Author Archive

Spring is in the Air

by | March 18th, 2013

With spring around the corner, mating season is picking up and the Zoo family is starting to grow. In the past month, Oakland Zoo has welcomed four new kids, three pups, a blue-bellied roller fledgling, and some blue spiny lizards, all of which have been born here at the Zoo.

Wait, whose kids are being kept at the Zoo? Well goat kids, of course. New comer goat resident, Annie, was in need of a home, so Oakland Zoo took Annie in to join the rest of the trip (group of goats). Zoo staff knew little about Annie’s history, Jeffrey and Cowboybut soon found out she was expecting. Oakland Zoo doesn’t normally breed goats because so many are already in need of homes. It’s very common for a goat to have one, two, or even three babies, called kids, but with much surprise to staff, Annie gave birth to four healthy kids. These are the first kids born at Oakland Zoo in over fifteen years. They have been a joy and a big hit to have around, and they are sure to bring a smile to anyone’s face. There are two boys and two girls named: Jeffrey, Cowboy, Maggie, and Norma Jean.

Next, the announcement came that three meerkat pups were born. This is also very exciting for the Zoo, since this is the first successful litter of pups in over a year. Since the meerkat mob has such an interesting hierarchy structure and infanticide is not uncommon, zookeepers have been keeping their distance when observing the mob. The pups do have names that are African in origin: Ayo, meaning joy, Rufaro (happiness), and Nandi (sweet). The mob is doing well and there are now a total of eight meerkats at Oakland Zoo. Keep your eyes open for these adorable six-week-old pups all over the internet, People Magazine, and even Good Morning America. Make sure you come out in person to take a look before they grow as big as the adults.

With all the fuzzy cuteness, one can’t forget the reptile and bird newborns as well. In the Aviary, two adult blue-bellied rollers gave birth to a baby. Blue-bellied rollers will eat flying insects in the wild, but get to enjoy a much more diverse diet at the Zoo that includes mealworms, crickets, hardboiled eggs, baby mice, and even small reptiles. They are often spotted in pairs and will nest in holes found in trees. Fledglings are able to fly within about four weeks. This lil’ one is doing well.

In the RAD room, there are more blue spiny lizards to add to the reptile family. This creature is very fascinating. They are ovoviviparous, which means that the mothers have eggs, but they do not get laid. Instead, the eggs stay in her body until they are ready to hatch, which then results in live birth. Once the male lizards mature, they will develop blue patches on their bellies and on the underside of the neck. This lizard is from the Southwest region of the US, but is closely related to the Western fence lizard, which can be found all over the Bay Area. Something that guests will often see on exhibit are the males displaying to the females by showing off their blue belly patches and bobbing their head. Another interesting fact about all reptiles is that their sex is determined based on which the temperature of the egg is incubated at, like mentioned in the spotted turtle hatchings blog a couple months back. Due to this, we know that most of the babies at the Zoo are male. Did you know Oakland Zoo has had over 200 blue spiny lizards born here since 2007? Where do they all go you ask? The answer is some stay here and some go to other AZA zoos and facilities across the US and Canada. There is much time and research that goes into this transfer process, but it has been very successful for the animals and organizations involved.

So there you have it – an update of the Zoo’s most recent baby bonanza. Make sure to stop by and visit soon before they grow up. You can also see pictures, videos, and new updates of the baby animals and all that Oakland Zoo is doing on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr.

 

Week Eight – A Lot on the Plate

by | March 8th, 2013

I had some issues on my return flight to California, so I had to take Monday off to recuperate. Once Tuesday came, it was nonstop catch up. I was having difficulty prioritizing everything that needed to be done, but Nicky and Amber were there to help when needed and that was a huge relief.

I was given the task of writing a press release on the new kids (baby goats) that were born last week and after just one draft, it was approved and ready to be sent out to the media. This was a very fast press release, but it has been one of the most popular thus far. Check the kids out on ZooBorns and Perez Hilton’s website. This has been special to me since I was able to be so involved with the kids from the beginning.

The rest of the week consisted of following up with marketing contracts, creating a plan for updating the Zoo’s online calendar, and assisting one more media outlet onsite for the new goat kids. I can tell it’s the time of year that business starts to pick up and everything is on hyper speed to get done.

With that being said, it was a different level of work this week, but I was able to power through thanks to my supervisors and co-workers. This week also marked two months as an intern at Oakland Zoo. I think I’ve gotten the hang of it, enjoy the people I get to work with, and of course, love the mission I am serving. Thanks for following my journey thus far. Two months down and two to go; let’s see what else is in store.

Tadpoles to Frogs and Much More in this Blog

by | March 5th, 2013

Week seven was a short and fun week, but with plenty to do. Monday was President’s Day, so Administration was closed, meaning I enjoyed a lovely day off. Tuesday was a change of pace for this new office gal as I got to spend much of the day shadowing Adam Fink, Children’s Zoo Herp and Invert Keeper, and new keeper Carrie. I met the oldest resident at the Zoo, OJ, an Aldabra tortoise, watched him and his cohorts roam their night house since it was a wet and rainy day out, and learned about the tortoises’ morning routine, including giving medication, feeding, and cleaning from Adam and Carrie.

Next, I helped clean and count milky tree frogs as many of them are being sent off to other zoos. I was even lucky enough to be able to collect frog fecal samples to send over to our vets to make sure all are in good health before they head out to their new homes.

After my lunch break, Adam, Carrie, and myself, spent some time in the bug house, tidying up the exhibits and providing fresh food for all sorts of creatures. Next, I helped change out tadpole water as well as sort the tadpoles, based on what stage of development they were in. I remember learning about tadpoles and how they become frogs in elementary school, but this was the first time I was actually able to see the process in person and it was pretty cool. By the time we were wrapping up, a call came over the radio about Annie, one of our goat residents. She was going into labor. So, I headed on over to the goat barn.

To my surprise, I got there just in time and was able to watch Annie give birth to four, super adorable, kids. However, Annie needed some help with the first one. Now known as Jeffrey, was breached, meaning he was tail first during birth. This is not what you want to happen, so Keeper Liz had to step in. She put on some gloves and began to assist in pulling out baby Jeffrey. Once out, Annie immediately tended to her kid and before we knew it, three more kids were born. It was totally unexpected that there would be so many, but the Zoo family is ready for them and they have been all over the media already. This was a really cool experience and I am glad I was able to be a part of it. Who else can say they met the oldest Zoo resident and the newest/youngest all in the same day?

 

You may think that Tuesday is unbeatable, but Wednesday was great as well. We had an onsite Eye on the Bay shoot with CBS 5’s Liam Mayclem and this time it was at the new Veterinary Hospital, which I had yet to see. Once the crew arrived, I tagged along and received a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the Vet Hospital, and I was really impressed.

This new hospital is 17,000 square feet, is LEED certified, and implements modern day technology, design, and functionality. The facility is beautiful and is located on a hill, overlooking the Zoo; it even has views of the San Francisco skyline. If you ever have a chance to visit, please watch out for a giant silver rectangle on the floor because that is the large mammal scale and if you step on it, it will expose your weight to all who are with you. I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I want to be classified as a large mammal.

Yet again, Thursday offered something new and different. We had Skywalker Sounds onsite recording animal sounds for an upcoming project. Thanks to them, I was able to watch and be a part of the elephants’ morning routine, which included a pedicure on all four feet, treats, and enrichment. I met Jeff and Gina, the main elephant keepers, and they allowed me to feed Osh, our male African elephant. I can now check that off the bucket list. I also visited the camels and learned a lot about them.

The rest of the day included an Earth Day meeting and other office related to-dos, followed by a trip to the airport as I was headed home to Arizona, for the Tough Mudder race.

Oakland Zoo’s “Prime Mates”

by | February 21st, 2013

Two of our animals have been very popular over the past few months. Do you know who they are? They are Nikko and Gladys, our white-handed gibbon residents. You may be wondering what makes these two so special? Well, not only are they the only two white-handed gibbons at the Oakland Zoo, but they are also a new couple.

Gibbons are monogamous, meaning they mate for life. However, sadly this past year, Nikko, our male white-handed gibbon, lost his mate to a medical illness. He handled the loss similar to how humans would and went through a mourning cycle. During this time, zookeepers got to work searching for a potential companion for him. Luckily, they came across Gladys, a blonde-haired Texan gibbon from the Gladys Porter Zoo, who needed a new home.

Thus began the love connection process to bring Gladys to Oakland Zoo to meet Nikko. After thirty days of quarantine and proper introductions, the gibbons began residing on Gibbon Island together.

Nikko and Gladys are not just ‘roomies,’ but have become mates. Signs that they are getting along well include hugging, grooming, and even singing duets during their morning songs. Everyone here at the Zoo is extremely elated that this match has worked out; media and visitors have enjoyed watching the new couple too.

Quick Facts:

Similar to human hair color, gibbons also have a wide range of color variations. Nikko represents the darker end of the color spectrum, while Gladys, with her blonde hair, represents the lighter end. Gibbons are lesser apes originating from southeast Asia. One can tell the difference between an ape and a monkey by whether or not the primate has a tail or not. Tail equals monkey; no tail equals ape. Here’s a word of the day that applies to this species: brachiation. Brachiation is simply the movement of swinging with the arms from one hold to the next, similar to how children play on the ‘monkey bars’ on the school playground.

Thanks for reading the Oakland Zoo Blog. Now don’t forget to share this blog and impress your friends with all your newly gained knowledge about the gibbon species and our very special residents, Gladys and Nikko, at the Oakland Zoo. Don’t miss out on all the great media attention about this love story either. Check it out.

Animal Talk

AZA Wild Explorer

Press Release 

KOFY TV Segments

Week Six in a Fix

by | February 20th, 2013

The week began with finishing Earth Day tasks such as re-formatting just under 200 contacts in Excel and then mail merging them to print address labels. This was the first time I have ever used mail merge and Amber (Manager, Special Events), was able to walk me through it and teach me the process. Envelopes were stuffed, addressed, stamped, and ready to be sent out.

Part of my internship duties include managing the sun bear web cam, so when I noticed the cam was spotted with water drops, I contacted the proper authorities to get that taken care of. The sun bear cam allows animal lovers to watch the bears at home or in the office for when they can’t be at the Oakland Zoo in person. Check out the sun bear cam here. I love watching them mid-morning and usually find Ting Ting sleeping in the hammock throughout the day. I also mailed a Fed-Ex package, without help this time (thanks to Sue walking me through it the first time) and mailed out tickets for a marketing agreement with Oakland Magazine and Parent’s Press.

Wednesday was fun, since it was the Valentine’s Day Potluck in the Administration building. This was something I was involved in from the initial invite to the decorating day of and I really enjoyed how it turned out. It was great to get Oakland Zoo staffers together to enjoy goodies such as biscotti, fresh fruit, tiramisu, and cookies mid-afternoon. It was also fun exchanging gifts as “secret valentines.” I might even propose this to become a weekly occurrence. I will let you know when that gets approved.

Around lunch time on Thursday, as I was in the kitchen, I watched three wild deer sneaking around in the back of the buildings. This is something I don’t get to witness at home in the desert, so I really enjoyed it. I also met up with the Director of Conservation to get a rundown of how Earth Day works. This was extremely helpful and allowed me to form a visual of the event, which of course will greatly aid in my future planning and involvement with Earth Day. The first edition of PAW Prints was released via e-mail and it looked great. (Make sure you sign up for our e-blast if you haven’t already).  I wrote a blog on Nikko and Gladys and then received a few special Valentine’s Day animal enrichment photos for social media that were a big hit. Much thanks to the Zoo staff that shared those pictures.


On Friday, I received a few hours of training from our web specialist, Jamie, about the CMS (Content Management System) used for our website and went over Flickr uploads. Jamie taught me a lot and I can’t wait to put my new skills to use. I took some time to check out the Sky Ride as well and used it as an opportunity to take photos and then promote on social media. It was a great experience to add to the list. Last, but not least, I scheduled some weekend social media updates, via HootSuite, to emphasize the great weather conditions over the holiday weekend. Hopefully the animals saw a good crowd over the weekend.

Diving into Week Five

by | February 11th, 2013

I began this week meeting up with the Director of Conservation at the Oakland Zoo and going over the Earth Day event, “Party for the Planet,” and discussing where we need to start in the prepping process. Before we can mail out invites for the event, the vendor list needed to be updated, so I worked on updating throughout the week. This took some time, considering there were well over 100 organizations on the list, but addresses and contact information were updated and many new organizations were added. I also created the same document in Excel format for future use. During this whole process, I was able to familiarize myself with a variety of local conservation, environmental friendly, organizations in the Bay Area, which was pretty neat.

Next, I spent time submitting our latest press releases to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums through their online newsroom. The AZA actually picked up our story about Nikko and Gladys and shared it with their database, which includes over 200 accredited Zoos and Aquariums across the country. Not too shabby. I was invited and attended lunch with the Marketing Department again and continued to learn about various business items. This lunch was specifically about sponsorships and how they work. Following lunch, I sat in on a sponsorship meeting, watched how an outside agency presented a proposal, what our staff look for, and even added some input/ideas of my own.

It was a quiet and calm week when it came to media on-site. Instead of being out and about, I realized how much preparation actually goes into setting up a lot of these video/media shoots and projects. There is much coordination involved between several parties. For example, a day must be found that fits the specific media outlet, the Marketing Department, the animal schedules, and a number of other Animal Care staff schedules. All the details of the shoot schedule must also be prepared and ready to go prior to the actual day of shooting.

As a side note, a few of the segments from our training video ‘aired’ at the all staff meeting Thursday morning, and I was a pretty popular individual that day with everyone telling me what a ‘superstar’ I was acting out skits in those videos. Looks like I’ll be seen at the Oakland Zoo for years to come.

A few other contracts with local organizations came through this week and I was walked through our partnership with the Oakland A’s specifically. Nicky explained to me what each little part of the agreement meant and gave me examples from the past, so that I can assist in creating and delivering the 2013 points of action. This includes items such as creating PSA’s or short slogans that will market the Zoo and its wonderful programs at the A’s home games in the upcoming season.  Besides talking baseball, I then attended the Operations Lead meeting conducted by Deb Menduno (Director of Operations) and really enjoyed sitting in and observing how other departments operate, what they focus on, and how they communicate overall.

In addition to the above, I of course spent much time keeping Facebook, Twitter, and the blog updated, exciting, and engaging (that was the attempt anyway). There was also a goal set to reach 11,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook by Friday, and looks like we made it! We had so many shares on Friday and it is really awesome how an online community can come together when you ask for such a small favor. This is why I am such a fan of the power of social media, especially for nonprofits.