Category — Birds
Contributors: Jackie Bray, Jenna Wingate, & Wendy Rice
Happy National Zoo Keeper Week! During the week beginning on the third Sunday in July each year, zoos nationwide honor animal care professionals and the work they do in animal care, conservation, and education. There are approximately 6,000 animal care professionals in the United States. Throughout this week, we’d like to introduce you to several of our outstanding keepers here at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Meet Aviculture Keeper, Kim Klosterman
Kim works as a keeper in our aviculture department. Her dedication and work ethic are inspiring, and her devotion to the animals in her care is evident in all that she does. Kim goes out of her way to make sure her animals receive the highest standard of care, even if it means late nights or extra work. She often builds nest boxes and special enrichment items for the animals on her own time. And she is always positive, passionate and polite.
Though Kim’s knowledge and understanding of aviculture is already extensive, she spends many hours researching best practices in husbandry, disease management and reproduction. By implementing the most up-to-date practices, Kim has been integral in several important breakthroughs in the reproduction and health care management of rare species.
In addition to her role as keeper, Kim is a passionate and productive warrior for the in-situ conservation of several avian species, most notably the kea (a parrot from New Zealand). Through grant writing, keeper chats, kea encounters and collaborations with other organizations and zoo departments, she has helped raise thousands of dollars that have made significant positive impacts on wild kea populations. Kim’s leadership has dramatically increased U.S. support for kea conservation and has helped form international collaborations that will likely change the direction of future captive management policies of the species. She is also largely responsible for our incredible new interactive kea exhibit that is receiving national and international attention. This exhibit sets a new standard for up-close, personal interactions with the animals and increases awareness and financial support for conservation initiatives.
July 21, 2014 2 Comments
Everything in a flamingo’s world needs to be a social occasion! Their lives are built around doing whatever everyone else is doing when everyone else is doing it. This includes all aspects of their breeding cycle – from courtship displays all the way to building their mud nests to rearing their chicks.
After successfully hatching and fledging four chicks on exhibit this season, the Cincinnati Zoo’s greater flamingo flock started to become a little antsy. Even those birds that were still incubating eggs were starting to spend more time off their nests…wanting to do what the majority was doing… and that was walking around.
Thus, we decided to pull the last three eggs under the parents to place in an incubator. We then “candled” the eggs (placing them in front of a bright light) and found one was infertile, one was a late-term death, and the third contained a growing, active, vibrant embryo! This egg was monitored for several days and seemed to be well on its way to hatching just fine. On the morning of June 30, we found chick had “pipped” (broken through) his outer shell and was calling regularly. (Parent birds and their chicks often “talk” to each other pre-hatch.)
After an incubation period of about 30 days, a flamingo egg usually takes 24-36 hours to hatch (from initial pip to total freedom from shell), so we were not too worried that not much progress had been made on the morning of July 1. However, as the day went along with little change, we began to consider that we were not exactly sure what time it pipped (was it late 6-29 or early 6-30?) and that an assisted hatch might be in order.
I first pulled a little of the outer shell away from around the pip mark and determined chick was very dry and likely stuck. What follows is a series of photos taken during the assisted hatch on the evening of July 1, 2014.
Below is a photo of the chick on Day 12! It is currently being hand-reared with a slightly older flamingo. These two are destined to join the group of four that takes part in the Wild Encounters programs marching around the zoo and greeting our guests on exhibit in Africa. The more, the merrier with flamingos!
July 15, 2014 1 Comment
Written by Crissi Lanier, Advanced Inquiry Program Graduate and Interpretive Media Volunteer, and Shasta Bray, Interpretive Media Manager
If you’re like me, your first question might be: What is a kea?
Meet the Kea
Ground-nesting parrots native to the Southern Alps on the Southern Island of New Zealand, keas have adapted to survive through bitter cold and little food during harsh winters, feeding mainly on bulbs, leaves, seeds, worms and insects, and even Hutton’s Shearwater chicks and eggs when other food isn’t available. Males are slightly heavier than females weighing about 850 to 1,000 grams (around 1.5 to 2 pounds) and have noticeably larger upper mandibles.
Keas have beautiful olive green feathers that become slightly darker at the end. If you look closely when they spread their wings, you will see a brilliant orange color on the under part of their wings. While keas are strong fliers, they spend a great deal of time on the forest floor foraging for food.
These clever parrots are considered to be as intelligent as primates. They regularly engage in play behavior and display play signals much like canids and primates do. They can also learn and adapt very quickly when presented with new situations such as the new Kea Encounter!
Keas are listed as Nationally Endangered in New Zealand and as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. This means it faces a high risk of extinction in the wild. They have been considered a threat to livestock and 150,000 birds were killed as part of a government bounty system. They have also seen a decline in numbers due to invasive species, habitat loss and lead poisoning. Only in 1986 did they finally receive legal protection. Clearly, they are in need of our help.
Keas at the Zoo
The Cincinnati Zoo is home to over 40% of the entire kea population in North America with 16 keas, include 10 adults (five males and five females) and six juveniles. The juveniles hatched in April and are growing rapidly, already weighing as much as a young adult. Juveniles can be spotted by the yellowish coloring around their eyes and beak, which fades to dark brown after several years.
Come Play at the New Kea Encounter!
At the new kea exhibit (formerly Lorikeet Landing), there is large window through which guests can view the birds. Here, guests can play an interactive game with the keas to move a quarter through a puzzle by taking turns at turning gears and flipping levers.
There is also an interactive that challenges guests to be clever like a kea and move a ball around a track by working together. Keepers are on hand each day at 10:30 AM to chat with guests (check the daily animal encounters schedule for confirmation).
During the special Kea Encounter on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 4:00 to 5:00 PM, visitors are invited to enter the kea habitat. During that time, you can get up close views of the birds as they fly over your head and hop on the ground around you. With keeper assistance, the birds will accept donations for kea conservation; taking your dollar in their beak, they fly to a donation box and drop it in.
Supporting Kea Conservation
Funds raised by the Zoo support the Kea Conservation Trust (KCT) in its mission to protect keas in the wild through nest monitoring and tracking kea movements. KCT is also testing a non-toxic repellent spray that would keep keas away from livestock and, in return, protect keas from farmer retaliation. (Keas have been known to peck at and feed on the backs of sheep with their sharp beaks.)
Next time you’re at the Zoo, be sure to stop by and participate in our new Kea Encounter!
June 20, 2014 No Comments