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Category — Photos

Graduation for Zoo Academy Seniors is Just Around the Corner

Guest blogger: Markala Washington Murray, Zoo Academy Senior

Hello! It’s Markala again. Previously I talked to you about what it’s like to be a Zoo student and where you apply to become a Zoo student (read that post here). It is now the end of my senior year here at the Zoo Academy. It’s both a sad time and a happy time for all us seniors; it marks both a beginning and an end to an incredible journey and tells us that we are ready for our next adventure to begin. But before I tell you that, let me tell you where I am right now.

As seniors, we have a big project to do called a Capstone. A Capstone is a reflection on what we have done over the past two years. You pick one subject that you would like to improve in an area in your field of study. Then you write a report on your subject and create a poster. The poster is a recap of what you have learned over the senior year and how you felt you did on your overall project. Lastly, you put together a portfolio of all the things you used to help you create and improve your project.

For my project, I focused on the protection and conservation of the Mexican gray wolves. I chose this subject because of the wolves we have here at the Zoo; our wolves are unable to be reintroduced, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service does have a reintroduction program to help bring the population of the Mexican gray wolves back to where they use to be about a hundred years ago. However, now that the numbers have “reached agricultural success”, they have now declared an open hunting season for the wolves.

Mexican wolves at the Zoo

Mexican wolves at the Zoo

Our wolf exhibit is in an area called Wolf Woods that doesn’t get very much attention from visitors because it’s tucked behind our train station. So this made me want to tell the story of the wolves. For my project, I created a class to teach others about the conservation of the Mexican gray wolves. I used our senior and junior classes here at the Zoo Academy. First, I gave a short lecture on all of my findings on the wolves. Then I showed a video on the open hunting season. Lastly, I had my class do a scavenger hunt in the Wolf Woods exhibit. After doing this project, I now have I much greater respect for both the people and the wolves that have to live together.

Here I'm teaching the class.

Here I’m teaching the class.

Here I am with my poster.

Here I am with my poster.

Leaving the Zoo makes me sad because I now have to leave all the great people and animals I have befriended. I am now going on to the next step in my life. I have recently been accepted in to the school for animal behavior studies and associate science at Hocking College. Hocking is a two-year institution that focuses on nature education. I can’t wait to start in the fall!

April 30, 2014   No Comments

Earth Week: Helping Birds in Your Own Backyard!

Guest blogger: Sophie Williams, Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) student and consultant on the Passenger Pigeon Memorial renovation

This week, we at the Cincinnati Zoo are celebrating Earth Week! Earth Week surrounds Earth Day, an annual worldwide event where we recognize and support environmental protection and conservation efforts across the globe. In the midst of work on the Passenger Pigeon Memorial renovation, I can’t help but think of Martha, the world’s last passenger pigeon, during this week, almost 100 years after her passing. Despite the loss of this species, Martha’s legacy and the occasion of Earth Week provide us with a great opportunity to think about how we might protect other species today.

Not only can you learn more about conservation programs at the Cincinnati Zoo, you can get involved in species conservation in your own backyard! There are many programs specifically targeted toward bird lovers, which we will highlight this week in honor of Martha.

Hummingbird (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

Hummingbird (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

Check out these great programs to get started:

International Migratory Bird Day—International Migratory Bird Day is coming up soon. This day in mid-May celebrates the migration of nearly 350 species of migratory birds between nesting habitats in North America and non-breeding grounds in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Of course Bird Day is not just a day; IMBD invites us to celebrate birds every day of the year!

Celebrate Urban Birds—We’re all close to birds, even in large cities like Cincinnati. Check out Celebrate Urban Birds for more on urban bird watching.

NestWatch—Have a nest in your yard or near your school? NestWatch, a program of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is a nationwide monitoring program designed to track nesting patterns of birds, including when nesting occurs, number of eggs laid, how many eggs hatch, and how many hatchlings survive. NestWatch is easy and is a great activity for families! Become a certified NestWatcher using the helpful tips on the organization’s site, and record your findings to help researchers and scientists gather essential information on reproductive biology of birds.

Ebird—With Ebird, you can submit your observations of birds anytime! This program, launched by Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, allows you to create maps and lists of the birds you’ve seen, and share your observations with other birders. Your observations will join those from around the world and contribute to a better understanding of bird distribution across the western hemisphere.

Get ready for next winter:

Project FeederWatch—Cornell Lab of Ornithology organizes this winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, and other areas across North America. FeederWatchers count the birds they see at their feeders, helping scientists track movements of bird populations.

Christmas Bird Count—The Audubon Society organizes the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world, which provides critical data on population trends.

What will you see in your backyard this Earth Week?

Cardinal (Photo: Eric J. Brock)

Cardinal (Photo: Eric J. Brock)

To read the other posts in this series, click here. Join us in May as we discuss how you can make a difference and keep other wildlife from going the way of the passenger pigeon.

April 23, 2014   1 Comment

Successful Fixed Time Artificial Insemination in the Fishing Cat

CREW continues to make progress in improving the success of artificial insemination (AI) for propagating endangered
cats. In recent research, we incorporated treatment with oral progesterone (Regumate) into our AI protocol for domestic cats to down-regulate ovarian function prior to ovarian stimulation. This approach allows us to control ovarian activity more precisely and conduct AI procedures on a fixed time schedule.

Dr. William Swanson performs an AI procedure.

Dr. William Swanson performs an AI procedure.

Our first attempt using this method in exotic felids involved our fishing cat named Ratana,who was incapable of breeding naturally after losing a front leg due to injury. Ratana was fed a small amount of oral progesterone daily for one month to suppress her ovarian activity and then treated with gonadotropins to induce follicular growth and ovulation. Laparoscopic AI of both oviducts with freshly collected sperm from our resident male, named Gorton, resulted in conception and the birth of a male fishing cat kitten after a 69 day gestation.

Ratana and her kitten in her nest box

Ratana and her kitten in her nest box

This kitten was the first non-domestic cat born following the use of oral progesterone for fixed time AI, and represents the fifth cat species (fishing cat, ocelot, Pallas’ cat, tiger, domestic cat) that we have produced with oviductal AI. This new approach could greatly advance our capacity to use AI for the genetic management of endangered felid species.

Fishing cat (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

Fishing cat (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

April 11, 2014   1 Comment