Wednesday, July 23, 2014

And the Countdown Begins...

My internship is winding down and I'm sad to say that I have less than three weeks left in Kansas! I feel like I want to stay a bit longer, but I suppose I still have to finish school. Last week was a fantastic mid 70s temperature-wise, but today it was 101 feels like 110 and I was glad it was my day off. Lucky for me it's supposed to be just as hot tomorrow! I'm starting to work on my intern project, which consists of making some form of enrichment for any animal in the zoo. Still working out the kinks at the moment, but never fear! I will definitely post the finished results.

I've gotten much more comfortable with my Wildlife Stage shows! I wouldn't say I'm scared of public speaking, but doing live education animal shows twice a week has definitely helped me grow more comfortable with talking to complete strangers. My favorite part is when I interest people enough to come to back-to-back shows, because that means I did a good enough job that they wanted to come back.

In rainforest the summer heat is getting to the animals because the glass dome and the heat are overworking the air conditioning there, so we've started the extensive task of catching the free roaming (within the dome) birds and bats and relocating them to more air conditioned enclosures. UPDATE: All the bats were caught successfully! Huzzah!

Keeper Appreciation Week kicked off yesterday with a friendly game of Assassin (I lost today unfortunately), using small amounts of water. We have a fun week's worth of activities planned for keeper staff and interns that I'm really looking forward to!

My training with Dolly is going well for the most part. She's gone from being scared of the target pole to usually touching the target with only a little hesitation. Unfortunately the Topeka Zoo had to euthanize Jesse, the older male Reticulated Giraffe. The full story is here.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Halfway Through!

Hit the halfway mark!. There was a lot going on these past two weeks, so there were many special projects that I got to be a part of. The major one was the first ever World Giraffe Day on June 24th. We got to make awesome giraffe hats for the kids (and staff of course) and there was face painting and giraffe feedings going on for the majority of the day, with all proceeds going directly to giraffe

I also started doing Wildlife Stage shows twice a week; short ten to fifteen minute shows with live education animals. I do five shows a day, so I get to mix up the variety a lot. My favorite shows are the ones where I take out "Peanut" the baby American Alligator. Zoo visitors are always excited to see and touch an alligator, even if it's a little one. 


I worked in Diets for the first time, and it wasn't too bad. It was interesting to see which animals can get certain kinds of foods, and it was mildly entertaining cutting and measuring food out. I'm obviously easily entertained.

I also worked in Rainforest for the first time too! The rainforest is a domed building with glass panels that allow sunlight in and keep the animals and plants nice and warm. There are tropical birds and Giant Indian Fruit Bats in free-flight, along with several animal exhibits with animals such as Golden Lion Tamarins and Dwarf Caimans.

In DA I got to see more of the Lion's Pride section of the zoo. The lions, especially the male, were feeling pretty lazy but once their keeper showed that she wanted to train with them they were pretty energetic and enthusiastic. 

Some friends/interns and I decided to visit nearby zoos on our days off, and this week we went to the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium in Omaha, Nebraska. It is huge, and has several of the country's and world's biggest exhibits. I am of course biased, and whenever I saw an animal that the Topeka Zoo also had in exhibit, I preferred our own in every comparison. Especially the giraffes. That being said, Omaha was really impressive, and I'll be sure to go back again someday. Their aquarium was intense, and they had a tunnel that you walked through and you could look up and see sharks, rays, fish, and two sea turtles swimming above and around you.

I was VERY lucky and was asked to help with an elephant bath! I got to scrub "Tembo" the African Elephant along with Lauren, and afterwards got to help with elephant painting and got to be a living canvas for her painting on a shirt.Completely awesome (and safe).

Giraffe training is coming along slowly but surely. "Dolly" went from being terrified of the target pole to touching it when asked to, even if she's a little slow since she's an old lady. I tried making my own target pole, but she was scared of it and wasn't used to it, so I decided to switch back to the original target and she responded well!

We officially welcomed the newest addition to the Topeka Zoo, a Black Bear cub "Independence" or "Indie" for short! She's super cute, but usually a little skittish especially around "Sneak" and "Peek", our adult Black Bears. She was an orphan from Oregon, and is a little underweight, but she is gaining weight and being cute while doing it. For the local news story covering the event, click here.