Archive for May, 2009

Pico decided to interview one of his first friends at the Zoo. She has cared for me since I first got here, Zookeeper Stacey.

Pico: Stacey, you and Rojo are some of my best friends. Rojo has been here for 20 years… and so have you! Have you considered dating him?

Stacey: Rojo is already dating someone… and I’m married.

Pico: Yes, but your husband doesn’t work here, how would he know if you had a little bird action on the side?

Stacey: Pico, stop trying to play matchmaker or I’ll pull grapes from your diet.

Pico: Ooookay. So tell everyone what you do.

Stacey: Currently I work in AMAZONIA. I take care of the animals in the Research Station, small animals, amphibians, and reptiles. I’ve pretty much worked in every area of the Zoo. My favorites were the Nocturnal Area and Discovery Center.

Pico: Tell me some exciting things about your area.

Stacey: Our dart frogs have been breeding like crazy and we raise the tadpoles off-exhibit. The bats have so far had 7 babies. The Brazilian cardinals have another fledgling. It’s the second time they’ve had babies since moving to AMAZONIA. And the toucans have been showing lots of interest in each other.

Pico: No comment. And I don’t appreciate being spied on. What do you do outside of work?

Stacey: I play volleyball. I spend time with my family and dogs. I currently have two huskies and a yellow lab, but I really love sighthounds. Also, I’ve done a lot of traveling. I’ve been to Africa, Australia, and most recently Peru.

Pico: Peru? Did you go with Jill? Did she say anything about me?

Stacey: Yes, I went with Jill. Don’t waste your time on someone whose favorite animal is a mini-horse.

Pico: I know you’re right. Who are your favorite animals?

Stacey: The clouded leopard and the short-tailed possum and you, if you make some babies.

Pico: That is a lot of pressure. Maybe if you get me some extra grapes?


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Zoo staff announced the birth of a female Bactrian camel on Tuesday. She was born on April 20th, 2009 and is the first surviving offspring for her parents, a 6 year old female and 7 year old male. Unfortunately, Mom did not pay attention to the diminuitive baby and the decision was made to pull the baby.

She was very cold and weak initially and spent her first few days in the vet building receiving IV fluids and even blood transfusions. Hoofstock has to be able to stand within the first hour of birth so they can keep up with the herd and evade predators. Our little girl needed help getting up for about the first week. Now she pops up and down faster than her parents!

The vet isn’t sure what accounted for the baby’s small size and health status. She was born at just over 30 pounds. Most baby Bactrians weigh closer to 90 pounds at birth. Now she is up to 50 pounds and drinking formula like a champ. Staff initially fed her almost around the clock. Now she gets a bottle every two hours and has started eating grass and hay. Keepers are trying to introduce her to solid grains as well.

After about three weeks, staff started introducing her back to her mother. It took about a week, but Mom now closely follows baby and vocalizes when she’s out of sight. Dad is more reserved, but does take an occasional sniff. Keepers will have to continue to bottle feed the baby for a few more months. And while baby and parents are all together in the big yard now, Mom prefers to keep baby tucked away in the corner where it can be hard for visitors to see. We have to respect her feelings and allow her to do this, however, when it’s time for the baby’s bottles, keepers make sure to feed her where the public can see her. So keep an eye out for our new addition!

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Ask Zoo staff for their top five favorite individuals and you’ll find one special animal on a lot of people’s lists. Victoria the mute swan has been at the Zoo since 2001. She has free run of the grounds, but spends most of her time traveling between Lake Victoria (her namesake) and the maintenance building. Run isn’t exactly the right word since Victoria travels at… a… very… slow… waddle. But once she’s in the water, she glides around smoothly. She especially enjoys the springtime when the seasonal ponds are full and she has even more places to probe for food.

Keepers pay special attention to Victoria and she rewards them by vocalizing when she sees keepers approaching. In the wintertime, keepers feed her several times a day to make sure she gets her fair share amongst all the visiting ducks and geese. Some people refer to her as the Queen of the Zoo and have special songs they sing to her. It’s impossible to pass by her without at least saying hello or stopping for a chat. Pico wants that kind of admiration!

Mute swans are not native to North America like the tundra and trumpeter swans. They are easily distingushed from these species by their orange bills. And like their name suggests, they lack a loud vocalization. Victoria makes a sound like a person clearing their throat and a soft honking noise. Mute swans typically weigh around 20 pounds.

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