Which animal do you think weighs more?
Gus, the black bear
Lightning, the donkey
Post your guesses in the comment section!
Compared to a “normal” 8AM – 5PM, Monday-Friday job, we have rather weird working schedules here in the animal department. For example, in the 5 days a week I work, I have 4 different sets of hours. Keepers show up between 7 and 8AM (sometimes even earlier on crazy days) and stay between 3PM and 5:30PM depending on their scheduled work week. Some keepers work Sunday – Thursday, some work Tuesday – Saturday, some work Monday – Friday and one keeper is currently working Thursday – Monday. It doesn’t take all that long to get used to, but I’ve gotten many comments from people in the outside world similar to, “how do you remember when you work?” After a while, it just becomes routine and I, for one, appreciate the daily change up; it makes my day go by faster.
When keepers stay until 5:30PM, they’re called “closers.” Closers always work in teams of 2 and are in charge of doing the final animal checks, feeding the critters dinner, and locking everything up for the evening. This past week, Sherry stepped in to close because we’ve been a bit short-handed in the department. There’s a running joke in the department that when Sherry closes with you, you’ll have to do all the work and she’ll sit in her office with her feet up. For the record, I’ve closed with Sherry many times and never once has she sat around with her feet up. However, the joke continues on and she’s a really good sport about it.
At 5:03, Kent had clocked out for the night to go home but he and I were hanging around in the office chatting when Sherry walks in and asks him to stay and close for her because she had other boss things to be doing –that’s not really what she said. I don’t actually remember the reason so I mentally filed it into the “boss things” category–. Kent agrees, Sherry heads off to do her boss things, and Kent walks into Sherry’s office to help close.
Sunny, quiet mornings are always the best time, in my opinion, to call in the bears and go scoop poop in the bear yard. This past week, Volunteer Colet and Human Resources Lady, Maureen, put on their grubby sneakers and went in with me.
It only takes about an hour to finish scooping and scatter the day’s food around the exhibit. Sometimes, though, we find cool surprises!
Meanwhile, in the bear house:
Once we’re done scooping and let bears back onto exhibit, it’s always worth hanging around for a few minutes to see what the bears do. This time of year, it can be a bit harder to tell the bears apart if you’re not looking at them head-on. All of the bears have shed out their summer “highlights” and are packing on the pounds for the winter.
When I first started working here at the museum, I was told a very useful piece of advice from Kristen: “if you ever fall into the muskrat pool, toss your radio somewhere dry as you fall…radios are really expensive.” The last person I know of that fell into the pool was Larry and I have no idea if he saved his radio; it was before my time. While I’m sure you’d all love to laugh at me for falling into our muskrat pool, you’ll have to wait for another day. This adventure was strictly for my radio:
Lightning loves to grab tools and toys from keepers and play games with them. His antics caused of death of my first radio, so I’ve made a huge effort to keep my communication devices away from his prehensile lips ever since. This time, my radio made it through without even a tooth mark on the antenna. Needless to say, I was quite thankful.
We run weekly water quality tests on all of our fish, alligator and turtle tanks in the Animal Department. We monitor the waters’ pH and the levels of Ammonia and Nitrates. This is important because aquatic animals are often very sensitive to chemical changes in the water they live in and drink; more so than their terrestrial relatives.
10 tanks plus 1 “control” tank (filtered water, to make sure the tests are working properly)
The end result: 33 test tubes of some very pretty colors!
Back in July of 2012, Ranger Greg posted about the Orangestripe Oakworm caterpillars out in Catch the Wind. A year later and the caterpillars have taken over the big Oak tree in the farmyard. If you didn’t get to see the little critters eating away when they were out in Catch the Wind, you can certainly spot them right now in the Farmyard. Just head over to Max‘s yard and stand by his big water trough. It’s actually harder to avoid being pooped on than it is to spot the caterpillars in the tree over head. They’re about 3 inches long and have very distinctive features: thick black body, several long yellow stripes (they should be orange, but ours are a vivid yellow), 2 tall head horns, and smaller knobs down both sides of their back.
Here’s a picture that Greg posted last year, it’s much better than the one I took with my cell phone’s camera:
I was cleaning the Carolina Wildlife glass recently and caught a couple of our American Alligators in my favorite “just hanging out” pose.
The original post is here. What a cool place to grow up! Right over the heads of all those guests who sat down to rest their feet on the bench just below this shelf.
Kimberly and I recently took a road trip out to the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, NC to pick up our two new owls. The trip out was uneventful (unlike the ride home) and we got to walk around the facility before crating up our birds for the van ride home. Here are photos of few of the residents at the Raptor Center. How many raptors can you ID?