stop by the EARTH Discovery Center to buy a raffle ticket! We are also holding a Save the Rhinos Poster Contest. The deadline is August 1st, so there’s still plenty of time to create your masterpiece!
On Sunday we had a rhino scavenger hunt which involved finding cutouts of the five rhino species hidden in the zoo. We’ll be doing this again on Saturday the 12th (the last day of rhino week).
On Monday we tried a new rhino enrichment. Enrichment is important for animals in captivity because it helps to keep them stimulated mentally and physically. It can also help encourage natural behaviors. Rhinos have very poor eyesight, but excellent senses of smell. We put a large log in the habitat and put Chrome cologne on one side and a vanilla musk on the other. The log provides them with something to rub their horns on and the scents provide them with something unfamiliar for them to investigate. Our rhinos, Thelma especially, showed a clear preference for Chrome!
We repeated the enrichment on Wednesday, except we used peppermint oil and cinnamon this time. We were surprised to see that they were interested in neither of the smells. This may be because the scented log was no longer new and novel, because they simply weren’t interested in either scent, or it may have just been too hot out. We’re trying again on Saturday with two new smells, so who knows what they’ll do!
Tonight we have a rhino themed after hours event from 6-8pm. It’s free for EARTH members and $15/adult nonmember and $10/child nonmember. The zoo will be open to explore, but make sure you are back at the EARTH Discovery Center for a presentation from Bill Konstant from the International Rhino Foundation and a raffle.
Friday night we have a new and exciting event 6pm-8pm called Winos For Rhinos! It’s a 21+ ONLY event and $15/nonmembers and $10/ EARTH members. The zoo will be open for guests and there will be a wine tasting provided by Zoll Cellars and The Naked Grape and a presentation by Bill Konstant from the IRF.
Saturday is the last day of Rhino Week. There will be a scavenger hunt and we will be doing more rhino enrichment. Proceeds from this week’s after hours events and raffle ticket sales will all go to the International Rhino Foundation. We’ll post more photos at the end of the week!