The Inside Look: Festival of Flight bird tours were a wild and wonderful way to see the San Diego Zoo in action last month. I am an educator who leads behind-the-scenes adventures at the Zoo. Our bird tour experiences were so unique this year that I was as excited as the guests to experience our special animal interactions! The Zoo’s bird collection is incredible and includes almost 400 species and subspecies, which comes to about 3,500 individual birds. During our special tours, we got to spend some time with our feathered friends and meet the keepers who keep them happy, healthy, and entertained.
Archive for the 'Animal Stories' Category
Diagnostic imaging (radiography) is one of many diagnostic tools used on a daily basis at the San Diego Zoo’s Jennings Veterinary Hospital. X rays enable veterinarians to see what is going on inside our Zoo patients; now and again, the diagnosis is obvious.
Many of the Zoo’s mammals and birds spend time foraging and exploring their environment. Items such as sticks and leaves can provide entertainment as well as the raw materials for bedding and nests. Other items such as glass and metal can be very harmful to our Zoo animals. Metal can contain elements such as zinc and lead, which can be toxic to animals if not removed. Some aquatic birds fall victim to this after ingesting a coin from a “wishing well-like” pond. Others find the shining objects in terrestrial areas of their exhibits; our Madagascar crested ibis was one such bird.
I’ve just returned from my annual trip to Churchill in Manitoba, Canada, to work with Polar Bears International. This was my 10th year of doing so, and, as many of you know, I have seen dramatic changes in the environment and animals that live there in just this decade. This year has provided the shortest ice season in recorded time: the polar bears lost a full nine weeks of hunting time. The water and air temperatures for November and December continue to be above normal, delaying the formation of ice again this year. The polar bears have been hunting during low tide and have been fortunate to occasionally find harbor seals resting among the rocks. The bears must be vigilant that they return to the shore before the tide rushes in.
Giant pandas Su Lin and Zhen Zhen moved to Wolong, China on September 24, 2010. Gaylene accompanied them on their journey and is sharing the trip with us through blog installments. Be sure to read China Trip Diary: Part 2.
I have decided that flying with a giant panda is the way to go! Fifteen hours go by very quickly when you have a two incredible pandas to visit with and take care of. Zhen Zhen and Su Lin were troupers throughout the journey. The “What ifs” and worries of what might happen were subdued by the natural behaviors these two young pandas demonstrated in conditions far from routine. The dedicated daily care given to Su Lin and Zhen Zhen, combined with the wonderful travel training efforts provided by the keepers, set this journey up to be a success!
Well, you’ve probably seen him by now, our newest, fuzziest addition to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s Animal Care Center! Say hello to Kiburi, our 19-day-old cheetah cub. His mother, Makena, who was hand raised herself, gave birth to two cubs in the late afternoon on November 14, 2010. (Read about Makena’s ultrasound procedure in New View of Cheetah Conservation). Unfortunately, one cub died a few hours after birth, and keepers had to intervene when Makena began showing signs of abandoning her remaining cub. He was brought to the Animal Care Center, where he immediately nursed a warm bottle for nursery keepers; soon after this, he began to purr. His weight at birth was less than a pound at 451 grams!
Have you been checking out the construction of our yard project, connecting the two large elephant yards at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park? Currently, our African elephant herd lives in one yard, and adult male Msholo lives in the other yard. It will, I hope, be completed very soon!
Zookeepers get very attached to our animals. We provide their daily care and for some, so much more. Tuya, our young Bactrian camel, needed much more. We provided it happily, and because of this she has grown to be about 500 pounds at almost 9 months of age (see previous post, Baby Camel: Accepted). Along with the happiness always comes the day when the animal has to make a journey to another zoo. Tuya’s father, Mongo, will be staying with us. This means that Tuya will need to be sent away to be part of a breeding herd.
Giant pandas Su Lin and Zhen Zhen moved to Wolong, China on September 24, 2010. Gaylene accompanied them on their journey and is sharing the trip with us through blog installments. Be sure to read China Trip Diary: Part 1.
The day of departure arrived, and the keepers and I did our best to focus on the tasks we had to accomplish rather than the goodbyes we had to say. Su Lin and Zhen Zhen entered their crates and settled in. I buckled my seatbelt on the bench seat directly in front of the pandas in the cargo section of the truck, and we departed for the land portion of the journey.
Giant pandas Su Lin and Zhen Zhen moved to Wolong, China on September 24, 2010. Gaylene accompanied them on their journey and is sharing the trip with us through blog installments.
I did my best to suppress some of the excitement in my voice as I answered “Yes” to the question put before me by San Diego Zoo Associate Curator Curby Simerson in August 2010: “Would you be willing to accompany the pandas on their trip to China?” My efforts to minimize an overly eager reply manifested into a short, quick, loud, “Yes!” It was an honor and privilege to be offered this unique assignment. The many details of it had yet to be worked out, resulting in several months of anxiety and hesitancy to make any personal travel plans.
I recently spent several days in the dry forest of Lambayeque in Peru working with our collaborator Robyn Appleton and her field crew from the Spectacled Bear Conservation Society and with Dr. Meg Sutherland-Smith, a veterinarian from the San Diego Zoo. Our goals were to reinforce and enhance the field crew’s training in bear immobilization and, with luck, to illustrate everything by immobilizing a female Andean (or spectacled) bear and placing a GPS collar on her. The field crew had recently discovered the den at which a female bear (Pepa) had given birth. This is the fourth den found at this field site, and only the fifth ever described of wild Andean bears (one den was recently discovered in the cloud forest of Ecuador).