Posts Tagged ‘animals’

A Bear of a Party

by | August 5th, 2013

 

TeddyBearTea296x172Sometimes the best kinds of animals are stuffed. No, I don’t mean the ones you find in a museum. I mean the cuddly plush ones like your favorite childhood teddy bear. After all, they provide comfort and security, and bring magic and imagination into our lives, even as adults. So after all they do for us, why not treat them to their own party. That’s exactly what you and your child (along with their favorite stuffed animal) can do at Oakland Zoo at the new Teddy Bear Tea Parties.

 

We’ve been hearing suggestions from parents who want more programs at the Zoo that they can participate in with their children (as opposed to our drop-off programs which are geared for kids alone.) So we came up with a very cute program indeed. Held once a month on Saturday mornings, Teddy Bear Tea offers an entertaining and informative activity for 4 to 8 year olds and their parents. But it’s much more than just a tea party. First, we gather in one of our classrooms, where you’ll hear a bear-themed story and learn how to be a bear in the wild. You’ll enjoy tea, coffee, juice and other snacks such as scones, cookies and assorted fruit. After that, you and your child will have the chance to make fun enrichment items for the Zoo’s sun bears, using cardboard boxes and colorful art materials. These decorated boxes will be filled with various yummy treats for the bears to snack on.

Exploring a Fun Box

Exploring a Fun Box

Afterwards, you’ll head up to the sun bear observation deck and watch as the bears eagerly discover and tear open the boxes that you just made for them. And as you meet one of our bear keepers, you’ll get answers to all those bear questions that you’ve been dying to ask. Enrichment is a big part of the animals’ lives here at Oakland Zoo, and our bears get excited whenever they find fun new things in their exhibit to sniff and eat.
Speaking of fun things to eat, when you attend the Teddy Bear Tea, you’ll get to snack on the same type of 5-fruit salad that our bears

enjoy eating every day. You’ll also receive a gift bag full of assorted animal themed goodies as well as a special personalized thank you letter with photo addressed to your child and their stuffed animal, signed by one of our sun bears.
So if you’re looking for something fun to do with your 4 to 8 year old, sign up for one of Oakland Zoo’s new Teddy Bear Tea parties. The next parties are scheduled for August 17, September 14, and October 12. Parties run from 9:30 am until noon. Don’t forget to invite your child’s favorite teddy or other stuffed animal.

See You at the Next Teddy Bear Tea Party

Awaiting the Next Teddy Bear Tea

For further information, additional tea party dates and to make a reservation, contact our Education Department at (510) 632-9525 ext 220, or email educationreservations@oaklandzoo.org. See you at the party!

 

 

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.

 

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.

What Measure A1 Means for Tortoises

by | October 18th, 2012

Aldabra tortoises are among the largest in the world – sometimes weighing in at over 500 pounds! Anyone who has spent any amount of time with them will tell you that each one has a distinct and very interesting personality. In fact as a zookeeper, one of my favorite animals to introduce visitors to is the tortoises because I never get tired of seeing people fall in love with them.
The Oakland Zoo has six Aldabra tortoises ranging in age from 40 years old to more than 100 years old! Gigi – one of our middle aged tortoises (she’s about 80 years old) received a wound on her shell last year after one of the male tortoises was little rough in his mating ritual. Turtle shells take a VERY long time to heal and require x-rays to monitor the progress. Just try x-raying through the shell of a giant tortoise. It’s not easy and requires very special equipment -the type of equipment that we haven’t had on zoo grounds.
Last year, in order to monitor Gigi’s progress, we had to take her all the way to UC Davis where she could have a CT scan on their larger and stronger equipment. The scan showed us that our treatment was working, but now it is time to check on her again.
Moving a giant tortoise is no easy feat! It requires several people to lift and move her. Then we need a van that she will fit in and it has to have climate control because reptiles are ectothermic. Of course, it is also stressful on her to be removed from her group, make a two hour drive to Davis, be put into a large machine for the scan and drive two hours back to the Zoo afterwards. That’s a pretty crazy day for a tortoise.
If Measure A1 passes this November, our new veterinary hospital will be outfitted with a brand new high powered x-ray machine – one that will be capable of going through a giant tortoise shell. This means that Gigi will have a five minute drive to the hospital and be finished in less than an hour – rather than taking a full day! A great deal less stressful for her, which means improved animal welfare!

Gigi says “Vote YES” on Measure A1!

What Measure A1 means for Baboons

by | October 15th, 2012

In Africa, Hamadryas baboons are called Sacred baboons because they were once worshipped in Egypt. Six Hamadryas baboons currently call the Oakland Zoo their home, but until this year, there were only five. We brought in Daisy, an elderly female, from another zoo after her mate passed away. Many Zoos would not have taken on the burden of an elderly animal with so many health problems, but that is what makes the Oakland Zoo different.

Daisy came to us with a host of age related medical problems. Like many elderly animals (and people), she has arthritis and requires daily medication with anti-inflammatories to make her comfortable. She also gets a glucosamine supplement to ease the strain on her joints. In addition, she needed some pretty extensive dental work when she arrived, so we brought in the experts from UC Davis’ Veterinary Medical School three times to perform the procedures.

None of this care is low cost, but here at the Oakland Zoo we take our responsibilities to the animals very seriously. The welfare of all the animals is our top priority. Getting great medical care means many animals are outliving their normal expected lifespan, which requires even more care. Daisy is 31 years old. The youngest baboon in our group is 22 years old, this means we have an aging group of animals who are going to continue to need geriatric care. If Measure A1 passes, we can continue to provide the high level of care to all of our Sacred baboons as they reach their golden years. Please consider voting “YES” on Measure A1 this November.

What Measure A1 means for….Bats!

by | September 25th, 2012

Did you know there are more than a 1000 different species of bats? Oakland Zoo has two of the largest species, the Island Flying Fox and the Malaysian Flying Fox. Both are diurnal fruit eating species and as the names suggest, they come from the Islands of Malaysia and Indonesia. Caring for species from all over the world means that many of them are not adapted to our Bay Area weather, so days that feel warm to us, may feel chilly to tropical or desert animals. Days that are cold for us, may feel warm to arctic or high altitude animals.

Flying Foxes are no different; their bodies are adapted to warm, humid, tropical weather. They find our summers pleasant, but winters are just a touch too cold for them! To combat this problem, zookeepers maintain large night quarters which are kept at a constant 75 degrees. This way, our bats are kept warm and comfortable no matter what the Bay Area brings us. However, bats also love sunshine (who doesn’t!) and spend a great deal of their daylight hours outside basking during the summer. In the winter, they are frequently unable to go outside even on sunny days due to the cold temperatures. If Measure A1 passes, the zoo will be able to provide outdoor heating sources for the bats in the winter, so they can bask in the sunlight and stay toasty warm no matter how cold it is outside. The zoo will be able to provide the best of both worlds and maintain a high standard of care and welfare.

Please consider voting “Yes” on Measure A1 on November 6th.