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Category — Conservation

American Burying Beetle Release – Round Two

On July 1st, 2014 the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden released over 100 critically-endangered American Burying Beetles (ABB for short) at the Fernald Nature Preserve. This was the second of at least five years of releases planned at the preserve. As you might have read in previous blog posts I have been working closely with Fernald and the USFWS for the past four years to ensure that this species has an opportunity to make a comeback. This six-legged beauty has a very bazaar yet important role as a decomposer. Pairs of ABBs raise their young on the carcasses of small mammals and birds that they literally bury. While this might sound gross, these beetles and other decomposers are vital to the health of the ecosystem. Animals like these act like nature’s garbage men, removing and re-using things that no one else wants to deal with.

ABB being released at the Fernald Nature Preserve

ABB being released at the Fernald Nature Preserve

When the beetles were released last week they were provided with rat carcasses and methodically placed in the ground to breed. The release sites were carefully marked and protected from scavengers with layers of fencing. Next week we will return to check on the success of this year’s release by digging up about 20% of the carcasses. We will count any larvae and place them back in the soil to finish out their life cycle which will take about two more months.

ABB release site at Fernald

ABB release site at Fernald

This fall I will perform a post-release survey to check for any new adult ABBs at the preserve. The survey consists of setting and baiting pit-fall traps around the preserve that attract and trap live ABBs and other related beetles. So what exactly do you bait these traps with? I’m glad you asked! Inside each of these traps we place a container of steamy, foamy, week old, rotten chicken!

Yum

Yum

I assumed this aspect of the job would be pretty unpleasant when I signed up for it, but WOW did I underestimate the lingering, ghastly stench of rotten poultry. It works like a charm though. Within minutes these traps attract all sorts of carrion beetles. If ABBs are in the area, this level of stink will certainly attract them.

Inside a pitfall trap at Fernald

ABB relatives inside a pitfall trap at Fernald

ABBs are capable of flying over two miles a night, and Fernald is roughly one square mile. Our survey efforts are limited to the preserve; therefore it can be hard to gauge the overall success of these reintroductions. While we have not yet recaptured any ABBs at Fernald, other reintroductions in the US have yielded positive results, so we remain hopeful. I truly believe that efforts by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and other involved institutions will have a positive impact on this species’ general population status.

Staff and volunteers at the American Burying Beetle release.

Thanks to everyone involved with this year’s American Burying Beetle release!

July 11, 2014   1 Comment

Red, White, Blue … & Green!

8 Tips to Celebrate Sustainably this Fourth of July

Guest post: Mary Sticklen and Kaitlin Burt – Sustainability interns

The Fourth of July is a great day to celebrate our country by cooking out and watching fireworks. Unfortunately, some of our traditional ways of celebrating can have negative impacts on the environment. So here are some tips that will help you to add some green into your red, white, and blue celebrations!

Tip 1: Buy Local

As you plan for your barbeques make sure to try and source your beef locally and buy your produce and breads at local farmer’s markets. There are farmer’s markets you can still visit before the Fourth (Findlay Market (8am-2pm), Lebanon (3pm-7pm), Madeira (3:30pm-7pm), and Mt. Washington (3pm-7pm). Or check out the locally supplied and organic products at your nearest grocery store.

Display of edible garden items on side deck of Base Camp Cafe.

Display of edible garden items on side deck of Base Camp Cafe.

The aquaponics system in the Zoo's Greenhouse made possible by the Woodward Family Charitable Foundation.

The aquaponics system in the Zoo’s Greenhouse provides food for Zoo animals & Base Camp Cafe.

Tip 2: Ditch Plastic Dishes

While you are feasting this fourth, make sure to use your glassware or buy biodegradable dishware instead of buying plastic or Styrofoam. Biodegradable dishware is not much more expensive than its plastic counterparts and the environmental difference is significant. Biodegradable dishware only takes a few months to degrade in landfills, while plastic can take hundreds of years!

Tip 3: Carpool

The Fourth is a great to time catch up with friends and family. To save money and help the planet carpool to your events and parties.

Tip 4: Reuse Your Cup

If you’re having a big party, opt for serving drinks in large pitchers rather than serving drinks in cans and bottles, which can pile up fast. If you do use plastic cups when serving, make sure to write everyone’s name on them so you only have to use one. Also don’t forget to bring your own reusable water bottle!

Tip 5: Use Propane

One way you can make your cookout greener is to use propane to grill the food rather than charcoal. Charcoal grills produce almost three times the amount of greenhouse gases as propane. If propane is not an option, charcoal briquettes made from scrapwood are the most environmentally friendly.

Tip 6: Compost and Recycle

Being diligent about your food waste and recyclables is another easy way to be green. If possible compost all your food waste after the party and make sure to recycle any cans or bottles.

Clearly marked waste disposal containers in Base Camp Cafe.

Clearly marked waste disposal containers in Base Camp Cafe.

Tip 7: Watch Fireworks with Friends

Fireworks are an integral Fourth of July tradition, however they are not the most environmentally friendly. Instead of setting off your own fireworks, bring your friends to a local firework event rather than setting off your own. Firework events in the Cincinnati include:

- Mariemont Independence Celebration

- Loveland Fourth of July Celebration

- Red White & Blue Ash Fireworks

- Harrison 4th of July Celebration

- Ault Park Independence Day Fireworks

- Indian Hill 4th of July Celebration

- Norwood Hometown Fireworks

If you are setting off your own fireworks make sure to buy fireworks that are high in nitrogen because they release less smoke into the environment.

Tip 8: Enjoy the Outdoors

The best way to appreciate the outdoors is to go out and enjoy it. Have fun with your friends and family and enjoy the fresh air!

Imani the African lion enjoying the outdoors

Imani the African lion enjoying the outdoors

July 3, 2014   1 Comment

Another First for CREW: Indian Rhino Posthumously Fathers a Calf

CREW has done it again! We are excited to announce the birth of a female Indian rhino calf produced by artificial insemination (AI) conducted by CREW Reproductive Physiologist, Dr. Monica Stoops, and born on June 5 at the Buffalo Zoo. From a historical standpoint, this is the first offspring for a male rhino who never contributed to the genetics of the Indian rhino population during his lifetime – a major victory for endangered species around the world and a lifetime of work in the making.

Rhino calf Monica

Rhino calf Monica

The father, “Jimmy,” died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2004.  Over the course of those ten years, Jimmy’s sperm was stored at -320°F in CREW’s CryoBioBank™ in Cincinnati, before it was taken to Buffalo, thawed and used in the AI.

Jimmy the Indian Rhino

Jimmy the Indian Rhino

“We are excited to share the news of Tashi’s calf with the world as it demonstrates how collaboration and teamwork among the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) organizations are making fundamental contributions to rhino conservation,” said Dr. Monica Stoops. “It is deeply heartening to know that the Cincinnati Zoo’s beloved male Indian rhino, Jimmy, will live on through this calf and we are proud that CREW’s CryoBioBank™ continues to contribute to this endangered species’ survival.”

“Tashi,” the Buffalo Zoo’s 17-year-old female has previously conceived and successfully given birth through natural breeding in both 2004 and 2008.  Unfortunately, her mate passed away and the Buffalo Zoo’s new male Indian rhino has not yet reached sexual maturity. Because long intervals between pregnancies in female rhinos can result in long-term infertility, keepers at the Buffalo Zoo knew it was critical to get Tashi pregnant again and reached out to Dr. Stoops for her expertise.

In February of 2013, Dr. Stoops worked closely with Buffalo Zoo’s rhino keeper Joe Hauser and veterinarian Dr. Kurt Volle to perform a standing sedation AI procedure on Tashi. Scientifically speaking, by producing offspring from non or under-represented individuals, CREW is helping to ensure a genetically healthy captive population of Indian rhinos exists in the future.  This is a science that could be necessary for thousands of species across the globe as habitat loss, poaching, and population fragmentation (among other reasons) threaten many with extinction.

The Buffalo Zoo staff monitored Tashi’s pregnancy over the 15-16 month gestation period and at 3:30 p.m., on June 5, she gave birth to a healthy female calf, weighing 144 pounds.

Rhino calf Monica,  Lead  Rhino Keeper Joe Hauser, CREW Reproductive Physiologist Dr. Monica Stoops

Rhino calf Monica, Lead Rhino Keeper Joe Hauser, and CREW Reproductive Physiologist Dr. Monica Stoops with CryoBioBank

“Without Dr. Stoops’ dedication to the species, and to the development of AI science, there is no doubt this calf would not be here today,” said Hauser. “She has spent countless hours spear-heading research and technology for Indian rhino conservation and the Buffalo Zoo is excited to acknowledge that dedication and announce that the name of the calf is “Monica.”

Tashi’s calf demonstrates that AI science is a repeatable and valuable tool to help manage the captive Indian rhino population. With only 59 Indian rhinos in captivity in North America and approximately 2,500 remaining in the wild, being able to successfully introduce genetics that are non or under-represented in the population is critical to maintaining the genetic diversity necessary to keep a population healthy and self-sustaining.

“We are always thrilled to welcome a new baby to the Buffalo Zoo, but this birth is particularly exciting because the science involved is critical to saving endangered animals,” said Dr. Donna Fernandes, President of the Buffalo Zoo. “This type of professional collaboration among AZA Zoos is vital to the important work we do as conservation organizations and we are honored to play a critical role.”

July 3, 2014   No Comments