Every year the Animal Department gets together with our volunteers and has a holiday potluck. There is always good food and good conversations as well as gifts for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the highlights of our potluck we had in December.
You never know what you will see when you hang out in the Animal Department.
Don’t think this is a Photoshopped blog this time, even though it looks like a zebra-deer-giraffe….
Well, I’m not sure what else it looks like. But, it does exist and is called an OKAPI. I chose this animal because it is interesting to look at and are recently declared endangered.
Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) are more related to giraffes and they live in the forest. Science was not aware of these animals until the early 1900′s and a lot of information we know about them come from captive populations. In the wild, you would find them in the Republic of Congo munching on leaves, grass, fungi and fruits.The leopard is its natural enemy, but the reason for its endangered status is because of destruction of its habitat. Civil war in the area also poses complications for those working to save the species.
Their tongue is long enough to clean their own ears
Male okapis have horns
They have been known to live up to 30 years in captivity
In my Caterpillars post, I talked about getting stung by one. In this post, I will show you a couple of other caterpillars that I found in Explore the Wild.
Once I found one caterpillar, which was a saddleback, my eyes began to see all the other caterpillars that are out in the area.
This caterpillar (above) was on the climbing structure in the lemur yard. I found it while I was putting the morning food out for the Ring-tailed lemurs.
This caterpillar (below) was on the water bowl in the wolf side cages.
Next time that you are outside, take a closer look at the plants or even different structures and you might see a caterpillar.
The other day while I was closing the farmyard, it began to pour. I had to construct a makeshift poncho out of a garbage bag, because I didn’t follow the golden rule of the boy scouts and was unprepared. I stood there for what seemed like an hour waiting for the duck to go into his stall for the night. Duck, being the duck he is felt it was better to be out in the rain and bathe in his pool instead.
Animals can bathe in dust or water and is extremely important to a birds health because it helps in the maintenance of feathers. My coworkers think I am weird because I bring my pet parrot in the shower when I have to clean up. (Bird people are very interesting)
Here at the museum, we provide ample amounts of water for all of our birds to bathe in. Its not uncommon to see the duck in water, but when we are lucky we catch a glimpse of our raptors.
Look closely below, our Barred Owl-Christoper is spreading his wings and taking a shower during the down pour.
The other day I was in the farmyard and talking with Max. Yes, I talk with the animals. They may not understand me when I tell them certain things, but they do recognize commands that are given and I know that they are not able to tell me they are tired of hearing the same stories. When I converse with our steer he tends to lick my arms, hands and anything else I might be holding. It is most likely he is not doing this because I am his awesome caretaker, but he wants to taste the salt that is on my skin. The most surprising thing that a lot of people don’t know is that the texture of Max’s tongue is rough like a cats, the reason for this is most likely grooming. The best part of Max’s tongue is that it has the ability to reach into his nostrils and lick out whatever may be lurking in there. Snot, dirt and boogers included.
The tongue of a giraffe is 18-20 inches! While researching many sources say that it is dark in color to prevent sunburning while it is used to pull leaves off trees
The blue whale possesses the largest tongue. It weighs 2.7 tons and is rumored to be its predators (orca whales) most desired part to eat.
The anteater has a 2 foot tongue which has very sticky saliva so insects have little chance of escaping and it dines on them.
Snakes can smell by having a forked tongue that collects particles in the air and brings them into the Jacobson’s organ which can then detect what they are.
Kent would get mad if I didnt mention the Blue Tongued Skink who flashes his tongue to scare predators away
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 Carolina. Keeper 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.
This is a fossa, it is the main predator of lemurs. As you can see it kinda looks like a cat, but actually, it is related to the mongoose. They live in Madagascar and can grow up to 6 feet long but only weigh about 25 lbs. The fossa isn’t just a predator to lemurs, it’s the islands largest predator and a strict carnivore, so it feeds on just about anything it can. (although lemurs are their favorite meal) Similar to a cat they do have retractable claws, large teeth and hunt ambush style. They are solitary animals that spend their time on the ground and in the trees, hunting both day and night. A very agile animal that can maneuver high up in the trees with ease and can travel up to 16 miles per day. They are considered adults at 4 years of age, females give birth to 2-4 pups a year, in a den she has made. After 4 months the pups leave the den, then stay with their mother for another 8 months. After about 2 years fossa pups move off on their own.
And sadly they are endangered, primarily due to habitat loss.
The other day I was in the farmyard and observing our two rabbits, Betty and Jean.
Occasionally, I will give them access to run around inside the whole barn where they are kept so they can get some exploring time before guests arrive.
At this time, I see them hopping back and forth and sometimes they will jump in the air and twist. This behavior is associated with positivity and excitement. This behavior actually has a name and its called “binky.” Unfortunately, I dont have a video of our rabbits cutting a binky, but there are many on youtube!