Monday, July 27, 2015

Zookeeper Appreciation Week: Jolie Femme Sasha et FĂ©roce Lloyd

Our final salute to the hard working compassionate zookeepers at Wildwood Wildlife Park is Sasha Busjahn who has chosen the Greater Grison to highlight and imitate. Lloyd's favorite spot to sleep is inside a log; when Lloyd was off exploring Sasha crawled right in to see how comfortable it really is but we don't think she will be stealing his sleeping spot any time soon! 

Greater grison's are mustelidae, a family of carnivorous mammals that include the badger, mink, otter and wolverine.

Greater grison's have a long body which resembles the honey badger. Greater grison's don't ever have to worry about being confused for a honey badger since the two of them will never meet each other: the honey badger lives in Africa, while the greater grison lives in Central and South America. The "grison" part of the name is an English variation of the word "gris" which is French for the color gray. Like its relative the honey badger, the greater grison is very temperamental. It is unknown if any creature outside of humans hunt them.

Greater grison's are gray in color with a black muzzle, throat, chest and underside. They have a white "U" shaped marking that runs around the top of their head tapering off near their shoulder. Greater grison's sleep during the day, hunting during the night, dawn and dusk.

Greater grison's are found in a wide range including savannas, grasslands, rainforests and evergreen forests. They prefer to live near water choosing to make their home in rocks, under tree roots or in vacated burrows. Greater grison's eat whatever is available: small mammals, birds and their eggs, lizards, amphibians, and fruits. In some areas, grisons are trapped for body parts and for the pet trade.

Grisons are agile runners, swimmers and climbers communicating by a variety of snorts, screams, barks and growls. Breeding occurs in Late August, early September and the female grison will give birth to 2-4 young. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Zookeeper Appreciation Week: Hanging with the Sloths and the Black & White Ruffed Lemur

We are pleased to introduce Wildwood Wildlife Park's newest zookeeper Marisa Levin. She may be new to the park but it didn't take her long to select her favorite animal for National Zookeeper Week: the sloths. Sloths spend a lot of their time sleeping so it is only natural that Marisa would demonstrate how relaxing and comfortable a sloth's favorite sleeping spot is! 

Sloths are tropical mammals that live in Central and South America. A sloths long arms allow them to spend most of their time hanging upside-down from trees. They use their huge hooked claws to hang onto branches while munching on leaves that other animals can't reach. As you can imagine, a sloth's long claws make walking on the ground difficult, which dictates that they spend their lives in the tree tops of the tropical rain forests. It may surprise you to learn that sloths are excellent swimmers! From time to time they will drop down into the water from their treetop perches. 

It can take up to one month for a sloth to digest one meal. The sloth's diets consist of tough leaves that are difficult to digest. Their leafy diet isn't very nutritious and do not get much energy from it. This may be why sloths are so slow!

Sloths both mate and give birth to their young in trees. Courting starts when a female yells a mating scream letting the males in the area know that she's ready to mate. Males will fight for her by hanging from branches by their feet and pawing at each other. After 5-6 months females will give birth to a single baby. Babies cling to their mother's belly for several weeks after birth, and will remain by their mother's side for up to four years. These drowsy tree-dwellers can sleep up to 20-hours a day and when they are awake they barely move at all!

While four of the sloth species range over large portions of norther South America and are common in protected areas, two species of the three-toed sloths, the maned three-toed sloth and the pygmy three-toed sloth are listed as endangered species on the IUCN Red List.

Wildwood Wildlife Park's zookeeper Brooke Rose is showing off her balancing skills as she recreates the amazing climbing ability of Wildwood's male Black and White Ruffed Lemur, Bobby. Brooke has been here at Wildwood for 6 years! 

Populations of wild ruffed lemurs are critically endangered in Madagascar, which is the only place lemurs are found in. This species is endangered primarily due to the loss of habitat as the forests are cleared for logging and farming. The name “lemur” means “ghost “ in Latin. The first people to hear their loud calls thought they were ghosts in the forest. Lemurs have a wide range of vocalizations.

Black and white ruffed lemurs live in social groups made up of many males and many females, who are in charge. They live primarily in trees are are excellent climbers and jumpers. 

Ruffed lemurs are frugivores, eating mainly fruit, but also eat edible plants and flowers. The black and white ruffed lemur is one of only two types of lemurs to build nests for their young. Females typically have 2 babies, though they can have as many as six. Unlike other lemurs, the babies stay in the nest while the mother looks for food and if the mother needs to move them, she carries them in her mouth. Other lemur species continually carry their young on their backs. 

Zookeeper Week: A Duet of Monochrome, Zoo Style

Today we are featuring Hannah Arnott and Katie Quednow, Wildwood Wildlife Park interns who have chosen their favorite park residents to imitate as part of our National Zookeeper Week.

Hannah is showing off her pearly whites imitating our baby male zebra Zorro - it looks like both of them have something exciting to say about greeting our visitors to the park!

As you can probably guess, the zebra is closely related to horses and donkey but what sets zebras apart is their unique black and white stripes. Did you know that each of the animal's stripes are as unique as fingerprints, no two are alike. Theories abound as to why zebras have stripes including: to repel insects, provide camouflage in grassy areas, confuse predators, to reduce its body temperature, or to provide a way of zebras to recognize each other.

Zebras are herbivorous feeding primarily on a variety of grasses. They are also known to eat shrubs, twigs, leaves and bark.

Zebras are born with brown and white stripes, changing to the signature black and white as they develop into an adult. The foals have soft fuzzy fur and are able to walk within 20 minutes following birth and are able to run within one hour. Mares will keep other zebras away from her newborn for the first two or three days until her foal can imprint on her by sight, voice and smell.

Zebras are very social animals and live in large groups called a harem. Sometimes these harms will come together to form temporary groups of up to 30 members. Zebras sleep standing up and while in a group can be warned of danger. If they spot danger zebras will bark or whinny loudly to warn others in the group.

Wildwood intern Katie is striking a queenly pose in keeping with the the regal charm of the park’s black leopard Toby.

Zoologically speaking, the term panther is synonymous with leopard. The black panther is the common name for a black "big cat" with a coloration melanistic gene that causes the beautiful black coloration. Did you know that Toby, like other black leopards are not totally black but rather have a spotted pattern which you can see from a certain angle. Underneath that beautiful fur their skin is a mixture of blue black gray and purple with rosettes

Leopards live in sub-saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China, however, much of their populations are endangered. The leopard is able to hunt and kill animals that significantly outweigh them. These nocturnal hunters are so comfortable with their climbing skills that they often hunt from trees and, using their impressive strength, will drag their kill high into a tree keeping it safe from scavengers such as hyenas.

Leopards can give birth at any time of the year, a typical litter will consist of two cubs. A mother leopard keeps her cubs hidden, moving the cubs frequently from one safe location to another until they are old enough to begin to play, a precursor of developing hunting skills. The cubs will stay with their mother for two years. Other then a cub with the mother, leopards are solitary animals.

Leopard populations are declining due to being hunted for their soft fur which is prized in the production of coats and robes. Poaching and habitat loss are the reasons why the population of leopards are relatively low. These beautiful big cats are in far more danger from humans than we are from leopards. When brought into close contact with human ranches, leopards may prey on livestock. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Zookeeper Appreciation Week: Cute as a Coati

Thursday's zookeeper of the week is Melanie Czajkowski who is about to celebrate her first year as a zookeeper at Wildwood Wildlife Park. To commemorate National Zookeeper Week, Melanie has selected as her favorite park resident the coatimundi.

The coatimundi or coati is a medium-sized mammal found only in North and South America and are members of the raccoon family.  Coatis have a slender head and as you can see, a slightly turned-up nose. This feature is part of the reason why it is given the nickname 'the hog-nose raccoon.' Additionally they have a very long tail and often hold the tail erect; using it as a way of keeping troops of coatis together while walking or foraging in tall vegetation. The tip of the coatis tail can be moved slightly, just like a cat.

Coatis are active day and night and feeds on lizards, fruits, nuts and seeds, insects, birds eggs, rodents and small reptiles. A forest dweller and an agile tree climber when the coatis is on the ground, its short forelegs give it a bearlike gait.

Females and their young travel in bands but males are solitary. Males join the band only during the mating season, typically at the start of the rainy season, when there is an abundance of food. When the female is ready to give birth she will leave the band of coatis to build a nest in the trees or on a rocky ledge, where she will give birth to 2-7 kits. The female and her young will rejoin the band when they are about 6 weeks old. 

Coatis communication using chirping, snorting, or grunting sounds. The also use postures to convey simple messages. In her photo Melanie has chosen a favorite posture of our one-year old coatis: the adorably cute tactic of begging the zookeepers for their favorite food of grapes and mealworms.

Thank you Melanie for sharing your love of animals and for highlighting the coatimundi.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Zookeeper Appreciation Week: Lindsay and the Bob Tailed Cat

Today we are pleased to introduce you to another of Wildwood Wildlife Park's dedicated zookeepers, Lindsay Krapfl and her favorite animal, Keeta, our one-year old female Bobcat. 

The bobcat is the most common wildcat in North America and is named for its short, bobbed tail which appears to be cut or 'bobbed.' Its ears are black-tipped and pointed, with short black tufts of hair. Many people refer to the bobcat as a wildcat. While Wildcats are native to Africa, Europe and Asia, a bobcat is a small lynx of North America and are known as the North American Wildcat.

The bobcat prefers to live in woodland areas, but, unlike the lynx, it does not depend exclusively on deep forests. In addition to living in woods and forests these solitary animals can be found in swamps and semi-desert areas.

The bobcat is crepuscular, meaning that it is more active during the twilight hours just before dawn and dusk. During cold or the winter months it will often become active during the day.

Bobcats are amazing hunters - stalking its prey with both stealth and patience eventually capturing their meals with one leap. They are agile, climbing trees seemingly without effort and are also very good swimmers.

Bobcats are carnivores; their diet consists mainly of small animals including rabbits and hares and are also know to eat rodents, birds, and bats. 

Bobcat's mating season is late winter, but anytime throughout the year is possible. Bobcat litters can be between 1-6 kittens that are usually born in the early spring. The kittens begin eating solid food around two months and begin learning to hunt at 5-months of age.

Like other cats the bobcat will often mew, hiss, growl ... and purr.

If you encounter Lindsay we hope you will thank her for sharing her passion for animals - or maybe just wave and "meow." 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Zookeeper Appreciation Week: A Labor of Love

Today's celebration of National Zookeeper Appreciation Week post highlights Wildwood Wildlife Park's Head Zookeeper Jennifer Domaszek. As our fans and friends know, Jennifer has a special place in her heart for Kya, our beautiful Striped Hyena. 

During last year's National Zookeeper Week Jennifer selected Kya as her favorite zoo resident. Just a few weeks ago we celebrated Kya's fourth birthday and this year's appreciation celebration holds special meaning: the bond of motherhood.

Last October we were pleased to announce the safe arrival of Kya's cubs born on August 29th. When it was time for our Head Zookeeper to choose a photograph to feature during this week, she quickly chose this image of Kya, "I wanted to use my pregnancy [for this year's National Zookeeper Week] and re-enacted Kya being stretched out while she was pregnant. She ended up having her babies 3 days after I took the photo!"

We are pleased to report that not too long after Jennifer's re-enactment, she and her family welcomed the safe arrival of twin daughters.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Celebrating National Zookeeper Week: Do You Flamingo? We Do!

It's no secret that we love animals: big and small, cute and cuddly, creepy and crawly - we love them all. But it is all the work that goes on behind the scenes - the efforts to maintain the Accreditations and Recognitions and the Zookeepers who help care for our residents that help to provide positive experiences that last a life time. It is why we look forward to celebrating National Zookeeper Week. 

What is National Zookeeper Week?

The third week in July has been set aside as a time to highlight the role animal care professionals play as educators and conservation ambassadors. This is an essential role and responsibility of the Zookeeper as the need to protect and preserve wildlife and their habitats increase. 

Zoo and Aquarium professionals care for hundreds of species three hundred and sixty five days a year, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week - from hurricanes to blizzards and heat waves, Zookeepers must be ready for everything. A keeper's day can include many tasks including cleaning, food prep, medical treatment, training, enrichment, landscaping, exhibit design, public outreach and education and much more. For these animal care professionals it is much more then a job, it's a passion and a calling. 

This week we will be featuring our zookeepers and their favorite animals in a daily posting here on our blog. We are going to kick off the celebration highlighting one of our newest exhibits: the flamingos, we hope you will come back every day this week to see a new picture of the zookeepers imitating their animals! 

The flamingos pink or reddish color comes from the rich sources of carotenoid pigments in the algae and small crustaceans the birds eat. The long legs of flamingos let them wade in to deeper water then most other birds to look for food. Flamingos are unique that their bill is held upside down in the water. They eat by sucking water and mud in the front of the bill and then pumping it out again at the sides. Here, briny plates called lamellae act like little filters, trapping shrimp and other good food the flamingos like to eat.

Flamingos lay one large white egg in a mud nest built by both parents. After a chick is hatched, the chick will stay on the nest for 5-12 days. During this time, the chick is fed a type of “milk” called crop milk that comes from the parents upper digestive tract. Both males and females can feed the chick this way, Even flamingos that are not the parents can act as foster-feeders. 

It is believed that the begging calls the hungry chick makes stimulate the secretion of the milk. While feeding a chick, the parents lose their bright pink colors turning themselves to pale pink or white. The parents will gain their color back once the chicks begin eating on their own.