Category — Conservation
Guest blogger: Sophie Williams, Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) student and consultant on the Passenger Pigeon Memorial renovation
The passenger pigeon was once the most abundant bird in North America, and perhaps the world. In 1800, North America was filled with more than five billion passenger pigeons. It is hard to imagine the scope of their flocks. In 1813, ornithologist and wildlife painter John J. Audubon calculated a single flock he observed in Kentucky to contain more than 1,115,000,000 birds! An authority on the passenger pigeon noted that the birds moved “in such enormous numbers as to confound the senses.” Many reports described flocks of the birds blotting out the sun.
It is difficult to fully understand what it would be like to look up and see a flock of these birds flying overheard, to hear their billions of wings beating together, to feel the air moving over you from their flight. We may find the massive flock of starlings, called a murmuration, in this video unbelievable, but to imagine what a flock of passenger pigeons might be like, you would have to multiply the size of this murmuration by thousands!
The story of the passenger pigeon is a poignant example of nature’s abundance and humanity’s ability to exhaust seemingly endless riches. We also have the ability to save today’s imperiled species from suffering the same fate. The Cincinnati Zoo is part of an international effort called Project Passenger Pigeon, which will bring together scientists, conservationists, educators, and artists, musicians, and filmmakers to increase awareness of the passenger pigeon’s story and use it as an opportunity to engage people in current issues related to human-caused extinction, promote species conservation and habitat preservation, and motivate people to get involved in sustainable actions that promote biodiversity and deter future human-caused extinctions.
Those of you in the Cincinnati area can experience a larger-than-life version of world-renowned wildlife painter John Ruthven’s latest painting titled Martha, the Last Passenger Pigeon. Reproduced as a mural on the side of a building at 15 E. Eighth St. in downtown Cincinnati, it features a flock of passenger pigeons, led by Martha, in flight at the Zoo. The mural was dedicated on September 19. Forty years ago, John Ruthven captained an effort to create the Passenger Pigeon Memorial at our Zoo to honor the passing of the passenger pigeon and Martha. He is now collaborating with us to renovate the memorial in time for the 100th anniversary of Martha’s death.
Tune in each month as we celebrate what’s working in wildlife conservation leading up to the commemoration of 100 years since Martha, the last passenger pigeon, died at the Cincinnati Zoo.
To read the first post in this series, click here.
October 1, 2013 1 Comment
This past summer, CREW‘s aquatic salamander lab welcomed baby waterdogs into the world. Female waterdogs ‘Glitzy’ and ‘Muffintop’ both layed fertile eggs. It has been exciting to witness and document the development of these very elusive animals. It took quite some time before we could see the first evidence of the embryos forming and once they did, it was mesmerizing to watch them develop into full grown waterdog babies. We were rooting for them all the way to hatching!
This photo shows an early time point in waterdog embryo development. You can see the bodies starting to form around the very large yolk sacs. As you notice in the photo, waterdog babies lack pigment early in development.
As the babies progressed in their development, they became bigger and started to show evidence of pigmentation. This video shows early movement in one of the waterdogs while it still resided within the sac. Waterdog babies need to learn to maneuver while still in their sacs in order to be able to hatch themselves out. And hatch themselves out, they did!
After hatching, the babies started to get their ‘groove on’ and learn how to move about. This video was taken right after they successfully hatched and you can see how challenging it was for them to stay upright. Having such a little body resting on a large yolk sac looks funny, but is totally normal for a waterdog baby. The yolk sac is very important, as it provides the energy source for the developing babies. They continue to obtain their nutrients from the yolk sac until they start hunting and eating on their own.
September 20, 2013 1 Comment
Guest blogger: Crissi Lanier, Interpretive Media Intern
There are five species of rhinos in the world – Javan, Indian, Sumatran, Black & White. Three of these species, Indian, Black and Sumatran, reside here at the Cincinnati Zoo. Do you know how to identify them and where to find them? If not, read on and test your rhino knowledge on #WorldRhinoDay this Sunday, September 22.
Sumatran Rhino: Our sibling Sumatran rhinos, Harapan & Suci, have been in the news lately because they are the only two of their kind in North America and, as such, are key to the survival of this critically-endangered species. They are in neighboring enclosures in Wildlife Canyon, where you can see them doing their favorite thing — getting muddy!
The Sumatran rhino’s most distinguishing feature is the reddish-brown hair that covers most of its body. It’s the smallest of all rhino species, standing about 4-feet high at the shoulder and weighs about 1,500–1,800 lbs. Like both African species, it has two horns.
To read more about the Sumatran Rhinos from past blogs click here.
Black Rhino: Our female black rhino, Seyia, is new to the Zoo and getting used to her surroundings in the Veldt. She will make her public debut soon. Her predecessor, Klyde, was transferred to the Sedgwick County Zoo for breeding a few months ago. Learn more about the crate training that made Klyde’s move smooth.
Although this rhino is referred to as black, its colors vary from brown to gray. The black rhino is also referred to as the hook-lipped rhinoceros because of its prehensile upper lip. It has two horns but can sometimes develop a third.
Indian Rhino: We have two female Indian rhinos, Nikki and Manjula. They are in separate enclosures in our Veldt, with Nikki often found lounging in her pool and Manjula making appearances when she feels like it!
The Indian rhino, also called the greater one-horned rhinoceros and Indian one-horned rhinoceros, has only one horn! Nikki’s is a bit worn down because she likes to rub it on trees and rocks. This heavily built species can weigh up to 8,000 lbs and has thick, silver-brown skin, and very little body hair. Its upper legs and shoulders are covered in wart-like bumps.
*Sumatran rhinos are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are native to Sumatra (Indonesia), Borneo and Malay Peninsula.
*Black rhinos are considered Critically Endangered by the IUCN. They are found in various parts of central and southern Africa.
*Indian rhinos are considered Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are found in Nepal and India.
All of these rhinos need our help to survive for future generations. You can A.D.O.P.T. them to help aid in their daily care and enrichment, visit the Zoo on #WorldRhinoDay, talk to volunteers at the CREW stands about current research and more.
September 17, 2013 No Comments