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Zoo Academy: Experiences that Last a Lifetime

Guest blogger: Zoo Academy student, Tyler Allgeyer

Hi! My name is Tyler Allgeyer. I’m a senior attending the Zoo Academy. This is a special two-year career tech program that runs through Hughes STEM High School. Here we take all of our normal classes such as math and English, but we also take special classes related to a zoological and a botanical field of study in the form of Zoo and Aquarium Management and Environmental Science.

Besides our tech courses, we go to what are known as labs. They are two-hour intervals at the beginning of the day for juniors and at the end of the day for seniors. Here we work as zookeepers in a six-week rotation at various departments in the Zoo.

Some of my favorite labs so far have been the Cheetah Show, Reptile House, and Manatee Springs.

Some of my favorite experiences happened while I was working at the Cheetah Show. Going into enclosures in direct contact with cheetahs is a once in a lifetime experience. This is a special opportunity the keepers let us have provided that we did a good job and worked well with them.

Meeting a cheetah

Meeting a cheetah

Manatee Springs is probably one of the best departments to work in. The keepers there are very relaxed and fun to be around. Lots of positive energy flows through there, especially when Chris is around. He’s always keeping the humor level high. The best part for me while working there was when Lindsey and I would go do the animal encounter with Hermit, a three-foot American alligator. It was the first time I had held an alligator that size. He can be a bit squirmy, but we always had a great time!

My absolute favorite department here at the Zoo is the Reptile House. Reptiles are where my heart truly lies so it makes sense. Lots of jokes and funny stories were told during my time there. I even spent some time over the summer on weekends volunteering for the whole day. I got to do some fun things like taking out snakes for animal encounters and hand feeding the Komodo dragon.

Working in the Reptile House

Working in the Reptile House

Many of the departments have some awesome people that are very easy to work with. You really get to enjoy doing your work in a fun adventurous environment. My time here at the Zoo Academy may be short, but the experiences I’ve had will last a lifetime.

 

March 27, 2013   7 Comments

Listening To Our Animals

cougar_exhibit

With Joseph in the cougar exhibit.

As an animal trainer or even a pet owner the most important thing you can do with your animal is to listen to them. I don’t mean physically having the ability to listen to them, but rather your willingness to sit, watch, and listen. In my blog post last week it was very clear that listening to an animal I work with can be imperative – it can save your life. Like listening to Makine, my rehab Java Macaque. The keepers and staff at the Cincinnati Zoo also listen to and know their animals. A clear example of keepers knowing their animals and listening to them is found in the story of the design of the Zoo’s cougar exhibit.

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Joseph as a cub.

When I was helping to raise the cougars, “Joseph” and “Tecumseh,” we had a strict schedule of exercise, enrichment, training, and play. Each day we would go for multiple walks, exercise them in the Cheetah Encounter yard, play with them, and even nap with them. We had to build a very strong bond with these animals so they could be transferred to their new enclosure and feel safe and secure. The only way to do this was to spend the time with them so even if they were worried they would trust their trainers and look to them for guidance. We wanted them to know if we weren’t worried about something, they didn’t need to be either. The only way to get that response and trust from them was to spend every day, all day, with them. Rough job, I know. [Read more →]

March 22, 2013   No Comments

Cat Canyon Construction Continues

With beautiful weather like today, the construction crew down at Cat Canyon is busy. The snow leopard and tiger enclosures are really starting to take shape and the tiger viewing shelter is going up. Most of the public paths have been paved and the footers are in for the tiger sculpture and an artificial tree sporting claw marks. Horticulture has started bringing in plants and getting ready to landscape. Next week the sound system and speakers will go in and we’ll start planning where to pipe in the tiger roars and such. Our signs are still in production, which is fine because they are usually the last elements to be installed. See how the exhibit construction is coming along for yourself in Thane’s latest video.

May 18, 2012   No Comments