Monday, July 23, 2012

History Friday

Friday- This post is going to have a lot of photos so I decided to make it it's own entry. Most of the day went normally with me in giraffe with Nate, getting done early and going to an encounter. I even got to answer some questions for visitors which made me feel pretty good.

After lunch though we went to our class. Today's class was all about the history of zoos, but our zoo in particular. The man giving the class was Rory Brown, who I believe is on the board of directors and was also a professor at Harvard. Instead of our normal class, this one was all outside and we were able to see some of the old buildings that are still standing from when the zoo was first built. Some were added a little later, but they are still very old.

Rory started out talking about the general history of zoos and how they came to be, starting off with Botanical Gardens that held some animals in France and then working his way across the world to the U.S.A and how they were influenced by these early zoos.

Our next stop was the Antelope House. I've talked about that on here before since it's technically part of our department. All of our buildings have numbers, the bongos being 2, and then working it's way to 14 I think, but I had always wondered what building 1 was. I assumed it was the trailer since it's so close to Building 2, but turns out it's the Antelope House! I noticed a block of wood with the number 1 painted on it as I was leaving.

I still can't find the old photos of the house online, although I did find another album from the Boston Public Library that shows many photos from when the zoo was first opened. I took some photos of my own this time though so that you could see exactly how it looks in there (and the outside which looks AMAZING.)

Inside of the Antelope House, looking from the visitor area

Animal holding area inside Antelope House

Outside of Antelope House

Label of the Antelope House, with an amusing sign...considering it's been condemned for years.
After the Antelope House we headed off across the zoo and off grounds to take a look at the Raccoon Den and the Bear Dens. These two exhibits weren't actually located within the zoo because the idea was they wanted to get visitors to also visit the park...and these two exhibits would lure them into it. I didn't get any photos of the Raccoon den since it was really really overgrown with plants, and would have been hard to tell what it was, but here are some of the old photos of it, with some it it's residents.

Once we had viewed this area we went off to the bear dens. It's amazing to think that these are still here after all these years and that they haven't torn them down. The only thing missing from them are some of the bars that held in the bears, but everything else is still there. It's also amazing to hear how many bears were kept in these small little areas. One of the dens held upwards of eight bears I think....I don't even know if I would have put two in there...

Staircase up to the dens

Side view of two dens, which were once divided by bars

Back view of dens, the tube pictured is to protect a tree once held in it.

Really cool emblem?

Den #3, the one that held about 8 bears

Polar bear den, I'm not sure why there was a hill in this one...what could it have been for?

Their teeny tiny holding area.

So that's what it looks like now....This is what it used to look like before, with it's very comical residents.

Note the very lazy looking bear in the back...hahaha

Just hanging out...

"Okay kids, time for your synchronized swimming lessons..."

The small doors in the back were for their holding areas.
Overall it was a very informative trip, which I rather enjoyed. I hope you all enjoyed looking at these photos and seeing how far zoos have come with their exhibit design.

And then the rain came...

Monday- On giraffe again this week. It'll be my last week with them since my final week at the zoo is next week. Didn't this summer just fly by? I think it did. It seems like only yesterday I had arrived at the zoo for orientation. Crazy.
Also, I'm starting off with Monday of this week because I needed to make up the hours that I took off from the Fourth. So it'll be a little bit longer of a week. I flew through giraffe very quickly with Nate. I'm very comfortable with the routine in there now and can pretty much just go about my business without needing to ask a question. When we were done cleaning we went off for an encounter with a good sized group of people. One girl had lots of questions about being a zookeeper and the giraffes. It was nice to see that she was really taking advantage of the encounter and getting all the information that she could. Most people just want to feed Beau. Which isn't a bad thing, but I know that if I was in the situation I would ask as many questions as I could.

In the afternoon we went off to do delivery and then there was a delivery of knotweed from the same organization that brought us some before. We ended up getting 30 or so bundles out of it I think, which is good. I think that brings our total to something like 150 or so. That will certainly keep the giraffes happy over the winter months.

Tuesday- Today I was on giraffe with Hope. It was extremely hot so both of us weren't very motivated to go outside, or in the giraffe barn for that matter. I tried to keep in the path of the wind as much as I could to stay cool but I had already soaked through my clothes by 8:30 am. It was awful. I think this whole working in the city thing has really made me realize how hot it can get in cities.

We were also having some problems with the electric fence this morning so the giraffes didn't even end up going out onto exhibit until about 1:20. Which is extremely late for them since they're supposed to be out at 10am. Well what can you do, we certainly couldn't put them out there without a safety barrier!

My afternoon was filled with meeting after meeting. First I went to the "Ethics" class which was all about how people view zoos and what the public thinks. We discussed how some people look at zoos as a bad thing, and what we could say to support zoos/what are some things that people see badly about zoos.
When that was over we had our bi-weekly staff meeting to talk about what has been going on in the department. It was good to catch up on everything and to put my own thoughts in. It was quite the drag though to have to sit through multiple meetings back to back. Those lasted until about 4:30pm and by that time it was off to go do close up.

Wednesday- I was on giraffe with both Andrea and Katie today. Which made our job go by super fast. Katie did all the diet stuff while I helped prepare the greens and helped clean a little bit. We were done way earlier than we normally are, so we made sure that everything was sparkling clean.

We also had the chance to put Kayan on exhibit today. If I haven't mentioned him before he's one of our male Grevy zebras, who is the younger of the two. He hasn't been on exhibit since he was much younger and we had been previously worried that his rambunctiousness would cause him  to escape. So we tried it out and everything worked out perfectly.

After lunch we went off to watch a presentation that one of the other keepers was giving that was on his studies of Puffins off the coast of Maine. I believe the island that he was working on was about 20 miles off the coast of Rockland, so it's not that far from Unity. It was really interesting to listen to him.

Once that was over we started to walk back to the trailer from Tropical Forest and we got a call over the radio that there was a severe weather warning. This meant that we needed to get some of the animals in to safety, like the giraffes for instance. Things that are really tall tend to get hit by lighting, and we wouldn't want that to happen. No sooner had we gotten the giraffes in than it started to downpour. I was a little sad that I was going to have to be working in the rain, but I was happy because it has been so hot all week and we definitely needed the water.

Thursday- Today I was actually on bottom road instead of giraffe. We went through both the Wildebeest and the Kori's very quickly and then decided to strip the camel stalls. Which is my least favorite of all the jobs because it's so complicated, but it of course needed to be done.

Later on during the day we went off to bundle some Beech. A very large branch had fallen down in the storm yesterday and we were going to take advantage of it as best we could. All in all we got 53 bundles out of it, which is just an enormous amount for one branch if you ask me.

Bundles of Browse

When that was all done, it was pretty quiet around the department so I decided to work on my project a little bit. I moved over the ostrich feeding platform to the other side of the hut so that the doors could be made around it. I wanted to get a picture of it, but of course my phone died, so just imagine a piece of plywood that makes a shelf.