Category — Exhibits
On September 1, 1913—the passenger pigeon was one year away from extinction. Martha, the last of her species, lived here at the Cincinnati Zoo and was an aged bird. Efforts had been made for years to find a mate for Martha that would provide a chance for the species to survive. In truth, the fate of the passenger pigeon had been sealed several decades before by modern communications (telegraph), transportation (rail), rampant commercial-scale harvest of the birds and the felling of large expanses of hardwood forest habitat. For Martha and her species, it was a waiting game. The eyes of the nation watched for the inevitable to happen.
The inconceivable loss of the most common bird species on the planet shook society out of its torpor. There had been billions of passenger pigeons only 50 years before—racing up, down and across the continent like a biological storm, consuming the fruits of the forest in its quest to fulfill their mission to feed, nest and make more pigeons. Few would have believed that there would soon be none. Those that were concerned were not influential enough to prevent it. By the time it was clear to the majority what was going to happen, it was just too late to do anything about it. It was the first time we could be certain that humans had caused a species’ extinction. It was, and is, a heavy burden, yet it was also a catalyst for change.
There is good that came from this extinction. Many species considered common today were on the brink of the same fate at the end of the 1800s. American bison, wild turkey, white-tailed deer and pronghorn antelope were all on the same path to extinction as the passenger pigeon. After the loss of the passenger pigeon, people got to work to save these species from the same outcome. President Roosevelt began the National Parks program and wildlife conservation efforts sprang up all over the country. The wildlife conservation effort we know today was born out of the loss of the passenger pigeon. In a very real way, modern zoos as well as countless other conservation organizations around the globe owe their existence to this one event. It is an impressive legacy and one to be celebrated in the coming year.
Over the next year, the Zoo will celebrate what works in the world of wildlife conservation as a commemoration to Martha. To start, we will renovate the current Passenger Pigeon Memorial at the Zoo to include a hopeful message that celebrates the success of wildlife conservation rather than mourning the loss of a single species. We will highlight the work of our Zoo in species conservation and celebrate the work of others in our community and beyond. We will be blogging each month with updates on the renovation of the Passenger Pigeon Memorial and more, and hope you will join our story and celebration in the coming year.
September 1, 2013 3 Comments
This summer I’ve had the great opportunity to be an Interpretive Media Intern at the Cincinnati Zoo. When I began in June I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I was excited. The summer experiences certainly haven’t lessened that excitement. I’ve been assisting Shasta Bray, the Interpretive Media Manager, in three main areas.
First, I’ve been writing blogs on various topics from how to tell our elephants apart to the new Africa exhibit. Writing about different experiences I’ve had at the Zoo as part of the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) has been fun, both because of the actual writing as well as sharing my experiences with others.
In addition to the blogs, I’ve been updating and creating animal pages for the Zoo website. This has been one of my favorite projects because I have learned so much about species I have never heard of or paid attention to before this summer. I’ve become much more comfortable with the Zoo and what can be found where in the exhibits. I don’t know where everything is yet, but I certainly feel more at ease than before.
Both of these projects have allowed me to incorporate one of my other passions – photography. I have been fortunate to be able to include some of my personal photos on the animal pages and blogs, which is very rewarding.
One last project has been helping to find out how visitors feel about the new interactives in Jungle Trails. We have completed observations and short interviews about each interactive as well as the overall opinion of the new installments. Everyone seems to really enjoy them! Read more about them here.
The greatest part of this internship has been all the great people I’ve met and had the chance to get to know. Everyone truly seems to love their job at the Zoo in all departments. Learning from Shasta has been such a great experience. Much of what you see throughout the Zoo has Shasta’s personal touch to make it look just right while also engaging and educating visitors. She works with a team from Graphics and Marketing to fine tune each piece. I rarely thought about all the signs and information that are presented throughout the Zoo and how these pieces were produced. This summer has given me a whole new perspective on them and why certain pieces are located where they are; it’s not by accident!
Overall, this internship has been an experience of a lifetime and the only negative part is that it has to end! There has never been a day I wasn’t excited to come to the Zoo. Each morning as I head to the Education Center, I pass through the P&G Discovery Forest, where I say hello to sweet Moe the sloth and beautiful Leroy the blue and gold macaw.
After all, who else gets to walk through a rainforest on their way to a meeting or hang out with orangutans on their breaks!
August 28, 2013 No Comments
Guest blogger: Crissi Lanier, Interpretive Media Intern
A.D.O.P.T. in YOUR classroom!!
As the time of starting back to school approaches, I have a fun idea for your classroom that was a lot of fun in mine! I’m the Assistant Coordinator and Toddler Teacher at the Children’s Center. My friend/co-teacher and I work with children 18 months to 3 years old. We’re always trying to come up with ways to bring the outside world in and encourage learning about any topic they are interested in. We learned quickly that almost all of these kids love the Zoo. Even if they don’t visit often, they are still excited to tell about their animal adventures, favorite sights and sounds and even how much they love the train ride!
This past year we decided as a classroom to A.D.O.P.T. Joseph the cougar. Each family was asked to donate $1, which went to the cost of the adoption. We explained to the children during group time about how the money helps the Zoo care for the animals like feeding the cougars, as well as providing enrichment (e.g. toys) and medication when needed. These are things that two-year-olds understand and they were excited to “help take care of Joseph”. We also created the poster below that hung in the classroom with our adoption certificate, as well as pictures of Joseph for the kids to look at.
They were so excited to tell us when they had visited the Zoo over the weekend and if they saw Joseph or not. It was a simple but ongoing lesson of caring for animals and having a feeling of responsibility towards this cat, and in turn broadening their view of the world. They would say it was “their Joseph” with great pride when they saw him at the Zoo.
So as this new school year approaches, I encourage you to incorporate A.D.O.P.T. in your classroom at any level from Pre-K to high school. There are so many lessons that can be incorporated in to this process ranging from basics of size and touch, to more in-depth lessons such as adaptations and habitat loss. It also encourages responsibility for the animals and a sense of pride of the Zoo and the animals that live there. Most importantly, it helps the Cincinnati Zoo care for these animals and encourages the students and their families to visit when possible. It may even inspire students to become more actively engaged and to include their families in their animal stories and actions.
This was a great part of our year last year and we plan on adopting another animal this fall!
To learn more about how to A.D.O.P.T. an animal, click here.
August 7, 2013 No Comments