Posts Tagged ‘wildlife’

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.

Animals of the Oakland Zoo’s Backyard

by | March 24th, 2010

Mallard Pair in Veldt Exhibit Photo Credit: Shauna Lavi

Among the Reticulated giraffes and other hoofstock in the African Veldt exhibit, one is likely to notice much smaller avian species speckling the scene.  “Do those birds belong in there?” I am often asked by students while leading tours. Little do they know how provocative that question really is.

Aside from the Egyptian Geese that are part of the exhibit, the two other avian species you are likely to see are ravens and mallards. The latter two are common native residents that find the Veldt to be a suitable habitat to eat, sleep, and even breed in. They also may compete with Zoo animals for their food, as was the case with the ravens thieving from the Griffon Vultures. If you ask the keepers if those ravens belong on the Veldt, you might not hear a resounding, “yes”.

Though some of these seemingly rogue individuals may be in the exhibits to the keepers’ chagrin, they are some of my favorite animals to interpret about. This is due in part to the exciting scientific facts one can teach about them; for example, ravens are in a family of birds (Corvidae) that have been proven to have an intellect on par with elephants and chimpanzees.

More important than the interesting factoids, however, is the overarching truth that such species are the ones that children are likely to encounter in local parks and their own backyards. If they can connect with their non-human neighbors that have evolved to “belong” in the Bay Area, they might develop a vested interest in making sure they can be here for a long time to come.

In the Conservation & Education department, we strive to instill this excitement for all wildlife in each and every participant of our programs.   While teaching in our classrooms, or out on tour in the Zoo and adjacent Arroyo Viejo Creek, we tell the stories of wild lives throughout the globe and how to conserve them.  I love teaching at the Zoo because of the amazing representation of animal diversity. On any given program, I can call upon the global perspective that exotic animals provide, while echoing the very local messages the native wildlife bring home.

Next time you walk through the Oakland Zoo, keep your eyes open for the myriad of birds flying overhead, the Wild Turkeys living with elephants or Western Fence Lizards doing “lizard pushups” next to African lions.  Those coincidental opportunities can foster the vital lifelines between local wildlife and us, the people in their communities.  They remind us that every organism belongs in some native habitat, and it is up to us to conserve and create those wild places in our own backyards.

In this series of blogs, I will highlight those native wild animals throughout the Zoo that you might not pay much attention to otherwise. Welcome to the backyard of the Oakland Zoo!