Saturday, June 2, 2012

Vet procedures, Mash, and Some Weeds


Today was a fairly normal day. Things were a little hectic this week because our department's new extern started and they needed to train him so that he can do things on his own. They wanted to start him off on top road for some reason, so I was on bottom road again. Everything went well. We got our new Kori Bustard named Jazzy (although we've been affectionately calling him DJ Jazzy Jeff) Things are going well with the introductions of him and our other Kori Bustard, Magoo.

At the end of the day I was about to watch some veterinary procedures on our cats though. That was pretty exciting to watch. The vets needed to get blood pressure reading from Chris and Luther. In order to do this they have been trained to lay down next to the metal mesh wall and swing their tail underneath the door. Unlike humans where we read blood pressure through the arm, we read it through their tail.


Today I got to work with the giraffes!!!! I was super excited because although I have met them, I haven't gotten to work with them yet. Working with them is very different from working with any other animal, mostly because they are HUGE. Almost everything that we do with them is up on what we call the catwalk, which is exactly what it sounds like, and it puts us at eye level with them. This is where we hang all of their food from and have our interactions.

To begin the day there we have to check the Savannah exhibit to make sure that the electric fence is working and that there is no dangers to the animals or trash in the exhibit. We also take this time to put out hay for the zebras and beet pulp and hay for the giraffes. The exhibit is a couple acres and provides lots of space for all of the animals in it. The zebra's hay goes on the ground and the giraffe's hay goes into a special hay rack that is at their height. We as keepers have a little platform that we can stand on to reach it.

Half of the exhibit

Hay Rack   
Once that was checked we let out the zebras and then continued to shift out the giraffes. Shifting them takes a while because there's really no way that you can forces them to do anything. They're just way too big!! They're also a little stubborn and like to take their time doing whatever it is they're doing. Once both the giraffes were shifted out we continued to clean their inside area by sweeping, and then spraying it down with a high pressure hose. We scrubbed disinfected and then sprayed again until it was super clean.

When that was done we had two tours to give. A lot of the tours are for people that have donated large amounts of money to the zoo, as a kind of thank you. Sometimes they are for other people as well though. Today I believe both tours were for generous donors. Both tours went very well and everyone loved Beau. He's really the only one that you get to feed on the tour because Jana's a little shy. He's such a sweetheart and he sure loves his squash pieces!! In the second group there was a very young boy (like 3 maybe...) and I thought for sure he was going to be scared of how big Beau is and how he can sometimes get impatient when it comes to food. The little boy was so brave!! He had no fear at all and was absolutely loving the experience. We even showed him how long their tongues are (about two feet!) and he was rather impressed. Beau got me a couple times with his tongue when I was trying to feed him treats and take his photo at the same time.

Once the tours were over we headed to lunch and then helped out with some other small projects. When it was time to do our closing I was able to help prepare the diets for the giraffes. Beau has a disease called giraffe wasting disease and he is the oldest living giraffe with it. Normally once diagnosed they only live for about a year, but he's lived for almost nine! The wasting disease means that they cannot properly metabolize their food because they have too much stomach acid which eats away at the cilia in their stomach. Because of this we have to keep him on a very specialized diet. In the morning he gets 15 Tums (Tums fruity brand only...he won't eat any other) which we put into hollowed out banana peels. He also gets two banana peels worth of Karo syrup to keep his blood sugar levels up, and then another half a banana peel with another liquid supplement. At night he gets his normal beet pulp mixed with 20 lbs of cut up raw butternut squash and high fiber diet, and then he gets his "mash". Beau's mash consists of many things. All together it's about 30 lbs. He gets 18lbs of beet pulp, 8 bananas, cooked squash, 1lb of baking soda, 1 cup of molasses, 1.5 cups of megalax (a supplement), half a cup of min-a-vits (another supplement), and then that gets all mixed together with some water to help mix it. It's quite the process, but it's keeping him alive!!

After all of that excitement it was finally time to go home until......


Today was another weird day. I didn't really have a specific placement so I kind of dabbled in all of the areas. First I went to help on bottom road with the camels. We needed to strip their stalls which takes some time. Stripping means that you take EVERYTHING out of the stalls (in this case shavings, straw, mats, and food dishes) and then spray it down, disinfect/scrub, and then spray it down again. It took quite some time even with three of us doing it.

Once that was done I went to go help them down at the compound (what we call the giraffe/Grevy zebra area). They were weeding around the building and the fence lines because the weeds were becoming taller than us. It took quite some time and continued after lunch.

After lunch we also went to a class about enrichment. They talked about how enrichment is used at the zoo, why we do enrichment, the types of enrichment there are and what it can be made out of. Pretty much all of it was review for me since I had just taken a class on enrichment at school, but it was a good refresher.

After class we went back to weeding. It felt good to chop down all of the plants that have been scratching and stinging me all week. Then something exciting happened! I was weeding near the fence line and all of a sudden I heard a thud near me. Since we are trained to always be alert around the animals in the even that something were to happen, I immediately looked. Next to me, not even five feet away, was a redtailed hawk that had just come down and swooped up a large rat (or small rabbit...I couldn't really tell which it was...) I was shocked!! I couldn't believe that the hawk was that brave to do that. We watched it for a little while enjoy it's afternoon snack up in a tree.

After the weeding was done we headed up to top road, but not before I grabbed some knotweed for the animals up there. Knotweed is one of many plants that grow naturally on the property that we can feed out to the animals. Some other plants are Russian Olive, and Bayberry. The animals love getting fresh plants (browse is what we call it) in the summer and as much as they can in the winter. Today I gave the knotweed to the bongos who quickly ate it up in about three minutes flat. I guess they liked it!!
Izzy, Lady Stanley, and Anna

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday Bertha!!

Well nothing too exciting to report for today, but it was Bertha's (one of our ostrich's) birthday! We didn't celebrate...although I bet they would have enjoyed pecking at some cake.

In other ostrich news I was able to watch a medical procedure today where they used an x-ray to look at an ostrich. It was very interesting to watch, although I wasn't able to be involved. It's for the best, ostrich's are very strong.

I was able to work on top road today so that means that I now work with all of our cranes, hornbills, ostrich, Grants zebras, and bongos. I like the bongos the best since they're the friendliest.

Like I said, nothing really exciting to report for today. Also, on a side note for all you readers: I'm going to start only posting once or twice a week instead of every night. That way I can save some time at night and get to sleep earlier. So just keep a look out!!