People Posts

by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Christmas 2013

December 25th, 2013

thanks for the sweet potatoes Donna

Twas the night before Christmas and left at my house, a bag of sweet potatoes for the Museum Bears.  (If I were Sarah, I am sure I could have come up with some great rhyme… in fact she probably could write my entire Christmas post to the Poem Twas the night before Christmas- check out her previous poems here and here).

The day started with me very very tired, and unable to find my glasses. I’ve got about 10-15 pillows on my bed and even removing all of them still no glasses. I gave up, found my spare glasses, made a cup of coffee, and made my way to the Museum around 5:15

Here’s the rundown for the day so far:

I move all the logbooks in one space and check out my “to do” lists, and in a room that has light not on a timer so I can see easier.

 

 

Katy has set up the supplies I need for treatments, and Jill has left a note for Donald (click on the note to enlarge it if you want to read it).

all the syringes and bowls and medicines lined up so I can work more efficiently. (Thanks Katy)

Jill’s note to Donald. The last part is my favorite as I have lived through this happening and it is not a pretty sight.

the muskrat had gathered all this food in the 5-10 minutes or so it took me to get my camera and come back

Yesterday, we solved the mystery as to why the waterfall at wolves was not running, so I was able to cross that off my list. (The wolves- I assume the male wolf – ate the electrical wires. That will have to be a separate post at a later date). Concerns about the muskrat were top priority so I donned my headlamp to go check him out. I couldn’t really see him, but did see that he had eaten overnight so I sigh of relief for now.

I fumble around- not getting into any sort of groove.  I put all the diets on the kitchen counter to help me make a plan of attack. My plan of attack is quite chaotic. I start something, realize I can’t see too well in the dark, re group, start something else…things go on like this for a while and before I know it I’ve been here 90 minutes.

Katy warned me that the ferrets would be difficult to keep in their exhibit and would rush the door upon closing. I felt confident in my plan however: I knocked on their door to wake them up (wanting them to use the litter pans before cleaning). Came back in five minutes with a CRATE and put all four inside:

Katy said to put them all in the yellow ring (below) upon leaving and that gives you enough time to close the door.  However, what really gives you enough time to close the door is spilling furotone (oil supplement) on each ferret so that everyone is licking everyone else and not even concerned about the door!

 

It’s light enough so I go make sure I can see the remaining animals. Franklin is busy eating his food and everyone else seems fine.

Franklin eating his lettuce

Donald and his granddaughter Caroline arrive a few minutes before 8AM. Caroline looks tired (I feel her pain), but Donald gets her to pose for the camera. I’ve never seen Donald not smile. It’s really amazing if you think about it. We review the plan for the Farmyard, get Caroline some gloves, and head outside.

Donald reading the note from Jill.

 

 

It takes a little effort to get our vehicles started, but we prevail. I was so hot working inside that I forgot it was just over 30 degrees outside and my drive is more than quite chilly.

I drive through the Farmyard to check on the critters, and then move on to the Explore the Wild Critters.

The alpacas seem fine on this chilly morning

male on the bottom and female towards the top of the den.

I take a bit of a skid through the icy patch at the MIST entrance in Catch the Wind. I hit wolves first. Both the wolves are waiting at the den area. No issues at all here. Everything is fine so move quickly to the bear exhibit.

Mimi, as expected, is sleeping in the house. I wake her, she huffs at me, I feel badly, she huffs at me again, I toss out food, she goes and eats. Gus is snoozing in the cave (sorry about the bad photo): he lifts his head and then puts it back down.

Gus in the den

Lemurs is the next stop. Absolutely no problems here- it’s actually a bit confusing. No one yelled at me, no one peed on me. I did not step in anything I didn’t want to. I did not dump my poop bucket. No lemur exited their stall. I think this is a first on Christmas to not have even one small problem occur. (Although as I type I realize I left the dustpan in the disinfectant can… I’ll have to remember to get that tonight.

The last stop is the bear cliff to check things out and give Yona her meds. I thought this would be a bit difficult, but Virginia has made her way down into the yard, so Yona just needs to stretch, stare at me for a minute or two, and then wander over to me at the fence.

I was even prepared: I had no yogurt cup but grabbed an extra bowl from lemurs to give Yona her meds in.

Yona was easy: “blueberry preserves” worked really well.

I head back to the Farmyard, deal with the raptors, and then head to the building. Dishes goes much better than last year (I just did not wear my glasses).

It’s possibly been one of the easiest Christmas’ I’ve worked – and I’ve worked every Christmas since 1993! I know the afternoon is still coming, but so far, so good. Merry Christmas everyone.

(Click here to read about some of my past Christmas’ at the Museum).

Join the conversation:

  1. Keeper Comment :

    ‘Twas the morning of Christmas, and left on her porch, a bag of potatoes from Donna next door!

    The bears won’t be hungry this Christmas day; not that they’ll eat them again until May.

    The day started rough with glasses amiss, pillows were tossed, the room searched forthwith!

    Resigning their fate to the bedroom elves, spare glasses were acquired and some coffee was quelled.

    The morning began a mile away in the dark and quiet of the museum’s early day.

    Logbooks were stacked to be ordered and checked as the morning went on, there’s no going back to bed!

    Treatments were finished, notes were read. “Don’t let the pigs find the pumpkins!” Jill’s note to Donald said.

    In Explore the Wild, a present was left. “A gift from the wolves” the unwanted tag read. A gasket was shredded, the pumps’ plug was chewed off. “We’re saving you energy! A gift you didn’t think of!”

    As the morning wound down, all the animals were checked. Nothing went horribly wrong this year, how ’bout that?

    So thankful we are for this day of the year, when our boss comes in so we can stay here.

    “Here” might be close or miles away, but it matters greatly to us to be home Christmas Day.

    This year went well, and with a new one in sight,
    “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg
  2. Sarah for the win!

    Posted by Ranger Ro

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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.

Nick and Aaron Seranade Katy

December 23rd, 2013

Recently I was sitting at my desk entering health records when Aaron and Nick appeared at my door!!!

YouTube Preview Image

 

 

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  1. Nice to see that some things never change. :-P

    Posted by Leslie

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Sam and Sam

December 18th, 2013

This is Sam, our newest snake. It is a baby black rat snake. S/he only weighs 11 grams. (Put two nickles in your hand and that’s about how much this snake weighs). Black rat snakes start life with this blotched pattern seen, but once they reach 18 inches or so they exhibit the more typical black-on-top, white-on-bottom pattern that people recognize for this species of snake.

This snake is named after a former volunteer of ours who passed away right before Thanksgiving. Volunteer Sam worked just about every Thursday morning for 15 years. He spent most of the first half of his time with us in the Farmyard, but by the last few years he was hanging out with the Education animals.  The amount of bending and squatting and scrubbing and raking and wiping he did for us is more than I can even count. There was a large black rat snake we used for education programs that Sam would take care of so we thought it would be fitting to name our newest arrival after him.

one of my favorite photos: Sam with opossum (I think this is Donut)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love the photo below because it not only has Sam in it all dressed up for an awards luncheon, but also former “family” members: Thea was a keeper at the time of this photo, but you know here as one of the veterinarians we’ve worked with. Cassidy was a youth volunteer and then worked for us for a few years as a Keeper.

Sam Wheeler will be missed and remembered by me and many others.

Thea, Sam, Cassidy, and Karen

 

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  1. Sam was a great volunteer and he will be greatly missed. He was always so quiet, but once you got him talking he had some amazing stories to tell!

    Posted by Katy

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Interns in a month.

December 13th, 2013

1st year students from the Zoo and Aquarium program visit.

We’re one month away from having our new interns here for the spring semester. For the past few years we’ve had a couple Zoo and Aquarium Students from Davidson County Community College completing their intern hours with us.

Last spring Jamie and Jessica were here. We’ve even hired a past intern!

A couple students from the photo will spend Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays with us from mid-January to mid-April.

We’ll introduce them to you in January when they arrive.

 

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Peanuts

December 4th, 2013

My development friends think I should join their team since I am so good at raising $$.  I recently sold a BUNCH of peanuts to raise money for programs that support the prevention of child abuse  (For the Exchange Clubs Family Center of Durham). This is a fun time for me: I ask for money to help support the prevention of child abuse (who can turn that down!) and then I mention that the Museum’s bears seem to LOVE peanuts. People hand me money for the peanuts and then hand me the peanuts to give to the bears. A WIN-WIN!

Thanks everyone for the support!

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

Thanks for the Help

November 16th, 2013

While we’ve been short staffed we’ve enlisted the help of any other Museum staffers who volunteered to lend a hand.

Maureen works her magic in the kitchen.

Maureen, from our Human Resources department, has helped out scooping in the bear yard as well as prepping diets in the Kitchen. I can only assume (or hope) that working with the animal department is WAY more exciting than sitting at her desk doing “human resource” things!  I haven’t convinced her yet to act as a bear as her predecessor did… but I am working on it… maybe encouragement from the readers would help convince her.

We already know we don’t get much help from the folks in the Development office, but Leslie, our Communications Manager, has stepped in. I usually work with Leslie writing press release’s or planning events like Watermelon Day. Last month Leslie and I worked with the US State Department and folks from Vietnam. (Yes, really). Vietnam is producing a variety of videos about conservation efforts for endangered animals and wanted to highlight our Red Wolf conservation efforts.

Leslie’s apron is homemade!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shawntel, the Director of Guest Experiences, offered up her husband Tony to help- thanks Shawntel. Tony has come to the farmyard to work and his time is much appreciated.

 

Tony scrubbing down barns in the Farmyard.

 

It’s really nice to know that many others are more than willing and able to lend a hand when needed. THANKS Leslie, Maureen, and Tony!

 

 

 

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  1. I think Kent would look super in that apron, should be a requirement.

    Posted by Jill

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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.

Kent Steps in to Help

November 10th, 2013

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.

Kent closing, like a boss.

 

 

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  1. Director Comment :

    Thanks for the shout-out. So, the real reasons why I don’t put my feet up on my desk:
    1. my desk is typically too messy to find a space.
    2. you know where our shoes have been… I don’t want that on my desk…
    I’ll have to disinfect that section of desk where Kent’s feet were!

    Posted by Sherry Samuels
  2. Kent looks good as a supervisor!

    Posted by Katy

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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.

Morning Bear Yard Scooping

October 27th, 2013

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!

Colet shows off a caterpillar she found while scooping

Meanwhile, in the bear house:

Gus grows inpatient

 

Yona waits by the door

 

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.

Do you know which bear this is?
Scroll down to the next picture for a hint!

 

Put your guesses in the comment section!

 

Join the conversation:

  1. IS that Yona sitting on the stump

    Posted by Hans
  2. I think it is Yona too.

    Posted by Sherry
  3. Gus? It’s hard to tell.

    Posted by Shawntel
  4. Keeper Comment :

    It’s IS Yona bear. The darkness of her face is one of the easier ID clues for her.

    Posted by Sarah Van de Berg

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

HATS

October 21st, 2013

I was at the annual AZA conference last month and came back with swag.

I even got Katy to model her hat (Aaron made her).

 

 

Aaron is wearing Libby‘s hat. Who looks better?

 

Kristen’s daughter Libby loving the monkey hat.

 

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by , Director
I've been at the Museum sooooo long - longer than many of our interns have been alive. I do a little bit of everything as part of my job: care for the animals, work with the keepers and other staff, spend time with guests. Lucky me!
I spend a lot of time behind-the-scenes, or here after hours, but if you really want to see me, you'll have to sign-up for a behind-the-scenes program.

QuikPost: Department Update

October 5th, 2013

We’re probably going to be posting a little less for a while. As you know, Kimberly has moved on to work with Homo sapiens. Separately, Marilyn is out recovering from surgery and will not be back until sometime in December. So, the remaining staff here will be hustling and bustling to deal with all that needs to get dealt with.

We’ll still be blogging and sharing what is going on it just won’t be as frequent. Wolf Physicals are on the 14th so we’ll get some pictures up of that for sure.

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