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Three Little Pigs!

Meet Cinder, Thatcher, and Magnolia – our three little pigs. Domestic pigs bred for their small size, they are mini Juliana pigs and will only grow up to about 50 lbs. Thatcher is the spotted male with the blue harness. Magnolia is the spotted female with the purple harness. Cinder is a reddish-brown male.

Thatcher and Magnolia

Thatcher and Magnolia

The pigs live in the Children’s Zoo and can be seen walking around the park with their trainers. At just about 10 weeks old, they are still learning what it’s all about. I’m lucky enough to be on Cinder’s training team.

Giving Cinder a good scratch on the rump

Giving Cinder a good scratch on the rump

This morning we took them for an early morning walk before it got too hot. We stopped to play on the central lawn where the pigs discovered a sprinkler.

Magnolia and Thatcher get a drink from the sprinkler.

Magnolia and Thatcher get a drink from the sprinkler.

Pigs are social by nature. They are curious, intelligent, and easy to train.

Here Eunice is cueing Magnolia to sit. She is rewarded with grain pellets.

Here Eunice is cueing Magnolia to sit. She is rewarded with grain pellets.

Thatcher and Magnolia will soon be showing off their skills in the Barnyard Bonanza show, and Cinder will be out and about meeting and greeting guests. Keep an eye out for them next time you’re at the Zoo!

June 28, 2012   4 Comments

Thursdays with Don & Tom

When Dawn Strasser, head of the Zoo’s nursery, asked me to hold and cuddle  two baby wallabies on my lap every Thursday morning, I said “yes” without hesitation.  Two and a half years ago, when I started my job here as online communications manager, I would have said “no” because I had too much work to do.  I have my boss to thank for actually MAKING me get out to do things that I’ll “remember on my deathbed.”

Today, I jump at the chance to do cool things like see a rhino get an ultrasound, go behind the scenes with the king penguins, elephants, giraffes, cheetahs, camels, and a Komodo dragon, hold an African penguin, and touch a red river hog, a porcupine, etc… It’s a long list, but sitting in the nursery with baby wallabies on my lap is right at the top!

BONUS, I can actually get my work done while I hold the babies.  I’ve already tweeted (about the wallabies) answered emails, and now I’m blogging!  Don, the wallaby with the darker face, likes my iPad (see photos below.)  He also likes to play with my camera strap.

Several staff members are also volunteering to help “socialize” Don & Tom.  They will eventually be moved to Lorikeet Landing and will interact with the public, so our “job” is to make sure they learn to like people!  According to Dawn, this is a crucial age for the babies to have positive experiences with humans.  So, I’m thrilled to part of the love team.

I’ll be posting Don & Tom updates each week.  This week they just stayed on my lap all morning. Tom never even poked his head out of the pouch.  Don was curious about everything. I’m probably not supposed to have a favorite, but I’m pretty fond of Don!!

April 6, 2012   3 Comments

Welcome to the TRIBE!

While visiting the Children”s Zoo (CZ), the common question arises, who are these teens? All those teens are actually an important part of the CZ during the summer. The goal is to help make a vistor”s experience better, while also gaining per

sonal experience on what it is like to be a part of the daily routine at the zoo. I am a member of Teen TRIBE, an exciting new volunteer program for teens! What does Teen TRIBE do exactly? I would love to help answer that question by sharing my experience!

Everyday starts off with roll call. All  teens gather to see who is working for the day, and receive important reminders or information from one of our awesome mentors! Then it is time to head to the CZ and break up into groups depending on our specific jobs. My responsibility is to provide cool animal encounters for visitors so they can have an up-close experience with the animals. Handling atoledo.com a wide variety of animals ranging from turkeys to snakes is a very fun job, but it is also something to take seriously. Teen TRIBE members are treated like members of the zoo staff. Since I work with live animals, making sure I provide a fun experience for the guest while making sure the animal is handled safely is a major priority. Another cool part of my job is getting to learn a lot about the animals, and share what I learn with the visitors. During my entire shift, I get to share animals with every visitor to the CZ! Of course, there are other jobs that TRIBE members have. They help out by playing games with kids on the playground, work in the Petting Zoo with the goats, help visitors learn about penguins at the Discover Zone, or a Jr. Zookeeper. It all depends on how much experience the TRIBE member already has, then working up!

What are some other fun parts of the TRIBE program? Making a lot of new friends and become very familar with zoo staff! Once accepted to be part of Teen TRIBE, a mentor is assigned who works at the zoo as well. We get to meet our mentors and the other members of the TRIBE at a fun party they have just for us!

Overall, it is a wonderful program! Read more about it on the zoo”s website under volunteer. Feel free to leave comments with any questions, and make sure to visit us this summer in the CZ!

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June 14, 2011   1 Comment