Author Archive

by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

New Year’s Resolutions 2013

January 2nd, 2013

Hey there!  It’s former Animal Keeper Kristen, back on the blog to talk New Year’s Resolutions.  Well, I actually haven’t made time yet to reflect on the past year and set some goals for 2013  ( I’ve looked to the museum animals for inspiration in years past: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012), so I suppose I’ll be working on that the next few days.  But I thought I’d throw out a little challenge for you– and for me.  I visit the museum at least weekly with my 20 month old,  and so I’d like you to leave a comment with one of your resolutions for the upcoming year, and over the next few weeks (months?) I’ll attempt to capture a photo of one of the museum animals “illustrating” that resolution!  Could be challenging, and I may need to enlist some Keeper help!

Oh, I do know one goal I’d like to meet in the New Year:  learn how to knit.  It’s something that’s been on my list for a few years– in fact, I always meant to get former keeper Cassidy to give me a lesson before she moved away, but never got around to it.   I think it’d be fun to make Libby a little toddler sweater.

perhaps a sweater made from alpaca wool??

Anyway, hope you all have a Happy New Year, and I’m looking forward to hear your aspirations for 2013!

Join the conversation:

  1. Eat more chocolate! (Probably bad for wolves, but is there for any animal (besides people) any benefits to chocolate consumption?

    Posted by Wendy
  2. Director Comment :

    I’ve been thinking about gratitude

    Posted by Sherry Samuels
  3. Renewing my museum membership which is a couple months overdue. (The sheep would have said I’m so baaad!)
    Then I plan on getting exercise while looking at the animal exhibits. sailboats, etc etc. Read that the museum animals have also gotten exercise on Loblolly Trail.

    Posted by dj

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

New Year’s Resolutions- 2012!

January 2nd, 2012

Hello, former Animal Keeper Kristen here! Here’s the quick catch up: my daughter Libby is 8 months old (already!) and I’m having a wonderful, challenging, lovely life being a mom. I’m a regular Animal Department blog reader, and Libby and I are frequent visitors to the Museum. We meet up with Sherry, and whoever else wants to join, for lunch a few times a month, and we occasionally crash Thursday group lunch.

When Sherry asked me to keep with tradition ( 2011, 2010, 2009) and write some New Year’s Resolutions for the blog, I said I’d love to!  Of course, I’m not quite in touch with the Animal Department’s goals for 2012, so I thought I’d share some of my own personal resolutions, as illustrated by the Museum animals!

Thanks to the keepers for sharing photos, and to Sherry for inviting me back to the blog! Happy New Year and see you around the Museum!

Kristen

 

New Year’s Resolutions 2012:

1.  Get back into pre-baby shape with a daily exercise routine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Introduce Libby to all kinds of wholesome and varied foods.

 

3.  And teach her polite table manners!

 

4. Start learning about area schools.

 

5.  Find a playgroup with kids her own age.

 

 

6.  Savor moments from each day- babies grow so fast!

baby Max

baby Virginia

 

baby Scout

Join the conversation:

  1. Great job Kristen!!

    Posted by Ashlyn
  2. You forgot ‘Come back to the Museum as a volunteer’. :-)

    Posted by Leslie

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

See you on the other side of the fence!

February 28th, 2011

So if you’ve seen me around Museum grounds lately, you’ll notice my profile is looking a little different these days!

stretching out my uniform!

Yep, in April, I will become  a very different kind of “animal keeper”!!

Our female wolf was just in heat, and since red wolves have a 63 day gestation period, I keep thinking how cool it would be if she got pregnant and we gave birth on the same day!  Seems unlikely though, since in all of our observations, the male hasn’t seemed very interested in her.  Anyway…

So  I’m obviously very excited, but I’m a just a little sad too, because I’ve decided to stop working, and I am really going to miss the Museum:  the animals, the people, and the work!

This will be my last blog post, but I’m sure I will see all of you around, as I join the ranks of stroller moms and dads who populate the Museum.  It’ll actually be nice to spend some time in different areas. Even though I work here,  I rarely get to watch the leaf cutter ants for more than 20 seconds or visit the Butterfly House, or build my own Contraption. And who knows,  I may even do some volunteering in the future!

I figure I have a couple of advantages going into things, thanks to my life as a keeper, over other first time moms:

ONE:  I will have no issues with diaper changing– really, what could smell worse than possum poo smeared all over an exhibit or make you gag more than sorting through the delivery of thawing dead feeder mice in 90 degree heat?

TWO:  I’ve  bottle fed a squirmy, bitey (yet very cute)  baby Virginia bear cub, and have ended up covered in Esbilac and baby cereal, so I’m up to taking on feeding challenges!

THREE:  If you’ve ever heard the red ruffed lemurs sound their alarm call, you know how loud and distressing it is. I’ve endured it for half an hour straight while enclosed with them in a cinder block building, so at least I’ve had a taste of possible all night crying sessions!

All you parents reading this are probably laughing at my naivety by now, and I realize I  can’t really know the challenges and joys of a baby until she actually gets here. What I do know, is that I have nine years worth of great stories to tell my baby about working at this wonderful place.  And that as she grows, she’ll get to meet my other family: the keepers, the volunteers, the animals, and the other Museum staff who have made my time here so great.

Thanks to all of you for reading my posts, and lastly…  my husband and I haven’t picked a name yet! If you have a good suggestion, put it in the comments section.   Here’s the hilarious list that keepers actually started years ago, and have worked on extra diligently since I told them the good news!

the list-- started years ago

more recent additions

Join the conversation:

  1. Kristen, You will be missed but we look forward to seeing you around! Best of luck!

    Posted by Shawntel
  2. How about Walter Melon?

    Posted by Wendy
  3. That entry is actually a tribute to a former post, not a reference to your profile…

    Posted by Wendy
  4. Congratulations! I think babies are just as entertaining as animals, and I hope you find that, too. I don’t have any name suggestions, but your colleagues seem to have a lot of “juniors” in the running. :-)

    Posted by Libby

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

Worm on a string

February 11th, 2011

Were I a bearded dragon, my chin would not be turning black with anger/ excitement but instead, red with embarrassment.

You see, a couple of weeks ago, we determined that we needed to be extra vigilant about making sure Godzilla was getting enough exercise.  We have been a little worried about his back legs and keeping them in good, active shape. He is an animal that by nature tends to sit and bask a lot, and by upbringing sits around even more (he came to us as a hand fed pet who saw no need to move to his food).  So we wanted to make sure he just isn’t sitting around 24/ 7 and Katy was assigned the task of experimenting with different ways to exercise him.

At first, she did all the sensible things :  offering him different basking spots and bathing opportunities in a larger environment, putting his Monday/ Thursday diet of crickets into a larger space for him to chase after (versus de-legged and in a bowl), and allowing him time in a bigger and more topographical cage.

Some ideas resulted in a little more movement and exercise, but Katy was not quite satisfied. And so began her experiment of tying a superworm onto a string and dragging it around like bait for Godzilla to chase after. When she ran this idea by Kent and I, we politely expressed our doubt.  And by “politely”, I mean  knee-slapping, guffawing laughter at the ridiculousness of the idea.  I mean, running to other keepers and declaring loudly, “Ha! Guess what Katy’s trying to do!”.  I mean, asking Katy to tell us when she was finished, so we could advise visitors  to go to the farmyard and watch Auggie and Miss Piggy lift off and zoom around through the treetops.

Well, don’t you know the darn worm on a string thing worked?  And so, red faced and ashamedly, I offer up my sincere apologies to the genius, the brilliance and the undaunted imagination of one Keeper Katy.

Enjoy the video.  YouTube Preview Image

Join the conversation:

  1. awesome! successful lizard exercise! May I ask how long it took to tie the string around the worm?

    Posted by Allison
  2. The video is great! Maybe you should invest in a treadmill and suspend the worm from the front of it so you wouldn’t have to worry about running out of space?

    Posted by Leslie
  3. Keeper Comment :

    Hey Allison,
    Katy says it took less than 3 seconds to tie on the string. I’d add that for the average person however, who doesn’t possess beardy exercise superpowers, it may take longer. :)

    Posted by Kristen Pormann
  4. awesome! now- what if you make a strap on his back with a stick poking out front so it always dangles in front of him? Carrot on a stick style?

    Posted by Courtney

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

New Year’s Resolutions – 2011

January 2nd, 2011

Well, it’s tradition now  ( 2010 Resolutions, 2009 Resolutions).   Here are our Animal Department goals for 2011!

1.  Graciously accept help when it’s offered!

2. Try new foods.

3. Work hard…

Play hard…

Sleep hard.


4. Buy organic.

5.  Get out and enjoy nature.

6. Life changes fast.  Appreciate the time you have with the team you belong to!

Join the conversation:

  1. Director Comment :

    Thanks Kristen. I love reading the resolutions!

    Posted by Sherry Samuels
  2. This is hilarious and awesome!

    Posted by Meredith
  3. Keeper Comment :

    Great pics, Kristen! I always enjoy the resolutions.

    Posted by Marilyn Johnson
  4. Keeper Comment :

    Thanks MJ, but alas, I can’t take any credit for the photos. Volunteer Ashlyn, Keeper Katy, and Ranger Greg get all the props for capturing fun moments!

    Posted by Kristen Pormann
  5. Hilarious as always!

    Posted by Erin Brown

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

Kiwi and Craisins

November 15th, 2010

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since Keeper Cassidy has left, and I’ve taken over training (for the time being) the red ruffed lemurs.  They are really neat to work closely with– such different personalities from the more hyper ringtails!

It took a few weeks for Cassidy to transfer the lemurs over to me.  First, I just stood there while she trained and watched her hand cues, listened to her verbals cues, and made sure I was noting exactly when she was bridging the behavior  (using her clicker to let the animal know “That right there is the exact behavior I’m asking you to do!”).  Then, Cassidy would ask for a behavior and click it, and I got to hand out all the treats ( kiwi and craisins).  Once they were comfortable with that, she’d ask, I’d click  (getting politely corrected when I did it wrong)  and give the treat.  Finally, I got to do all three steps with Cassidy around, and then alone.  The ruffed did a great job transferring over; they really didn’t seem to have any issues with a new person.  This is good, because eventually I will transfer them again to a new keeper!

Here’s a video of Cassidy working with Cynthia. You can see her calling her to come, touching her tail,  feet,  rib cage and neck, and lifting up her hand.  “Hand” is in it’s earliest stages… eventually we’d like to be able to manipulate and get a good look at their hands without them pulling away.

YouTube Preview Image

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

yum! breakfast!

October 31st, 2010

Our new female wolf is settling in, and can often be seen up top hanging out fairly close to the male.

She’s got a history of irritable bowel and diarrhea, and so came to us with an interesting diet:   logs of feline diet (that’s right, feline!), which is a ground up meat similar to what we feed the owls, and Prescription Diet Canine low calorie canned food.

Our male wolf was on a Mazuri Exotic Canine dry food diet,  but since there was no way to really separate them for feeding, he’s also getting this new diet.   He has easily adjusted to this new food and still has access to his dry feeders.

Eventually, once our new girl is firmly established and has a good record of good looking feces, we might start to adjust her diet.  Of course, we’d have to do this slowly and keep daily records on her behavior and quality of feces.  Currently she’s not allowed any mice, rats, or any food enrichment, so we’ve had to go heavy on the tactile and scent enrichment for this month.   We’ve also tried to get rats directly to the male, so he’s not missing out on the fun of tearing and crunching!

Preparing their food has been a bit of a change for us keepers.  Before we just poured dry food into the feeders, and tossed supplemental rats and mice in, but now we have to make  a morning mix of bloody, meaty, canned food goodness.

yum, breakfast!

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

Missing Ozzie

October 8th, 2010

On Wednesday, we made the decision to euthanize Ozzie, our Royal Palm turkey, who lived in the farmyard. He had been sick for a long time, and seemed to defy the odds on a daily basis. Up until this past week, he was his usual ornery self, even through what we strongly suspected was cancer. Late last week he started limping, and eventually went lame, and didn’t respond at all to the treatments for pain we were giving him.

As with all animals here at the Museum, Ozzie was necropsied and we have the results back from the initial look (called the gross necropsy). He did have a large multifocal tumor in his kidney that was pressing on his sciatic nerve– probably the cause of the lameness. Our decision not to wait any longer to euthanize was the right one.

Ozzie was a great turkey and although he would go for blood with most of the keepers and wasn’t all that friendly to his former female companion Harriet (who moved to keeper Kent’s house because of Ozzie’s non stop harrassment), I will really, really miss him. He’s been my desktop picture forever and I have a nice scar on my leg to remember him by. Many years ago, Ozzie somehow popped the air sac in his chest. Until it healed, it would fill up with air, and keepers had to draw large amounts of air ( 100-150 cc’s if I remember correctly) out of his chest using a needled syringe twice a day. Then we had to massage his chest to push out the last of the air. While normally an aggressive bird, he was really weak and passive at the time. He recovered nicely and ever since has held a bit of my heart!

Ozzie endured a lot of Thanksgiving comments, and had a lot of vocal conversations with visitors. He was a really beautiful bird; you can see him in his full, fanned out display here. He was a rare breed, with a rare personality, and we’re all sad he’s gone. Below is a nice video Cassidy took about a month ago of turkey enjoying some freshly laid mulch. Please feel free to leave your fond Ozzie memories in the comments section.

YouTube Preview Image

Join the conversation:

  1. So sorry to hear about the loss of Ozzie. He was such a personality every time we came by to say hi to him. I just loved him. How’s the duck handling the loss of his across-the-way neighbor?

    Posted by Melissa
  2. I always loved seeing him in the Farmyard. He would come out and say hi whenever I walked past. I’ll miss him too!

    Posted by Leslie
  3. I will miss seeing him and our “conversations” as I walked through the Farmyard.

    Posted by Shawntel
  4. What a really fun blog!!!

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

Kristen chimes in…

October 6th, 2010

…about the previous posts. ( I could have left comments on each post, but I’d rather abuse my blog authorship privileges!!)

Here’s our new ferret LadyBelle (previously named Tinkerbell)

Just how many ferrets named Tinkerbell do you think are out there in the world?

Karyn, our newest blogger, rocks as much as that landslide at wolves in the volunteer department!
I hope she’ll post her ‘Auggie in the sheep yard’ video!

I ( and by I, I mean Mikey) left Zoe turtle safely and securely closed up in one of our sweater box bins that we use for reptiles. As for how he made his way into Sherry’s office, all I can say (hum) is ” Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, heroes in a half shell. Turtle power!”

Join the conversation:

  1. LadyBelle is a cutie! But she’ll have to work hard to dethrone Auggie after his antics in the sheepyard. Here’s the link to the video:

    Posted by Karyn
  2. I think the turtle remembered how to get to Sherry’s office because he has turtle recall.

    Posted by Jeff
  3. You forgot to mention how many people it took to get that only mildly blurry photo of Ladybelle!

    Posted by Courtney
  4. Keeper Comment :

    oh yeah– thanks for reminding me! I had the camera on the “kids and pets” setting, but LadyBelle’s squirminess was still too fast! It took Courtney holding, me shooting and Adrienne performing wild antics to get the ferret to look at the camera, in order to get this below average shot! It doesn’t do justice to her cuteness!

    Posted by Kristen Pormann
  5. @ Jeff: lolz

    Posted by Erin Brown

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by , Keeper
I am most famous here in the animal department for "expanding" the barred owl exhibit, clogging the wolf pool, and splitting my pants. My other less notorious work, since 2003, includes keeping, purchasing our animal supplies, coordinating our volunteers, and managing our animal enrichment program.
Find me training the lemurs or in other various animal enclosures Monday through Friday, or at the grocery store on Wednesdays, when I shop for produce!

Keepers doing science

September 12th, 2010

I walk into the vet room and find 6 keepers in the dark all staring at a blue bottle with the fluorescent light from our tortoise’s tank.

Whipping out my camera to catch the action before I even know what’s going on, I realize that they are all attempting to determine whether the water sample before them is reading positive or negative.

Every month we do water testing, and our wolf pool gets tested for e. coli.  The test is definitely hard to read (you are supposed to shine a fluorescent light from the bottom of the sample and no fluorescence= negative, while blue fluorescence= positive). Keep in mind this is already a chemically enhanced water sample of bright blue liquid.

Enjoy the below video, where we decide to compare the blue fluorescence to Marilyn’s newly blue striped head …


…to determine the results. Ok, scientists we are not.

Don’t miss Kent’s voice at the very end, it’s hilarious!

YouTube Preview Image

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