Category — Photos
Guest blogger: Sophie Williams, Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) student and consultant on the Passenger Pigeon Memorial renovation
Despite once numbering in the billions and traveling in flocks that blotted out the sun, the entire passenger pigeon species was diminished to a single bird by the early 1900s. Martha died at the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914, and with her death, the passenger pigeon went extinct.
Once an inexhaustible resource, the passenger pigeon’s numbers were quickly reduced. A range of human actions—overhunting and commercial-scale harvesting of the birds, along with deforestation associated with advances in technology as rail and telegraph lines spread across the country—had an insurmountable impact on the species. Though few believed the passenger pigeon could ever be eliminated, by the dawn of the 20th century, only a handful of captive birds remained.
Martha, the last of her kind, was one of these few, an aged bird who lived at the Cincinnati Zoo from 1902 until her death in 1914. During her time in Cincinnati, many attempts were made to breed Martha, including with two male passenger pigeons also housed at the Zoo. These breeding attempts failed, perhaps due to the gregarious nature of the passenger pigeon; they typically mated in huge breeding flocks. By 1910, each of the males had died. A reward of $1,000 was offered to anyone who could supply a mate for Martha, but none was found.
In the early 1900s, a concerted effort was made to protect the passenger pigeons that remained. Despite these breeding and protection efforts, it was simply too late to make a difference. Those who had been concerned about the fate of the passenger pigeon had not been heeded in time, and by the time it was obvious the species was to go extinct, it was too late to save it. The “thoughtlessness and insatiable greed of man” had driven one of the most abundant species on the planet to extinction (Schorger, as cited in A Passing in Cincinnati, 1976).
In this year before the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon’s extinction, the unimaginable loss of one of the most common bird species in the world weighs heavy on our minds. During this year, we recognize the importance of this story as an impetus for positive change in the world of wildlife conservation. In the years immediately following Martha’s death, great strides were made to protect species in the United States and beyond, and these efforts continue today.
We at the Zoo are proud of our place in the history of the passenger pigeon and mankind’s last efforts to save them, and recognize our responsibility to honor not only Martha’s memory, but also her role as a catalyst in the protection of other species. We look forward to a future in which we as humans are aware of our power, both for bad and for good, and are able to add more success stories of wildlife conservation to the ranks of the white-tailed deer and American bison. For more on these species conservation success stories, tune in next month!
November 1, 2013 No Comments
Guest blogger: Zoo Academy student, Keri Cross
Hello everyone! My name is Keri Cross, and I am a Zoo Academy senior!!!!!! I started attending the Zoo Academy last year, and the experience has been absolutely AMAZING!!!!!! I have evolved a lot since I first started attending the Zoo Academy, and the journey has been very impactful for me. I have met so many nice people here at the Zoo, and the keepers are the funniest people I have ever been around. They are always in good high spirits, and they keep me wanting to come back and help them the best I can.
As far as picking which department is my favorite, I really don’t have a favorite area. Every area I have worked in has something great about it, and it makes it hard to pick which one would be my absolute favorite. I have picked up skills from each lab, which I carry throughout not only the future labs, but also in my personal life as well.
My favorite animal that I have worked with has actually been the screaming hairy armadillo. They are one of the cutest animals I have seen since I’ve been at the Zoo. Bonnie, which is one of the screaming hairy armadillos, is actually my favorite. She lets me pick her up and hold her. She has made working with the screaming hairy armadillos a real pleasure. The screaming hairy armadillos are used to educate the public about the species. The Zoo usually socializes them, so they are use to human contact, but they really wouldn’t make good pets in someone’s home. The reason is mainly because they are pretty messy, and they are wild animals. The screaming hairy armadillo usually lives in desert, grassland, scrubland, and forest areas. Their diet includes plants and tasty bugs. They have an excellent sense of smell, and they are amazing diggers, too. Usually when it’s very hot, the screaming hairy armadillos dig burrows, which measure up to several meters in length, so that they can be protected from those hot, sunny days. Surprisingly, in the winter, they are very active during the day. Want to know an interesting fact???? Baby armadillos are called “pups”. A female is called a “zed” and the male is a “lister”.
My favorite animal overall would have to be the cheetah. The cheetah is one of the most beautiful animals I have ever seen. They have interesting patterns on their back, and they have big, beautiful brown eyes. Cheetahs usually come from the plains of Africa, wandering the savannas. Cheetahs are the fastest land animals on the planet!!!!!!!! With their extremely fast speed and good eyesight, they are able to spot their prey and immediately catch it. They are actually a species that is endangered right now. At this point, dedicated people are working hard to try to restore these beautiful creatures in the wild.
One experience from the Zoo so far that has been my absolute favorite has been actually being able to work with the reptiles. Reptiles are some of my absolute favorite animals, and I have been able to handle different types of reptiles. Crystal, a ball python, has actually been my favorite snake to handle. She comes from Africa. Her scientific name is Python regius, and she belongs to the python family. Ball pythons are also called royal pythons, and they are actually the calmest snakes that I have ever worked with.
With my experience so far this year, I’ve realized that this journey has been absolutely amazing. I take classes actually at the Zoo, which is pretty amazing, so I get to come to the Zoo every day, and work with the different types of animals. I’ve met a lot of great people who want to see me do great things in the future, especially with helping animals. My desire in life is to help animals, and I feel like I’m doing that every day I come to the different areas in the Zoo. My job right now may not be that much, but it all goes a long way in the end. I’m glad that I chose the Zoo Academy because I feel like I’m doing something that will stick with me forever. This experience will help lead me to bigger and better things in the future.
October 10, 2013 No 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