Friday, June 20, 2014

First Month Down!

The Topeka Zoo had a special event for Father's Day called Campout with Dad, where families spent the night at the zoo and had a lot of fun activities along with seeing the zoo and the animals at night. The zoo looks and feels completely different at night, mostly because there are very little lights. I started working for guest services starting this weekend, so my first shift I spent double-booked between helping guests and doing intern volunteer stuff. It was a great night though, and I got to watch "Rojo" the male Sumatran Tiger play with some enrichment made by guests and also help with a behind-the-scenes flashlight/glow stick tour that ended with an elephant feeding. In the morning I had to be back at the zoo bright and early at 4:30 am to start making breakfast for the families that braved the sudden 2 am thunderstorm. After working until 9, I then did my normal intern shift in A&M which was fun as always just a little more tiring than usual.

I am SUPER lucky in that I was chosen to train "Dolly" one of the giraffes. "Dolly" was born at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo on October 8, 1984. She has had five calves, including "Hope" who is also at the Topeka Zoo. Her pattern is unique, with much more white between her spots.Since she has been historically scared of the target pole, we're starting out slow by first getting her accustomed to me, taking food from me, then taking food from my hand while it's near the target pole. In today's session she actually touched the target a few times on her own which is fantastic. Eventually we do plan on training to make health checks easier for both her and vet staff that might need to draw blood or look for any health concerns, but for now my job is to get her to reliably touch the target on command.

 I worked in North Range this week, and got to see a training session with "Johnson" the Bobcat. He was being crate trained, and from what I see, his training is going well. A special project was weaving fire hose and bolting it to a tire for black bear enrichment.

I worked in Disappearing Apes for the first time this week. The animals covered in this range are the zoo's five Bornean Orangutans, a Western Lowland Gorilla, and oddly enough also includes three African Lions (two lionesses and one male). The youngest Orangutan, "Bumi" is super adorable.

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