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Category — Primates

An Advanced Inquiry Program Graduate’s Look Back

The Zoo congratulates all of its recent graduates of the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP)! Did you know you can earn your Master’s Degree at the Zoo? Applications for the next year’s cohort are due on February 28.

Here is what one of our 2015 graduates, Faith Hilterbrand, has to say about the influence the AIP program has had on both her personal and professional life.

Guest blogger: Faith Hilterbrand (AIP-CZBG ‘15)

Have you ever had the feeling of being in just the right place, at just the right time?  I had been a junior high science teacher for seven years when Cincinnati Zoo’s Master’s program with Miami University’s Project Dragonfly appeared in my email.  I skimmed it, flagged it and thought “I’ll check this out later.”  So there it was, every day when I opened my email, and I finally gave it the attention it deserved.  As I began reading, idea after idea popped into my head and suddenly I was excited to apply.  Upon acceptance into the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) at the Cincinnati Zoo, a new challenge was thrown my way as I took a new position teaching high school life sciences.  I mean if you are going to test new waters, you may as well dive in!

The AIP quickly taught me how long it had been since I had felt the pressure of being a student.  I had to learn how to find balance while also still producing work that I was proud of at my job and in the classroom.  I often felt just like my students when faced with a new assignment, which helped me to be a better, more compassionate teacher.  The class meetings held at the Cincinnati Zoo were a time for learning and enthralling experiences, getting to see the animals up close and personal, but more importantly, I received support from classmates and instructors.  It was encouraging to know others felt as I did, and the collaborative approach to the coursework made a more significant impact on myself and each of our communities.  The focus on inquiry, scientific experimentation, and technical writing were all skills that were developed due to the coursework in the AIP and made me a more effective science teacher in preparing my students for their next academic step.  What I was not prepared for was the change it would evoke in my career aspirations and personal goals.

Learning about the Zoo's American burying beetle reintroduction project

Learning about the Zoo’s American burying beetle reintroduction project

The Advanced Inquiry Program has served as the cornerstone of change for my professional life.  The most amazing aspect is that I had zero intentions of that when I began the program.  The instructors and classmates that I was exposed to in Dragonfly, both at the Cincinnati Zoo and in online courses, were the source of inspiration that began to challenge my previously conceived career notions.  Suddenly, I was surrounded by people with a variety of ages, experiences, current work positions, and geographic locations, and I gained the courage to step outside the typical predetermined teaching path.  As I became acquainted with fellow Dragonflyer’s, I realized my own desire for professional growth and change.

Presenting results from a wetland inquiry with fellow AIP students

Presenting results from a wetland inquiry with fellow AIP students

That is the beauty of the Advanced Inquiry Program – I was able to tailor my learning to meet my professional needs and open new doors in the future.  I travelled the world, created my own internship, and gained invaluable knowledge and networking opportunities that connected education with conservation.  I knew moving forward that my teaching background would prove instrumental in taking the fork in my career path instead of staying the course.  As I have taken a year to reflect, explore, and dream of my next position, it is all the people associated with the AIP and Project Dragonfly that have encouraged and challenged me to follow my own path.

Meeting a cinereous vulture following a field course in Mongolia

Meeting a cinereous vulture following a field course in Mongolia

January 7, 2016   1 Comment

Keeping Up with Gorilla Conservation in the Republic of Congo

Elle, the 50th gorilla born at the Cincinnati Zoo  (Photo: DJJAM)

Elle, the 50th gorilla born at the Cincinnati Zoo (Photo: DJJAM)

Along with celebrating the 50th gorilla birth this year and announcing big plans to expand the popular Gorilla World habitat, the Cincinnati Zoo will be celebrating 15 years of wild gorilla conservation work with the Nouabale Ndoki Project (NNP) in 2016.

Mbeli Bai logo

This project, located in the Republic of Congo, umbrellas several very important efforts that help critically endangered wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). The Zoo’s original funding for NNP went to the Mbeli Bai Study, the longest running field research study on this species of gorilla.  Researchers gather valuable demographic information needed to define what gorillas require to survive as their threatened rainforest habitats continue to shrink. Keep up with the latest news from the Mbeli Bai study by visiting the new web site and blog, following their Facebook page, and reading the most recent newsletter.

Meet Hercules and his mother, Henna, two of the many gorillas that frequent Mbeli Bai (Photo: Mbeli Bai Study)

Meet Hercules and his mother, Henna, two of the many gorillas that frequent Mbeli Bai (Photo: Mbeli Bai Study)

Over the years, the Zoo increased its contributions to other gorilla-related projects in this area, including the “Mondika” gorilla tracking study site and an education outreach program for local communities called “Club Ebobo”. Ebobo is the word for gorilla in Lingala, the local language.

As we celebrate the expansion of our gorilla family and facility here at the Zoo, it is important we recognize and celebrate the fine work being done in the field to help conserve this flagship species.

Gladys and Mona enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we're having this month (Photo: Jeff McCurry)

Gladys and Mona enjoying the unseasonably warm weather we’re having this month (Photo: Jeff McCurry)

December 14, 2015   1 Comment

Come Celebrate Ape Awareness Days!

It’s time to go bananas again at the Zoo’s annual Ape Awareness Days weekend, free with regular Zoo admission. From 10:00 to 3:00 on September 12 and 13, guests are invited to learn more about apes and how we can help save them in the wild at the Jungle Trails and Gorilla World exhibits.

Volunteers will be on hand at the orangutan exhibit to introduce guests to our shaggy, red-haired friends, Henry and Lana. There has been some good news for orangutans in the Malaysian state of Sarawak recently. The Chief Minister announced his intentions to enact new projects that will protect orangutans and other wildlife from their major threats of illegal logging and clearing forest for oil palm plantations.

Henry is watching out for you! (Photo: Jeff McCurry)

Henry is watching out for you! (Photo: Jeff McCurry)

One way we as consumers can help protect orangutans is by purchasing products made with Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. The world’s most popular vegetable oil, palm oil is used in many of our everyday foods and products. Products made with sustainable palm oil, which is produced without clear cutting forests and harming wildlife, are listed in the Zoo’s Sustainable Shopper App. Download it and use it during your next shopping trip to make sure the products you buy are orangutan-friendly.

At the bonobo exhibit in Jungle Trails, guests can visit with their own closest non-human relatives. Baby Bo, who was born in March, is growing more independent and curious every day. You’ll want to see him before he’s all grown up! Here guests will learn what makes an ape different from other primates and test their own ape-identifying skills.

Bo and his mother, Zanga (Photo: Shasta Bray)

Bo and his mother, Zanga (Photo: Shasta Bray)

Over at Gorilla World, the big news, of course, is that Anju recently gave birth to the 50th gorilla born at the Zoo since 1970. The little girl is Anju’s first and Jomo’s third baby. Mondika, who was born last summer, is now a big sister! Swing by the Gorilla Wild Discover Zone during Ape Awareness Days to get the full scoop and latest news on the baby.

Anju and her new baby

Anju and her new baby

We also encourage you to bring any old cell phones you may have around the house and drop them in one of our cell phone recycling bins. Cell phones contain an ore called Coltan that is mined in gorilla and bonobo habitat in Africa. Recycling cell phones reduced the demand to mine more Coltan and helps preserve habitat.

We hope you will come on out on September 12 and 13 and celebrate Ape Awareness Days with us and the rest of the primates at the Zoo!

September 10, 2015   No Comments