Co-written by Dana Burke & Shasta Bray
Here at the Zoo
It’s been six months since our African painted dog boys made their way south, and they are doing great. They especially love watching all of the different hoof stock they get to see while on exhibit. Their keepers tell me they really enjoy watching the waterbuck, but I digress.
Imara and the girls, who are now 15 months old, have been doing well as an all girl group. Imara still tends to let them rule themselves, but will step in if she feels it is necessary. There have been some rumblings among the ranks within the juveniles (as you would expect with all females), but nothing major. Selina is still the alpha with Quinn as her second. These two have been the top two dogs since the females developed their hierarchy when they were very young. Next is Ivy and Lucy follows as the bottom dog.
The plan to move three of the juveniles is finally moving forward. As per the African Painted Dog Species Survival Plan, Selina and Quinn will be transported to the Wilds in Columbus. It is our hope that Selina will breed with a male that they are getting from another zoo. Ivy will be shipped to Honolulu to breed with a male that they house. That leaves Lucy here with Imara.
The reasons why we are shipping which dogs where is a well thought out process that takes into account the status, relationships and personalities of the individuals. Since Selina and Quinn have been bonded for most of their lives, we feel that their best chance for success is to move them together. Quinn has the capability of being a great helper and babysitter if Selina produces a litter. Of course, moving the dogs to a new facility could cause change between the sisters, but with Selina being a true alpha, we expect her to retain her status. Quinn has never really challenged her and moving to a new space will most likely result in her looking to Selina for guidance. All of these factors should lead to a smooth introduction to the male in a best case scenario.
We chose to move Ivy as a single dog because of her personality as well. In the last few months, Ivy has become a more confident dog. That being said, with her increase in confidence, she has also become more of a trouble maker and has challenged all of her sisters at some point. Ivy likes to stir the pot so to speak. Again, because of these traits, we feel that she would make a great alpha all on her own with a single male.
That leaves Imara and Lucy here in Cincinnati. Imara, who did a beautiful job raising the 10 pups we had in January last year, is not the most confident when it comes to being alpha. Lucy on the other hand, even though she is the bottom dog at this point, has the potential to be a pretty good alpha herself. Truth be told, Lucy is a bit of a wild card.
Within the next couple months, we will be receiving two male dogs. They will be quarantined and then we will set up for introductions. This is where things can get tricky. An introduction with two males and two females is one of the more challenging scenarios you can encounter with this species; however, the pay-off is a truly social pack that reflects those in the wild. Still, this is where things can get tricky. The keepers and animal manager will plan out each step of the process in order to set up the dogs for ultimate success. There will most likely be some fighting, whether it’s between the males or the females or each other, is impossible to guess. There’s even a chance that Lucy could end up alpha over Imara. Genetically, she is technically more valuable than her mother due to being Brahma’s offspring so we are fine with any outcome.
We collected information about the males from their current keepers, but it will be very important to observe them while in quarantine to confirm their hierarchy with each other. The introductions themselves will be done inside the building and once started will be complete in just a few hours. It may take them minutes or days to settle their social structure, but once they do, only the alphas will breed and produce pups. We have a lot of changes coming and are all really excited for what the future holds for this species. We will be sure to keep everyone updated on what is happening and how things are progressing.
Across the Globe in Tanzania
We may be wrapping up with our April showers here in Cincinnati, but they were nothing like the rains that El Nino dumped on our field partners with the Ruaha Carnivore Project (RCP) over the past few months. Flooding of the Ruaha River caused all kinds of transportation problems.
The good thing about using remote-triggered cameras to monitor wildlife in the region is that the cameras continue to take pictures even when you have trouble reaching them. Fortunately, only a few of the cameras floated away during the heavy flooding.
RCP works to secure a future for large carnivores such as African painted dogs, lions and hyenas in and around Ruaha National Park in Tanzania. This region is home to the third largest population of painted dogs in Africa. Check out RCP’s latest update from the field to learn more.
May 4, 2016 2 Comments
Guest blogger: Kristina Meek, Education/Wild Encounters
The bright plumage of a peacock is so unmistakable that we use it as a metaphor for showing off to prospective romantic partners. When a male peacock unfurls its brilliant tail feathers, you can’t help but stop and stare. When you walk through the Zoo, you’ll almost certainly encounter one of our male peacocks, crooning his relationship status or proudly displaying his colorful fan. He might even try to distract you from other, less colorful animals, by inserting himself between you and them! (If you’d like to learn the cool way that the structure of the peacock’s feathers produces the glorious colors, check out these findings from 2003.)
It’s spring, which means mating season for many animals, so it’s a great time to notice how animals preen, prance or patter in hopes of propagating their species.
We talked about mating signals during a recent Zoo Troop session for 6th through 8th graders called “Be Mine.” The students observed birds, fish, and other creatures, learning about physical traits, actions, sounds, and scents that animals use to say, “Relationship Status: Available.”
We giggled a bit at the similarities between the human animal and some of the others out there. Humans choose clothing, hairstyles, perfumes, and workouts often with the goal of attracting a mate. Is a rock star strutting and belting a song so different from a male bird calling to passing females? Are our fashion choices so different from scales or plumage? We even studied the bower bird, which spends weeks building an elaborate “bachelor pad” complete with bling that he painstakingly gathers from his environment. Do you know anyone like that? There’s no doubt, we have a lot in common with wild animals.
An animal’s tools of attraction indicate that animal’s fitness, meaning the quality of its genetic material. Picking a mate who is strong, capable, and beautiful tends to mean their offspring will be the same. A lion with a lush mane is better protected during battles with rivals. A brighter pink flamingo has chowed on more shrimp. Some animals, from spiders to penguins, bring each other gifts, which may demonstrate the hunting prowess needed to feed young.
Lucky for humans, we’re able to see beneath the surface. What if you could only choose a partner based on outward signs or on what might be considered an ideal physical appearance? That would limit your choices considerably, and think of all that you might miss out on. We get to consider a person’s values and personality, likes and dislikes. We also have differing ideas about what is attractive. You might think someone is adorable who your friend finds positively plain.
As you explore the Zoo this spring, notice the mating rituals going on among the animals — even the human ones. Take a minute to consider how we’re alike and different from our fellow residents of planet Earth. And keep an eye out for the results of all this mating… Zoo babies!
May 2, 2016 No Comments
“The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – African proverb
It’s Arbor Day, the day to take notice of all the wonderful things our leafy green neighbors provide us – beauty, shade, clean water and oxygen, just to name a few. Planting a tree isn’t just about what it can do for us today; it’s an investment in our future.
Join us in support of the Taking Root campaign, a region-wide initiative to plant one tree per person (two million) in the Tri-state by 2020. Last year around this time, nearly 85,000 trees had been planted and registered with Taking Root. This year, that number is approaching 200,000 and growing fast as the campaign gains momentum.
Greening the Flying Pig
Last year, Taking Root teamed up with the Flying Pig Marathon to plant trees along marathon route that will offset the carbon footprint of the event. The goal is to plant 26 trees for 26 miles. If you’re running the Flying Pig Marathon this Sunday, look for several trees that have already been planted along Victory Parkway and Pete Rose Way.
Make a Difference Day
Taking Root also kicked off its first annual, region-wide tree planting event on National Make a Difference Day on October 24, 2015. On that day, 29 teams in 22 different Tri-state communities planted 1,100 trees! This year, Taking Root plans to make an even bigger difference on National Make a Difference Day on October 22, 2016.
Connecting People with Resources
If you can’t plant a tree in your own yard, consider joining a tree planting event at your local park or organize a tree planting at your church or school. In fact, if you have a project in mind, Taking Root is happy to help connect you with the resources you need. That’s what the Cincinnati Recreation Commission did when they needed help planting trees at the Olden Recreation Area in East Price Hill last week. Taking Root was able to connect them with expertise from Holscher Hackman Garden Center and volunteers from Macy’s to get the job done. Submit your project application here.
Wherever you find yourself on this Arbor Day, take a minute to appreciate the trees around you and consider supporting the Taking Root campaign to ensure a healthy planet for future generations.
April 29, 2016 No Comments