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Category — Director’s Notes

The 90-Second Naturalist Never Runs Out of Stories

Thane Maynard

The 90-Second Naturalist photo by Michael Wilson

Over the past twenty six years the two most frequently asked questions I get are, “Do you know Jack Hanna?” and “How do you ever come up with those stories for ‘The 90-Second Naturalist’ every day?”

Naturally, there are a bunch of answers as to how somebody comes up with nearly 7000 daily radio programs.  Early on, the program evolved out of the UC Biology classes I used to teach in the 70s and 80s.  That, and I’ve always had a head full of trivia about wildlife and natural history.  And besides, the principle role of a zoo is to tell the story of animals and the natural world, so ‘The 90-Second Naturalist’ has always seemed like a good fit.  As for pulling it off for so long, it’s become a bit like training for the Flying Pig Marathon.  Running that much probably doesn’t really make sense, but once it becomes a habit, it’s just something you make time for and actually enjoy.  The same thing’s true when coming up with daily shows for ‘The 90-Second Naturalist.’

Thane Maynard

The 90-Second Naturalist with animal friends – photo by Michael Wilson

Each Tuesday afternoon my producer, Rick Andress, and I record 5 programs down at Cincinnati Public Radio across from Music Hall.  He then edits them and adds sound effects and sends them out, a month’s worth at a time, to the public radio stations that carry the show all around North America.

And yes, I get a fair amount of feedback from listeners far and wide.  Whenever I mention wolves I can count on complaints from ranchers in Montana.  And sometimes I even get disagreeable notes from marina owners in Florida when I mention manatees.  And some folks think I talk about poop and mating too much, but hey, it’s a show about nature!  So, somehow it all works out.

The all-time definitive statement on ‘The 90-Second Naturalist’ was made my by youngest daughter years ago when she was in middle school.  Someone had called the house and I could tell they must have mentioned the show and how amazing it was that I come up with such a quantity and variety of topics every day.  My daughter innocently responded, “Oh, it’s not that big a deal.  He tells the same story every day, but he  changes the name of the animal so it sounds different!”  And since pretty much everything in nature is a reflection of everything else, I guess that really is the secret to my success.

August 27, 2013   2 Comments

Greenest Restaurant in America!

How about that!  Greenest restaurant in America!  In fact, when the Green Restaurant Association took a look at our new Base Camp Café, the Cincinnati Zoo scored the highest sustainability rating of any restaurant EVER!  We’re composting and getting out of the landfill.  We’re serving fresher, local foods.  And we’re working toward a monster goal of having our zoo visitors eat as well as our animals!

And it’s not just our restaurant . . .

Over the past 7 years the Cincinnati Zoo has become nationally known as “The Greenest Zoo in America.”  And this isn’t just a branding campaign or a marketing plan, we have the data to back it up.  The Cincinnati Zoo uses 1/3 the water we used in 2006, when we began our big sustainability push.  And though we have added 25% more buildings, animal exhibits, and facilities since then, we use LESS electricity and natural gas than we did back then.  And it’s important to note that we didn’t accomplish this by blowing money on big new systems.  In fact, part of why our “Go Green” program is so effective is that we actually save a fortune through our sustainability programs.  That way, we can invest those utility savings in upkeep and improving the zoo – for both our animals and our visitors.

The Way Forward

Of course, it’s not about winning awards or recognition.  The Cincinnati Zoo models effective ways to “Go Green” because it is good for our community and good for our world, as well as our bottom line.  The big challenges that both wildlife and people face in the 21st Century are not going to be solved top-down.  There is no magic wand that the World Wildlife Fund or the EPA can wave to save the world.  Even huge problems like habitat loss and climate change will only be solved by hundreds of millions of better, more informed, decisions being made every day across America.  Today the US leads the world in consumption.  We can also lead the way in going green.

Come over to the Cincinnati Zoo and we’ll show you how.

June 7, 2013   4 Comments

Tips For Eating Like An Animal

OK, we’ve established that animals eat better than we do. So here are some tips to help you eat like an animal:

4. Don’t eat out so often – Many Americans eat out far more than they eat a home cooked meal. Unfortunately, restaurants fill their food with way more fat and salt than you’d use at home, to make it taste better and to get you to come back often. But you wouldn’t let your dog eat there.

3. Don’t eat anything from a gas station – If snacks and sandwiches can sit around for months, they probably have more chemicals and additives than we can absorb. And you certainly wouldn’t buy food for your cat from a gas station snack rack.

2. No soda pop. Nada. – Both sugar free and regular soft drinks are bad for your teeth and for your body. They, and most sweetened drinks, are just bad for you all the way around. Besides, you only let your pet drink water anyway!

1. Eat a colorful plate – The first time I went in for a colonoscopy, the nurse gave me a big ole lecture about my diet. She said she could tell that I eat too much dairy, meat, sugar and white flour. Instead, she wanted me to mostly eat vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and to go sparingly on the others. It sounded complicated at the time.

But of course, not once I started eating like an animal.

Listen to 90-Second Naturalist “Tips for Eating Like an Animal” podcast.

February 6, 2012   No Comments