Henry does it better than most.
The Animal Department does several programs a week.
We have a daily 2pm Explore the Wild Keeper Talk, which changes between Bears, Wolves, and Lemurs each week. At these programs we talk to visitors about our animals, wild animals, what kind of food they eat, or any other specifics you’d like to know.
We also have a Farm Yard Program at 4:30pm all days but Thursday. At these programs we close the Farm Yard which includes feeding the animals and shutting down the barns, here you can ask Keepers questions and even help feed hay to a couple animals.
And a special Reptile Program on Thursday’s at 4pm in Carolina Wildlife. At this program we talk about our exhibit reptiles or any you have questions about and we feed our snakes and alligators.
In the fall we receive A LOT of donated pumpkins that are used in the animal department. Some animals eat them, some animals play with them, and some animals don’t really do anything with them.
Our muskrats really like to eat pumpkin, so we give it to them sometimes as enrichment or as a substitute for another vegetable in their daily diet. In an effort to use some of the many pumpkins that we had, I decided to do both.
We usually only give the muskrats pieces of pumpkin at a time, so I had to substitute several of their vegetables for one day in order to give them an entire pumpkin. I decided to clean it out and put their daily food inside.
I thought it would be best to only put half their food inside the pumpkin so that they wouldn’t fight over the pumpkin once they realized their food was inside.
So I placed the pumpkin, lid on, in the exhibit and scattered the remaining food for them to find (we do that daily.)
I thought they would probably go directly to the pumpkin to check it out, but they actually seemed a bit apprehensive about it.
After several minutes of keeping their distance from the pumpkin and eating the scattered food around the exhibit, they started to creep up to it to check it out but would then run away.
I finally decided to take the lid off the pumpkin in an effort to help them realize that this big round orange thing was something good and yummy. At that point I had to go clean the rest of the exhibits, so I left them to continue checking it out. When I came back about 30 minutes later, I found this…
Yep, that’s right, the muskrats had dragged the pumpkin into their pool. It was floating upside down, waterlogged but surprisingly with most of the original food still in it. I drained out the water and placed it back on the floor of the exhibit with the rest of their diet still in it.
When I came back later I found the pumpkin moved back to the water’s edge, but this time there was a big chunk eaten from it.
Then I looked over at their den area and saw that they had taken the top of the pumpkin and put it at the window for everyone to see, along with some of their other veggies. They do this with their diet a lot, and it makes it pretty convenient for the visitors to get a look at all their food. I enjoyed putting this enrichment togther for them, and it was neat to see what they did with it throughout the day!
We’ve been staffed sparsely for the past week so people could have some time off for the Thanksgiving holiday. I hope everyone had a wonderful few days with family, friends, pets, or alone. With not many keepers around, there’s been little time to sit and update you on life here. With that said, here are a few photos to share about some of the things that have been going on here:
I’ve been training Jessi to handle Phoebe, our education alligator.
Jennifer Armstrong (who helped smash up pumpkins during Pumpkin Fest 2012) checked out the trees over the fish stream and waterfall in Carolina Wildlife. We’re making a plan to clean them and add more.
I had a really bad splinter in my left thumb. I’m a lefty, and could not dig it out. Jennifer and Marilyn tried, but they were unsuccessful. After a few days, Annie was able to get it out for me – it was about 4 mm long and I was relieved to have it out.
I’ve been preparing for an emergency drill – this one will focus on a bear escape/recapture. Kristen found this bear and donated it to the training cause. Big Big Bear lives at my house. ( I have another bear named Big Bear and this bear is bigger than the other, hence the name Big Big Bear)
And finally, a little quiz for you. Below is the picture I took when we released our new male red wolf, 1414, into the wolf exhibit. How many of the people below can you name?
The last couple of days we have been watching our muskrats closely because we were concerned one of them may have been acting a bit lethargic. So you can imagine what a pleasant surprise it was to see them both running around the exhibit early this morning!
Most of our visitors that come regularly usually only see our muskrats sleeping in their wooden house. That’s because they tend to be most active in the morning (at least for the time in which we are here), after they have been fed by the keepers. Our muskrats aren’t too keen on getting close to the keepers, so they wait until we leave the exhibit and then come out to see what kind of food they have been given for the day. Then they get busy eating and hoarding! Yes, that’s right, our muskrats will stock pile their food in their wooden house. Which is actually quite smart of them, because it means if they wake up during the day and are hungry, they have their meal right next to them instead of having to go out into the exhibit and bring it back.
I managed to get some of the hoarding on video, and it’s quite cute! Clearly, one of the muskrats likes to collect the food in the house, while the other muskrat has a specific spot at the edge of their pool where he enjoys eating.
The above pictures are prepared food for the animals inside the main museum building, which include the animals you see in Carolina Wildlife as well as the animals in the Education Holding Room (click here to see all of their pictures) and a few of the reptiles from the Reptile Holding Room. The other reptiles eat twice a week on Monday and Thursday.
Join us every Thursday afternoon at 4pm for a reptile program in Carolina Wildlife- we feed the snakes and alligators and answer all of your questions.
Check out Karyn’s post- What’s For Dinner to get a picture tour of the fridges, freezers, and food prep.
You may have seen the previous post that Karyn wrote about new flooring being installed on our support hall. Well, this week has been difficult for the keepers because everything is out of place and out of whack. However, even in light of the craziness that we are currently enduring, people are working through it like champs. In fact, we are trying to find amusement in the chaos wherever we can. The fact that we have to crawl through the small viewing windows of our snake cage exhibits just to gain access to an entire hall of animal exhibits is probably one of the most humorous (if you’re watching someone else crawl through) and annoying (if you’re the one doing the crawling) things that we are having to deal with. Here’s some pictures of us having some fun this morning as we work!
Are you wondering why the doors to Carolina Wildlife are locked this week? As you peek in through the glass, can you see that something looks different? These photos will give you a glimpse behind-the-scenes to see why the indoor animal exhibit is closed… but not quiet!
By the end of the week, we will need to walk all the way through the Museum and outside to come back in the other entrance to the hallway to put food in a prep fridge. We’ll also need to have some keepers climb through the cutouts that the snake exhibits use so that they can access the back of the exhibits (for owls, snakes, etc), sink and equipment which we won’t be able to use the door to access. I may have to post a picture of that! Stay tuned!
This is Henry our Woodchuck otherwise known as a Groundhog. The other morning, before we opened, Keeper Sarah gave Henry some much needed exercise time, in the people area of Carolina Wildlife. He enjoyed running back and forth, chasing us when he could, and checking out the exhibits.
Then Keeper Katy came out and gave Henry a little tour of the snake exhibits.
And my favorite picture:
The Museum has four alligators. Three are on exhibit in Carolina Wildlife and one is kept off-exhibit for education programs. When the alligators get too big to handle for education (or for their exhibit), we take them back to Alligator Adventure in SC to exchange for younger (& smaller!) alligators. The ones we bring back are usually yearlings (but if we can get a hatchling, we try for that too!) Here’s a photo essay of our trip on Aug 31 to make the alligator exchange.
The four alligators that we returned were each inspected and placed in a tank area that is used for education. This video shows one of our alligators being taken from the travel container, inspected, and released.
Back at the Museum, keepers were busy cleaning out and improving the exhibit in preparation for the new alligators. The alligators will be quarantined for a month, and then we will begin to use one of them for education programs. More pics of the new residents of Carolina Wildlife soon. Come visit them!!