We’re skewed female in the department: Seven human females to two human males. In “zoo lingo” animal department staff sexes would be written as 2.7 (actually, to be technical, it would be 2.7.0. the first number is males, then next is females, and the last is unknown). Our volunteer team is skewed even more so: 5.19.0. The critters in the Farmyard and Explore the Wild are also skewed female. 9 of the 14 animals in the Farmyard are females and 8 of the 11 animals in Explore the Wild are females.
I’ll run the numbers for the indoor animals too: any guesses as to which way we skew there?
On Monday I drove to South Carolina to swap our alligators for smaller ones. Aaron and I arrived at the Museum around 5 AM to catch-up our current alligators. We use under-the-bed storage containers for transport. Our alligators are all less than 4 feet in length: Drilling air holes and duct taping the container works great for transporting our alligators.
Our Alligators are on loan to us from Alligator Adventure. When ours get too big for their exhibit or holding tank, we exchange them for smaller ones.
This year, we got hatchlings. We like to start with little ones since our exhibit is on the small side. Travis and his crew unpacked our foursome and loaded me up with these little ones. I should have brought them a tiny travel container to share but I forgot, so I loaded the four up into one container for the ride home.
Monday was FREEZING if you recall, and I was worried about these little guys in the back of the van not getting enough heat… So I wedged the container in the seat next to me, turned the air vents toward them, and blasted the heat. I in turn, took off my sweatshirt, sneakers, and socks, and leaned my left arm the on cold window trying to stay cool. I shut the heat off every time I felt like passing out (not really, but emotionally that’s how it felt) and then turned it on again when I felt better. This went on and on for the ride home, and worked fairly well with only one minor incident. At one point, the tub leaned against the window button and the window started down. While confused, I quickly jostled the tub and used my button to close it up. (I did enjoy the burst of cold air though!)
When I returned to the Museum it was time for the canebrake rattlesnake to get his/her shot. S/he has a recurring infection of the heat pit and every few years we need to “deal”. Click here to see how we safely do this.
And this is why I am posting today, on Thanksgiving. Jessi and Sarah have the honor of working Thanksgiving, Katy is in so we can give this snake the needed antibiotics. Katy will be gone by 9 AM, and Jessi and Sarah should be out around noon. They’ll leave me a list of what I need to do at closing.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING everyone!
Remember my drawing of Gus? Aaron’s?
Here’s the real thing: this is what Gus looks like on the scale:
Last week grapes were on sale, it’s summer, very hot, and Aaron has a credit card.
Aaron bought well over 100 pounds of grapes. We freeze them and use them as frozen treats for the animals. This batch should last us over 3 months.
It takes quite a bit of time to pull grapes off them stems. I only slightly jest that I have never seen the keepers work so well together! What a bonus.
I wonder how long everyone’s hands will be stained?
It’s been a busy week in the bear yard. Last Friday we were dealing with fence damage from the storm. On Wednesday bear pools were cleaned, the yard was scooped, mowing and weed-eating occurred, and trees were pruned from around fences.
Aaron showed me his leg first thing Thursday morning, and of course I decided to show you. Thougths?
I recently posted a drawing and asked you to tell me what was happening here.
Many of you commented, but no one was exactly right. The above drawing was indeed of a bear- Gus to be specific. The round dot on his back was his puff of matted hair. I did not think the puff was drawn accurately (unlike the rest of the drawing) so I added the “dart”, “spike-like” projection out of the back. There is no way I could have drawn this- my artistic skills are poor at best. I do mostly-fine drawing names, and only moderately okay drawing stick-people. This drawing was done by Aaron.
Here’s how I would have drawn the above:
The drawing was made so we could visually review who would be standing where during the bears’ physicals. (It was also made for the enjoyment factor because everyone knows I like a good drawing). Positioning is critical during any procedures with dangerous animals, even when they are behind bars. Jessi is the primary trainer for the bears, so she will be there. Dr. Vanderford will be there, with Katy of course doing the physical.
We’ll let you know how the physicals turn out- maybe Aaron will draw another picture!
Do you ever wonder what we do on closed Mondays? (Today, we’re cleaning the bear pool).
We do several Emergency Training Drills a year and a closed Monday is the perfect opportunity. I recently wrote about lemur tracking, we also do full on drills that include fake animal escapes and or damage due to storms or trees down, you might recall when Leslie played a bear. Today’s post is about making darts.
We would potentially use a dart to sedate an escaped bear and maybe even a wolf. Our dart bags are labeled well but without practice it’s a very nerve raking experience. Here you can see several people in different stages of making darts. We of course use water as our “drug” during drills and depending on the size of the animal we would be darting, the amount of “drugs” vary. So we practice making lots and lots of darts, for all the potential animal sizes. Afterwards we go outside and practice shooting them into a target- no not one of Sherry’s stuffed animals. In the event of a real emergency there always has to be two people making darts together. So during practice we pair up in teams.
Next, we went outside and practiced shooting our darts into two targets.
We make a radio call alerting all staff of our plans so no one accidentally walks out or wonders what in the world we are doing.