It’s finally feeling like winter around here. The light snow cover on the ground has been nice the past few days but Friday might not be so nice! I’m fixing the tarp over the North American Porcupines right now, it blew off in the wind storm we had last week. They will be tucked away in their house, all nice and warm during the storm. Depending on the amount of snow, some of our animals might have to enjoy some indoor activities for a few days. But they will be ready to enjoy the snow once the weather is nice again. We plan on making snowmen for the chimps and mandrills after the snowstorm!
The Lion Cubs are getting really big and they are definitely showing their predator instincts. Although they are adorable and amazingly beautiful, they are “wild” and dangerous animals. Safety is our number one priority in caring for these animals and it is a Zookeeper’s job to never underestimate an animal and to observe and learn from their behavior. In this picture, our little male lion was reacting to his sister trying to steal a toy. Notice the teeth (yowza), eyes, and claws…they are definitely not babies anymore. They can be incredibly fast and unpredictable at this stage as they are learning, exploring and growing. They have been on a meat diet for some time (beef & venison) and they are only 3 months old!
On December 21, 2012 twin marmosets were born here at the zoo! Right away mama had her hands full caring for her babies and this little one decided to be a rebel. We do not know the sexes as it will take a few more weeks before we can determine the sex. This little monkey decided to keep “wandering off” away from mama where he/she could not be properly cared for. To make sure the little monkey was getting the proper nutrition and care, staff had to intervene. Hopefully soon he/she will be back with mama…right now mama is doing great caring for the sibling! Marmoset monkeys are a very small monkey that only grow to weigh 8 – 9 OZ and are native to the Brazil area of South America.
The Chimpanzees had a blast after the recent snow! Tanzie, the almost 4 year old chimpanzee loves the snow! When she came outside this morning, the first thing she did was stick her face in the snow. Her mother Tabitha started eating the snow while Tanzie proceeded to jump around and play in the snow. Many of the other animals at the zoo enjoy the snow, but the chimpanzees have the most fun with it. When when have a substantial snow storm we will make snow men in their exhibit for them to enjoy!
Primate Zookeeper Jess reported that a baby grivet monkey was born on September 27, 2012 and mom and baby are doing great. She is a young mother so she is very active and a good mom. She enjoyed the pumpkins from Zoo Boo days with the other grivets. They had a great time playing with and eating the pumpkins!
Mom and Baby enjoying the beautiful Fall Weather!
So lucky to get this snapshot to share with our friends!
We’re Looking for PUMPKINS for our Zoo Boo Days. Pumpkin donations are greatly appreciated and our animals love them! You can donate at the main entrance and please leave your name and address for a Thank You!
Did you know that as Zookeepers we get a lot of questions like “How do I become a zookeeper?” There are a lot of questions about what a zookeeper does or what kind of qualifications are needed. We’ve heard from many people that all we do is shovel waste, feed animals, and “play” with babies…this is a BIG misconception. First and foremost, a zookeeper has to respect the animals in their care. This is their home and we must understand and respect that. Wild animals can be very dangerous and will naturally protect their territory. As zookeepers, we must always be on guard and in tune with the animals, for their protection and ours. We are their “voice” and we have a responsibility to them; to keep them properly fed, maintain their habitat, and ensure they receive the quality of care they deserve. Their diets are carefully prepared and chosen based on research and veterinary guides. Their behavior and health are monitored very closely and recorded. Husbandry practices and species survival plans are extremely important especially with the rate of habitat destruction and deforestation in the wild today. Not only is zookeeping physically demanding, it is emotionally and mentally challenging as well. Education is vital in making sure these animals live a healthy and peaceful existence. Educating the public and ourselves on the ever changing world of animal ecology is essential for the survival of many animals in the wild today. To become a zookeeper in today’s world, a bachelor or master’s degree in zoology or a related field (such as animal behavior, biology, enviornmental sciences, etc.) is key to be able to begin the journey in animal care. Education along with experience, instinct, common sense, and compassion make a well rounded zookeeper. Do you have any questions? Just ask, we love to talk about the animals in our care and share our experiences.
This past summer we welcomed a baby Watusi to our family. Watusi, also called Ankole Cattle, are native to Africa. Their horns can reach up to 8 feet and some males can weigh up to 1600 lbs! This means that we have to be very careful when feeding and cleaning with these beautiful creatures. We especially have to be careful when momma Watusi has a new calf. Watusi cattle are very protective of their young and in the wild you will find most calves in the middle of the herd. Adults defend the herd by using their impressive horns and “stare” down tactics against intruders…and it can be very intimidating! Momma Watusi right now is especially protective of her baby and will show signs of agitation if people get too close to her calf. The calf is a little adventurous and momma is always right there for protection. We ask that you please stand back when the calf is close to the front of the exhibit, this is for your protection and momma’s peace of mind!
Along with many of our other animals, our American Alligator has thoroughly been enjoying the summer heat. Alligators are cold-blooded animals and do not require frequent feedings. In fact, alligators can survive for over a year without eating! Excess calories then get stored in fat deposits at the base of the alligator’s tail which help the alligator sustain for extended periods of time. During the hot summer months our alligator generally eats once a week and will access those stored calories in cold weather to get through the winter.
Many of our animals have enjoyed this hot stretch of weather and haven’t let the heat get them down. Animals including the Elk, Tigers, Flamingos, Brazilian Tapirs and Rhinos can all be found soaking up the sun and staying cool by the pool. Some of the animals spend these lazy summer days lounging in the sun whereas other animals, such as the alligator, become much more active in the warm weather! Just like humans, our animals have found ways to enjoy all the fun summertime can bring!
Flamingos in their pool!