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!

Happy Birthday Tanzie!

Our youngest chimpanzee, Tanzie, turned 6 years old last week on March 6th. We waited celebrated her big day yesterday since it was finally sunny out!

Last year we made paper mache balloons and gift boxes stuffed with assorted treats. This year our zookeepers surprised Tanzie, and the other chimps as well, with snowmen decorated with a  variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. Enrichment such as this is an important aspect of caring for animals in captivity. It helps to keep them active both mentally and physically. It also encourages natural behaviors such as foraging in this case. Enrichment is not only beneficial to our animals, but our zookeepers enjoy it as well! It gives them the opportunity to get creative and have some fun.

Check out the photos below to see our staff building the snowmen and the chimps having a blast searching for treats!









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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!

Happy Holidays from the Zookeepers

Enrichment is an important aspect of caring for animals in captivity. This keeps animals happy and healthy by encouraging natural behaviors and providing mental and physical stimulation. Enrichment can be provided in a variety of ways including: the design of the habitat, novel smells (this past year we discovered that our rhinos are very into cologne), food and foraging activities, and objects for the animal to interact with. Our zookeepers provide an array of enrichment year round. Around the holidays we like to get creative, so below are a few examples of how our animals enjoyed their own holiday festivities this year!

Pickles is an African crested porcupines who is often used for EARTH‘s education programs. Our staff made him a Christmas tree with some very tasty ornaments. His tree was adorned with fruits and veggies as well as popcorn, cranberry, and bamboo garland.

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Our avian team made sure the birds didn’t miss out on the holiday festivities!

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Our primate keepers gave the chimpanzees Santa hats to play with. Hilarity ensured naturally. Check out the short video of Tanzie with her Santa hat…she mostly figured it out.


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!

Where do our animals go in the winter?

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?”

The answer? No, they don’t get sent down south, they stay right here in Mendon, MA.

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.

Happy Birthday L.J. and Levanna!

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.










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!

Intern Diary #3

Intern Diary #3

Deanna R.


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 deanna 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 tapirrewarding 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.