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Category — Keeper’s Komments

It’s National Zoo Keeper Week! Meet Keeper Kim Klosterman.

Contributors: Jackie Bray, Jenna Wingate, & Wendy Rice

Happy National Zoo Keeper Week! During the week beginning on the third Sunday in July each year, zoos nationwide honor animal care professionals and the work they do in animal care, conservation, and education. There are approximately 6,000 animal care professionals in the United States. Throughout this week, we’d like to introduce you to several of our outstanding keepers here at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Kim and Kea

Zoo Keeper Kim Klosterman with a Kea

Meet Aviculture Keeper, Kim Klosterman
Kim works as a keeper in our aviculture department. Her dedication and work ethic are inspiring, and her devotion to the animals in her care is evident in all that she does. Kim goes out of her way to make sure her animals receive the highest standard of care, even if it means late nights or extra work. She often builds nest boxes and special enrichment items for the animals on her own time. And she is always positive, passionate and polite.

Though Kim’s knowledge and understanding of aviculture is already extensive, she spends many hours researching best practices in husbandry, disease management and reproduction. By implementing the most up-to-date practices, Kim has been integral in several important breakthroughs in the reproduction and health care management of rare species.

Female kea

Female kea

In addition to her role as keeper, Kim is a passionate and productive warrior for the in-situ conservation of several avian species, most notably the kea (a parrot from New Zealand). Through grant writing, keeper chats, kea encounters and collaborations with other organizations and zoo departments, she has helped raise thousands of dollars that have made significant positive impacts on wild kea populations. Kim’s leadership has dramatically increased U.S. support for kea conservation and has helped form international collaborations that will likely change the direction of future captive management policies of the species. She is also largely responsible for our incredible new interactive kea exhibit that is receiving national and international attention. This exhibit sets a new standard for up-close, personal interactions with the animals and increases awareness and financial support for conservation initiatives.


July 21, 2014   1 Comment

Assisted Flamingo Chick Hatch

Wild Encounter program flamingos walking through the Zoo.

Wild Encounter program flamingos walking through the Zoo.

Everything in a flamingo’s world needs to be a social occasion!  Their lives are built around doing whatever everyone else is doing when everyone else is doing it.  This includes all aspects of their breeding cycle – from courtship displays all the way to building their mud nests to rearing their chicks.

After successfully hatching and fledging four chicks on exhibit this season, the Cincinnati Zoo’s greater flamingo flock started to become a little antsy.  Even those birds that were still incubating eggs were starting to spend more time off their nests…wanting to do what the majority was doing… and that was walking around.

Thus, we decided to pull the last three eggs under the parents to place in an incubator.  We then “candled” the eggs (placing them in front of a bright light) and found one was infertile, one was a late-term death, and the third contained a growing, active, vibrant embryo!  This egg was monitored for several days and seemed to be well on its way to hatching just fine.  On the morning of June 30, we found chick had “pipped” (broken through) his outer shell and was calling regularly.  (Parent birds and their chicks often “talk” to each other pre-hatch.)

After an incubation period of about 30 days, a flamingo egg usually takes 24-36 hours to hatch (from initial pip to total freedom from shell), so we were not too worried that not much progress had been made on the morning of July 1.  However, as the day went along with little change, we began to consider that we were not exactly sure what time it pipped (was it late 6-29 or early 6-30?) and that an assisted hatch might be in order.

I first pulled a little of the outer shell away from around the pip mark and determined chick was very dry and likely stuck.  What follows is a series of photos taken during the assisted hatch on the evening of July 1, 2014.

Below is a photo of the chick on Day 12!  It is currently being hand-reared with a slightly older flamingo.  These two are destined to join the group of four that takes part in the Wild Encounters programs marching around the zoo and greeting our guests on exhibit in Africa.    The more, the merrier with flamingos!

Flamingo chick - 12 days old.

Flamingo chick – 12 days old.


July 15, 2014   1 Comment

A Tale of Two Mantises

Praying Mantises, insects in the order Mantodea were so named because of the prayer-like posture of their folded front legs. In the eyes of their prey there’s nothing divine about mantises. There are more than 2,300 species of mantises worldwide and while they vary in size, shape and color they all have one thing in common, they are voracious predators. Cincinnatians can encounter two remarkable mantis species; the native Carolina Mantis (Stagmomantis carolina) and the introduced Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinesis).

The Carolina Mantis varies in color from light-green to medium-gray and is normally between 1-1/2″ and 2-1/2″ long. These mantises range from the eastern and central United States south through Central America and into northern South America. Carolina Mantis nymphs have the ability to alter their color to match their habitat each time they molt. Adult male Carolina Mantises are strong fliers and will actively stalk their prey. Adult female Carolina Mantises have shortened wings and are heavier bodied; they cannot fly so they lie in wait to ambush their prey.

Carolina Mantis

Carolina Mantis

The Chinese Mantis varies in color from light-green to brown and is normally between 3-1/4″ and 4-1/4″ long. Native to Eastern Asia the Chinese Mantis was allegedly introduced to the United States late in the 19th century to control agricultural pests. By most accounts the Chinese Mantis has done little to control pests despite having become established throughout most of the United States. In some areas the presence of the larger Chinese Mantis has negatively impacted the smaller Carolina Mantis.

Chinese Mantis

Chinese Mantis

Both Carolina and Chinese mantis hatchlings emerge from egg cases in spring and are so small they can be dispersed by strong winds. As the young mantises grow so too does their choice of prey; tiny fruit flies are replaced by increasingly larger flies, bees and moths. Adult Carolina Mantises can capture medium-sized butterflies while adult Chinese Mantises can capture hummingbirds. Both species will mate in late summer or early autumn, leaving their egg cases on the stems of shrubs or bushes. These egg cases will endure even the harshest winters to deliver the next generation the following spring.

Mantises are among the world’s most recognizable and beloved insects. Their grace and ferocity have inspired poets and martial artists. Children the world over have marveled at them in backyards and kept them as pets in quart jars. If you see a mantis this summer please take a few minutes to observe and appreciate one of Cincinnati’s most amazing insects.

Winton Ray / Curator of Invertebrates, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

July 1, 2014   1 Comment