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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen
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Alpaca Love

February 20th, 2012

Sherry and I recently visited the Carolina Alpaca Celebration to learn a bit about alpacas. Neither one of us really knew what to expect. We learned about their husbandry, their birthing needs, their food requirements, and just how many things you can make out of alpaca wool. But the best thing we learned is that THEY ARE DARN CUTE and THEY TALK TO YOU (well, sort of). In short, we like them. In fact, I even learned how to kiss an alpaca.

Isn't that an adorable face? We were surprised by the size of these camelids. They were smaller than we anticipated.

 

I told you I learned how to kiss an alpaca. This is "Overture" and he is one friendly alpaca.

 

This one looks like a hipster alpaca. There are two types of alpacas: Huacaya (wha-ky-a) and Suri. The Huacaya has the dense, fluffy fleece and the Suri has the dreadlocks look going on. Both types of fleece are extremely soft.

As soon as we walked into the building, we were greeted by the most surreal and sweet sound– an alpaca humming. They seem to talk to you, but in a quiet, hum.
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Join the conversation:

  1. They are just too cute! Wow, our staff and volunteers just never stop working!

    Posted by julie
  2. Adorable! Can we have one? They look like a cross between a camel and a poodle.

    Posted by Wendy
  3. Do they have to be sheared regularly like sheep or do you just clip them when you want to make a pashmina?

    Posted by leslie
  4. Volunteer Comment :

    Leslie,

    The alpacas are usually sheared once a year, most often in the springtime. Their fleece is incredibly soft. The range of colors is beautiful. White alpaca wool is also dyed other colors (like red, blue, etc).

    Posted by Karyn Traphagen

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen

Photo-Journal: October Moon Wolf Howl!

November 15th, 2011

Here’s a photo-journal from our recent October Moon Wolf Howl events during National Wolf Awareness Week.

Members head down the boardwalk toward Explore the Wild.

At the Red Wolves exhibit.

Animal Keeper Marilyn explains about red wolf behavior.

Animal Keeper Sarah answers questions from a young future animal keeper!

Making wolf enrichment items ("fake" sheep with sheep wool, egg cartons, and scents).

Adding wool to the egg carton to make a fake sheep for wolf enrichment.

A "fake" sheep. Didn't you recognize it? The wolves will love it!

A young visitor sporting her wolf ears!

Some young visitors modeling their wolf ears!

A museum volunteer showing some red wolf love (and showing off her own wolf ears!)

Applying the scents to the sheep's wool. This will get the wolves attention!

Red Wolf Coalition's Kim Wheeler shows wolf artifacts to explain about wolf behavior.

Animal Keepers Mikey and Jill demonstrate some of the tools that might be used to control a wolf.

Facepainting! Another fun activity during the Wolf Howl night.

And finally, the reward for making it to the end of the post! A video of wolf howls… well, not quite.
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  1. Saya sangat menghargai setiap membaca informatif sini. Saya tentu akan menyebarkan frase tentang situs Anda dengan orang-orang. Ceria.

    Posted by DSLR-A900

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen

Phoebe: Our tail-wagging Alligator

November 11th, 2011

Phoebe, our new education alligator, is downright cute. When Mikey holds her and strokes her neck, she wags her tail! Don’t believe me? Watch the video!
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  1. Hello,

    My name is Bradley Collins and I am interested in the animal care volunteer position. I would like more information about the requirements and details of this volunteer job.

    Thanks,
    Bradley Collins

    Posted by Bradley Collins
  2. Director Comment :

    Hi Bradley.
    You can learn about volunteering on our website: http://www.ncmls.org/get-involved/volunteer
    Thanks for inquiring.

    Posted by Sherry Samuels

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen

Ursula Gets Spoiled

October 22nd, 2011

On Monday, October 17th, Ursula received some special spoiling from the Animal Keepers. This video shows her enjoying the last frozen watermelon of the season (many thanks to those of you who donated watermelons to the Museum this summer). She also clearly loves the marshmallows and acorns she’s been given. The video is about 2.5 minutes, but worth watching every second (at least that’s what I think!). Pay attention to her large paws, how she wrinkles her nose, and how carefully she maneuvers the small marshmallows and acorns. Can you see how long her tongue is?

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen

Wondering why Carolina Wildlife is closed this week?

September 15th, 2011

Are you wondering why the doors to Carolina Wildlife are locked this week? As you peek in through the glass, can you see that something looks different? These photos will give you a glimpse behind-the-scenes to see why the indoor animal exhibit is closed… but not quiet!

This is the Animal Department hallway. The floors are being replaced, so everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) had to come out of all the rooms on the hallway.

These are our Education animals. Instead of their nice roomy Education Holding Room (the EHR), they are all out in the Carolina Wildlife exhibit where visitors would normally be looking at the muskrat, the opossum, or the water turtles.

All the shelves and supplies had to move out too. These shelves have enrichment items and cleaning supplies. They are set up in front of the owl exhibit! The owls are very confused about everything that is going on.

Even all the freezers and refrigerators that we use for food preparation for the animals had to come out of the hall. These are up against the wall of the muskrat exhibit. That's our new intern Matt doing some food prep!

All the dishes had to be moved out of the kitchen too! Aaron is trying to keep everything neat and tidy.

Here's another look at some more freezers in front of Henry's exhibit (he's our woodchuck) and across from the Aviary. You can see why there's no room for visitors this week!

By the end of the week, we will need to walk all the way through the Museum and outside to come back in the other entrance to the hallway to put food in a prep fridge. We’ll also need to have some keepers climb through the cutouts that the snake exhibits use so that they can access the back of the exhibits (for owls, snakes, etc), sink and equipment which we won’t be able to use the door to access. I may have to post a picture of that! Stay tuned!

Join the conversation:

  1. What does Henry think of his new view?

    Posted by Shawntel

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen

See You Later, Alligator

September 1st, 2011

The Museum has four alligators. Three are on exhibit in Carolina Wildlife and one is kept off-exhibit for education programs. When the alligators get too big to handle for education (or for their exhibit), we take them back to Alligator Adventure in SC to exchange for younger (& smaller!) alligators. The ones we bring back are usually yearlings (but if we can get a hatchling, we try for that too!) Here’s a photo essay of our trip on Aug 31 to make the alligator exchange.

Animal Dept Director Sherry is all set to set out with four alligators and equipment... at 5am!

We arrived in SC and met Travis (one of the animal keepers at Alligator Adventure). Here we are unloading the van. Notice the duct tape on the containers--safety first!

The four alligators that we returned were each inspected and placed in a tank area that is used for education. This video shows one of our alligators being taken from the travel container, inspected, and released.
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Home, Sweet (New) Home

As they grow, the returned alligators will move to other areas of the facility... where they will have LOTS of friends. There are over 800 alligators at Alligator Adventure!

Time to pick the new alligators to bring back to the Museum!

Sherry holds all four new alligators in one handful! That's a big difference from how we had to handle the four we returned!

All four new alligators fit in half of one of the transport containers! Ready to go to their new home.

Back at the Museum, keepers were busy cleaning out and improving the exhibit in preparation for the new alligators. The alligators will be quarantined for a month, and then we will begin to use one of them for education programs. More pics of the new residents of Carolina Wildlife soon. Come visit them!!

Join the conversation:

  1. They are so tiny!

    Posted by kimberly
  2. Sounds like a fun trip!
    I like the shot of all the gators lounging around on the island.

    Posted by Ranger Greg
  3. That’s a LOT of gators in one location!

    Posted by Ashlyn

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen

Owls in Towels (or Bird Burritos)

July 29th, 2011

One way that the Animal Keepers keep track of an animal’s health is to monitor its weight. So, how would you get a barred owl to sit still on a scale? Keeper Sarah demonstrates her method. Note: these photos are a composite showing the steps, but with different individuals of our 4 barred owls. Do you see any difference between the owls?

Animal Keeper Sarah carefully removes the barred owl from the exhibit by grasping its talons. She works carefully so the bird is not too stressed.

Sarah places the owl carefully, on its back, onto a clean towel (which we have already weighed).

Note how Sarah holds the owl to keep both the owl and herself safe.

Keeper Sarah carefully makes her first fold of the towel around the owl so that it cannot fly away or struggle.

Keeper Sarah finishes the "burrito wrap" around the owl.

With wings and talons safely folded inside the towel, Keeper Sarah can now place the owl on the scale.

Of course, not all our owls are as large as our barred owls. Keeper Marilyn shows how she weighs the much smaller Screech Owls!

Keeper Marilyn carefully places the Screech Owl in a plastic carrier.

Instead of a burrito, we have Owl-in-a-Box! But the goal is the same, to get an accurate weight of the owl.

How much do you think the barred owls weighed? The towel weighed 189 grams (about 7 ounces). We subtracted this from the total weight to get the true weight of each owl. The lightest was 705g (24.8 oz or about 1.5 lbs) and the heaviest was 1,188g (about 42 oz, or 2.6 lbs).

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen
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Quick Pic: Be Careful What You Wish For

July 17th, 2011

During the winter, when the keepers in the Animal Department are working outside in the cold weather, snow, and ice, you might hear someone say “I can’t wait for the warmer weather!” Well, now that we are in the heat of summer those cold days may seem a little more bearable! Here’s Keeper Sarah working to knock snow off the electric fence that surrounds the bear yard. If the snow is not kept off the fence, it could short out, so this is an important task. Ahh, remembering the cool breezes of that day makes me feel better already!

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  1. If I remember correctly, that was a beautiful winter day! Blue skies, thick snow, warm sun…I’d happily trade-in my shorts for my ski hat in July!

    Posted by Sarah

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen

Surprise! Baby Degus!!

May 25th, 2011

Apparently our male degu, Luis, was not neutered fast enough… because on Monday, May 23rd, animal department volunteer Ashlyn found Florencia’s 6 baby degus in a bag of shredded paper (used for animal enrichment) when she was cleaning out the cages! Degus are born with fur and are cute as can be. The amazing thing to me is that Florencia is not really that much bigger than the sum of these 6 babies!

Join the conversation:

  1. eeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! cuteness!!!!

    Posted by Courtney
  2. Volunteer Comment :

    I just noticed that you can hear Luis (the daddy) in the background running in the exercise wheel that is in their enclosure :)

    Posted by Karyn Traphagen
  3. Their heads are so BIG! Very cute.

    Posted by Natalie

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by , Volunteer
I like volunteering to work with the animals and the Keepers (both are quite exciting and entertaining). I speak several languages including chicken. In another life I teach physics, but mostly I just love to learn (anything!) and be outdoors. When not volunteering I like to watch the bears and photograph around Explore the Wild. Follow me on Twitter @ktraphagen

Max & Molasses

April 24th, 2011

On Friday, Keeper Marilyn and I were getting enrichment ready for Max, the steer in our Farmyard. Sometimes the enrichment is some kind of scent or flavor sprayed or spread on some of the toys that we vary in the yard. This time, we thought it might be fun to try molasses and see if Max might like it. As soon as he was let out of his stall, he ran down to the pole where we had hung his toys that were smeared with molasses. He wasted no time in figuring out that he could lick off the molasses. It is always good to find special treats that the animals like because we can then use those treats when we need to train the animals to do behaviors that will help the keepers care for the animals. You can read about training here and here.

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  1. We had a wedding ceremony outside of the BFH on Saturday evening. After the bride made her way down the aisle and the ceremony began, Max started ringing his cowbell. It provided a lovely musical accompaniment to the couple’s wedding. He stopped when the ceremony was over. :-)

    Posted by Leslie

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