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!
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!