Author Archive

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.
Tags: ,

Why I’m Not Where You Are

June 30th, 2010

(title taken from a chapter of my favorite book [that has nothing to do with animals])

Sherry mentioned in her post that Larry and I were heading off to wonderful new adventures and that she supposed we’d each write a farewell post. Well, I suppose this is mine.

It was a fateful day in May (I think?) that I first arrived as a volunteer at the museum, at the tender age of 13 (I’m 22 now). When I was almost 18 I got offered a job as a part-time animal keeper, and then in October 2008 I went full time. This was all according to my master plan of getting a full time job for a year (and, er, a half), to save up for a trip of which I’m ever so close to the crumbly precipice. You see, all the while, in addition to being an animal keeper, I’ve also been a musician. The museum is really very intertwined with my music life too. Like: when I was 14, my first gig was opening for our then Youth Partner Coordinator’s band. Also I’ve played at a couple staff parties, at the Science of Coffee event back in April, and blog-wise a song of mine can be heard as the backdrop of this awesome video of our canebrake shedding, and I also made the music (using samples) for Beaker’s Shmear Montage. And sometimes I play my guitar and write songs for the animals (which stays between me and them). You know, private concerts.

This has been such a long time coming that it’s weird it’s already here. My last day of work is July 2nd, and then near the end of July I’ll head out for an indefinite possibly-cross-country-but-kind-of-east-cost-for-now trip/music tour. While I won’t be blogging here (except for guest posts if they’ll let me!) I will be blogging over at my website where you can hear some of my music and keep tabs on me, if you care to: http://ernbrn.com. I’ll also be tweeting all the while @ernbrn.

Not to get all mushy on you, but I’m really very sad to be leaving the museum. I pretty much grew up here and am sad to be leaving all of the people and animals that I really care about, not to mention how lucky I’ve felt and how much I’ve enjoyed getting to be a part of this neato blog  I feel like I’m leaving something I love for something I really love. However, I will definitely keep reading and commenting on the blog and visiting the museum often. So long, and thanks for all the fish! (See: Douglas Adams)

Join the conversation:

  1. Go for it, Erin. Leave your bright mark on the world!

    Posted by Wendy
  2. We’ll miss your smiling face Erin but wish you a great adventure!

    Posted by Debbie
  3. Going on tour!
    We will, all of us, miss your cheerful self here at the museum.
    How am I going to know when the first honeysuckle blossoms appear?
    Good luck, and keep smiling!!

    Posted by Ranger Greg

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

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.

How intriguing!

June 26th, 2010

For the past month or so, the Animal Department has been taking care of 8 parakeets for a test math exhibit that the museum’s exhibit developers are trying out. I was cleaning them (the parakeets) the other day and I noticed something interesting.

One of the things that we give them is a chew bone made out of fish that looks like this when it’s new:

But when I was taking out their bone that had been in there a while, this is what I found:

Hmm, this looks familiar...

They had sculpted their bone into the shape of a parakeet! Here’s a side by side:

Do you see it?

Join the conversation:

  1. Almost like David by Michelangelo.

    Posted by jebrown
  2. Keeper Comment :

    Mmmmm, I kind of see it, but it may be a stretch. However, I love the fact that you used Piglet Merriweather for the parakeet picture!!:)

    Posted by Marilyn Johnson
  3. Looks more Giacometti to me…

    Posted by Wendy
  4. A lot of existentialism there…

    Posted by Wendy

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

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.
Tags: , ,

QuikPost: Personal Ad

June 18th, 2010

Single white and brown male with more to love seeking someone to play footsie with.


Join the conversation:

  1. Being that I am known for looking at personal ads, this is actually better then the ones that are really out there. He looks so sane!

    Posted by jebrown
  2. A very mooooving picture…

    Posted by Wendy

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

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.

The videos are back!

June 5th, 2010

Hey! I just noticed the videos are working again! So if you’re a newer reader, or you don’t actually like to read, you can now catch up on all of the old video action! Click here (or the TV button up top there) to whittle down the posts to the ones with vids.

Here’s  a list of good ones to get you started:

Yona meets our bears

Do rabbits love to throw things?

Rabbits might really love to throw things!

Auggie meets Miss Piggy

Our talented volunteer(‘s girlfriend)

Pumpkins!

Red Wolf Surgery Parts One, Two, and Three

And those are just a few! Keep exploring, we have over 3 years worth of blog goodness up here!

Join the conversation:

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

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.

I’m outsourcing all of my blogging now

June 3rd, 2010

Who needs to carry around a camera anymore if we can just have our visitors and members take videos and pictures for us? Here’s another video that our trusty member Karyn took and edited, this time of Lightning.

YouTube Preview Image

Again, if you have any great shots or videos of our animals that you’d be willing to share on the blog, contact us! My email is erinb (at) ncmls (dot) org. Of course, I can’t guarantee that everything sent to us will make it onto the blog. We have a rigorous quality test routine of all blog material, consisting of several quality testers reviewing all material before it goes live:

Chicken reviews our blog videos

Bugsy employs the help of my thumbs to scroll through the pictures for him. Bunnies can't do anything themselves!

Good luck making the cut! :)

Join the conversation:

  1. I thought you determined that bunnies were capable of throwing things? Doesn’t that count as something they can do?

    Posted by Leslie
  2. Keeper Comment :

    Good point, Leslie! She has you there, Erin. But I always apperecite the humor in your posts!!

    Posted by Marilyn Johnson
  3. Keeper Comment :

    Sorry, that would be “appreciate”.

    Posted by Marilyn Johnson
  4. Keeper Comment :

    Until I actually witness said throwing event with my own eyeballs, or see it caught on film, I will remain steadfast in my suspicion that they don’t actually throw anything, but rather run very fast across the room, deposit objects, and run very fast back to the same position to make us think that they’ve thrown it. Because they want us to think they’re impressive. And though I think they are impressively cute, I am not impressed with their alleged throwing abilities. I do, however, look forward to the day where I am.

    Posted by Erin Brown

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

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.

Mmmberries

May 22nd, 2010

Or: Bearberries

Or: Feeling Like a Bear

Around this time of year, everyone is thinking only of strawberry picking, or keeping an eye on those lush white flowers flowering all over their blackberry bushes, waiting for them to bear fruit. Or when they’ll start seeing fresh raspberries at our local farmer’s market. But who thinks about the mulberry tree with it’s plentiful, fragile berries that, when ripe, fall to the ground with the slightest touch?

The bears think about them! And because they do, so do we keepers. And the other day when I was going out to get some, I kinda started thinking like a bear too. We’ve got several mulberry trees right outside of the animal department, several along the path leading to Catch the Wind & Explore the Wild, and several others on staff paths around grounds. There’s actually a mulberry tree growing in the bear yard too (although I think Yona chewed all of the buds off of it because she doesn’t know any better). We’ve been collecting a lot of the branches and berries for our bears, and last Thursday Cassidy and I went on a special mulberry expedition.

Look at all those berries!

I mean look at them! All tender and ripe. You can definitely see why a bear would be into a mulberry tree. Imagine being a hungry bear (or keeper) and stumbling across one of these, say, for random example, at 11:30am, right before lunchtime, climbing up into one of them and picking off the ripe ones (you only have to touch them), and eating them in the warm sunshine. Sounds good right? It was! I mean, um, for the bears!

Our hands were purple ALL DAY

We collected around 3 pounds.

We froze the ones we collected, and on Saturday our volunteers collected a whole other bucketful that we froze and we’ll use throughout the year. Yum! It’s good to be a bear (or a keeper!) in spring.

Join the conversation:

  1. Keeper Comment :

    Great post Erin!

    Posted by Marilyn Johnson
  2. Director Comment :

    I am sad and lonely because the berries are almost gone from the tree outside our office.
    I’ve been watching the birds in the trees in the evening. A Brown Thrasher family, including two fledglings have been dining there. Also, a nuthatch has been coming to my window and tapping repeatedly.
    Now that the berries are mostly gone, the birds are mostly gone too.

    Posted by Sherry Samuels

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

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.

QuikPost: Your Daily Cute

May 21st, 2010

When I weigh the chinchillas, they get a raisin treat while they’re on the scale.

Jill didn’t want to get on the scale, but she didn’t refuse a raisin treat!

Chinchilla hands vs. Jill hands

Join the conversation:

  1. Definitely adorable! Great shots. How much do they weigh?

    Posted by Karyn
  2. Those sure are some cute critters…holding those raisins in their little hands.

    Posted by Ranger Greg
  3. Keeper Comment :

    Oh, good question Karyn.

    Pepper (the gray one) weighs 566 grams, Salt (the white one) weighs 608 grams, and Jill (the purple one) wouldn’t tell me.

    Posted by Erin Brown
  4. Just so we know and clarify, I do not have a chinchilla overbite. That was done for the hilarity factor.

    Posted by jebrown
  5. Keeper Comment :

    I will confirm Jill’s statement. She doesn’t usually have a chinchilla overbite. She does, however, always looks that cute when holding a raisin.

    Posted by Erin Brown
  6. Keeper Comment :

    Chinchillas are adorable!! And that’s a pretty funny…. er, cute picture of Jill, too.:)

    Posted by Marilyn Johnson

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

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.

Bear Aware!

May 12th, 2010

Next week is Bear Awareness Week, and the North Carolina Piedmont Chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers (AAZK), of which several museum keepers and several keepers from the Duke Lemur Center are a part of, will be heading up our activities this year.

Bear Awareness week is a week dedicated to learning about bear behaviors, spreading knowledge about bear species and their plights (6 out of 8 bear species are in danger of extinction), and learning how to cohabitate with bears responsibly.

The AAZK will have a table set up at the bear overlook all day Sunday the 16th, Wednesday 19th  in the afternoon, and Saturday the 23rd from 11am-4pm. They’ll be doing enrichment sessions, feeding programs, and they’ll be testing some bear proof food containers that you’d use when camping. They’ll also have goodies to give away, and they’ll have a raffle where you can win a behind the scenes tour of the bear house, a tour of the Duke Lemur Center, and paintings that our animals have made (they’ll also have these paintings and note cards for sale–proceeds go to support our AAZK chapter). Also, all week our daily 2pm Meet the Keeper program will be at the bear overlook.

Come on by this week and say hey! Here’s a little taste of the cuteness you might see:

YouTube Preview Image

Join the conversation:

  1. A visitor commented to me the other day on how nice our Explore the Wild bear exhibit is. She said it’s better than the Brookfield Zoo!

    Posted by Wendy
  2. Keeper Comment :

    Watching our bears play and wrestle never gets old. Ever!!

    Posted by Marilyn Johnson

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

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.

How Enriching!

May 5th, 2010

Twas a lovely, cool morning last week and I was working in Explore the Wild tending to the bears. The bear enrichment that day was to put syrup in holey balls, and I thought it’d be fun to do it from the bear overlook and watch the bears interact with it. When I got up to the bear overlook, I wondered if I would run into Karyn, a member who I see around the museum quite a bit. I had just gotten out my phone to send her a tweet to come to the bear overlook if she was around, when she appeared like magic. It was quite fortuitous, as I, the keeper who is supposed to be carrying around a camera in her back pocket, neglected to have a camera in my back pocket. Luckily Karyn did!

Here’s a great video she took of the bears being very funny trying to get the holey balls out of the water and from each other. I kept marveling at how determined they were to fish the balls out of the pool, even after they had been bobbing around in there for a long while, and were most certainly syrupless. But I do not have the keen sense of smell as the bears do, so who am I to judge? Another thing to note is that I used Mrs. Buttersworth, which is the good stuff, so that probably had everything to do with their sudden motivation.

Here’s a list of all of our posts on enrichment if this amuses you. Another lesson that you can get from this is: talk to us! We like seeing our members around the museum and letting them know if something cool is happening. Thanks for the video, Karyn!

YouTube Preview Image

Join the conversation:

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.

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.

Hey! Where are my videos?!

April 28th, 2010

We’re still working out the kinks with our fancy new blog. Apologies that some (or, *cough*, all) of the old videos aren’t playing. We are working our darndest to fix it (and by we, I mean Beck). Bear with us as we try to sort out the problems.

In the meantime, enjoy some pictures that I’ve been collecting in my pocket:

Virginia bear tries to beg some food out of me (unsuccessfully)

Virginia bear tries to beg some food out of me (unsuccessfully)

Our pine snake does some painting for a fundraiser.

Hot tub turtle! I walk in on our turtle stuck upside down in his water bowl.

Join the conversation:

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

If you have an account on any of the Museum's blogs, you can sign in with the same login to contribute to the discussion.

If you don't have an account, signing up is free and easy.