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Night Hunters: Under Construction V

With the holidays and all, the past month has been a blur and I didn’t have a chance to post many updates to the blog. I hope everyone had a great holiday season and that you had a chance to come to the Festival of Lights. I brought my kids during a snow storm and we had a great time. The kids went straight to the front of the line to see Santa since so few people braved the weather that night. We were pretty happy not to have to wait in line very long.

Rest assured, progress continues on Night Hunters design and development. I haven’t been down to the site recently, but I hear that the concrete foundation for the rotunda has been poured and the rest of the floors are scheduled to be poured next week. We’ve prepared several track casts–clouded leopard, ocelot, and puma–that our exhibits artist, Jessica, will use to make impressions in the concrete in certain areas.

I’ve been generating content for a computer interactive whereby visitors will be able to choose from a selection of text and images to create their own digital version of an ID sign for one of the small cats on exhibit. Their creations will actually be displayed in rotation at that cat’s exhibit. I think people will get a kick out of seeing the sign they created on display. What do you think?

I hope to visit the site to snap some more Under Construction photos to share soon. Until then, here are a few photos of some of the critters you’re likely to see when Night Hunters opens in May.

Fishing cat

Burmese python

Bat-eared fox

January 4, 2011   1 Comment

A Potto First

Potto Ultrasound

Michael Guilfoyle holds Lucy while an ultrasound exam is conducted by CREW veterinary intern Dr. Yolanda Markley.

The Cincinnati Zoo is one of only three zoos in the country to exhibit Pottos.  Pottos are nocturnal primates that live in the tropical forests of Africa.  Potto in Afrikans means “softly-softly” for the fact they move throughout the trees without making a sound.  In addition, Pottos have a modified spinal process on their vertebrae which projects through the shoulder blades to create a “shield”.  They use this shield as defense and actually “neck butt” their opponents, pretty cool!

While distantly related to monkeys and apes, Pottos are grouped with primitive primates called Prosimians which includes lorises and lemurs.  If you know your latin, “Pro” means before and “simian” means monkey or ape, so developmentally they come before these higher primates.

We are one of the only zoos to have successfully bred and reared Pottos in captivity.  However, little is known about their reproductive biology.  Michael Guilfoyle, Head Keeper of Cincinnati Zoo’s Nocturnal House, has successfully managed our Potto population and has been lucky enough to have discovered many Potto babies shortly after their birth.  The most recent baby still had the placenta attached when Michael discovered it less than one hour old.  The baby arrived on December 8, 2010 to proud Potto parents Lucy and Jabari.

Michael was interested in incorporating reproductive science into managing Cincinnati Zoo’s Potto population.  He convinced the research arm of the Zoo, CREW, to conduct a longitudinal hormone and ultrasound study of the species.  Michael feeds a small amount of yogurt mixed with food dye to each Potto several times a week so he can then identify  and collect fecal samples excreted from known individuals.  The samples are then  analyzed in CREW’s endocrine laboratory.  In addition, every month, we conduct an ultrasound exam of each female Potto housed with a male to detect signs of pregnancy.

October 7, 2010 ultrasound exam of Lucy’s baby.  The baby was quite active during the exam- you can see it moving its head and arms.

Thanks to the romantic sparks generated by Lucy and Jabari, we were able to generate the first fecal hormone profile of pregnancy in the Potto!  In addition, we were able to detect the pregnancy via ultrasound.  Check out the video at the end of blog!  Right now we are monitoring another female Potto named Tiombe.  Based on fecal hormone results, Tiombe is exhibiting regular reproductive cycles.  In October, Michael paired Tiombe with a male.  Keep your fingers crossed that this pair will soon breed so Tiombe can become a first time Potto mom.

December 24, 2010   6 Comments

Night Hunters: Under Construction IV

Yesterday we had a walk-through of the Night Hunters site to describe the interpretive plan elements and design in detail to our Chief Operating Officer, Dave Jenike. He gave the design team some great feedback and overall gave us the approval to move forward with the plan.

Now it’s time to get down to the details, such as ordering flat screens and other technology, obtaining lighting equipment, creating the audio track, painting murals, and for me, personally, writing the text for signage and interactive elements. I’m in full time research mode, learning as much as I can about the species we plan to exhibit so I can determine what information to put on the signs.


December 7, 2010   No Comments