Archive for the 'Zoo Journal' Category

Neighborhood Creek to Zoo

Posted at 2:42 pm November 2, 2010 by Ron Swaisgood

Ron and his family on a nature hike.

October was Kids Free Days at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Our Institute for Conservation Research staff shared their interactions and connections with nature at a young age and how these connections put them on their career paths. Read a previous post, Desert Memories.

It’s a little sad to see Kids Free month—and our renewed focus on getting kids and their families out in nature—come to a close. Every day of every month should be kids in nature day! That’s how I remember my childhood—the long summer days spent exploring the local creeks and woods, the afterschool afternoons spent building forts and treehouses, the weekend camping trips to the beach and the mountains. I grew up in suburban North Carolina, but there was plenty of nearby nature to sink my muddy feet into. The thing is, you don’t need a National Park to experience nature, you just need a canyon, a creek, or a vacant lot to cultivate some nature rituals.

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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.

Biomimicry: Swarm Intelligence

Posted at 4:42 pm October 25, 2010 by Dena Emmerson

In a 1987 paper, Craig Reynolds wrote about an algorithm he had produced that modeled the flocking behavior of birds. He found that by imputing three simple rules for his digital individuals to follow, flock behavior could be simulated. The three rules are as follows:

One: Collision Avoidance: avoid collisions with nearby flockmates

Two: Velocity Matching: attempt to match velocity with nearby flockmates

Three: Flock Centering: attempt to stay close to nearby flockmates

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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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A New Nature

Posted at 10:33 am October 20, 2010 by Susanne Marczak

A young Susanne explores the forest floor.

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, Outdoor Survival Skills.

I grew up in a very different place than San Diego; I was born and raised in Nova Scotia, Canada, where towns were smaller and times seemed simpler, and seeking entertainment outdoors was the standard. Nintendo hadn’t yet been invented, car phones were the next big thing, and nobody could have imagined that something like the Internet could ever exist. Every day until dusk, life was filled with imaginary adventures that became the foundation for real memories I look back upon with great fondness.

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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…)

Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 6

Posted at 4:28 pm October 18, 2010 by Rachel

A bear checks out the humans on the Tundra Buggy.

Rachel is the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador. She is sharing what she learns at Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Read the previous post, Teen Arctic Ambassadors: Day 5.

As Teen Leadership Camp 2010 starts to come to a close, I find myself reflecting on all of the great things that I will be taking with me back to San Diego. I have been so inspired by the wild polar bears, the presentations, and, of course, the other teen ambassadors. We formed a very tight-knit “family” during this past week, and it is going to be very hard for all of us to part ways.

From observing the polar bears in the wild and by brainstorming “green” project ideas with the other teens, I feel very motivated to come back to San Diego and do all that I can to make a difference. With the support of the other teen ambassadors, the facilitators, and others, I am ready to take action to preserve the polar bear for many generations to come.

I have learned so much from this experience; this past week truly has been eye-opening and life changing.

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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Teen Arctic Ambassadors: Day 5

Posted at 10:44 am October 18, 2010 by Rachel

The teens were within inches of this female bear!

Teens from the U.S., Canada, and Australia attended Polar Bears International’s Teen Leadership Camp. Below is a post written by the whole group. Read a previous post from the San Diego Zoo’s 2010 Teen Arctic Ambassador, Teen Arctic Ambassador: Day 4.

Today the connection was truly felt. The force of climate change was driven home by Robert Buchannan and all of the facilitators and was helped by our resident two polar bears outside the window of our Tundra Buggy. Last night ended with incredible inspiration by a fellow ambassador, Alannah Watkins, and the facilitators, Cynthia and Andrew. We were dazzled by the map of the retreating sea ice in the Arctic, which drove home the importance of taking action.

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Vision for a Sustainable Decade

Posted at 3:07 pm October 15, 2010 by Dena Emmerson

Ficus religiosa

Coming up on October 28 to 30, 2010, is the Net Impact Conference held at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. The San Diego Zoo’s manager of venture business, Jon Prange, will be featured on a panel at the conference on the topic of science brand equity, a new term coined by EarthSky.

“Brand equity” is the increase in value a product gains when associated with a certain brand when compared to how that product would do in the market without that brand attached. Science, as we know, is the systematic knowledge gained through observation and experimentation. Put those two terms together and we have “science brand equity,” or the value of science associated with a specific brand. Science, in a corporate sense, encompasses sustainability, research, technology, and innovation.

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