Posts Tagged ‘goats’

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.

 

Internship Weeks 11 & 12: My last two weeks

by | October 2nd, 2012

Intern Stephanie Lo

These last two weeks conclude my summer internship at the Oakland Zoo. During my past three months as an intern, I’ve made popsicles for lemurs, I’ve given belly rubs to pigs, and I’ve befriended a goat. By the end of my summer, I have become familiar with zoo animal husbandry through my daily routine and through the intern classes. The Oakland Zoo’s intern program is an excellent opportunity to gain experience working with zoo animals.

Nubian goats in the Oakland Zoo’s contact yard.

Oftentimes, I work in the Children’s Zoo contact yard, where visitors brush and pet the plethora of sheep and goats. The yard houses five sheep, six Pygmy goats, four Nubian goats and one Boer goat. The Pygmy goats are particularly popular among the zoo’s children visitors because of the goats’ short stature and tolerant attitude. Working in the contact yard involves keeping the area clean while ensuring the safety of the visitors and animals. There is a retreat pen in the barn where goats and sheep can retreat, if they want some personal space from visitors.

Scarlet, one of the three cats, wearing a “Cat Bib” when she goes outside of the cat cottage.

Three long-haired cats named Billy, Cali and Scarlet live in the “cat cottage” adjacent to the Contact Yard. After feeding the goats and sheep in the morning, I usually let the cats outside into the Contact Yard and made sure they didn’t wander off. Whenever the cats roam outside, they wear “cat bibs” that are designed to prevent them from successfully catching birds. The bibs are supposed to inhibit their normal pouncing motion, and I think they’re quite the fashion statement.

As part of the animal husbandry, I brush Ginny with the FURminator before letting her out on exhibit.

Part of my routine is brushing Ginny, one of the rabbits before letting her out of the night house. She was slightly skittish the first time I brushed her, but soon after she relaxed and began munching on her hay. Rabbits shed quite a bit of hair, but the FURminator helped me loosen and remove the undercoat.

On Tuesday, I got the chance to spend a few hours working up at the giraffe barn. I helped fill containers with pellets and produce, while the giraffe intern hung up branches of browse. My absolute favorite moment was hand feeding carrots to Tiki, one of the zoo’s giraffes.

 

Tiki is one of the Oakland Zoo’s giraffes.

Summer is quickly coming to a close. Shortly, I’ll be back in college fighting sleep deprivation and jumping headfirst into fall quarter classes. In some ways, it seems like I’ve been interning for far more than three months; I can’t imagine not feeding breakfast to the lemurs or hearing the familiar bleating of the goats in the morning.

Internship Week 5: Pig Walking and Lemur Watching

by | August 15th, 2012

Intern Stephanie Lo

Throughout this week of my internship, I got to both learn more about operant conditioning and participate in training a few zoo animals.

 

We turn on a misting hose in the guinea hogs' exhibit on warm days.

The week began with walking Jason and Sara, the two Guinea Hogs, up to the Oakland Zoo‘s Veterinary Care Center to weigh them. Three other interns and I worked to harness them and continue the training we started last week. Two of us were in charge of delivering the reinforcement; in this case it was a variety of chopped produce. The other two held the leash, harness and clicker. It was important the rate of reinforcement was not too low or the Guinea Hogs might lose interest and turn to foraging. When training any animal, especially one that is as large and strong as a Guinea Hog, it is imperative to be alert to your animal. For instance, Sara is afraid of large and loud trucks so we remained aware of our surroundings while leaving the Children’s Zoo. In this week’s intern class on operant conditioning, I learned that escape is a primary reinforcer and permanent associations about something can last for years.

 

Patrick, one of the Nubian goats, in the main stall of the contact yard.

As part of the routine animal husbandry, zoo keeper Alan works with the goats and sheep to trim their hooves. During this week, I got to give out the reinforcement, which was food, to the sheep during the training session. Although the zoo keepers oftentimes use clickers to mark the behavior, Alan whistles instead because he uses both his hands to hold the animal’s leg and to hold the pair of hoof trimmers. The sheep appeared more skittish than the goats about hoof trimming. Alan had them stand on a mat during the training session, and he also worked to desensitize one of the sheep to touching its hind legs in preparation for the actual trimming part.

 

A ring tail lemur interacting with enrichment. The PVC connector stuffed with food and straw is a form of manipulative enrichment.

As I mentioned in my Week 2 blog post, the lemurs get daily enrichment, which I mark on the calendar. String 7 zoo keeper Liz organized the list of possible enrichment into categories, such as manipulative, environmental or sensory. Manipulative enrichment includes putting food into containers with holes so the lemurs have to manipulate the object to retrieve their meal. One day this week, I helped fill plastic PVC connectors with their lunch and straw. After doing a thorough scrub of the lemurs’ night house in the morning, the other interns and I did a little interior designing. We rearranged the “furniture” inside the night house, which is a form of environmental enrichment.

 

A ring tail lemur eating a piece of Romaine lettuce, one of the leafy greens in their diet.

A major part of this week included conducting observations of the lemurs. Depending on the type of observations, the time intervals range from every 30 seconds to every 2 minutes. Usually I pick an easily identifiable lemur to observe while another intern keeps track of the time. The categories on the observation sheet comprise of social behaviors, like huddling with another lemur or being groomed, and also of agnostic behaviors like marking with scent glands or chasing. The observations can be done any time of the day and inform the zoo keepers on how the lemurs interact with enrichment and with each other. The data collected can be used to make ethograms or to determine what percentage of the day a particular lemur does a certain activity.

 

One form of enrichment is scattering their diet throughout the grassy areas of the exhibit. Three of the ring tail lemurs foraging for their food and sunning themselves.