Saturday, June 9, 2012

Boston for Some Group Bonding

I decided to give Friday it's own post since we did so much. Friday was a field trip day so I didn't actually do any work at all! It was very nice.

I didn't actually have to be to work until 9am, but since traffic would be so bad if I tried to leave my house later than I normally do, I decided to get there at 7 like normal. Unfortunately this means two hours of nothing to do, so what does any college kid do?? I slept in my car. I felt so weird doing it, but it was almost worth it.

So we started off our day by going to the Aquarium. We were able to catch the last bit of the sea lion show, which was cool. I learned that in one square inch of a sea lions body they can have about 300,000 hairs. That's a lot!!! After the show we were able to get a behind the scenes tour and see a new baby seal that they have. The woman giving us the tour told us a lot about him, but it was hard to hear because I was in the back and there were lots of children yelling outside. From what I could hear though I learned that he was found in Monteray, CA and he was very underweight. When they found him he was 8 months old but weighed the same as a one month old pup. I also believe I heard he is blind in one eye and has some flipper problems. He's super cute though!

Once our behind the scene's tour was done, Courtney, Joe and I went off to explore the rest of the aquarium. We went straight to the touch tank to feel some rays and sharks. It was like we were kids again. Then we decided to look at the big tank in the middle because in September it's going to be redone and will no longer exist. So if you want to go see it, hurry up!! We saw some very interesting creatures there, and actually avoided a lot of the school groups.

Sea Turtle

Underside of a flounder

After that we headed to Quincy Market for lunch. I got a steak and cheese sub and then a coffee milkshake for dessert. We walked around and did a little sight seeing since we had a lot of time to kill. Courtney was actually pulled into a street show!! I almost wish that we had a little bit more time to spend there.

Giant Mac & Cheese Noodle

Once we were done with lunch we hopped back on the subway and headed over to the Museum of Science. We got to see behind the scenes with their live animal department and had a self tour to look at the animals. I wish that this tour had been a little more informative, but they seemed really busy. The do have lots of cool animals there though. Many birds and reptiles, and then quite a few mammals too. My favorite was the groundhog (which I didn't take a picture of for some reason....) and their owl.


Red tailed Hawk

When we were done there the three of us headed off to explore the rest of the museum in a whirlwind amount of time. We were kids again, pressing all the buttons, and playing all the games. We had lots of laughs and I wish that we were there longer so that it wasn't so rushed. We found out that Joe has the lung capacity of a marathon runner, and we saw some pretty cool exhibits.

A Knitted Brain......

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....