Category — General Zoo
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
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
Many households in America cannot imagine their home without the four-legged member of their family. In a lot of cases, that member happens to be a dog. And while most dog owners take wonderful care of their dogs, many would be surprised to hear that their dogs would still benefit from and appreciate additional mental stimulation. If fun challenges are not provided for a dog, most will decide to create their own. And unfortunately, owners and dogs tend to disagree on what is classified “fun.” Many dogs want to naturally use their senses to hunt and forage for food and this simple instinct is commonly taken away from them because most pets tend to be fed out of bowls.
Contrary to popular belief, I personally think that no dog should be fed out of bowl (unless medically necessary).
How on earth do you feed your dog if you can’t use a bowl???
Here at the Cincinnati Zoo the amazing keepers spend much of their time trying to find creative ways of keeping our animals mentally and physically satisfied, through enrichment. This can be a very difficult task with some of our extremely intelligent animals, however, it’s also one of the most entertaining and satisfying parts of a keeper’s job.
Daily feeding time is one of the easiest ways to enrich our animals. Some animals will get their breakfast scattered or hidden throughout their enclosure, while others are given toys that they have to play with to get their breakfast to fall out. That being said, enrichment is not just for zoo animals – many people forget that they can enrich their pet’s life too!
“Chester”, our Andean spectacled bear, is a wonderful example of an animal that loves his puzzle feeder. Several days a week Chester’s favorite treats and breakfast items are given to him from inside a simple feeder toy. Solving the puzzle feeder can sometimes take him 45 minutes of constantly moving and thinking to get his breakfast. Chester uses his natural instincts to hunt and forage and this satisfies many of his desires - simply through taking one additional step to feed him.
When it comes to your pets at home you can do the same thing we do with Chester. You can feed your dog or cat from a puzzle toy. There are many that are wonderful, such as all of the Premier Pet Products, Starmark, and Kong to name a few. Place your pet’s dry kibble into the feeding toy and place the toy in whichever room you prefer them to eat in. I prefer it to be on a hard surface, so they don’t get kibble and saliva on the carpet. But, it is up to you.
Some toys can be difficult so it’s important that you start with a fairly easy toy, so your dog is rewarded (with food!) more often. Gradually, you can work up to a more difficult toy. This activity should take your dog 20-40 minutes of constantly moving and thinking before it is complete. If it’s easier than that, you should probably look at other toys or more unique ways to feed your dog (some ideas will be covered later on this blog).
If you need more ideas please feel free to comment and tell me about your issues/concerns. I hope you enjoy spending time with your pet and choosing to more thoroughly enrich their lives.
September 13, 2013 1 Comment