Category — Keeper’s Komments
Every day at 11am and 2:30pm during Penguin Days, presented by FirstEnergy, you will find the zoo’s Aviculture Department leading the way during the Best Parade in America, the Penguin Parade! Our colony of King Penguins walk between the Wings of Wonder bird house and the entrance of the Children’s Zoo where they spend the day outside enjoying the winter weather. One common question that we get at almost every parade is “What are their names?” Here is a handy dandy list to help you out identifying each member of our colony the next time you are walking with us:
-Kyoto- Red. You can usually find Kyoto leading the group at each parade. He also marches to the beat of his own drum, especially when we walk near fresh snow or by the entrance to the Basecamp Café. Maybe he is a fan of green restaurants, since it is the greenest restaurant in the land.
-Charlemagne- Yellow. Charlemagne may be the youngest, but is by far the largest King in our colony. You can usually find him trying to keep up with his older brother Kyoto in the front of the parade.
-Martin Luther- Purple. Luther usually stays to the middle of the group during the parade. In my opinion, he is the best looking King out of the bunch.
-BB- Green. The only female of our group, you can find her bringing up the rear of the parade. She has successfully reared quite a few King chicks while here at the zoo, Kyoto and Charlemagne being two of them.
-Larry- Blue. While Luther might be the best looking King, Larry is definitely the most regal-looking. Watch him during the parade, and you will probably see him holding his chest out proudly and possibly even vocalize during the route. Larry and BB have incubated a few chicks together, see above; watch them while outside to see if they are performing any courtship behaviors. You can usually find Larry in the middle of the group as well.
-Burger- Orange. On rare occasions, you will find the elder statesman of the colony, Burger, out with the rest of the group. It doesn’t happen too often, but he usually decides to go on parade at least once per season, and likes to hang near the back of the parade.
Hopefully this list makes it a little easier for you to identify the birds during the Best Parade in America. Test your knowledge every day through the month of February at 11am and 230pm, as long as the temperature is below 50 degrees. The weather might be cold, but Penguin Days is a great way to get outside and enjoy the season while seeing some amazing animals while you are at it. Follow #BestParadeInAmerica and @cincinnatizoo on Twitter for updates!
January 13, 2016 3 Comments
As some of you may have noticed on your recent visit to the zoo, the male painted dog puppies are no longer here. On November 11, our six males, Oswald, Riddler, Alfred, Luke, Hugo and Bruce, were moved to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. This move was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), which ensures healthy populations and genetic diversity among zoo animals. Typically, when you have a stable alpha pair, painted dogs stay in their family pack until they are two years old so that they can see another litter raised and learn how to be great parents or helpers in the future. Unfortunately, with the passing of our alpha male, we had to make this move before our juvenile males reached breeding age. In their new home, the boys will be rotated with spotted hyena and viewable to visitors throughout park operating hours.
To prepare for a move like this can take weeks or months of training. The dogs have to be taught to break from their natural inclination to stay together as a pack and enter crates individually. Getting them comfortable being separate and being in a smaller space takes a lot of work and patience. The first step is to just let them see the crate, touch it, smell it and let them have access to it with both ends open so they can explore in and around it. Next, we would place the crate in a doorway that they have to walk through. Again, this just gets them used to going in and out of it. Once they are used to it as part of their holding, we put one door on the end so that we can ask them to come into it to get treats. Keepers secure the crate to the wall with the crate flush to the doorway, and then ask the dogs to come in to take snacks through the mesh in the crate door. It didn’t take long for the boys to be comfortable being in the crates. The younger dogs, especially those that have never traveled in a crate before, tend to do better since they have no prior knowledge of the experience. We only use their favorite snacks like beef heart and chunk meat to capture this behavior. Due to the time we were able to spend conditioning them, all 6 dogs were crated and loaded on the transport truck in 40 minutes on the day of their departure. The boys did such a great job!
The week before they were scheduled to go out, two keepers from Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park traveled to Cincinnati to meet the dogs and their keepers (including me). We discussed the complexity of their social structure, husbandry, personality traits and behaviors specific to the pack they would be escorting to Florida. The keepers, Melaina and Heather, also observed crate training sessions and familiarized themselves with how we get the dogs to take their monthly heart worm preventative.
After a 14-hour drive, the boys arrived safely and were unloaded into their new home. The 2 lovely Disney keepers let us know as soon as they got there and have been sending updates on them every couple of days since their arrival. Even though we were sad to see them go, we’re happy that these special animals will have the opportunity to inspire the millions of visitors that visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. With a much larger audience, it is my hope that Alfred, Oswald, Riddler, Luke, Hugo and Bruce will excite more people to care about this species and their plight in the wild. For the time being, Selina, Ivy, Lucy and Quinn will be coming into their own here in Cincinnati under the watchful eye of their mother, Imara.
The boys were introduced to their new environment earlier this week! See how they’re doing in the Kilimanjaro Safaris savanna.
December 9, 2015 1 Comment
Co-writted by: Danielle Swopes, Susie Semler & Wendy Rice (All keepers at the Zoo)
Our fifth and final honoree for National Zoo Keeper Week is Shelly Donohue! Shelly recently moved from the Africa Interpretive Department to the Primate Department.
When you really look at the Zoo’s core values (progressive thinking, accountability, pride, passion, positivity, etc.), meeting those standards consistently, day-in and day-out, seems like an overwhelming task for some of us. For others, like Shelly, it’s just a walk in the park.
Anyone who knows Shelly personally has borne witness to her strong set of personal values. She treats everyone fairly and with kindness and she always chooses to do the right thing, even if it’s not in her best interest. The moral fiber Shelly possesses is both admirable and inspiring, and she consistently represents herself and our institution in a shining light.
As if that weren’t enough, Shelly has also found a unique balance of integrity and congeniality. Her cheery attitude and child-like humor brighten the work place, and spending time with her (even when completing undesirable tasks) is always enjoyable. She will spend hours (while cleaning of course) calling back and forth to “Harley”, the blue and gold macaw, using high-pitched squeals, squawks, whistles, and words. Her connection with the natural world is clearly evident to anyone who has seen her interact with her critters.
Shelly is also very much a “doer”. She volunteers to do the everyday tasks that most people avoid like cleaning gutters, weed-whacking, leaf-blowing, stripping and deep cleaning animal enclosures. She never shies away from a challenging or unpleasant task, and she consistently works hard to provide a better life for the animals in her care.
Always striving to achieve more, Shelly really puts all of herself into meeting her goals. From researching future education paths to talking to field researchers and scientists to participating in Miami University’s graduate program, Shelly is always on a path of self-improvement and focused on becoming a better version of herself. With her hard-working and winning attitude, it seems the sky is the limit for this young keeper!
In a world where personal integrity seems to have a ripple effect on others, we are so proud to work alongside Shelly and call her “zoo keeper”.
July 24, 2015 No Comments