Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 6

When I walk to the Giraffes I sometimes see my favorite Mandrill gal. She likes to sit in the window and put her little hand on the glass, and it's oh so cute. Sorry about the glare!
Week 6: 7/1 – 7/5
Monday (7/1):
  • Giraffe Observations (9 – 11 am)
  • Giraffe Observations (1 – 3 pm)
  • Seminar time with Nancy
    • Learned about ethics and authorship for published papers
    • Some was review and some was new information for me, such as authorship
 Tuesday (7/2):
  • Necropsy
    • Assisted the Vet department of the Zoo with a necropsy procedure
    • An exotic animal Vet's job can be very complicated since there isn't a lot of data available on many of the species that live at the Zoo. Necropsy is helpful in learning more about each specific species' anatomy in order to help achieve optimal health and care of exotic animals. 
    • This experience really demonstrated to me another face of the complex care spectrum that takes place at the Zoo! 
  • Giraffe Observations (1 – 3 pm) 
Wednesday (7/3):
  • Watched Ocelot video
    • Examining video recording to determine the activity budget of the ocelots to learn more about their behaviors 
  • Giraffe Observations (11 – 1 pm)
  • Behind the Scenes Lemurs
    • We toured the Lemur holding and learned about their care and nutrition. It was very interesting because I never knew that Lemurs had Iron intake problems. The keepers have to be very careful about the foods that the Lemurs get because they cannot have a lot of Iron of they get iron deposits in the GI tract. 
    • The keeper performed a training session for us with Iggy. His reward was some yummy craisins and he did a grrrrrreat job!
    • She then let all the lemurs come and we got to meet all of them. My favorite was Hydrox and that’s because if you put your hand next to the fence, palm up, he would reach out and just gently grasp and hold your hand. His little fingers were so cute and his hand was so soft and gentle. I really cannot describe how cute and “Aw” worthy this experience was. We also got to give Hydrox some scratches which was also adorable.
  • Giraffe Observations (3 – 5 pm)
Thursday (7/4):
Arrived at the Train station early and ready to go because there was NO ONE on the road. Quickly realized the train wasn’t running because the parking lot was EMPTY. So I had to drive but since everyone was off work it only took me about 40 minutes to get there compared to the usual 1- 1 and ½ hrs driving.
  • Giraffe Observations (9 – 11 am)
  • Staff Fourth of July BBQ
    • A yummy bbq cookout for staff of the Zoo… hot dogs and hamburgers and delicious desserts!
  • Giraffe Observations (1 – 3 pm)
  • Independent Activities
    • Ocelot video, researching internships for the Fall!
Friday (7/5):
  • Giraffe Observations (9 – 11 am)
    • Mixed species day! The Elephants and Giraffe got a lot wonderfully :)
  • Giraffe Observations (1 – 3 pm)
    • My last observation was in the Giraffe Barn so I got to stay and watch the keeper train Katie. I hadn’t seen Giraffe training before and it was adorable, for example the keeper wiggles her finger and says “tongue” and the giraffe will extend its tongue out toward the keepers finger.
  • SNO CONES :)
    • This time I got mandarin and peach. It was scrumptious and very refreshing after being out in the heat! 
End of Week Tidbits:

I keep seeing these stick bug things smushed on my walk from the Conservation trailer to the Zoo entrance. There is always a big one, with a small one attached to the torso. It's my own personal mystery!

Week 5

Week 5: 6/24 – 6/28
Monday (6/24):
  • Giraffe Observations (9 – 11 am)
  • Giraffe Observations (3 – 5 pm)
    • I’m doing observations twice a day now! I’m the only giraffe observer, so this will help me collect enough data to analyze later in the summer.
Tuesday (6/25):
  • Giraffe observations (9 – 11 am)
  • Behind the Scenes Okapi
    • Got to tour the okapi barn and meet all of the Okapi!
    • We got to pet them and they were just so unbelievably soft!! One really enjoyed our lovins and made the funniest facial expressions…when you scratched her ears, her eyebrows went up and down really fast.
    • Fun fact: Okapis are the closest living relative to the Giraffe!
  • Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Well here’s your proof.

  • Giraffe observations (3 – 5 pm) 
Wednesday (6/26):
  • Independent activities
    • Reading articles about herd structure in Giraffe
  • Giraffe Observations (11 – 1 pm)
  • Behind the Scenes Tigers
    • We toured the Tiger facility and learned about their care and nutrition. We also learned the difference between Malayan and Sumatran tigers. The Sumatran looks like it has muttonchops and is fuzzier around its head and has more stripes than the Malayan.  Each tiger has their own area and only one is out on exhibit at a time because tigers are solitary animals. There is one breeding pair and they hope to have babies at the Dallas Zoo soon :)
    • The keepers also performed a training demonstration for us that was SO COOL. They use positive reinforcement like all other training at the Zoo, and the tigers get meatballs as a reward! She showed us basic husbandry behaviors but I think the coolest behavior was when she asked for the tiger to stand up against the bars… He was taller than us standing by about 2 or 3 feet.
    • It was really amazing to be that close to an animal that powerful.
  • Giraffe Observations (3 – 5 pm) 

Thursday (6/27):
  • Independent activities:
    • Reading more giraffe articles!
  • Brown Bag:
    • An elephant keeper from the Phoenix Zoo gave a talk about the evolution of their elephant exhibit and care of the elephants.
    • He went into detail about how they have made use of their limited enclosure by changing the type of flooring and adding different enrichment activities. It was really neat listening to how the changes they made helped the elephant both emotionally and physically. For example, by hanging hay in a net up high it was a stimulating way for the elephant to eat, but it also helped develop some muscles in the neck that the elephant would use in the wild.
  • Gorilla training:
    • Gorilla training demonstration for Zoo staff
    • The keeper worked with Patrick, who was a little nervous at first with the amount of people watching but ended up having a good training session!
    • She demonstrated husbandry behaviors like targeting, having him stand up and put his chest against the fence (this is used for heart sonograms since male gorillas are prone to heart disease), and putting other body parts against the fence for other medical procedures.This type of training really helps the welfare of the animals because it allows them to choose to participate and eliminates having to sedate an animal for a simple procedure.
    • He received Gatorade, fruit, and restaurant mints as rewards for showing his behaviors. J
  • Giraffe observations (3 – 5 pm) 
Friday (6/28):
  • Giraffe observations (9 – 11 am)
  • Giraffe observations (1 – 3 pm)
  • Independent activities:
    • Weather data entry
    • Trying to figure out the iButton software
      • iButtons can be placed in the giraffe exhibits to record temperature. I could then use this data to see how temperatures differ in exhibits and how this might affect the way they feed or other behaviors. 
Saturday (6/29):
  •  Zoobiology
    • This was offered through the volunteer department. Zookeepers and other professionals presented short talks about their current projects or specific areas of expertise.
    • I learned a lot and it was exciting to learn more about the zoo field! 
End of Week Tidbits:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Week 4

Week 4: 6/17-6/21

Monday (6/17):
    •  2 of the Interns picked the other intern and myself up from the DART station, which was really sweet because it was pouring and we would have gotten soaked had we walked from the station to the research trailer.
  • Seminar time!
    • Talked about questions for project and important dates of the summer
    • Currently, I am interested in how the heat affects the giraffes and if each exhibit has different temps (based on how/what they’re made of). Furthermore, I think it would be cool to look into how the temperature affects the frequency of behaviors/use of space in the exhibits, possibly comparing locations at different times of day and certain temperatures.
  • Watched Methods for Animal Behavior Research video
  • Practiced different types of sampling methods 

Tuesday (6/18):
  • Reading, finding articles about giraffe and mongoose!
    • SU Database is also very wonderful. I’m grateful for the ILL availability in the summer.
  • Indoor activities because of looming rain
  • Behind the scenes at Chimpanzees
    • The majority of the Chimps were lying in the shifting chute because it was hot outside and they wanted to come inside. Because of this we were just a few feet away (with bars in between us, of course) and we got to really see the chimps up close. They are adorable!
    • The baby (4 years old) acts just like an obnoxious 4-year-old human. It’s funny because when the adults get annoyed they push him and might slap him but it doesn’t faze him. We learned that he has a little white tuft of fur above his butt that signals for the other chimps to tolerate this obnoxious behavior still. The keepers hope that this tuft of fur goes away soon so that he will have to start fitting into the chimp society and the elders will start to hold him accountable for his actions.
    • We saw them go “fishing,” where the keeper put cereal on our side of the fence and the chimps had to go get a stick and move the cereal over to their side with the stick by using a sweeping broom motion.
    • We also learned cool anatomy facts about the girls’ reproductive cycles. I’m really interested in reproductive physiology, so this was really cool to extend my knowledge!
  • Behind the scenes Elephant training for Zoo staff
    • Up close and personal training session with Gypsy! We were behind the yellow line in the safety zone of course, but still very close.
    • The trainer demonstrated behaviors included targeting, stretching, laying down, and other husbandry stuff like asking her to put her ear through the bars (for a blood draw), extending her trunk out and blowing the water back out for a trunk wash (to test for TB), and also putting her feet up and in a window for cleaning. 

Wednesday (6/19):
  • Giraffe Observations
    • Tebogo loves me; he kept coming over to visit with me while I was doing my observations. He would get super close, as in nose to nose with me… I thought he might make a move and give me a little kiss, but he was too shy. He went for my arm instead and got it nice and slobbery and STINKY.
  • I tested the other giraffe intern for interobserver reliability
  • Behind the scenes of Gorillas
    • There was a gorilla about an arms length above my head. I think that just about sums up my experience…
    • It was like staring into the eyes of a beautiful lady, so mysterious, so handsome, so exotic.
    • I was literally too excited to be in such close proximity of the gorilla.
    • They have chutes that lead to every room of the indoor exhibit because like in the wild they change where they nest. Each indoor room is really nice and outdoor exhibit is very naturalistic.
    • The gorillas (and chimps) are offered tons of enrichment, such as paintings and mirrors to look at. We also learned about their training and care/diets (get ice treats a lot in the summer, Gatorade, oatmeal… all sorts of yummy stuff)
  • More giraffe observations
  • Elephant dailies 

Thursday (6/20):
This weird face is called a urine test. In the wild male giraffes taste test urine to determine if a female is in estrous. Tebogo tests the other males' pee... 
  • Giraffe observations  
  • Brown bag
    • An Elephant expert who works with Elephant programs around the world discussed how natural sand floor elephant enclosures are better for the animals because they’re easier on the elephant’s feet than cement and rubber.
    • We watched a video from a zoo in Germany that showed an elephant birth and detailed their enclosure set up for births. They keep all cows (related and friends) with the pregnant cow to simulate a maternal herd like in the wild. This zoo also does not move the baby right after its born, but instead leaves it with the group, so the maternal bond is not broken.
    • The newborn elephant in the video was so cute, and it was sad/entertaining watching it attempt to stand for the first time.
  • Independent activities
  • Independent Research
    • I really want to see if I can help start a recycling program at the Zoo to start recycling elephant and other vegetarian animals’ poop. There are currently other zoos that sell their poo for composting to community individuals and employ other recycling methods. 
    • (6/30 Addendum: The Dallas Zoo has a Green Team, and they are currently working on proposing this! So now I would like to see if there's anything I can do to help the Green team this summer.)
  • Elephant daily entry 

Friday (6/21):
  • Observed the Mama intro with the giraffes… adding Auggie to the mix now!
    • (Giraffes: 5, Ferrell, Jesse, Auggie)
  • Behind the scenes at Outreach
    • Outreach features a variety of different animals from around the world and its main purpose is to educate the public about the animals. They are very interactive and full of cool animal facts!
    • In the first building (behind the stage) we saw the Porcupine, Serval, Fennec fox, Penguins, Hedgehog, and Hissing cockroach.We all got to go in the enclosure with the porcupine and feed it a peanut and pet it. Their whole body feels plastic-y and their whiskers are very tickly!
    • In building two (the holding area) we got to see/touch/feed the following animals: Ball python, Blue tongue skink, Alligators, Tortoises, Birds (Owls, Macaws, Hawks, etc.), A SLOTH, Tamandua (lesser Anteater), a Possum, and a Porcupine with prehensile tail!
    • Everything was very exciting but then it got better…They have a really sweet penguin that they handle and play with often, so we all got to hang out with a penguin! We each got to hold her and she investigated all of us. Towards the end she hopped on my lap and chose me to snuggle against. IT WAS ADORABLE.

  • After we completed our tour we went to Aunt Stelle’s Sno cones. I got a pina colada sno cone and it was yummy!
  • Worked on elephant dailies with an intern from last year

End of Week Tidbits:
Chimps and gorillas are incredibly gassy animals. A penguin snuggled with me. What more do you need to know?