Archive for the 'Plants' Category

Observing Nature as a Child

Posted at 9:00 am October 7, 2010 by Christa Horn

A young Christa

October is Kids Free Days at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. We’d also like to encourage children to get outside and explore nature. During October, staff at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research 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 the previous post, No Child Left Inside.

In my father’s favorite picture of me as a child, I am crouching on a forest floor, smiling up at the camera with a face covered in dirt. I’m told it was a common scene: the curious little girl leaning in for a closer look at pine needles, insects, rocks, or just the different colored soil, and getting her hands (and everything else) dirty.

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Creating an Enrichment Garden

Posted at 12:02 pm August 2, 2010 by Cassidy Horn

Cassidy, at right, helps the crew.

There was no way that we were going to get everything done.

“We aren’t expecting to finish this project today, so just do what you can,” the supervisors said.

We were standing on a small hillside just above the okapi barn at the Wild Animal Park, starring at what seemed like miles of unplanted trees and bushes. In reality it was probably only 200 feet and it wasn’t that wide but who’s keeping track?

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Introduction to Park Horticulture

Posted at 1:16 pm July 27, 2010 by Lauren Young

View from the Park's Baja Garden

Have you ever wondered about the beautiful landscapes you see at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park? The Park’s gardens are tended to by a team of 28 hard-working horticulture staff, broken into eight teams. One team maintains the large field exhibits and the Journey into Africa trail path, while others work on the greenbelt area of botanical gardens, irrigation, and integrated pest management. There is a team of arborists who care for the many trees on grounds, and two teams of horticulturists that maintain the central Nairobi Village area. With a total of 850 acres of trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants to maintain, the horticulturists stay very busy.

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Monkey Habitat in Vietnam

Posted at 2:32 pm March 30, 2010 by Corrin LaCombe

A Tonkin snub-nosed monkey family. Photo by Le Khac Quyet.

I was recently invited by Dr. Chia Tan, head of the San Diego Zoo’s Asia Conservation Program, to conduct a rapid assessment of the needs, livelihoods, and land use practices of local people living near Khau Ca, Vietnam, a protected area containing the largest remaining population of the critically endangered Tonkin snub-nosed monkey Rhinopithecus avunculus. What I learned while there is that the only thing more jagged and complex than the virtually impenetrable limestone karst forests of the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey’s home range is the social matrix of the nearby communities.

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Eucalyptus Babies

Posted at 9:08 am July 15, 2009 by Christy Powell

We grow over 30 types of Eucalyptus to feed our koalas. These are two-week-old Eucalyptus camaldulensis seedlings.

We grow over 30 types of Eucalyptus to feed our koalas. These are two-week-old Eucalyptus camaldulensis seedlings.

Some new babies are growing in the San Diego Zoo’s plant propagation nursery: Eucalyptus trees! As many people know, koalas eat mainly Eucalpytus leaves, and part of my job as a plant propagator is to grow food for the animals. These seedlings will eventually be planted at a browse farm off site where the trees are grown in rows and cut back to maintain the new, juvenile leaves the koalas love.

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Meet Our Staff: Gardener Mike Masterson

Posted at 5:05 pm December 15, 2008 by Mychael McNeeley

Mike Masterson began working for the San Diego Zoo in August of 1972. Although the job was supposed to be temporary working the Skyfari ride, Mike ended up staying on while going to college (he referred to himself, at the time, as a “Skyfariologist”). In 1977, Mike took two consecutive temporary positions in the Zoo’s Horticulture Department. Just as the second stint was about to end, a full-time position became available at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park and he secured that just in the nick of time. Mike worked at the Park until December 2006, when the Zoo hired him back.

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Meet Our Staff: Gardener Mike Masterson

Posted at 5:05 pm December 15, 2008 by Mychael McNeeley

Mike Masterson began working for the San Diego Zoo in August of 1972. Although the job was supposed to be temporary working the Skyfari ride, Mike ended up staying on while going to college (he referred to himself, at the time, as a “Skyfariologist”). In 1977, Mike took two consecutive temporary positions in the Zoo’s Horticulture Department. Just as the second stint was about to end, a full-time position became available at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park and he secured that just in the nick of time. Mike worked at the Park until December 2006, when the Zoo hired him back.
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Meet Our Staff: Gardener Judy Bell

Posted at 4:57 pm July 22, 2008 by Mychael McNeeley
 Judy Bell

Judy Bell started at the Zoo in 1977 and has been with the Horticulture Department since 1987.

Every great organization has folks who stand out in their passion for what they do. It’s easy to see in the results of their work. Judy Bell is that type of gardener. She has worked in the Heart of the Zoo (an area that includes Monkey Trails, Absolutely Apes, Gorilla Tropics, and the bonobos) at the San Diego Zoo since 1991. Being in that area for so long, Judy has developed a unique relationship with the primates that probably wouldn’t occur to most visitors. That connection is where the flora meets the fauna.

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Meet Our Staff: Gardener Tom Luedtke

Posted at 1:15 pm June 27, 2008 by Mychael McNeeley

 Tom LuedtkeIn 1974, Tom Luedtke was hired at the San Diego Zoo as a part-time summer worker in the Building and Grounds Department. Before working at the Zoo, Tom’s previous job paid $2.10 per hour. The Zoo boosted Tom up to $2.30 per hour. By September of 1974, Tom went full time on a winter work crew, and his pay went up to the grand amount of $3.65 per hour. Tom says he was in “hog heaven” (and that was before we had so many pigs at the Zoo!) Tom was hired to a permanent tree trimmer position in 1976. After five years trimming trees, he moved into gardening.

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Meet Our Staff: Gardener Bruce Fontaine

Posted at 1:49 pm June 18, 2008 by Mychael McNeeley

 Bruce FontaineI think many readers of these blogs would be interested in meeting some of the incredible staff here at the San Diego Zoo. We have an amazing Horticulture Department, and the people are what makes that so. So, I’d like to introduce some of our workers, and the first person I want you to meet is Senior Gardener Bruce Fontaine.

Bruce started working at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park before it opened in 1972. Within a couple of years, he transferred to the Zoo. Although many of our original “Hort” staff started out in other departments, Bruce was actually hired by Horticulture and has stayed for 35 years!

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