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Category — Exhibits

Great Gardens at the Zoo

Guest blogger: Zoo Academy Student, Elaina Allen

Here at the Cincinnati Zoo we have a lot of fascinating animals to look at from leaf-cutting ants to Asian elephants. However there is more to the Cincinnati Zoo; the Zoo is also known for its amazing plant displays. One plant display in particular that I will be discussing is the amazing Dinosaur Garden located outside of the front entrance of Reptile House on the right side near Monkey Island.

The Dinosaur Garden was designed in the 1970s through 1980s around the time the Zoo also became a botanical garden. A botanical garden is an establishment where plants are grown for display to the public and often for educational study. The purpose of the Dinosaur Garden in particular is to convey knowledge to the visitor about the prehistoric plants that lived around the same time as the dinosaurs.

Dinosaur Garden (Photo: Elaina Allen)

Dinosaur Garden (Photo: Elaina Allen)

One thing interesting you can find inside the garden is the Araucarioxylon arizonicum or the petrified log. When a plant is fossilized it is considered petrified. The Araucarioxylon arizonicum is an extinct species of conifer that is known for its massive tree trunks.

Petrified log, Araucarioxylon arizonicum  (Photo: Elaina Allen)

Petrified log, Araucarioxylon arizonicum (Photo: Elaina Allen)

My favorite species to look at while in the area is the China Fir because this tree has pointy needles, which is an adaptation to defend itself against large animals such as dinosaurs.

China fir (Photo: Lazaregagnidze)

China fir (Photo: Lazaregagnidze)

Observing the Dinosaur Garden you will notice that some of the plants come and go, depending on the season. The Horticulture staff makes sure to maintain and keep up with the changes in the weather, and also the requirements or needs of the plants in the garden. Horticulture is the art of garden cultivation and management. The staff in the Horticulture department maintains any appropriate plant species throughout the Zoo.

So next time you decide to visit the Zoo, check out the Dinosaur Garden and the many other plant displays. You won’t regret it!

January 23, 2015   21 Comments

Dog Log: Puppies, Puppies and More Puppies!

A very pregnant Imara

A very pregnant Imara with mate Brahma

It’s official folks! Our pair of African painted dogs, Imara and Brahma, are now a pack! Early on Monday, January 5, keepers observed Imara having contractions. Eight minutes later, the first pup was born and the new mama didn’t stop until almost 10pm that night. Normal time intervals between each birth are 30-90 minutes and Imara followed that almost exactly.

Two-year-old Imara came to Cincinnati this past summer from the Oglebay Good Zoo in Wheeling, West Virginia and eight-year-old Brahma, came to us from Zoo New England in Boston. The first time parents have done an exceptional job taking care of all the little ones. It’s a bit of a surprise considering neither of our dogs had a “traditional” upbringing.  Imara was hand reared when her mother didn’t take care of her litter and Brahma had spent the majority of his life with just his 2 brothers.

Brahma entering the box

Brahma enters the den to check on Imara and pups

We are ecstatic that these 2 dogs have taken to parenthood so quickly and easily. Captive African painted dog females aren’t necessarily well known for being the best mothers, but when they do what they are supposed to, they are phenomenal parents. What’s even more special is that although the males will help in varying degrees, for example guarding the nest box and bringing the female food, Brahma went above and beyond what would be considered typical male behavior. He actually groomed almost every single puppy as Imara delivered them and aided her with the removal of the placenta (which normally the females handle all by themselves).

I must admit, when we introduced Imara and Brahma, it was so anticlimactic that I wondered if they would just be buddies. You could tell that they would get along fine, but Brahma was way more into Imara than she was into him. Just because you put a male and female together, it doesn’t guarantee they will breed. In the wild, the alpha female will choose a mate, giving him breeding rights and alpha male status within the pack. In captivity, the females don’t always have the option. However, it is very clear that these 2 dogs were meant to be parents. And fantastic parents at that!

We still have a long road ahead of us. The first couple of months are the most critical. African painted dogs are a sensitive and somewhat fragile species, but if the last few days are any indication, this litter will help increase the number of dogs in the captive population and also increase their genetic diversity. At this time, when captive African painted dog numbers (in North America) are low, every dog counts. These puppies will grow up to be ambassadors to their wild counterparts and will hopefully inspire people to help save this endangered species. For now, we will enjoy the dog pile, or in this case “squirming puppy pile”, as they continue to grow and learn from Imara and Brahma how to be the charismatic African painted dogs they were meant to be!

Imara and pups

Imara and pups

January 12, 2015   7 Comments

Lion Keeper’s Gif Blog

For this week’s “Lion Keeper’s Blog”, I wanted to do things a little differently. They say a picture is worth a thousand words… so what does that make a gif worth? A million? Sure, let’s go with a million. In that case, this will be my longest blog post ever. :) Here’s a quick recap of the cubs’ first 6 weeks of life and all the amazing things they’re learning as they grow into real lions.
klion
Everyone knows the cubs are cute.
close up cub 1
I mean, just look at that face?! How can you not fall in love?
But there’s a lot more to becoming a lion than just being cute.
It’s actually a lot of hard, exhausting work!
no more pictures
The cubs have a pretty massive skill-set to hone before they are considered the “King of Beasts”.
The cubs spend a lot of time watching momma, Imani, to learn all the essentials of becoming a proper lion.
yawn and boop
“And that’s how you yawn.”
“Now, let’s start with one of the most basic feline behaviors: grooming! Here, I better do it for you.”
tuck and clean
“Thanks Momma, I’m clean!!”
come back here, bath time
“Seriously Mom!!! We can do it ourselves! We’ll show you!”
groom the tail
Imani says: “That’s… that’s not right.”
Cub #1 grooms Cub #3 while Cub #2 grooms Imani’s tail tuft.
At least they seem to be mastering some skills.
Like… walking:
totter and crash
And climbing…
try to climb
Roaring…
mom, mom, mom
And stalking and pouncing on your unsuspecting victim…
tackle and flop
Gravity makes it tough.
The key to a successful hunt is selecting an appropriate prey item.
get that paw
Like this defenseless paw!!
Okay, so maybe becoming a lion is harder than it looks.
For now, the cubs will probably just stick to what they know best…
Nursing…
nursin'
“My nipple feels weird! Oh right.”
And snuggling…
in the middle
And sleeping!
sniff and yawn
And one day, they’ll be big and strong lions, just like Imani…
pretty mani
And John!
john lick

January 6, 2015   11 Comments