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Category — Cats

My Trip to Africa!

Guest blogger, Interpretive Media Intern, Crissi Lanier:
     It’s no secret that of all the animals at the Zoo, some of my favorites are the big cats.  So when I found out that there would be a new cheetah exhibit and an African lion, I was counting down the days until the new exhibit opened.  AFRICA IS NOW OPEN!!!  I went to see Africa a few days after it opened and was so excited I almost ran to the entrance.  First, I saw the cheetahs in their brand new home that brings them closer to visitors with a beautiful waterfall and lush landscape. Now I can see how beautiful their eyes are!
Cheetah-Photo:Crissi Lanier

Relaxing in the shade (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

     As I left the cheetah exhibit, in front of me was a beautiful landscape stretching out that truly made me feel like I was in another country! This spacious grassy area, complete with cliffs and waterfalls, will be home to zebra, gazelle,  and other savannah wildlife next summer.
     On my right was a great hands-on area for all visitors, big and small. Zoo staff had various African animals here throughout the day to learn about and touch, putting Africa at everyone’s fingertips.
Photo:Crissi Lanier

Meeting a yellow-billed hornbill (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

East African Pygmy Hedgehog-Photo:Crissi Lanier

A unique chance to touch a hedgehog! (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

     Finally, I found the king of the jungle – an African Lion named John. He was truly impressive when he finally walked out from the back. That was a sight I won’t soon forget. He had been a little shy since coming to Cincinnati from the National Zoo. John is almost three years old and weighs about 300 pounds. His keepers say every day he’s getting braver and coming closer to the glass that separates him from the visitors. With all the rocks and trees and his magnificent presence, I certainly felt like I was in my very own Lion King!  If only I had Timon and Pumba singing…
John-Photo:Crissi Lanier

It’s good to be king! (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

     After my African adventure, I stopped by the newly renovated Base Camp Cafe at the entrance to Africa. Here I had lunch while overlooking the African landscape and listening for John in the distance.
Overlooking Africa

Overlooking Africa

     So come take a little trip, like I did, to Africa. Bring your camera and prepare to be transported!

July 23, 2013   1 Comment

Training Update

Sifaka

Wilhelmina, Rinaldo, and their baby Bobbie continue to impress people with their movement and jumps.  This trio is by far the leader of cuteness in our zoo!  Their keepers, Matt and Stephanie and myself continue to work with them Fri, Sat and Sun at 2:30, allowing our guests an up close and personal look at this incredible species.  The trio will go outside when it gets a little warmer!

Training sifaka in Jungle Trails

Training sifaka in Jungle Trails

Polar Bear

Berit, the female polar bear that we trained to accept injections, is now learning to present other areas of her body and to lay down.  She has been such a wonderful animal to work with.  She is so responsive and it’s really neat to watch her thought process as she works out each problem and tries so hard to please. Watching her keepers work with her so closely and seeing their relationship with her grow in such a positive direction has been especially fulfilling.

We are still waiting (and waiting and waiting) to find out if she is pregnant or not.  We should know in the next week or two.  Lets all keep our fingers crossed!!! [Read more →]

April 4, 2013   1 Comment

Listening To Our Animals

cougar_exhibit

With Joseph in the cougar exhibit.

As an animal trainer or even a pet owner the most important thing you can do with your animal is to listen to them. I don’t mean physically having the ability to listen to them, but rather your willingness to sit, watch, and listen. In my blog post last week it was very clear that listening to an animal I work with can be imperative – it can save your life. Like listening to Makine, my rehab Java Macaque. The keepers and staff at the Cincinnati Zoo also listen to and know their animals. A clear example of keepers knowing their animals and listening to them is found in the story of the design of the Zoo’s cougar exhibit.

joe_cougar

Joseph as a cub.

When I was helping to raise the cougars, “Joseph” and “Tecumseh,” we had a strict schedule of exercise, enrichment, training, and play. Each day we would go for multiple walks, exercise them in the Cheetah Encounter yard, play with them, and even nap with them. We had to build a very strong bond with these animals so they could be transferred to their new enclosure and feel safe and secure. The only way to do this was to spend the time with them so even if they were worried they would trust their trainers and look to them for guidance. We wanted them to know if we weren’t worried about something, they didn’t need to be either. The only way to get that response and trust from them was to spend every day, all day, with them. Rough job, I know. [Read more →]

March 22, 2013   No Comments