Enrichment & Training Posts

by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

Goat Coats

March 15th, 2014

Polar Vortex 2014 brought bitter cold air and lots of snow and ice to Durham. Most of our outdoor animals were snug and warm inside their holding areas or tucked into huge piles of hay to wait out the winter weather, but some of the farmyard residents were still just plain cold. We added a big heat lamp in the goat stall and would lock them inside but it still wasn’t enough to keep our two older boys toasty when it was 10 degrees out.  Even Lightning, the donkey, was shivering on the coldest of days.

How else do you keep a tiny herd of African animals warm?

GOAT COATS!!

 

and a donkey coat, too.

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.

The Interns Make Friends With Max

February 25th, 2014

Our Spring 2014 interns, Katie and Jill, got to spend some time in the farmyard with Max and the “Max Scratcher”

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  1. what’s the “max scratcher” made of?

    Posted by sherry
  2. Keeper Comment :

    It’s an old PVC perch core that has a metal comb attached to one end.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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by , Keeper
I graduated from NCSU(go pack) and have worked in the animal department for about 8 years. Some of my favorites include ferrets and birds. I am also known for my weird obsession with Boba Fett.
I work Tuesday-Saturday in either the Farmyard or inside the main building behind the scenes.
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A loss in the department

January 7th, 2014

Sadly, I’m writing this blog to let you know about our most recent loss, Scout. Scout was a big part of my career here, he hatched only a few days before I started. We would pal around in the mornings together in the farmyard before the museum would open. You could call him and he would come to you, at night he would know how to get to his stall and depending what time of year it was you had to run from him so he wouldn’t attack your legs. Some of the times before we would open his stall in the morning I would shout “RELEASE THE QUACKEN!” (on homage to “Release the Kraken!” stated by Zeus in 1981′s Clash of the Titans .) He had the prettiest blue eyes and loved sweet potatoes.

Duck became ill and we brought him to the vet school where it was determined he had anemia and several other problems we cant be sure of until the necropsy results come in.

I was recently working on a blog about duck and his enrichment. I have decided to include it in this entry along with a slide show of Scout.

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Join the conversation:

  1. Keeper Comment :

    Who’s going to teach the kids that “anything with a mouth can bite”? I miss Ducky greatly, especially first thing in the morning when I’m raking the farmyard. It’s weird without him underfoot, perching on the trailer or bug hunting nearby.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg
  2. I didn’t know Scout as well as I suppose I should have, although I’ve heard plenty of stories of his daring escapades. All things considered, I’ve never met a bad duck. Scout
    will be missed.

    Posted by Ranger Greg
  3. Great video, Jill. I will miss duck greatly. I still have the small stuffed lion that we let him snuggle up to when he was a tiny duckling. It sits by my computer and I think of him whenever I see it.

    Posted by Marilyn
  4. Great video and tribute to a one of a kind duck! He will missed.

    Posted by Ranger Ro
  5. Hello!

    Posted by makers

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum for many years now. I spend most of my time behind-the-scenes in the Vet room. You might catch me out and about with one of our many veterinarians checking on the animals.
When I'm not hanging out with one of our vets I'm usually in the Vet room running a fecal looking for intestinal parasites! If I'm not up to my elbows in poo you'll find me at the computer updating the health records of our animals or preparing for Vet Rounds.

Quick Pics

January 3rd, 2014

You never know what you will see when you hang out in the Animal Department.

Wolf Enrichment

Bugsy’s Halloween Costume 2013

Jill and Auggie enter building.

Henry and his peanut butter stick.

Lightning and his Jolly Ball.

Zoe turtle dressed as Frog for Halloween 2013.

 

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by , Keeper
I've been at the museum since 2010. I love to read and learn; it's rare that a day goes by at work when I'm not suppressing the urge to spew out something cool I just learned to my coworkers. In my spare time, I play the 'cello, snuggle my dog and reminisce about snowmen and Nor'easters.
I work Sunday through Thursday. You can find me raking the Farmyard in the morning or training the donkey and dwarf goats in the afternoon.
Tags: , , , , ,

Signs of the Season: Year 2

December 10th, 2013

Last year, it was Misha calling in the cooler weather. This year, it’s been the two big guys in the farmyard acting silly that let’s us know the crisp fall air is here to stay. Both Max and Lightning really seem to like playing with keepers much more once September and October roll in. You’ve seen Lightning play fetch with his Jolly Ball before, but did you know that Max will play Tag?

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  1. very intersting

    Posted by Gor Isaverdyan

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by , Keeper
I graduated from NCSU(go pack) and have worked in the animal department for about 8 years. Some of my favorites include ferrets and birds. I am also known for my weird obsession with Boba Fett.
I work Tuesday-Saturday in either the Farmyard or inside the main building behind the scenes.

AAZK Conference for 2013

October 13th, 2013

Last year I was lucky enough to be able to attend the American Association of Zookeepers conference.

This year, a lot of us keepers were very lucky to be able to attend because it was held in North CarolinaKeeper Sarah and I were also lucky, because we were selected to present a paper this year. The topic was on enrichment and focused on inexpensive or free options. Even though I was presenting, it was said that Sarah was much more nervous then I, but all went well.

Special thanks goes out to Wendy for helping us with our professional looking power point! Luckily, Sherry signed me up for a course in this years conference that taught a lot about power point presentations and I think I finally have a good grasp of it.

 

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by , Keeper
I graduated from NCSU(go pack) and have worked in the animal department for about 8 years. Some of my favorites include ferrets and birds. I am also known for my weird obsession with Boba Fett.
I work Tuesday-Saturday in either the Farmyard or inside the main building behind the scenes.

Wolf Awareness Week, October 13th-19th of 2013

October 10th, 2013

As in years passed, the museum is gearing up for Wolf Awareness Week. At 2pm starting October 13th,there is a Keeper talk located at wolf overlook all week long.

This year, our local  chapter of the  AAZK will be at wolf overlook on Saturday and Sunday to help guests make enrichment for our own red wolves.

Those days are Sunday, the 13th of October 1pm-4pm and Saturday the 19th of October 12pm-3pm.

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by , Keeper
I'm extremely excited to be working at the Museum since October 2010. My favorite part of this job- besides working with the animals- is listening to all of the Keeper stories, I hear a new one each day. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, belly dancing, and vegan cooking.
I work Sunday through Thursday. I can be found mostly behind the scenes or training the Ring Tail Lemurs.

QuikPic: Henry

September 24th, 2013

Peanut Butter and Cone Enrichment

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  1. This is a hilarious picture. Thanks for the laugh.

    Posted by Ranger Ro
  2. This is my new favorite picture of Henry!

    Posted by Shawntel

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by , Keeper
I'm extremely excited to be working at the Museum since October 2010. My favorite part of this job- besides working with the animals- is listening to all of the Keeper stories, I hear a new one each day. In my spare time I enjoy hiking, belly dancing, and vegan cooking.
I work Sunday through Thursday. I can be found mostly behind the scenes or training the Ring Tail Lemurs.

Table time

September 22nd, 2013

The lemurs get front-lined every month, just like your dog at home. For the Ring Tailed Lemurs, I have goals of making this a trained behavior so that application goes smoothly. Right now it’s more like a “sneak attack” approach. So I began by teaching them the behavior- Wall. What I expected from them was to hop onto a stool and place both hands on the wall. To train this behavior,  I started with stool- they already have a Jump behavior, so that was no problem. Next, I pointed to the wall, they are used to Left Hand, Right Hand so often when they see my finger pointing they try to grab it. I would pull my hand back a bit,  leaving them touching the wall. I taped a square onto the wall and that is ultimately where I want their hands to be placed.

The stool is kinda low and the lemurs do not enjoy people leaning over them. So I brought a table into their stall. When they are on the table we are closer in height and I don’t need to lean over them. Now we are working on liking the table. (pictures below)

Hopefully this will eventually turn into a great husbandry behavior and make applying front-line easier for both lemurs and keepers.

Satyrus had to reposition for better treat access

My favorite picture. Cassandra is obviously not bothered by her son’s tail

 

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by , Behavior Consultant
I've been working with the museum since 2009 as a Behavior Management Consultant. I work with keepers and staff to gain the voluntary cooperation of the animals in their own care through operant conditioning.
You can find me teaching at Davidson County Community College, or through my business website Animalworksconsulting.com.

Let’s all get weighed!

July 20th, 2013

Keepers are enjoying the new scale in the farmyard, and so are the critters.  Here’s some video of Max and the alpacas getting weighed.

Max’s training focused on keeping him calm as he walked from his enclosure to the scale – he tends to get excited when he goes for a walk.  And 1600 pounds of excited steer can be difficult to manage.  But look how calm he is!

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The alpaca training is more focused on helping them tolerate the brief separation from the rest of the alpacas as they walk to the scale.  Its helpful for them to learn to be separated for short periods of time so they can more easily tolerate vet visits and shearings in the future.  Lots of good clicking and treating going on in the farmyard by keepers Kent, Sarah and Jill!

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  1. Good to see our Animal Department is steering in the right direction!

    Posted by Wendy

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