Archive for the ‘ZooKeepers’ Category

Gearing Up for Lion Appreciation Day August 6th

by | July 13th, 2016

Please join Oakland Zoo in celebrating Lion Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 6th.  We will be hosting a slew of activities and events for all visitors to enjoy.  In Flamingo Plaza, make sure to visit our Action for Wildlife table where you can learn more about American Mountain Lions and African Lions and enter a raffle.  Spread the word and spread the love at the selfie station – you can take a photo with our lion-themed props and then share on social media.  #ozlionappreciation  Kids can participate in face painting, the opportunity to compare their hand print to a lion paw print, and stamp a lion-centric “passport” for their visit around the zoo.

Lion Appreciation Day 2015

Photo Credit: Oakland Zoo

We are also featuring two fabulous conservation partners at this year’s Lion Appreciation Day. Flamingo Plaza features Uganda Carnivore Program and Bay Area Puma Project.  Uganda Carnivore Program is dedicated to the conservation and research of three large carnivores – lions, hyenas, and leopards.  Bay Area Puma Project has a similar mission that focuses on local Mountain Lions.   If you can’t make it down to Oakland Zoo for Lion Appreciation Day on August 6th, you can still learn all about these conservation partners and how you can help their mission on our website: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Conservation.php

Uganda Carnivore ProgramBay Area Puma Project

This is an extra special Lion Appreciation Day because Oakland Zoo is also celebrating the arrival of three new Southeast African lions to our Simba Pori exhibit.  Be sure to come by Simba Pori to see Mandla, Tandie, and Gandia – three brothers nearly 21 months old.  These males were born at Woodland Park Zoo in October 2014.  They are nearly 300 pounds already and just starting to grow in their iconic manes.  Adolescent male lions in the wild venture out on their own by 2 years of age to form coalitions that will hunt and live cooperatively.  Mandla, Tandie, and Gandia will live together as a coalition – playing together, resting together, and eating together.

Coalition as Cubs

Photo Credit: Dennis Dow/Woodland Park Zoo

Coalition as Adolescents

Photo Credit: Alicia Powers/Oakland Zoo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also can’t forget to appreciate our 16 year old senior lion, Leonard.  There are no plans to introduce Leonard to Mandla, Tandie, and Gandia.  Lion introductions are extremely stressful and risky.  Given Leonard’s age and the new boys’ youthful nature, Leonard will be more comfortable having his own space.  To manage these two groups, we will rotate Leonard and the coalition between the exhibit space and an off-exhibit space.  Some days Leonard will be on exhibit, and other days Mandla, Tandie, and Gandia will be on exhibit.  Be sure to come by the main viewing deck of Simba Pori at 1pm on Lion Appreciation Day for the keeper talk highlighting our 4 magnificent male lions.

Leonard

Photo Credit: Colleen Renshaw

There are many reasons to appreciate American and African lions.  Lions on both continents are apex predators, and as such, they are essential to the health of their respective ecosystems.  The history of the eradication of the apex predator from the Yellowstone area, the wolf, should be a cautionary tale to us all.  If we can’t find a way to live cooperatively with our local population of mountain lions, then the landscapes and open spaces that make the Bay Area so unique will forever change.  It is our hope that you will walk away from Lion Appreciation Day with a better understanding of the challenges facing wild populations of American mountain lions and African lions and some inspiration to take action.  We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, August 6th!

World Elephant Day 2016: Help Oakland Zoo #fightthecrime!

by | July 13th, 2016

World Elephant Day is a day to recognize all things elephant! Oakland Zoo is renowned for the conservation and advocacy work we do on behalf of elephants and this is a day to celebrate them.

Zoo campers learning about tusks and why 96 elephants a day are dying for them.

Zoo campers learning about tusks and why 96 elephants a day are dying for them.

Elephant staff will be tabling in front of the elephant exhibit to share all of our good efforts to visitors. The table will include artifacts, such as ivory tusks, so that visitors may learn about elephants being poached in the wild, our most recent legislative efforts on SB 1062 and AB 96, and information on our conservation partners. Also included will be action items where kids will get to color in an elephant coloring page to take home and share, and families will take an elphie in front of our elephant “crime scene” to #fightthecrime. Guests are encouraged to wear grey and will be given a special “96” pin, on behalf of the 96 elephants a day that are being poached in Africa. March for Elephants will also be tabling and handing out information regarding this year’s Elephant March in San Francisco, on September 24th.

In the meantime here’s a little history and a brief update of what’s been happening on the elephant front.

World Elephant Day 2014 and still going! Visotors were given special hand made pins made by Oakland Zoo staff in honor of the 96 elephants a day that die for their tusks.

World Elephant Day 2014 and still going! Visitors were given special hand made pins made by Oakland Zoo staff in honor of the 96 elephants a day that die for their tusks.

Oakland Zoo joined Wildlife Conservation Society’s “96 Elephants” campaign back in 2013 and it’s been quite the wild ride of success. In the fall of 2012, Colleen Kinzley, Director of Animal Care, Conservation, and Research, and staff attended a WCS lecture in San Francisco. John Calvelli, WCS Executive Vice President of Public Affairs was the key-note speaker, introducing the 96 Elephants campaign. In January of 2013 we set up a phone call to talk to the “96” team to set up a partnership, letting them know we were on board and ready to take action for elephants. They’ve kept us busy ever since!

Shortly after that initial phone call, we were already talking about introducing legislature to California to

Oakland Zoo in collaboration with WCS, NRDC, March for Elephants, and HSUS, along with dozens of constituents work to pass AB 96.

Live from the Capitol! Oakland Zoo in collaboration with WCS, NRDC, March for Elephants, and HSUS, along with dozens of constituents work to pass AB 96.

ban ivory sales. After two years of meetings, community and visitor outreach and education, getting hundreds of signatures, letters, and drawings to our governor, and a few trips to Sacramento, that dream became a reality. In October of 2015, AB 96 was passed into law (all types of ivory including mammoth, as well as rhino horn), and it was just early July of this year when the law came into effect. California was the third state to ban the sales of ivory after New Jersey and New York), and since then WCS has worked and collaborated on passing laws in Washington and Hawaii. WCS also had us rally for the most recent federal ban on ivory sales, meeting the goal of sending over one million messages to be heard. Under the leadership of President Obama’s Wildlife Trafficking Task Force, we will now not allow ivory into the United States, with very few exceptions (unfortunately this does not include mammoth ivory). Here are the specifics on the federal regulations: https://www.fws.gov/international/travel-and-trade/ivory-ban-questions-and-answers.html.  Please know that the reason why state bans are so important is because the federal ban does not prevent trade WITHIN a state.

 

Since my last update (http://www.oaklandzoo.org/blog/2015/07/31/oakland-zoo-supports-world-elephant-day/), even more action has been happening on the conservation front worldwide.

  • June 2015: WCS, including several other conservation organizations and 3 government agencies hosted an ivory crush in Times Square.
  • August 2015: World Elephant Day across the nation generated three times more media outreach than the previous year.
  • September 2015: President Xi of China and President Obama announced a joint commitment to fight against wildlife trafficking and close domestic ivory trade
  • October 2015: Oakland Zoo staff and volunteers march in San Francisco for the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. The day of the march Governor Brown vetoes SB 716, the CA bill to ban the bullhook. The day after the march Governor Brown signs AB 96, the CA bill to ban ivory sales.
  • April 2016: Kenya hosts the largest ivory burn in history of over 100 tons of confiscated ivory. Since 2011 there have been at least 19 ivory crushes/burns. Click here to see more detail: http://96elephants.tumblr.com/post/145306232045/thanks-to-your-help-elephants-are-a-little-safer
  • May 2016: Cynthia Moss is the keynote speaker at Oakland Zoo’s Celebrating Elephants evening gala. Both day and evening events raised over $50,000, a record year
  • June 2016: United States announces a nationwide ban on ivory sales.

 

Here’s the most recent results from the Great Elephant Census to give us a more complete look at how Africa’s different elephant populations are doing http://www.greatelephantcensus.com/map-updates :

The Great Elephant Census. Efforts being made across the continent to estimate current elephant populations, something that hasn't been done in over 40 years.

The Great Elephant Census. Efforts being made across the continent to estimate current elephant populations, something that hasn’t been done in over 40 years.

It was reported that Tanzania has lost at least 60% of it’s population, and Mozambique at least 48% in recent years (these are the main areas in red in East Africa).  It’s important to remember that every country in Africa is different when it comes to wildlife trafficking and how they value their wildlife. We cannot paint the entire continent the same when it comes to these issues, although as a world issue we all need to come together to take action and create change.

What’s going on with the bullhook ban SB 1062?

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Team SB 1062 (originally SB716) to ban the use of the bullhook in California. OZ staff providing outreach and expert testimony.

As you may remember last October Governor Brown vetoed SB 716. This bill would have charged criminal penalties to those using bullhooks on elephants, but because of the governors concerns with adding more criminal law to our penal code, SB 716 was vetoed. Working with California Fish and Game, HSUS, Oakland Zoo, and Performing Animal Welfare Society, created SB 1062. This bill addresses the governors concerns with the criminal law and creates civil penalty with fines and possible revocation of a permit to have an elephant in California. This law would be written into the Fish and Game code. Recently, SB 1062 has passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee and will next be up for the full Assembly Floor vote. Oakland Zoo has provided expert testimony in several committee hearings the last two years, efforts crucial to the bill’s passing, as well as hours of lobbying state offices.

Join Oakland Zoo for World Elephant Day on Friday, August 12th and take action for elephants! Help us #fightthecrime (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1__6JrJ609I).

 

How you can help wild giraffe in Kenya

by | May 19th, 2016

When I ask people what they think a giraffe keeper does every day, a wide variety of tasks often come to mind. Harvesting branches, training, and of course, cleaning poop, are typically the top answers. The one thing that most people do not consider however, is being an advocate for wild giraffe in Africa. As our society has begun to move away from the notion that animals in the care of humans are meant to be entertainment, we have started understanding and utilizing our roles to help fight against the devastating loss of natural environments and their inhabitants. I recently returned from the International Giraffid Conference in Chicago, Illinois, and was fortune enough to meet some of the leading individuals who are speaking out for the wild giraffe population and doing ground breaking work in Africa.

John Doherty, keynote speaker at the 2016 International Giraffid Conference, and head of the Reticulated Giraffe Project in Kenya

John Doherty, keynote speaker at the 2016 International Giraffid Conference, and head of the Reticulated Giraffe Project in Kenya

Most people do not know but there are actually 9 subspecies of giraffe in Africa spread across 14 different countries. All subspecies are declining at different rates. This is mainly due to the variety of causes for each group. The most studied subspecies of giraffe are those that live in developed areas. Some areas where giraffe live are far too dangerous for humans to go, and most of them do not even have roads to get to the population themselves. The reticulated giraffe, the subspecies that Oakland Zoo and over 100 other AZA institutions hold, has seen a dramatic 77% decline in 17 years. Issues facing these giraffe in particular are predation by lions, livestock occupying land, human access to automatic weapons, and drought.

Me with Jacob and John of the Reticulated Giraffe Project

Me with Jacob and John of the Reticulated Giraffe Project

John Doherty and Jacob Leaidura of the Reticulated Giraffe Project in Kenya are working to combat many of the issues facing this subspecies. By providing their rangers with solar powered chargers, they are able to keep their devices up and running when they are out in the bush. This way they can transmit in real time giraffe sightings or emergency situations. They work closely with the children in surrounding villages to educate and build pride for these special animals, helping to create the next generation of conservationists who will keep a watchful eye over their country’s’ natural inhabitant. The most notable work John and Jacob have done is create a way to track populations of giraffe using telemetry that will not require the animal to be anesthetized in any way, avoiding unnecessary stress. To this day, adhering a tracking device to wild giraffe can be incredibly dangerous and terrifying for the animal, so the advancement in the RGP’s development is essential for the future of giraffe research.

Oakland Zoo is celebrating World Giraffe Day this year on Tuesday, June 21, 2016. All the proceeds from this event will go to support the Reticulated Giraffe Projects work in Kenya. Guests can get a chance to meet and feed our giraffes, up close and personal. Tickets for feeding the giraffes can be purchased online at Eventbrite. A limited amount of tickets will also be available day-of at the giraffe exhibit in the zoo. Activity tables, face painting, and informational stations will be set up around the exhibit for guests to enjoy. Please come out and support the wild giraffe in Kenya! I hope to see you there!

Feeding at World Giraffe Day 2015

Feeding at World Giraffe Day 2015

Oakland Zoo’s 20th Annual Celebrating Elephants Event is Coming Soon . . . . Help Celebrate twenty years of Action for Elephants- fundraising for conservation, champions of welfare, and campaigning for protective legislation.

by | May 3rd, 2016
Cynthia Moss, ATE Founder and Director, in the field with Echo.

Cynthia Moss, ATE Founder and Director, in the field with Echo.

May is one of my favorite times of the year. Why? Because we have two full days of celebrating elephants! Not that I don’t celebrate elephants everyday that I work with them, but these two days are unique because we get to meet thousands of visitors and teach them about elephants from how we care for them, where they sleep, what they eat, and the perils they face in the wild. The elephant barn staff spends weeks prepping for this event, cleaning every square inch of the barn and surrounding facility, as well as the 6.5 acres of elephant habitat. We also assist in the zoo wide set-up, helping set up interactive stations allover the zoo, making this a fun and exciting day for our guests. And of course, we are your super stars (besides the elephants!), and will be giving special tours explaining everything elephant. This year you’ll see Jeff, Ashley, Jessica, and Zach and they’ll answer any questions you may have. I am especially excited this year for our evening gala, featuring Cynthia Moss, founder of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants. The evening gala team is composed of a small group who are very dedicated and work hard to secure donations and set-up every tiny detail in the Zimmer Auditorium from the tables, to the lights, to the food! We work hard because we know it’s our job as conservationists to help educate our visitors, and to raise funds to directly help our conservation partners. Please, we hope you will join us for the day or the evening, or maybe both, and remember that all proceeds go to protecting the elephants that live in Amboseli National Park.

Here’s what you need to know for the two events: http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Celebrating_Elephants.php

Saturday, May 21st from 6 – 9 p.m., the evening gala will feature special guest speaker, Cynthia Moss; she is a world renowned elephant expert, and director and founder of the Amboseli Trust for Elephants (ATE) and Amboseli Elephant Research Project (AERP).  She will amaze and Inspire with images and stories from over 40 years of studying the

elephants of Amboseli. This gala event is from 6 – 9 p.m. (presentation beginning at 7 p.m.) in the Zimmer Auditorium; tickets are available at the door and at celebratingelephantsgala2016@eventbrite.com.  Ticket prices are

Come wine and dine while bidding on lovely silent auction items! All to help save elephants!

Come wine and dine while bidding on lovely silent auction items! All to help save elephants!

based on a sliding scale from $40 to $100 which, in addition to Cynthia Moss’s presentation, includes heavy hors d’oeuvres, a hosted beer/wine bar, and the silent auction comprised of fabulous items, gift baskets, and gift certificates donated by Bay Area businesses.

 

Saturday, May 28th, all day family fun, elephant activities at the Zoo and are included with Zoo

On Celebrating Elephants Day, you'll get to make fun food filled treat boxes for our elephants and watch them eat it!

On Celebrating Elephants Day, you’ll get to make fun food filled treat boxes for our elephants and watch them eat it!

Admission!  Activities will include hands on experiences such as touching giant pachyderm bones and teeth, stepping on an elephant-sized footprint, participating in a mock research camp where observers watch and record elephant behaviors, and learn to identify Oakland Zoo’s African Elephants, Donna, Lisa, and M’Dunda. Elephant information and interactive stations will abound but be sure to visit the Tembo Preserve station to see drawings of the elephant facilities and learn more about our exciting plans (http://www.tembopreserve.org/). In the Wayne and Gladys Valley Children’s Zoo, visitors are invited to watch

Experience a special behind the scenes and see how the elephants are trained!

Circus Finelli, an animal free circus performance with comedy, acrobatics, juggling, dance and live music with performances at 12 p.m. and 2 pm.  In addition to these events, Celebrating Elephant Day offers the once-a-year chance to go behind the scenes and tour the elephant barn, and see an elephant up close!  Elephant keepers will tour you around the facility to see where the elephants sleep, how they are trained, and explain why they get a pedicure every day! The tours are scheduled every hour beginning at 10:30 a.m., concluding the final tour at 3:30 p.m. and require an additional charge of $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 16; tickets are available at the Flamingo Plaza and the Elephant Exhibit. We also feature an enrichment station where kids can create food filled treat boxes that will be fed out to the

Keepers giving a tour of the barn and explaining training techniques.

Keepers giving a tour of the barn and explaining training techniques.

elephants throughout the day.

All the proceeds from the Celebrating Elephants Events are donated to the Amboseli Trust for Elephants to continue their work and leadership in the research and conservation of African elephants. To date, Oakland Zoo has raised over $300,000 for ATE. To learn more visit   http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Amboseli_Trust.php. Thanks for helping Oakland Zoo take action for elephants!

Docent Training: Cultivating the Face of the Zoo

by | December 29th, 2015

docent with skeletal footBack in the 1980s when I was trying to get my first Zoo job, I dreamed up a clever, surefire plan: I was going to offer to work for the Zoo for FREE! I was sure I’d blow them away with my unheard-of generosity and be hired on the spot. Guess what? I didn’t realize that an organization like a zoo has hundreds of volunteers, and in fact couldn’t exist without them. Here at Oakland Zoo these volunteers work in a wide variety of capacities. One of the larger of these groups are the docents. These are the folks you see roaming the zoo, answering questions and giving directions. But their most important function is to teach the public about animals and conservation. Whether they’re leading a tour, staffing an interpretive station, or roaming about at large, the docents have a lot of ground to cover. And that goes double when it comes to the sheer amount of information they need to keep in their heads. Indeed, learning about each of the 145 animal species here at Oakland Zoo takes some doing.
This is where the Docent Training Class comes in. This annual fourteen week course wouldn’t be docents at tablepossible without a team of dedicated teachers and guest speakers. The majority of these speakers are Oakland Zoo animal keepers, whose years of experience and passion for their work make them ideal for the job. Despite their busy schedules, they’re always happy to take time out from their day to address the members of the docent class. They consider this time an investment, since docents make their jobs easier by working with the visiting public, ensuring understanding and respect for wildlife and the natural world.
The core curriculum of the class is taught by docents and instructors from the Zoo’s Education Department, and provides a foundation with basics such as physiology, reproduction, adaptations and taxonomy. The zookeepers serve to augment this curriculum. They typically do a Powerpoint presentation that deals with the specific animals under their care: how old they are and where they’re from; how many males and females in each exhibit, in addition to information about family trees, male-female pairings, and group behavioral dynamics. This biographical information “tells their story” and helps these prospective docents make a more personal connection with our animals, and by extension, helps the public do the same.
docents with feed bucketThese guest speakers also bring a wealth of outside experience to their jobs here at the Zoo, and their stories are a perennial source of inspiration for all our docents. They include people like Zoological Manager Margaret Rousser, a nine year Oakland Zoo veteran who traveled to Madagascar to work with lemurs, assisting local veterinarians in the field. Adam Fink, one of our resident reptile and amphibian keepers, worked as an environmental monitor with endangered toads in Arizona and in the San Diego area. Education Specialist Carol Wiegel works as a wildlife biologist for an environmental consulting company. She also volunteered in Northern Mexico where she studied desert tortoises. Bird keeper Leslie Storer has volunteered at animal re-hab centers as well as the Golden Gate Raptor Observatory. And Colleen Kinzley, our Director of Animal Care, Conservation and Research, spent eight summers in East Africa, docent at QFC kioskworking with the Mushara Elephant Project of Namibia.
These dedicated individuals are just a small part of the team here at Oakland Zoo. If you or anyone you know has a passion for animals and enjoys working with the public, you might want to consider joining that team by volunteering as a docent at Oakland Zoo. In doing so, you’ll become part of a longstanding tradition of wildlife education and conservation. For more information on our docent training, please contact: Lisa O’Dwyer at lisa@oaklandzoo.org or Chantal Burnett at cburnett@oaklandzoo.org.

Big Life, Big Victories! Celebrating Elephants Gala 2015

by | May 13th, 2015
Check out our lovely silent auction on May 16th. Help us protect the elephants that live in Amboseli National Park.

Check out our lovely silent auction on May 16th. Help us protect the elephants that live in Amboseli National Park.

There has been so much going on with elephants this year we can hardly keep up! Did you know that last fall Oakland Zoo aided in the banning of the bullhook in our own city? Yep, that’s right by 2016 the traveling shows with elephants will no longer be able to visit Oakland. Los Angeles has already been successful with a bullhook ban as well. Did you know that last month Ringling Brothers announced that by 2018 they will discontinue the use of elephants in their show? Due to the continuing pressure on the circus not being welcomed in cities across the country because of the treatment of their animals, they gave up the fight against advocates trying to create legislation to stop them. Did you know that this week the city of San Francisco banned the use of performing exotic animals for entertainment in the city? There’s a movement happening, a culture shift, and Oakland Zoo is proud to be a part of the change they have been advocating for, for the last thirty years. Still in the works are Senate Bill 716, a California state bill that will prohibit the use of the bullhook (including the use of a similar tool like a pitchfork), on or even around elephants. Also we are actively working on Assembly Bill 96, a California state bill that will end the legal sales of ivory in California. Yes, ivory is still legal to sell in the state. Just walk down the streets in San Francisco Chinatown and you’ll see it in shop windows. See my previous blog for more info on the issue.

Oakland Zoo is part of both coalitions who are working toward SB 716 and AB 96, collaborating with

Fund-a-need: A fantastic contribution you can make at our silent auction is to give funds toward equipment and supplies for the team that protects the elephants in Amboseli.

Fund-a-need: A fantastic contribution you can make at our silent auction is to give funds toward equipment and supplies for the team that protects the elephants in Amboseli.

some fantastic organizations who all seek the same outcome: the safety and survival of elephants. While we have been advocating for the past thirty years for the management and training style called Protected Contact Positive Reinforcement (PCP+), we also take responsibility that our mission is conservation and education. This year we have dedicated our 19th annual Celebrating Elephants events to fight for the passage of AB 96. We very much welcome Big Life Foundation as a new partner and a 2014 Quarters for Conservation vote. Did you know that when you enter the zoo, twenty five cents of your admission goes directly toward conservation, and you get a token to vote on one of three projects it will go toward? That’s pretty cool!

Amy Baird, Associate Director of Big Life Foundation will be our guest speaker for our 19th annual Celebrating Elephants Gala, on May 16th.

Amy Baird, Associate Director of Big Life Foundation will be our guest speaker for our 19th annual Celebrating Elephants Gala, on May 16th.

Big Life, founded by wildlife photographer Nick Brandt, and conservationist Richard Bonham, focuses on anti-poaching efforts and protects two million acres of land in the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem. Big Life is the only organization in East Africa that has coordinated anti-poaching rangers operating on both sides of the Kenya-Tanzania border. To date they have arrested 1790 poachers, and seized 3,012 poaching tools and weapons, while employing 315 rangers with 31 outposts and 15 vehicles.  They recognize that sustainable conservation can only be reached through a community based collaborative approach. Their vision is to establish a successful holistic conservation model in Amboseli-Tsavo that can be replicated across the African continent. They not only protect the elephants that live on this land, but all wildlife. We are lucky enough to have Amy Baird, Associate Director of Big Life to be our guest speaker at the Celebrating Elephants Gala on May 16th.

Please join us for a special Big Life presentation, followed by a reception with spirits and appetizers, and

peruse the lovely silent auction. Doors open at 6:00 pm. Tickets are available at the door or in advance

A forty plus years research study and conservation organization, on the behavior and ecology of African Elephants.

A forty plus years research study and conservation organization, on the behavior and ecology of African Elephants.

at: celebratingelephants2015.brownpapertickets.com. You may also make donations through this site if you can’t make it to the auction. And don’t forget to grab the entire family and join us for the day event on May 23rd, where you will experience the once-a-year opportunity to tour the elephant barn and talk to the staff about how the elephants are taken care of. For more detailed information check it out here:http://www.oaklandzoo.org/Celebrating_Elephants.php.  All proceeds of the two events go to the Amboseli Trust for Elephants in Kenya, check out their website here: https://www.elephanttrust.org/.