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Come Celebrate International Tiger Day on July 29!

This coming Wednesday, July 29, is International Tiger Day, and the Cat Canyon keepers and volunteers are gearing up for our 2nd annual celebration. We will also be celebrating the birthday of our Malayan tigers, Taj and Who-Dey. They will turn eight years old on July 30.

Tiger! (Photo: Mark Dumont)

Tiger! (Photo: Mark Dumont)

Like last year, keepers and volunteers will be on hand at the Malayan tiger exhibit to talk with guests about tigers and how we can help save this critically endangered species of which scientists estimate there are less than 350 individuals remaining in the wild. (The total estimate of all tiger subspecies combined is less than 3,200 remaining in the wild.)

Celebrating International Tiger Day in 2014 (Photo: Shasta Bray)

Celebrating International Tiger Day in 2014 (Photo: Shasta Bray)

Why are Malayan tigers in such big trouble? The most immediate threat today is from poaching and the illegal wildlife trade in tiger body parts used in traditional Asian medicine. The loss of forests on which tigers rely, which are rapidly being converted to palm oil plantations, is another major threat. Add to that the competition with hunters for sambar deer and other natural prey, which can lead tigers to attack livestock and increase conflict with people.

Tiger (Photo: Moni Sertel)

Tiger (Photo: Moni Sertel)

Since 2006, Panthera, a leading conservation organization focused on wild cats, has led the charge to stabilize and restore wild cat populations across the globe, including tigers. Panthera’s approach is to put as many boots on the ground as possible to protect tigers as well as promote co-existence between tigers and people.

The Zoo has pledged support to Panthera’s Tigers Forever program, which trains local rangers to patrol forests, gather intelligence and arrest poachers. In 2014, Tigers Forever added three new sites for a total of 15 sites under protection. This represents 36% of the world’s critical tiger sites. Panthera’s goal is to expand Tigers Forever to 50% of these sites by 2016.

New camera technology is also being deployed to prevent poaching. Panthera’s Technology team has developed the V5W PoacherCam, a hidden camera that uses an imaging algorithm to distinguish people from wildlife. When a person is detected, the PoacherCam instantly transmits the image to law enforcement who can immediately respond to the threat. PoacherCams will be distributed to Tigers Forever sites beginning in 2016.

Taj and Who-Dey relaxing in their pool (Photo: Kathy Newton)

Taj and Who-Dey relaxing in their pool (Photo: Kathy Newton)

Meanwhile, here at the Zoo, our Malayan tiger brothers, Taj and Who-Dey, continue to impress guests and help us spread awareness of the need for tiger conservation. We invite you to come celebrate International Tiger Day with us on July 29. In addition to talking with our keepers and volunteers and seeing Taj and Who-Dey, you can compare your hands to tiger paw prints, see example of tiger enrichment items (e.g. toys), and participate in the tigers’ birthday fun. Roar!

Roar! (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

Roar! (Photo: Crissi Lanier)

July 27, 2015   No Comments

Happy National Zoo Keepers Week! Meet Primate Keeper, Shelly Donohue

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. 

Shelly shows off her positive attitude!

Shelly shows off her positive attitude!

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 walks Walter the warthog

Shelly walks Walter the warthog

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”.

Shelly and fellow keeper, Susie, with Walter the warthog

Shelly and fellow keeper, Susie, with Walter the warthog

July 24, 2015   No Comments

Happy National Zoo Keepers Week! Meet Commissary Keeper, Michael Berry

Co-written by: Lloyd Johnson and Wendy Rice

Today’s selection may surprise a few of you at first because you may not think of Michael, who works in the commissary, as a traditional keeper. But if the growth and development of our industry has taught us anything, it is that the health and well-being of our animals is highly dependent upon many people (from many departments) working cohesively and cooperatively together.

Michael delivers hay to Veldt keeper, Renee Carpenter

Michael delivers hay to Veldt keeper, Renee Carpenter

Michael is an amazing example of a keeper whose role may be hands-off when it comes to animals, but his involvement in their lives is just as important as the primary keepers’. With the growing trend towards operant conditioning training, any good keeper will tell you that the right food rewards are an absolute necessity for successful animal interactions. None of our animal departments could be successful without the hard work and dedication of the commissary staff, and Michael is a shining example of both.

When it comes to friendliness, Michael is the personification. He goes out of his way to include everyone in a conversation (from interns to seasonal staff to new staff members), and he is always considerate of others. He is more than willing to help whenever keepers need a last minute delivery or a change to their feed orders, and he does it with a kind word and a smile.

While some may chalk it up to his naturally happy personality, I would argue that Michael’s ability to maintain a positive attitude is actually the ultimate form of professionalism. It is almost impossible to interact with Michael and not walk away feeling a little bit happier. It takes a really strong person to be able to put on a happy face in any situation, and very few keepers around the Zoo have mastered the skill as well as Michael.

Michael Berry (squatting) with co-workers at Bowling for Rhinos

Michael Berry (squatting) with co-workers at Bowling for Rhinos

It is not surprising that it was difficult to find a solo picture of Michael Berry as he is the ultimate people person. He always goes out of his way to give seasonal staff and interns an incredible Zoo experience,  and he is arguably one of the most genuine people here.

Anyone who is fortunate enough to interact with Michael on a regular basis will tell you that he definitely brings a light-hearted joy with him wherever he goes. In an industry where our down days can be some of the worst of our lives, people like Michael Berry are worth their weight in gold!

July 23, 2015   3 Comments