Posts Tagged ‘Volunteering’

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.

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.

 

 

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.

Stepping Through Zam: Day 9, Children’s Zoo Module

by | January 25th, 2012

Franette Armstrong is sharing her journey through Zoo Ambassador Training.

Tonight we continue with invertebrates—those spineless creatures without which no horror movie would be complete—and I am already expecting chills instead of thrills. Maybe to know them is to love them, so I’m going to give them a chance to win me over.

Keeper Margaret Rousser was back tonight to give us a proper introduction to the many-legged residents of our Bug House. Margaret supervises the invertebrate Keepers and is responsible for keeping the exhibits filled with interesting animals, so who best to promote this part of the Children’s Zoo?

Margaret Rousser, Zoological Manager of the Children’s Zoo

 

 

All Insects are Invertebrates…

but not all invertebrates are insects. In fact, 40% of invertebrates are animals like spiders, scorpions and centipedes. Margaret said that invertebrates are the most popular exhibits in zoos today. Does that surprise you?

We covered our scorpions and millipedes in the lecture on Arthropods, so tonight our focus is on insects, which are also Arthropods. They lay eggs, might have wings, and some can metamorphose from one shape to another, like frogs. Butterflies have all these traits.

To be an insect, a bug has to have 3 body segments, 6 jointed legs, a pair of antennae, and a tough exoskeleton instead of skin.

 

Keeping Bugs in the Bug House

One of the challenges in keeping insects in a zoo is actually keeping them. Since all are pretty short-lived, constant replacements are needed and since they can fly and are small enough to get out through tiny openings,  the exhibits have to be, well, bug-proof.

In our Bug House the walls have windowed cut-outs that show different naturalistic settings similar to the insects’ home turf. Behind the scenes, though, these little dioramas are more like aquarium tanks sitting on wheeled carts. When the insects are fed, or need other care, the tanks are wheeled backwards where they can be [very carefully] opened.

So….off we trotted with our flashlights to seek out the Bug House and its occupants. I can’t say I let myself look at the cockroaches very long, but the branch-like Walking Sticks were fascinating—especially their molted exoskeletons (their hard outer “skin” which looked exactly like them.

Several of our New Guinea Walking Sticks

Our Honey Pot Ants use some of their colony members as food storage depots: the workers collect nectar and store it in the bellies of fat little repletes who hang from the ceiling of the nest all the time, taking food in and regurgitating it back up when needed to feed the others in times of food shortage. These ants are also predators: they kill and eat other insects like fruit flies.

And while we are on the subject of ants, there are the Leaf Cutter Ants. These are the most fascinating insects to watch as they literally turn trees and forest floors into moving green rivers. The “Forager” ants go off and cut leaves into pieces many times larger than they are, which they carry back to the nest. “Gardener” ants then grow fungus on the leaves which is later broken off and fed to the queen and others. Here’s a wonderful video showing it all in action: http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/kids/animals-pets-kids/bugs-kids/leafcutter-ant-kids.html.

Here's a single Leafcutter Ant making off with his bounty.

 

The Cobalt-Blue Tarantulas are absolutely gorgeous and absolutely venomous. These bugs are very aggressive and can live 20 years.

Sometimes in nature, beauty is deadly—at least for predators who get too close to Cobalt Blue Tarantulas

Chilean Rose Tarantulas, on the other hand, take a passive approach to defense: they have hairs on their bellies that are very irritating to predators who happen to get close enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Presentations are Next

We just got our final instructions for the presentations we each will be giving on Saturday. I’m going to talk about how our Black Tree Monitors, who only live in New Guinea (and zoos)  teach us how the adaptations of animals and their environments are inseparable. That’s why we have to preserve rain forests and rivers and deserts and oceans: animals that are adapted to live one place can’t pick up and move somewhere else. And if their climate changes, their adaptations might not help them at all. Ask the polar the bears about this.

Wish me luck!