Saturday, June 9, 2012

Giraffes and Grevys


I'll admit I didn't write down exactly what I did on Tuesday, which is going to make it hard to write about....Shame on me! It started out slow, I was with John down at the Compound working with the Grevy's and giraffes. This is where I was going to be all week!  I was very excited since I had only dabbled in the giraffe barn a little bit. I was also working with a volunteer that I hadn't met yet named Britney. I didn't really get to know her that well since we were very busy cleaning the Grevy stalls, but from what I can tell she's very nice.

In the morning after I helped Britney clean all the stalls we helped John with the giraffes by giving them their supplements and preparing their diets. I'm getting pretty confident with it now and can almost recite all of the ingredients off the top of my head. I still always check the diet sheets though just to be sure.

This week was so rainy that the giraffes were not going out on to exhibit. It has to be at least 65 degrees for them to be out, and with the combination of the rain and the not so warm weather they stayed inside. This allowed us to get things done fairly quickly and I got to spend lots of time getting to know Beau better. Working with them and the Grevy's also lets me get to know my favorite zebra, Kayen, better. He's such a sweetie and although he's going to be a stallion later on in life (which means he will be a bit "meaner"), he's extremely friendly right now.

After lunch we went to a trainers forum with the keepers. The trainers forum allows the trainers from all the departments to get together and troubleshoot on any problems they're having, and they all get to hear what each other are doing. During the forums one keeper does a presentation on their animals and what they are training them today. This one was about Chessie the leopard from Stone Zoo. They're teaching her to do many different things, but right now they are focusing on getting her habituated to the feel of a needle so that they can do blood draws and injections on her without stressing her out too much. They've attempted one blood draw already but she wasn't too thrilled with it and it was unsuccessful. Perhaps the next time they try it will be better.


Wednesday was a lot of the same routine. I worked with the Grevy's in the morning and then after that the giraffes. Before we got a chance to put the animals out onto exhibit though, we had to go work on weeding the exhibit's moat. The moat is really just a dip in the landscape, and it's put there to prevent the animals from walking right up to the visitors. The weeds had gotten very tall though and it was partially preventing the visitors from seeing the animals, and there were some plants in there that the animals shouldn't eat and they needed to be taken out. We only had a little bit done though before we had to put them out for the zoo opening.

After lunch we went to a meeting about the new Green Team that they've initiated at the zoo. The Green Team is basically just a committee dedicated to making the zoo more environmentally friendly. It seems like they have a lot of good ideas, and now they just need to be put into place.

Once that was over Courtney (another intern) and I went off to work on weeding next to the giraffe chute. The weeds there are literally over our heads and are super thick, so it took quite some time to get it down. We only got about half way down the chute before we had to stop.

After that I went back to giraffe to help finish things up.


Thursday was crazy. It was mostly crazy though because we were going to be extremely short people in the afternoon. Originally it was going to be myself, Katie (an intern), Joe (the extern), John, Amanda, Andrea, and Erin. What we ended up with was everyone but Erin in the morning but then in the after noon it was just me, Katie, Joe and John. Amanda had to go pick up cranes from the airport at two and Andrea was only there for a half day. So that left the rest of us to finish up everything in the afternoons by ourselves.

Since this was the case, we got absolutely as much as we could done in the morning so there would be less to do in the afternoon. Myself and Ellie (a volunteer who works half days) went off to Grevy to clean the barn really quick so we could help out in giraffe. Once we finished that we went over to the Giraffe barn and all we could hear was clapping from the inside. This wasn't a good sign since usually we use clapping as a way to get the animals to move when they're being stubborn. We walked in and I asked Andrea what was up. She informed us that just as she was about to move the giraffes the heater near the chute (where they need to go) started making "scary grinding noises" and put the giraffes into a fit. They wouldn't budge, and you really can't force a 2,000 pound animal to do anything. So we tried relentlessly for about an hour to get the giraffes to move and finally with much coaxing they did. Once that was done we cleaned out everything, made diets, and headed up for lunch.

After lunch Katie and I headed over to the Grevy shoot to clear out some weeds that were making it hard to get to the giraffe feeding platform. It went quickly since there wasn't much weeding to do, and many of the weeds were easy to pull out. Of course in the middle it started to POUR and we had to retreat to the zebra building. After that Joe came to help us finish up, which made it go even faster. We powered through the rest of it and then headed up to collect some knotweed for the giraffes to eat later.

While we did this we were able to visit the old antelope house from the 1940s. The building is condemned now so it's not in use anymore, but it hasn't been torn down because it's such a historical building. It was really interesting to see what the animal's pens looked like back then and to see how far we've come in the zoo world. It's also really amazing that even though the building is technically condemned, it seems like the only parts of the building that show it's age are the roof and the metal pipes/cage walls. The brick and cement walls look as though they were put up yesterday! I wish that I had photos to share with you all because it is such an interesting place. I was told that there were some photos on the Boston Public Library website, but I can't seem to find any. Perhaps if we go again I'll be sure to take some quick snapshots. Currently the building is filled with junk that people have dumped there as a holding place over the years and the pigeons have taken over, but you can tell that at one point it was a fancy building. Or at least fancy for those times....

Also in other news, one of the corpse flowers has bloomed!! We were able to see it, and I have to say that it doesn't smell as horrible as I thought it would, but considering I work with poop all day, I bet I'm not the best judge for that....

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