Archive for 2006

Swinging in the Rain

Posted at 1:02 pm December 8, 2006 by Kay Ferguson

 Bai Yun and Su Lin Soon we will have some rain in San Diego, hopefully! The pandas at the Zoo’s Giant Panda Research Station really enjoy the cooler weather and their mood changes as they relax more and just hang out while I get wet. It doesn’t make any difference what type of rain gear I have, I always get wet! |inline

Koala Field Project: Meet Jackaroo

Posted at 12:13 pm December 7, 2006 by admin

 Jackaroo the koalaJackaroo (pictured) is a male koala that lives on St. Bees Island, Australia; this is where I traveled to for three weeks during the breeding season (see bloga Koala Field Project: Tracking Koalas and Koala Field Project: A Koala Chorus). I’ve been writing blog posts about smelly koalas (Male Koalas Smell Like Goats?!) and loud koalas (Motorcycles and Koalas), and now I can tell you about the koalas that I saw in the wild. I was hoping to see koalas and maybe hear a few bellows, but was I in for a surprise!


A Black-footed Cat Youngster

Posted at 4:40 pm December 6, 2006 by Nadine Lamberski

Nadine continues to share her adventures about studying black-footed cats in South Africa. Read her previous blog, In Search of the Black-footed Cat, continued.

 black-footed cat kittenDay nine of trapping and our success rate is 6.67 percent so far, with 24 captures out of 360 traps. The good news? We got a cat! A kitten really, but the elusive Felis nigripes nonetheless. We’ve been spotting every night and have seen at least five adults (only ten are estimated to be permanent residents at this location). Last night, one disappeared into a maze of ground squirrel burrows and the other into an aardvark den. We took turns crawling into it but we were all a bit concerned about meeting up with the aardvark…or a cobra. The den took a sharp turn to the left and then dropped down and it was just impossible to see.

It’s overcast and windy but still warm today. I did laundry, took a shower, and now feel amazingly clean (shower and clean clothes all in the same day!!). I also just finished a cheese sandwich, so things are close to perfect at the moment.

Nadine Lamberski is a veterinarian at the Wild Animal Park.

Note: Here are more links about black-footed cats:

Comments on Condors

Posted at 11:50 am December 4, 2006 by Suzanne Hall

 CRES Conservation and Research for Endangered SpeciesAs a panda researcher, I have tended to specialize in the study of creatures that happen to be black and white. Perhaps it is fitting that when an opportunity arose to study animals far removed from the bear family, the study subjects would, again, be black and white.

The California condor has been one of the most endangered birds in the world. In 1982, only 26 individuals existed. Since that time, researchers from CRES, along with a variety of organizations including the Los Angeles Zoo, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and The Peregrine Fund, have been contributing to the growth of the condor population as well as to the release of individuals to the wild. At this writing, there are at least 280 individual condors in the wild or in managed care facilities in the U.S. and Mexico. The involvement of CRES in the rescue of this species from the brink of extinction is echoed in our organization’s logo (see above).


Bog Blog: Winding Down into Winter

Posted at 4:10 pm December 1, 2006 by Mychael McNeeley

sundewI spent some time today doing my regular maintenance on the Bog Garden at the San Diego Zoo (see Mychael’s previous blog, Bog Blog: Flytraps and Ducks). This entails laying an old half ladder carefully across the bog, resting it on a milk crate so as to not crush the plants. I lay a small piece of plywood down on the ladder so I have something to sit on. This enables me to work out into the center of the bog, which is a little too far to reach from the edge. It’s low-tech, but it works. I cut out dead pitchers and flytraps, pull weeds, and cultivate the medium. The sand tends to sink down, so I like to stir it up to bring some of the sand back up to the surface. I also clear out the outlets along the center by plunging a piece of wire down each one. They tend to get a little clogged from the algae that build up in the sump.


Koala Field Project: A Koala Chorus

Posted at 3:43 pm November 30, 2006 by Fred Bercovitch

 Zoo team in the field, St. BeesWe heard the first bellow on St. Bees Island, Australia, at 5:30 p.m from the Rain Forest Gulley (See Jen’s blog, Motorcycles and Koalas). The next one came from the Knoll, then the South House Gulley, and back at the Rain Forest. About every minute or two we could hear the koalas calling to each other. What was going on?



Posted at 2:05 pm November 30, 2006 by Mike Bostwick

EucalyptusIf you’ve traveled around the San Diego Zoo over the past five or so years, you may have noticed some areas that looked like they were right out of the pages of a conservation magazine discerning the woes of clear cutting in the Amazon rain forests. What’s going on?

Over the last 25 years or so, the Zoos’ grounds have lost around 75 percent of the tree cover that it had, due in part to construction of new facilities and old, unsafe trees that had to be removed. The final nail was put into the coffin on some of the eucalyptus (pictured) by the eucalyptus long-horned borer, the lerp psyllids, and drought during the years starting in 2000. Eucalyptus trees county wide were hit hard by the psyllids, and that was true here in the Zoo.


Lion Update: Etosha and M’bari

Posted at 11:11 am November 30, 2006 by Marcia Redding

I know many folks have been waiting for news of Etosha and M’bari, the pair of lions that currently live in the original lion exhibit at the Wild Animal Park. As many of you know, Etosha has a history of having difficulty in delivering her cubs. Her first pregnancy resulted in a caesarian section. Sadly, once again, her latest pregnancy did not end well.


The Panda Decade, Part 3

Posted at 3:10 pm November 29, 2006 by Ellie Rosenbaum

Ellie recalls the first 10 years of giant pandas at the San Diego Zoo. Read her previous blog, The Panda Decade, Part 2.

 Bai Yun with Hua Mei at 19 days oldIt was mid-August, 1999, at the Giant Panda Research Station at the San Diego Zoo and staff was keeping a close eye on Bai Yun since her artificial insemination in April. There were subtle behavioral changes and hormonal shifts, but would this be a pseudopregnancy or the real deal? Veterinarians had used ultrasound procedures to attempt to determine pregnancy, but in those early days of research no one could be absolutely sure. For those of us outside the Station, little things hinted that it could get very exciting very quickly: panda narrators were called into individual, closed-door meetings before our respective shifts. No one would speak of the subject of these meetings, but each narrator emerged, in turn, wearing a broad grin! Panda Canyon was blocked off to all traffic, even foot traffic; and construction on the nearby Owens Rain Forest Aviary project came to a halt. And we waited.


Bog Blog: Flytraps and Ducks

Posted at 12:44 pm November 28, 2006 by Mychael McNeeley

 Venus flytrapHave you been to see the carnivorous plant Bog Garden in the Monkey Trails and Forest Tales habitat at the San Diego Zoo? If not, definitely make it a priority next time you’re here. These fascinating insect-devouring plants are as beautiful as they are remarkable. The Bog has been one of our most challenging horticultural features and also one of the most satisfying. Only about 10 feet across by 6 feet wide (3 by 1.8 meters), the Bog gets more than its fair share of attention from horticultural staff as well as the public. Venus fly traps Dionaea muscipula (pictured), sundews Drosera species, and the spectacular North American pitcher plants Sarracenia species grace this small garden just left of the golden-bellied mangabeys on lower Monkey Trails.