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.
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.
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?
We recently had a Lemur Tracking Drill. Sherry informed us that two “lemurs” were hidden around campus and we had an hour to find them. Off we went…
We then decided to go out to the parking lot since our signal was pointing us in that direction.
Quickly there after, we found the first lemur in a tree.
After feeling successful about finding the first lemur so quickly we decided to split up at the boardwalk. Sarah and I headed to Explore the Wild and Aaron and Kent headed to Catch the Wind. Shortly there after, the guys radioed us to meet them at the Into the Mist exhibit. Kent had spotted the second lemur on top of an umbrella!
With both lemurs found we headed back to the building
After our department meeting on Thursday I got a lot of lip from the keepers about the crappy pictures I take of them and then post on the blog. Forever, they now live with ruined lives because the only photos out there of them are poor and ugly. Obviously, I disagree, but we took some new photos right after the meeting. Here you go:
A close up of Bugsy sleeping (he did not approve of this photo).
And Finally, there is nothing better than an “Aaron hugging Kent” photo:
While closing one night I saw a barred owl standing in the water and pondered, What is that owl doing? A few moments later I watched as the owl took several drinks of water. I snapped some pictures with my phone and shared them with Keeper Kent who says he’s never seen an owl drink water before. Kent has been a keeper here for a long time so if he hasn’t seen owls drink then most of our readers haven’t either. In fact owls get most of the moisture they need from the prey they eat, so this is a rare sight. Enjoy the pictures below.
Have you ever wandered into the farmyard and asked yourself, “Why doesn’t the duck simply fly away?”
There are three answers:
1. He does, sometimes. As you can see here in an older post.
2. He seasonally has wing feathers trimmed to help keep him down on the ground.
3. At nearly 11 pounds, he’s a little bit too chubby to really get off the ground.
In the early spring and fall, Ducky molts (loses) his old feathers and grows a nice new set in. This would prepare him for long, seasonal migration flights, if he were a wild duck. These young feathers, called ‘blood’ or ‘pin’ feathers, have a great blood supply and birds need to be handled carefully when they’re coming in. Once the pin feathers grow out completely into flight feathers, we can safely trim them back to keep our duck grounded.
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.
Henry is our resident Woodchuck in Carolina Wildlife. Below are pictures of him getting some exercise time on the Keeper Hall. Keeper Katy found it a great opportunity to get him on the scale. We weigh our animals on schedules, some may be once a week, some may be once a month. In addition, anytime we have an opportunity to weigh an animal -we take it! Keeping a good record of animal weights is very important and can help decide diet changes or even bring up health concerns. Henry weighs a whooping 5.96 kg that translates to 13.11 lbs.
“Accession” is a word the zoological world uses to mean, “adding to.” It’s the term applied to newly acquired individuals to a museum/zoo/aquarium’s collection. We don’t have a large turnover in our collection at the museum. Every year we lose some animals due to old age, health problems, or transfers to other institutions and we gain a couple, but our collection stays at about the same number.
Because we don’t take in new animals very often, I found it interesting to learn that the animal keepers here each have a sort of “buddy animal” that joined the animal department at roughly the same time they did.