Archive for March, 2010

by , Keeper
Although a native tarheel, I came to the museum from Texas, where I taught Biology courses at a small college. In graduate school I studied the behavior and ecology of marine organisms (mostly crabs, lobsters and sea turtles).
You can find me in the Animal Department Monday-Thursday. Fridays I work for the Department of Innovation and Learning all day.

Quikpost:Signs of spring

March 23rd, 2010

Signs of spring at the museum:

Turtles hatching and moving towards the wetland

Baby slider, nickel for scale

But officially, spring starts when you see Sherry zipping around the bear yard aerating and planting grass seed.

Sherry on the mule in the bear exhibit

Afterward, the bears had fun playing in the cut grass.

Yona eats some grass while Mimi and Gus roll in fresh cut grass

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  1. Keeper Comment :

    What a cute little turtle!!

    Posted by Marilyn Johnson

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Spotlight: Jill Brown

March 19th, 2010
 
I have been slack on my Spotlight postings, but I will recommit to telling you all about the special people who work in, with, or help the animal department. I’ve  written spotlights on the rest of the keepers, so here’s the last one, or as Jill would say, I saved the best for last.
 
This is Jill.  She’s been a Keeper here for almost five years ( you can wish her a happy anniversary on September 12). Jill loves birds and Boba Fett. She’s one of only two keepers who is an approved raptor handler. She has trained and is able to have Misha, our red tail hawk, or Christopher, our program barred owl, sit on her hand and walk around doing programs (or bringing them to the building if a vet check is needed).
Jill is also our primary pig trainer. She is working with Auggie and Miss Piggy. Miss Piggy is sitting, and both pigs are getting really good at COME.  Hopefully Jill will chime in the comment section and let us know what behaviors the pigs have down and what new ones she’s working on with them.
 
Jill gets teased a lot by the rest of the team about her cheery personality and her messy desk. She can take it though, and dishes it out just the same. When it comes down to the basics though, Jill rarely misses is a day of work, is always on time, and focuses on animals that others don’t . She helps round out our amazing team of Keepers at the Museum.

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  1. Sherry, what do you do with the bear poop? Seriously – I’ve heard of the benefits of rabbit, sheep, horse manure, but can you put bear poop in your garden? Or would that just attract other bears?

    Posted by Wendy
  2. Director Comment :

    Wendy and others: We add the bear poop to the Museum’s compost pile.

    As far as attracting other bears: I wouldn’t be concenred about attracting bears to my garden unless I lived in bear country and I grew food that bears like to eat.

    Posted by Sherry Samuels
  3. Keeper Comment :

    Thanks *blush*
    The pigs are doing great.We are going to start working on “down”.I have also found out that the pigs love to have their ears cleaned which makes it much easier and less stress on the pigs AND keepers to do their job.

    Posted by jebrown

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by , Web Geek
Beck works for the Museum's Innovation and Learning department. She is captain of the Animal Department Blog cheerleading team and provides web-ly guidance when requested.
Beck works from various wifi'd spots in and around downtown Durham. It's easiest to find her @lifeandscience on Twitter.

You look awfully familiar, have I seen you here before?

March 18th, 2010

Resident web geek Beck, here, welcoming you to our new home. Let me show you around.

To your left, you’ll see some gray icons. They relate to the ones in the navigation bar above, which are based on the new way we’re categorizing posts on the blog. If you hover over the icon for a couple seconds, you’ll see a tooltip that tells you what category the icon represents. If you click on it, you’ll see other posts in that category.

Under the icons, there’s a picture of the author and his or her name. If you click on the author’s name, you’ll see all the posts from that author.

Under the date and bio, you’ll see a list of tags. If you click on a tag, you’ll see all the posts that share that tag. Tags are a convenient way to explore the blog when you’re wanting to read more about something that our icon categories don’t represent.

To your right, there’s a comment box and perhaps (by the time you read this) comments. You don’t have to login to comment (though you can if you’d like) and if you see comments in orange, it means that a keeper/blogger has responded. Your comments will appear in gray.

Don’t forget about the search box in the top right of the page. That’ll help you find posts like Summer breeze, makes me feel fine… a post that may prove helpful if you’re wondering about the origins of our hilarity icon.

Please excuse our mess, we’ll likely be cleaning up post categories and rogue video embed code for the next little while. If you spot something awry, help us out by leaving a comment on the offending page.

We hope you feel at home here in no time and welcome your feedback and ideas.  As my very favorite web geek says, “See you in cyberspace.”

p/s. If you subscribe to our blog with RSS and your reader didn’t pick up this post, please resubscribe using this RSS feed.

Join the conversation:

  1. Looks great! Like the new layout, colors, and of course, the postings!!

    Posted by Ranger Greg

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by , Keeper
I started volunteering at the museum when I was 13 (I'm 22, and they pay me now, which is nice). Favorite work activities include, but are not limited to: bathing our steer, talking about bears, playing guitar (sometimes for the animals) and riding my bike around grounds. And blogging, of course.
I work Tues-Sat and can be tweeched @ernbrn.

Chinchilla Chillin’

March 11th, 2010

As you well know by now, Nimbus the super adorable rabbit has been living in the building instead of the farmyard where she’s usually found. She’s still doing ok, she has good days and bad days, but she’s eating well and gets extra love and attention since she hangs out where we are for a lot of the day.

Her being in the building has also given her the chance to make some new friends with some of our animals who are used for education. She spends most of her days these days with Little, our silky chicken (we just call her Chicken). Here they share breakfast:

Nimbus also got to meet Bugsy, our male rabbit, for the first time. She almost immediately started grooming him. Here’s a video (uh, this is an edited version). **WARNING** You have never seen anything this cute:

YouTube Preview Image

And then she got some supervised play time with our chinchillas Salt and Pepper. I love the way she gets so animated when they first come out. She really seems to be interested in the other creatures. It was fun to watch Nimbus’s ears as Salt and Pepper split up to explore different parts of the room–she kept one ear following each. **WARNING** This is also really cute:

YouTube Preview Image

Maybe Bugsy and Nimbus can play catch together! I will definitely keep you updated on that…

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

QuikPost: mowing the bear exhibit- or not

March 10th, 2010

March is when we start thinking about the grass in the bear yard again. We always seed, aerate and fertilize the bear yard in March- we mow too. We have everything we need on hand to proceed: LOTS of seed (we over seed), a little natural fertilizer (we don’t use/need much as the bear yard gets lots of natural fertilizer), our aerator, Kent (he’s the tractor driver), me, and the tractor. As you can see, the tractor is out of commission right now.

We’ll make arrangements to use other equipment of it’s not back together in time.

It usually only takes an hour once we are in the yard, so if you come by and see us mowing or seeding, you can watch, or return at another time to see the bears. You won’t be able to see the bears when we tend to the yard as they are locked in the house for everyone’s safety.

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by , Keeper
I have been working at the museum since 2003, and I feel fortunate to have a job where I can start my day with amazing animals surrounding me. I enjoy camping, hiking and rock climbing in my spare time when the weather is nice.
I work Tuesday through Saturday and spend a lot of time behind the scenes, but you might find me at a public program or feeding the farmyard animals in the afternoon.

QuikPost: Enrichment serving its purpose!

March 7th, 2010

I just wanted to share some photos of our opossums making good use of their enrichment. This is Sonny and Cher, our Carolina Wildlife opossums that live together on exhibit. As you can see, they like to sleep together, whether it be in an old tree trunk, a hammock, or a shoe box. You may only be able to see one face peaking out of the shoe box, but both of them were in there. It was kind of funny to watch them both climb out of it… similar to watching clowns pile out of a car! You can learn more about Sonny and Cher here in a Creature Feature post.

Here they are in the hollowed-out tree trunk:


And here in a blanket we hung up as a hammock:

And here in a shoe box:

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  1. SO CUTE!

    Posted by Wendy A

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by , Keeper
Although a native tarheel, I came to the museum from Texas, where I taught Biology courses at a small college. In graduate school I studied the behavior and ecology of marine organisms (mostly crabs, lobsters and sea turtles).
You can find me in the Animal Department Monday-Thursday. Fridays I work for the Department of Innovation and Learning all day.

Big Word of the Month: El Niño , Southern Oscillation

March 5th, 2010

A question to ponder: Why would the temperature of the ocean water off the coast of South America cause a woman in Chicago to re-consider her purchase of soybeans?

For this month’s episode of Big Word of the Month, I want to discuss my favorite oceanic/atmoshpheric phenomenon (you have one too, right!) . Climate scientists use the term El Niño , Southern Oscillation to describe the complex relationship between the patterns of atmospheric pressure over the Pacific Ocean and the ocean circulation patterns off the western coast of South America. Because that phrase is such a mouthful, people use the abbreviation ENSO to save time.

The short and simple version of ENSO is that in most years weather patterns over the Pacific lead the coastal waters of South America to relatively cool. This common situation is referred to as a La Niña condition. Every few years though, the Southern Oscillation shifts back towards the western Pacific and the coastal water of South America warm slightly. If the warming exceeds about 1 degree Farhenheit, the event is described as a El Niño event.

This small change has very large global impacts. The map below shows you how moisture and temperature patterns change around the globe during an El Niño period.

Fig. 1 Winter Impacts from El Niño conditions(image from Wikicommons)

As you can see, an El Niño event leads to wetter and cooler winter in the Southeastern United States and warmer conditions in the Northwest US and Canada. So based on the extra snow here at the Museum and the poor ski conditions at the Olympics in Vancouver, you might not be surprised to learn that this year is a strong El Niño year. Ocean temperatures off South America have been above normal since last fall and are expected to stay that way through early spring.

Back to our question: Why would a woman in Chicago, interested in buying soybeans, be influenced by the temperature of the sea water off the coast of South America? Put your guess in the comments section below. I’ll post the answer in a few days if no one gets it right.

Read more about ENSO at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center

Join the conversation:

  1. Keeper Comment :

    The answer to the question is that the woman in Chicago is a futures trader. Soybeans are one of the world’s man sources of protein. Small fish like anchovies caught off the coast of South America are another big protein source. When an El Nino event occurs, the fishery landings go way down. That makes soybeans more valuable and the prices go up. So if you are a soybean futures trader, you watch El Nino forecasts very closely.

    Posted by Larry Boles

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Money for the bears

March 3rd, 2010

Yup, a call for you $$$. I won’t push too hard, just a little… If you love the Museum and our bears, maybe you’d like to contribute to the cause.

We’ve got five bears now and it takes a lot to care for them. (Yona’s been doing great by the way, since she entered the exhibit with the other bears: wrestling with Gus, climbing up trees (and jumping/falling/climbing down), eating and rolling in the grass, and more. We’ll post more photos, but come and visit!) That’s Mimi lying down and Yona standing.
This year’s proceeds from the Great Human Race will be going to bear-care. This year it might be paying for Yona’s surgery. Keeper Marilyn is walking this year- yay Marilyn.
Click here to make an online donation (If you do this please type “Blog” in the comment section).

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