Archive for the 'Conservation' Category

Wind, Snow, and Polar Bears

Posted at 10:48 am November 2, 2010 by Megan Owen

Two young males sparring.

Megan is reporting from Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. Read her previous post, Returning to the Polar Bears.

There are beautiful, calm, sunny days up here where you start to believe that you might begin to master the art of living in the polar bear’s Arctic home. But then, out of nowhere, the weather moves in. Of course the weather up here has any number of combinations of cold, rain, snow, and wind. And what really keeps you on your toes is that it can turn on a dime, leaving you feeling hopelessly ill-equipped to stand outside, even for a few minutes.

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New Homes for the Growing Flock

Posted at 10:56 am November 1, 2010 by Michelle Smith

Goodbye, old nene pens...

As previously reported, the Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program has achieved notable success this year, increasing the `alala flock by 11 juveniles (see post, Record Breeding Season for ‘Alala)! With all these new youngsters cavorting around, and with further growth of the flock anticipated in future years, aviary space has become hot property. Consequently, construction of brand-new `alala aviaries began in late summer at the Maui Bird Conservation Center (MBCC). Each building will have six aviaries, and with a potential of four buildings being completed over this winter, we will increase our holding capacity significantly.

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New View of Cheetah Conservation

Posted at 1:50 pm October 29, 2010 by Yadira Galindo

From left: Kelly, Makena, and Rachel during an ultrasound procedure.

Rachel carefully pours blue gel onto the ultrasound wand. She glides it gently over Makena’s belly, applying only light pressure while in search of a heartbeat, spine, or ribs. Next to the mother-to-be is Kelly, who provides moral support and gently caresses Makena. Moments later Rachel whispers, “There is a heartbeat.” And then a second. The fetuses are getting bigger daily. Everyone beams with enthusiasm except Makena. She purrs. I may have as well!

Makena is a five-year-old cheetah participating in a training session to carry out ultrasound procedures. She is one of 133 cheetahs born so far at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park as part of a very successful conservation program. (more…)

Returning to the Polar Bears

Posted at 11:52 am October 28, 2010 by Megan Owen

Flying to Churchill, in Manitoba, Canada, always fills me with excitement and anticipation. And as the flight into town began its descent, I felt like I was going home. I love it up here. I love the smell of the cold and the enormous sky. I first came to Churchill in 1993 as a graduate student, and I am happy to return to the Polar Bear Capital of North America as a panelist for Polar Bears International’s Tundra Connections program.

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Desert Memories

Posted at 2:01 pm October 27, 2010 by Frank Santana

Frank holds a king snake.

October is Kids Free Days at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Our Institute for Conservation Research staff are sharing their interactions and connections with nature at a young age and how these connections put them on their career paths. Read a previous post, Experiencing the Wonder of Nature.

One of my fondest memories as a kid was my first-ever camping trip in the Anza-Borrego Desert with my uncle. I still remember many of the amazing animals we saw that night: kangaroo rats hopping across our campsite, foxes darting across the road, and, of course, my first king snake, which was warming itself on the road at night. Since then I have been fascinated with conserving our natural resources, with a special fondness for the conservation of reptiles and amphibians.

Frank Santana is a research technician at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Read his previous post, Frog Blog 2009.

Okapi Project

Posted at 12:02 pm October 26, 2010 by Lizzy Lopez and Jay Shoen

We have just completed our summer fellowships, and we’d like to update everyone on our summer Okapi Project!  (See previous posts, Okapi Activity Patterns  and Okapi Study: Who Are You?) Our study focused on two components: observing okapi behavior and monitoring stress hormone levels (glucocortiocoids) over time.

As a team, we split our time between the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and managed to observe and monitor the biology of eight of the okapis in our collection. (more…)

Big Cat Preferences

Posted at 4:46 pm October 22, 2010 by Lance Miller

Hmmm. Sweet or salty?

Do you have a sweet tooth, or do you prefer treats like pretzels? Just as people have individual preferences, so do animals. Here at the Behavioral Biology Division of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research we are interested in determining individual preferences for some of our animals. Specifically, we are involved in a study examining enrichment preferences for our larger species of felids (lions, tigers, and cheetahs).

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Experiencing the Wonder of Nature

Posted at 10:35 am October 22, 2010 by Oliver Ryder

Vermillion Cliffs site

October is Kids Free Days at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Our Institute for Conservation Research staff are sharing their interactions and connections with nature at a young age and how these connections put them on their career paths. Read a previous post, A New Nature.

As a young person, it was a sense of wonder—a mixture of curiosity, interest, and desire for discovery—that kindled my interest in becoming a scientist. Years later, working as a conservation scientist at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research stimulates this sense of wonder. Now, however, the larger and more important context is the preservation of the astounding diversity of forms of life—the numerous species and their populations. This is the driving force for efforts my colleagues and I undertake. At a time when species are being lost at an unprecedented rate, this can be a challenging outlook. Yet, a single moment or moments of experience can make it all worthwhile, justifying tedium, overcoming frustration, and ablating despair.

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Congresswoman Visits Bird Conservation Center

Posted at 12:09 pm October 19, 2010 by Jeremy Hodges

Jeremy shows Congresswoman Hirono a mural of native Hawaiian birds. Photo credit: Marvin Buenconsejo

On September 1, 2010, the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center was excited to welcome Congresswoman Mazie Hirono, Hawaii’s two-term representative to Congress. The congresswoman and her staff were on the Big Island to participate in the first-day-of-issue ceremony for the U.S. Postal Service’s Hawaiian Rain Forest stamp series.

Congresswoman Hirono and staff toured our breeding facility, including our aviaries holding the adult `alala, palila, Maui parrotbills, and puaiohi. (more…)

Outdoor Survival Skills

Posted at 12:45 pm October 18, 2010 by Sara Motheral

A young Sara and her dad with the day's catch.

October is Kids Free Days at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Our Institute for Conservation Research staff are sharing their interactions and connections with nature at a young age and how these connections put them on their paths to becoming conservation biologists. Read a previous post, A Sense of Wonder for Wildlife

Not many people can say they learned to walk by holding onto the tall blades of grass in a mountain meadow or claim that their first word was “duck.” Thanks to my wilderness-loving family, I was exposed to nature at a very young age.  My parents were not biologists, but they enjoyed the outdoors, and their enthusiasm clearly rubbed off on me.  As a child, summer family vacations were always camping trips, and staying in a hotel was considered “cheating.”

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