Author Archive

One Month at the Zoo

by | February 6th, 2013

One month in already? Could it be? It’s true; I wrapped up another exciting week as the Marketing Intern at the Oakland Zoo. This past week I worked on putting together talking points for a shoot with CBS 5, promoted our Living Social deal through our social media platforms (which sold out), spent a lot of time learning how to use Vocus, wrote and released a press release (with much help), and even learned a few Photoshop skills.

I spent two days out of the office and on Zoo grounds assisting with our training video project and a video shoot with CBS 5. I continued to learn a lot about media and how it all works behind-the-scenes. I greatly enjoyed those two days, being outdoors in this beautiful Zoo, and visiting each animal exhibit. It also allowed me to meet many other Zoo staff and network with local media professionals.

Nicky and Amber also took time out of their day to sit down and go over objectives with me and have greatly assisted in making those become achievable. For example, one objective of mine is to help with events taking place at the Zoo, so I was able to attend and provide input at the first Earth Day committee meeting and will continue to be involved leading up to the ‘day of’ in April.

Another goal that I expressed is to experience more animal encounters. To my surprise, the next day I found myself on a sixteen foot platform hand feeding the giraffes! I had so much fun and loved being that close with the animals. It was a great week being around the animals and out on Zoo grounds with film crews. I’m learning so many different things, keeping busy, and still have three months of experience to gain.

Recent Turtle Hatchings at the Oakland Zoo

by | February 5th, 2013

Spotted turtles are native to the Southeastern United States. They inhabit bogs (swamp like areas), but can also be found in fresh still water. The spotted turtle is endangered due to habitat loss and the constant threat of being collected and placed into the pet trade. However, we are lucky enough to have these little creatures hatching and thriving here at the Zoo and in other zoos around the country.

In the month of December, the Oakland Zoo welcomed a few more spotted turtles to the family, and another just last week on January 31, 2013. Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo Herp and Invert Keeper Adam Fink, fills us in about the most recent hatchlings as well as shares more facts about the spotted turtle.

A spotted turtle egg is about the size of a large grape, and unlike bird eggs that need to be rotated during incubation, reptile eggs must be kept in the same position as they were laid. This is because the embryo orients itself in the egg and turning the egg during this time could do much damage and kill the tiny turtle. Keepers are able to make an educated guess on whether the hatchling is male or female based on the temperature at which eggs are incubated. Females will result to warmer temperatures and males in cooler temperatures. “Like crocodilians, turtles can communicate to each other through the egg cases. This is why both species will have mass hatchings in the wild. The turtles or crocodilians will let each other know when they are ready to hatch and they all start hatching together. This is so that there is a better chance that at least some of the hatchlings will make it to the safety of the water,” says Adam.

Another interesting fact that Keeper Adam shared with us is that turtles, like all egg laying species, have egg yolks, which serve as nutrients for the developing embryo. However, unlike other eggs, the yolk is on the outside of the shell. The bottom of the shell has a small slit where the turtle comes out when ready to hatch. Once it hatches, the turtle will absorb the yolk sac, which in turn will close up that slit. If needed, the baby turtle can live off of the absorbed yolk for up to a few weeks.

Fink says the Oakland Zoo had about twenty spotted turtles hatch on site, with some continuing to live in our exhibit and some that have gone to join other zoos accredited by AZA, which is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Eight of the thirteen currently on exhibit have been born here at the Zoo.

Weeks Two and Three as a Marketing Intern

by | January 29th, 2013

Week one of my internship at the Oakland Zoo went well, but now things are getting serious. Week two consisted of some decent assignments such as: stamping passes for a marketing trade for on-air mentions and promotions, editing and re-writing the event calendar listings from February 2013 to July 2013, downloading iTunes songs for the training video in progress, writing a blog on the new hyenas, scanning and emailing documents, mailing out tickets, and Facebook and Twitter posts.

A few highlights include riding the Outback Express Adventure Train, Carousel, and of course, the Tiger Coaster.

Tiger Coaster

I will let you know that I am still not fond of things that go ‘round and ‘round, but I had so much fun in that 20 minutes and it was the perfect energy boost during lunch to rock and roll my assignments for the rest of the day. I also found it awesome that I am only two weeks in and already get a three day weekend. I must be doing something right around here.

Week three was an interesting week. I was left to fend for myself and hold down the fort while my entire department was out sick for most of the week. Believe it or not, I actually spent some time over the 3 day weekend posting on Facebook to see the response as well as research Pinterest, a media outlet we may be pursuing. Once Tuesday rolled around, I continued my learning in the office. I spent some time editing YouTube video descriptions on the Zoo’s channel, I handled an entire pledge drive donation deal on my own, and reviewed a guest video submission from their visit to the Zoo and shared it on Facebook. I kept very busy this week.

Training Video Shoot

Favorite parts of week three consisted of spending a rainy day (which I didn’t mind, being a desert rat) assisting with the filming of the training video. I was able to meet a lot of employees, learned a lot about videography, and even left my mark by doing some acting in the video.

Wednesday night was quite funny. Toni, the Manager of Group Services, offered me a ride to my BART station so that I could attend the Annual Board Meeting after work. Toni and I were the last in the office but then somehow, I ended up being the only one left and almost got locked in. All I could picture at this point was Night at the Museum about to take place…even though the animals here already come to life during the day. Luckily, as I was walking out of the office, she pulled up and saved me from walking down through the dark, cold, Zoo to get to the Auditorium for the Annual Board Meeting. I am so glad I was offered a ride and able to stay for that meeting. It was very beneficial for me to be a part of. You should also know that I may or may not have photo bombed some pictures (Nancy, the Managing Director, knows all about this) and juggled granny smith apples in front of some very important professionals while at the meeting. Through this however, I found out that some of the other staff here possess juggling talents as well (Nik, Director of Strategic Initiatives), and I feel that is important to express to the rest of the world.

I was also lucky enough to receive a two hour, one-on-one docent tour of the Zoo with Docent Mary Ann. During this tour, I gained so much insight about the animals, their stories, and the Zoo in general. I was able to have lunch out with Nicky (Senior Manager, Marketing/PR), Amber (Manger, Special Events) and Nancy on Friday, which is really awesome and always great to be included in those types of things. I ended the week by checking out the launch of “Friday Nights at the Oakland Museum of California” with some coworkers, (fellow Geminis) Toni and Heather (Major Gifts and Grants Associate). So it turns out that I am able to take care of business when all alone, but I look forward to having my colleagues/supervisors back at full health this upcoming week.

New Spotted Hyena Trio Joins the Zoo Family

by | January 22nd, 2013

new hyena2_emilydenes

Most of us were probably first introduced to the hyena from the classic Disney movie, The Lion King. Who could forget the goofy spotted hyena trio, Shenzi, Banzai, and Ed who served as Scar’s followers? Although this was an animated movie created for entertaining people of all ages, there are actually some striking similarities between the spotted hyena trio in the movie and the new spotted hyena trio at the Oakland Zoo.

First off, this new trio of spotted hyenas came to us through the Berkeley Hyena Center, where a team of UC Berkeley researchers were studying a large colony. The Oakland Zoo’s Director of Animal Care, Conservation, and Research heard about this research program possibly facing funding cuts and jumped on the opportunity to make the Zoo a permanent home for these spotted hyenas.

Like the trio of hyenas in The Lion King, the Zoo’s is also made up of one female and two males and happens to be the same species of hyena (there are four different species). This is fitting considering spotted hyenas are matriarchal, meaning females dominate the group and are also larger in size than males. Our female hyena is named Harley and the males are Tusker and Ozzie. One might look at the hyena and instantly compare it to man’s best friend, the canine. However, hyenas are actually more closely related to the cat (Felidae) family than the dog (Canidae) family. Also contrary to popular belief, newhyena1_emilydeneshyenas do not just scavenge or steal their food from other predators, but in fact, are decent hunters themselves and often have larger predators, such as the lion, stealing prey from them. Unlike the movie in which the hyenas communicate and serve a lion, Scar, the two species are actually opponents in the wild. These animals have really strong jaws that are actually able to crush through bone. As far as that unique hyena laugh goes, it is used when the animal is anxious or uncomfortable. Last, but not least, the spotted hyena is a crepuscular animal which means they are most active during dusk or dawn and spend a lot of their day sleeping.

The spotted hyena is a very unique animal and Zoo staffers, visitors, and media outlets have greatly enjoyed watching these new additions thus far. So gather the kids and come on down to the Oakland Zoo and visit Harley, Tusker, and Ozzie in the African Village.

Behind the Scenes with a Marketing Intern

by | January 18th, 2013

Last week, I headed out from Phoenix, Arizona to San Francisco, California as a poor college student to join my sister and brother-in-law in their 500 square foot apartment and bunk on their couch for the next four months. Why you ask? To pursue an amazing opportunity that has been offered to me here at the Oakland Zoo.

I am in my final semester of my undergraduate degree program at Arizona State University studying Nonprofit Leadership and Management and minoring in Special Events Management. I have a great passion for animals and this field and was highly interested in playing a role at this wonderful organization. As much as I would love being an animal care intern, I want to take this chance to learn more about the daily ‘behind the scenes’ operations that take place in the Administration Office. After several months of communication through emails and phone calls with Senior Marketing/PR Manager, Nicky Mora and Special Events Manager, Amber Frisbie, the position of Marketing Intern was offered to me.

I began my internship on January 7, 2013 and cannot begin to express how welcomed I felt in just the first ten minutes of me walking into the office. My computer desk is nestled right in between Nicky and Amber, with Everard just across the way from me. (That’s right. Go ahead and ask them next time you see them just how lucky they are to all be sharing my presence. It’s kind of a big deal). Something else that was a big deal upon my arrival were the two wall hangings left for me to decorate my area. One happens to be a painting by Donna, one of our elephants. How cool is that? I was definitely bragging to anyone and everyone that day about the awesome painting left for me to hang up. The other one was a Wild Australia sign. Little did Amber and Nicky know, but elephants are one of my favorite animals and I have a deep love for Australia as well, for I spent a month there back in 2011. Major brownie points for these two ladies already (as if they really needed them).

After receiving a tour and introduction around the office, I came back to my desk and got familiar with things.

Here are some highlights of my first week:

Monday: Today I was greeted with smiles, my own computer, desk, phone, email, and even an elephant painting.

Tuesday: I had the opportunity to watch and assist with an on-site film shoot by KOFY TV covering the gibbons love story and the three newest spotted hyenas. I also interviewed Deb Menduno, the Director of Operations, for the staff profile page and gained excellent insight and wisdom from her.

Wednesday: Being half way through week one, I began to realize how awesome it is to walk through the Zoo every morning, be able to watch Nikko and Gladys (the gibbons) swing around, and in general, what a beautiful property this is. I did my first Oakland Zoo Facebook post and watched Nicky send out a press release (had no idea it works that way). Then I embarked on another field trip to KTVU Channel 2 Studio to watch the taping of a Bay Area People show on the California condor, with some highly educated individuals such as our very own Dr. Goodnight, Ventana Wildlife’s Kelly Sorenson, and Myra Finkelstein, PhD researcher at UC Santa Cruz.

Thursday: I met Sarah, the Education Specialist, at KOFY TV’s Studio in San Francisco, in which I spent an hour and a half on a bus commuting to and may or may not have gotten lost in the process. However, I made it in time to see some taping of Wildlife Wednesday on set. I can also say that I was visited by the EMT at work today. Not to worry, all is good.

Friday: Today, I started the morning off at a Healthy Living Festival planning meeting (an event held on Zoo grounds in the summer), experienced a department lunch meeting, and missed my bus to BART, but was able to hitch a ride from Brendan in the Education Department.

It was a warm welcome in my first week and a big thanks to everyone for definitely looking out for me in so many ways, whether that involved giving me a ride to the BART station to lessen my transportation costs, making me a PB and J sandwich, or showing me around the Zoo, etc. Again, a special thanks to Nicky and Amber for all the work and sacrifice they made to have me join their team.