Saturday, May 26, 2012

And then it was the weekend....

Friday was pretty boring. We started out by cleaning up the tiger enclosure. I was working with a different keeper today. Her name is also Amanda. She needed to clean out the pool make sure that it was all scrubbed down while the rest of us (being me and the other two interns) weeded in between the hot grass. Hot grass is basically an electric fence of sorts that kind of looks like grass. The idea is that an animal could easily step or reach over a normal electric fence, but since the grass isn't a straight line, they are less likely. The reason for weeding is to a) make the exhibit look nicer and get rid of weeds in general and b) if a plant is touching the hot grass it draws away some of it's energy which makes the grass less powerful. Which isn't good when you're trying to keep tigers in.

After that was done I went off with the other Amanda to help her finish lower road. Once that we done we headed off to lunch and then after lunch we needed to go get our delivery. On the way to the delivery we decided that we needed (wanted?) to go take a look at the new Zoorasic Park exhibit that opens today. We wanted to see it before a ton of visitors swarmed it. Our excuse was that we needed to see what it was like in case visitors asked us. In reality we just wanted to experience it. It was pretty cool, all of the dinosaurs move and make noise. One of them even spits at you.

After that we completed delivery and went to go clean out our male wildebeest's enclosure. The nettle's gotten really tall there and it needed to be taken out. That took about an hour or so to do. Once that was done we Amanda and I started on our normal routine with lower road. We finished with about 30 minutes to spare so we helped John with his routine by feeding the zebras and two of the cranes. We also helped him by feeding the bongos. This was my first experience with the bongos and they are the only animals that we are allowed to directly interact with. They're very sweet and gorgeous animals.


After that my day was done so I headed home for the weekend....and amazingly hit absolutely no traffic. Weird.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Hello All,

Today was a pretty uneventful day. We went about our day in the normal way, with me on bottom road again. I didn't work with the cats at all today though. I'm not exactly sure why, it could be because of the keeper I was with perhaps is not trained to work with them, or just that other keepers took priority. Who knows. I didn't bother asking since if it was because of the keeper I was with I didn't want to make them feel bad. All of the animals seemed to be doing well today. I even got to help with the zebras a bit before lunch. No interaction with them, just mucking a stall. Nothing to major.

After lunch we went to go get our delivery of foods for the animals. Normally this is done in the morning (as it was this morning) but due to some giraffe training going on we are switching it to an afternoon pick up. This means that we will be getting the next days food the afternoon before. Which is fine because it's already prepped then, but it switched up the schedule a bit. Once the delivery was done and unloaded to where ever it needs to go Amanda decided that we would go and weed one of the crane's yards (Klavdia is her name...she's Russian...) and then along the fence of the ostrich enclosure. Mostly we were trying to get rid of all the stinging nettle that is there. For those of you that haven't encountered this "lovely" plant before, it's kind of a pain in the butt....or basically whatever you touch it with. If you even brush the plant it instantly stings you and you get little white welts where ever it touched. This gives you intense pain for about 10 or so minutes. I of course was stung twice. Not fun. Once on my thumb and once on my arm. It's a very tricky process.

It looks like this....

Looks harmless right? It's totally's got tiny little hairs on it that act like needles and inject you with histamines and other chemicals. Which if you get it really bad can look like this...

File:Nettle Sting.JPG

Well anyways after that we finished up with our normal routines and then headed out. Like I said...pretty boring day. Other than those stupid plants....time to get some cowhide gloves....

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Awful morning, better day.

Well today started out rough. My alarm never went off this morning so I ended up waking up 30 minutes later than I should have. Thankfully Dad was getting up around then and was able to wake me up. As I rushed through my morning routine I realized that my pants hadn't dried fully in the dryer overnight, so they needed to go in again. Once that issue was solved and I was ready to leave, I hopped in the truck and left. Lots of traffic, tried to go a different way to save time (it didn't work) and eventually ended up there at about 7:03. Not a good start by my standards. Thankfully I was actually the first one there, so no one knew that I was late.

To start off we went to the commissary to pick up our supplies. The commissary is where all of the animal's food is kept and it's all layed out for us by the lovely people that work in that department. God bless them because everything is ready by 7am and I don't know when they get there....We put everything in the truck and headed off to drop things off and do some feedings.

Once that was done I started on lower with zookeeper Amanda, and did the same routine as yesterday with them. Cleaning, some feeding, shifting animals. After that was done we stopped for lunch and then we headed off to do some cleaning and feeding that didn't get done in the morning routine (we ran out of time). After that there was a tour that we needed to do for the Grevy's zebras, and the giraffes. This was my first interaction with these animals at all. We have another subspecies of zebras on the upper road that I met, but I hadn't gotten to meet the Grevy's or the giraffes. I was very excited, but of course to remain professional, I tried not to show it too much. To my surprise I was able to feed our male giraffe, Beau, right out of my hand! He's extremely gentle when taking food, today it was some butternut squash. They are truly magnificent animals. We then went on with the rest of the tour and then headed up top to check in with people.

After that I was able to watch an artificial insemination of some cranes we have. They cannot mate together on their own because the male has an injured wing that cannot be fixed and it prevents him from mating with her. I didn't get to see much up close because I couldn't go into the enclosure with them (it's also a fairly large enclosure and they were towards the very just so happened that's where the cranes were). It was interesting to watch from what I could see though. I was also allowed to look at the sperm under a microscope which was very interesting since at school we only have pre-made slides of different sperm and none of it is live.

After that Amanda and I went back through lower to feed and shift animals again, plus check on everyone. We also did some training with the Grevy's zebras, Chris the lion, and our tigers (Luther and Anala). It was really cool to see her working with them. I got to help a little bit with the training of the zebras but I just watched with the cats. They're all very good with what they need to do. We train the animals to help with medical procedures so we train them to do things like open their mouth, show us their paws, show us their belly, etc. It's all to make life easier for us and them.

That was the end of my day, but I'd say that it was pretty eventful!! Now I'm off to bed, hopefully my alarm goes off tomorrow morning....maybe I'll set two....

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Splish Splash...

Well I had my first day of my internship today, and it was very wet. It started out pretty slow though. On normal days I will need to be there by 7am, but since today was the first day I only had to be there by 10am. Traffic wasn't too bad going in, I hit a little bit on the way up, but that's to be expected considering it was raining all night and this morning. Plus there were rumors that there was an accident around the time that I would have been in the area...I didn't see anything though.

To start off my day I had orientation with all of the interns. Nothing very interesting to report there. We covered the basic rules and guidelines of the zoo and some protocols. Not super exciting, but important none the less. After that I had my photo taken for my name tag, and then we headed off to the staff meeting to join everyone else. We only caught the tail end of it, so I didn't get to hear much. Mostly just information about what is happening at the zoo in the future like events and stuff like that. I'm sure there were some other important things covered as well.

Once the staff meeting was done I met with my department. I believe that we are one of the largest departments so I only met a few of them today. The people that I work with will change from day to day so it'll always keep me on my toes I'm sure. We started out slow, by having lunch. We get an hour for lunch, so when we weren't eating we chit chatted about where we (the interns...and some of the staff) were from, and other basic get to know you information. Everyone was super friendly. Once lunch was over me and the other two interns in my department (Courtney and Katie) were split of to cover the tasks ahead of us with different keepers. Normally this would have been done already but with the staff meeting this morning and some important shifting of animals, the cleaning and feeding was put off until the afternoon. Which in my opinion was great because it allowed me to see what happens when if it had been a normal day I wouldn't have.

I went with zookeeper John to go to the "lower road". This consists of the big cats, camels, wildebeest, and some birds. We went through each enclosure cleaning up everything and making sure that it was tidy. We also made sure to pay attention to how all of the animals were doing and noted if any of them seemed a bit off. Courtney went off with zookeeper Hope to the "upper road" to do the same thing that we were doing, but with different animals. On the "upper road" there are zebras, ostrich, cranes, and bongo (similar to an antelope). Katie went with zookeeper Erin and a volunteer named....Jeff I think... to work with the giraffes and perhaps some other things. There's a particular name for this area but I can't remember it right now.

After all this was done we met back up at the trailer (the area in which we eat lunch and do paperwork), to do just that, paperwork. Well okay, I wasn't doing the paperwork, all the keepers were but they explained it to me and roughly how it works. The paperwork essentially consists of writing down what was done and anything that we observed. We also write down any supplies that may need to be picked up tomorrow.

When paperwork was done we started closing, which means we go back through and feed all the animals if they haven't already been feed, make sure they're doing alright and shut off any lights that may have been left on. During closing I was able to help John scatter some meatballs throughout the pens for the big cats. Hiding them wasn't the most exciting thing to do, but watching them come in to eat them was quite the sight. Christopher (the lion) was not as fast as the tigers at finding his meatballs, but apparently he's much older so I'll give him some credit. He seems like such a sweetie. The tigers were very excited to come in and find their meatballs and gobbled them right up!

Once that was done we headed back to get our things and head out for the day. We'll see what tomorrow brings...