Intern Diary #1

We’re doing something a little different. The next few entries are going to be written by our interns.

 

Intern Diary #1
Lisa D.

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.IMG_2031

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.

ZooBabies Day

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 certificates6 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.

piglet 1We 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.

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Rhino Week So Far

thelmaRight 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 DSC00257behaviors. 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!

rhino trimmedTonight 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!

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.

Baby Two-Toed Sloth!

Everyone loves baby animals, so we’re proud to announce we have a new baby sloth! This little guy is only a few weeks old and clings to it’s mom’s belly. The male and older baby are currently being kept inside, but visitors can come see the female and her baby at the sloth habitat located next to our chimpanzees.

For more zoo photos be sure to follow us on Instagram! http://instagram.com/southwickszoo#

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Giraffe Updates

Max with Pinda and Midas

Max with Pinda and Midas

As many of you know, we had three giraffes born this year. Daisy on January 11, Rocket on February 19, and Max on April 3. The weather seems to finally be warming up, so all of our giraffes have been able to venture outdoors after a long winter in the barn.

Everyone has been very excited to see Max!

Everyone has been very excited to see Max!

Max was the first of the babies to come outside. He can often be found with his parents, Pinda and Midas. He was of course a big hit with our visitors. This adorable and entertaining calf is sometimes seen galloping around the habitat.

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the bottles we use to feed Daisy and Rocket. It holds 3 quarts of formula!

This is one of the bottles we use to feed Daisy and Rocket. It holds 3 quarts of formula!

Daisy and Rocket are still being bottle fed. They each get 3 quarts of formula 3 times a day, or a total of 9 quarts each day. This would be equal to a human drinking 2.25 gallons of milk a day!

 

 

Daisy and Rocket remained in the barn up until this week since they are being bottle fed and hand raised by the zookeepers. For everyone’s safety, we decided to introduce them to the rest of the giraffes slowly. For now they remain in a fenced off section to avoid any injuries with the adults. After the adjust to each other, they will be allowed into the same area as the rest of the herd. So far everything is going very well!

 

 

 

 

 

Daisy and Rocket finally enjoying the Spring weather.

Daisy and Rocket finally enjoying the Spring weather.

Midas, our adult male giraffe, was particularly interested in the calves.

Midas, our adult male giraffe, was particularly interested in the calves.

The adult giraffes have been very curious about Daisy and Rocket.

The adult giraffes have been very curious about Daisy and Rocket.

Molly as usual came over to check out what was going on.

Molly as usual came over to check out what was going on.

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!

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!