Category — Exhibits
It’s time to go bananas again at the Zoo’s annual Ape Awareness Days weekend, free with regular Zoo admission. From 10:00 to 3:00 on September 12 and 13, guests are invited to learn more about apes and how we can help save them in the wild at the Jungle Trails and Gorilla World exhibits.
Volunteers will be on hand at the orangutan exhibit to introduce guests to our shaggy, red-haired friends, Henry and Lana. There has been some good news for orangutans in the Malaysian state of Sarawak recently. The Chief Minister announced his intentions to enact new projects that will protect orangutans and other wildlife from their major threats of illegal logging and clearing forest for oil palm plantations.
One way we as consumers can help protect orangutans is by purchasing products made with Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. The world’s most popular vegetable oil, palm oil is used in many of our everyday foods and products. Products made with sustainable palm oil, which is produced without clear cutting forests and harming wildlife, are listed in the Zoo’s Sustainable Shopper App. Download it and use it during your next shopping trip to make sure the products you buy are orangutan-friendly.
At the bonobo exhibit in Jungle Trails, guests can visit with their own closest non-human relatives. Baby Bo, who was born in March, is growing more independent and curious every day. You’ll want to see him before he’s all grown up! Here guests will learn what makes an ape different from other primates and test their own ape-identifying skills.
Over at Gorilla World, the big news, of course, is that Anju recently gave birth to the 50th gorilla born at the Zoo since 1970. The little girl is Anju’s first and Jomo’s third baby. Mondika, who was born last summer, is now a big sister! Swing by the Gorilla Wild Discover Zone during Ape Awareness Days to get the full scoop and latest news on the baby.
We also encourage you to bring any old cell phones you may have around the house and drop them in one of our cell phone recycling bins. Cell phones contain an ore called Coltan that is mined in gorilla and bonobo habitat in Africa. Recycling cell phones reduced the demand to mine more Coltan and helps preserve habitat.
We hope you will come on out on September 12 and 13 and celebrate Ape Awareness Days with us and the rest of the primates at the Zoo!
September 10, 2015 No Comments
If you’ve been to the Zoo lately, most of you have seen that the painted dog puppies don’t really look like puppies anymore. The largest pup, Luke, weighs in at 66 lbs. The smallest is Lucy at 54 lbs. Imara is still slightly larger at 68 lbs, but the kids are not far behind. A couple more months and the puppies should be about done with their growth. At almost eight months old, they have their adult teeth in and their faces are starting to look more adult-like. The most adult-looking dog to me is Hugo. He has a bigger head and even though Luke weighs more, Hugo seems larger in stature.
In addition to growing like weeds, the puppies and their personalities are still evolving.
On one hand, you have Bruce and Riddler, who seem to enjoy interacting with the keepers, and on the other hand, you have Alfred and Luke, who are a little shy and take some time to warm up. In my opinion, Luke is the most like his father, Brahma, in personality. He is a pretty reserved dog, very vigilant and observant. He is usually the one to sound an alarm call. Lucy and Riddler appear to enjoy hanging out solo on occasion, while everybody else likes to be on top of each other. The hierarchy is also still developing, but for now, Oswald is displaying traits of an alpha. Selina, sometimes with the help of Quinn, is the top female. This will probably change and depending on how the pack continues to develop, it could happen at any time. However, for the time being, Imara is still in charge, although her interference with the puppies has lessened. They are at the point where they need to work things out themselves. It is the way of the pack.
In the middle of July, we fed the pack their first carcass while on exhibit. Imara and the pups received a 70-lb processed (no head or guts) goat carcass. They had a great time with it, and being able to observe all of the natural behaviors that go along with this style of feeding was fantastic! In the wild, the entire hunt and kill is the best way for the pack’s bonds to strengthen. In captivity, it doesn’t get more natural than a carcass. Behaviors were exhibited that I hadn’t seen before. The amount of cooperation and sharing between Imara and the pups was amazing. You can see these behaviors in videos of dogs in Africa, but rarely get to see them in captivity. The puppies would take turns breaking down the goat. It was like a revolving door of dogs; as one dog tired, another one would take its place. They had it picked clean in under two hours.
We still do not have an answer to the most popular question that I hear while chatting with our guests – will we keep all of the puppies, and if not, where will they go? It seems likely that all or some of the males will move to another facility. There is a good chance a couple of them will form new packs for breeding. It’s also possible that a couple of the females will move out as well. Since Brahma’s passing, the pack has had to be managed a little differently than if we had an alpha pair. I am happy to say that I have been accepted into the Painted Dog Species Survival Plan (SSP) management group and I hope to contribute to all of the aspects of managing this species in captivity. The SSP officially meets next month and more decisions will be made, including the possibility of getting an adult male to breed with Imara. So come on out and see Imara and the pups while they are all still here!
September 4, 2015 2 Comments
For more than 10 years, the Zoo has partnered with Miami University’s Project Dragonfly to lead graduate courses that take educators into the field to experience community-based conservation, participatory education and inquiry firsthand. This year, I had the fortunate opportunity to co-facilitate Earth Expeditions Kenya: People and Wildlife in Integrated Landscapes with Dave Jenike, the Zoo’s COO. We took 17 educators with us, including formal classroom teachers as well as informal educators from zoos and similar institutions. This is the fifth and final post in a series about our experience. Read the previous post in this blog series here.
Today was Community Day! Following a wrap-up of the ecological monitoring projects and our last group discussion on balancing human land use and conservation in the morning, the afternoon brought us a special treat. Students from various local schools were transported to Lale’enok Resource Centre for a cultural day. Other community members, including Maasai elders and members of the Women’s Group, came to partake in the festivities as well. The students presented on the theme of “Water is Life” in the form of traditional song, dance, poetry and debate. They even invited us to join them in some of the dancing.
I had prepared the Earth Expeditions group that they might want to come up with a presentation of their own. In years past, groups ended up singing silly songs like the Hokey Pokey. This year, one of the students, Jen, brought the idea of doing the BioBlitz Dance. The Bioblitz Dance was originally created for National Geographic’s Bioblitz Event and is a celebration of the outdoors, human diversity and biodiversity, and national parks. I’m not sure it was any less silly than the Hokey Pokey, but at least it had a connection to people and wildlife. The best thing it did was break down barriers between the local community and our students, make everyone laugh and smile, and allowed us to do something in return.
Later that afternoon once the students had departed, we had the chance to mingle and have small group conversations with the community members. No topic was off limits, and they were just as curious about us and our culture as we were about theirs. We talked about marriage, family and more. Everyone was so open and friendly.
Soon, we all moved to the campfire for a traditional Maasai dinner featuring fire-roasted goat. There was much more conversation, singing, dancing and star gazing before heading to our tents for the night.
Our last full day in the South Rift began with an early morning walk just after sunrise to a ravine overlooking the river. We walked down to the riverbank and spent some time hanging out and reflecting on all the wonderful experiences we’d had so far. On the way back, a lone hyena burst out of the bush just ahead of us and booked it across the dirt road. Amazing!
We finished up the last of our coursework with a discussion about what the students planned to do for their Inquiry Action Projects once we returned home and how it fit into their Master Plans for those in the graduate program.
Then it was time to shop! Another way we can support the community and their conservation efforts is to support their livelihoods. As a group, we had the chance to purchase a variety of hand-crafted jewelry, belts, shukas (colorful cloths) and more directly from the women who made them.
At the Zoo, we have created a Lions and Livelihoods Bracelets program. More than 200 local Maasai women showed up to sell us bracelets made in a particular design to symbolize the coexistence of people and wildlife. Each color represents an integral component: red stands for lions, black for the Maasai people, blue for peace and white for clarity. Guests can then purchase these bracelets back at the Zoo. Revenue goes back to the Olkirimatian Women’s Group to provide tuition for local school girls and contribute to the operation of the Lale’enok Resource Centre.
We spent our last evening having a sundowner with the Lale’enok staff on top of a hill overlooking the South Rift and Mount Shompole. There were plenty of laughs, hugs and pictures as we said our farewells. It was a fantastic, life-changing expedition that no one will soon forget.
August 27, 2015 No Comments