Things have been kind of hectic down here in Texas, between the zoo and being on a job hunt it seemed like I would never get some down time. Since my last post I have had 2 more weeks at the zoo and more surprises have come my way!
My last week in the elephant area was quite eventful. I was lucky enough to watch an elephant foot procedure. I continued to watch cat and rhino training sessions. One day, we palpated one of our female rhinos Ethel. Palpating is basically when you put your hand/arm into the rectum of the animal. This is a process that is commonly practiced on cows to prepare them for medical procedures. I’ll let you paint that mental image. The animals are all doing well and are healthy. During that week, I managed to break the same hose 5 times in one day and earned the nickname Turtle. Since I love turtles with a passion this was perfectly fine with me. The hose breaking on the other hand, became a running joke around the zoo. I broke a hose everyday during that week, and now there is a running count for how many days I can go without breaking something. So far I am proud to say that I have gone 10 days without breaking anything!
During that week, we also started coyote watches. The zoo rescued four male coyote pups that were orphaned in the wild. Their names are Judge, Colt, Winchester, and Ruger. They are very hard to tell apart right now since they are about 10 weeks old and are still growing. For these watches, someone usually sits on exhibit with them for a four hour shift. Our job is to make sure they don’t hurt each other or get into trouble. Also, being on exhibit with them is important to get them used to having zookeepers around. This will be important in the future if they need medical procedures. This interaction will make them more willing to work with the keepers and less anxious. I’m not going to lie, it is so fun to sit in there with them! They sleep most of the time, but every once in a while they will jump up to sit in your lap. Obviously, they are still wild animals and we have to be extremely careful with them and only let them sit there when they want to. We only interact with them when they want to interact with us. They are still pretty sweet though!
Last week, I began my journey in the primate area. It is a completely different world. I no longer have to shovel up to 50 pounds of poop per day, which is very exciting and nice for my arms to have a break! The entire cleaning process in this area is much easier than that of the larger animals. Because the cleaning process is so much easier, I get to watch a lot more training sessions and even help with them. I have been lucky to hand feed the animals through the mesh (because once again safety protocols are important) and even ask the animals to perform some behaviors! Primates are wildly smart and so fun to work with. Our orangutans are especially fun to work with. They know every body part and up to 50 different behaviors.
The primates I have the pleasure of working with are Orangutans, Gibbons, and Lemurs. We have four Orangutans; Mei and KJ, and Kutai and Mukah. Mei and Kutai are our two females and KJ and Mukah are the males. Mei and KJ are a breeding pair, so fingers crossed that they have a baby together! Kutai and Mukah are just a companion pair because they are not able to breed. We have three Gibbons at the zoo, Spike, Gracie, and Lucy. They are the cutest little family with Spike and Gracie as dad and mom and Lucy as our little baby. She is so cute and clings to mom with all her strength. She gets bigger everyday and is about one year old.
Last, but not least, we have two species of Lemurs; Ring-Tailed Lemurs, and Red Rough Lemurs. Our Ring-Tailed Lemurs are Sprite, Skittles, Capri, and Rolo just to name a few. They are super small and cute and love to eat fresh produce. However, our Red-Rough lemurs are my favorite. Their names are Weasley and Esther. They are super fuzzy and sweet and I love their faces. They make little purr like noises when they are happy and it is absolutely adorable.
All of my primate friends are so intelligent that it is amazing to watch what they can learn and comprehend. I can’t wait to spend two more weeks with them!