Today was a very exciting day at the zoo as our new female tiger Alyona arrived! We have been waiting 2 years to get a female tiger to join our male Zambar, but females are very hard to get as other Zoo’s don’t want to part with them.
Zambar has very good genes and so it would be fantastic if the pair can breed successfully. Alyona is 4 years old, Zambar is 8.
She has come from a zoo in Holland where she was crate trained which means she walked into the crate without the need for sedation which can cause unnecessary stress. She wasn’t sedated for the journey either which is quite amazing! She’s settled in very well and ate her first meal just 2 hours after arrival.
It’ll be very exciting to see the pair introduced over the coming weeks and fingers crossed by next summer we could have the pitter patter of tiny paws!
I posted this a few weeks ago but on my other blog so have reblogged it here :)
Last night at Blackpool Zoo we had a special birthday party for one of our Asian elephants, Marcella. It was her 40th birthday!
We made her a huge cake made from a bale of hay, 25 pans of mashed potato and lots of fruit and vegetables! She loved it! We held lost of fundraising activities and raised a massive £3800 for Biodiversity and Elephant Conservation Trust so all in all the night was a huge success!
I’ve been a bit behind with my zoo blog recently so I’ll have to combine a couple of weeks.
It’s been a busy few weeks at the zoo but I’m still enjoying it! I was helping out on a farm session the other week and one of the activities we had for visitors was stroking the baby goats. I was the lucky one who got to hold and cuddle all three babies whilst visitors stroked them. It was awesome!! The male pictured in the photo above, actually nodded off in my arms, it was the most adorable thing. I wanted to take him home with me! The farm sessions are a great way for visitors to interact with animals they don’t usually come into contact with that often. We have guinea pigs and rabbits for them to stroke but we also use ferrets, ponies, donkeys, sheep, pigs, chicks and goats so there’s a wide variety of animals for them to interact with.
I’ve also posted a picture of me and Jimmy the Royal Python who I’ve spoken about in previous blog entries. This was just me handling him after an education lesson. I’ve observed more lessons over the past couple of weeks, one called interactive story time which is about a dog called Rex that has a dream he’s in the jungle. In the dream he meets various creatures as he meets different animals we have them for the children to hold or stroke. It’s a great lesson for nursery children as we use music and artifacts such as confiscated tiger skins, so it’s quite a sensory lesson.
Apart from the sessions I did a bit of grafting for a new wildlife garden that’s been built next to the education classroom. It took a LOT of wheelbarrows of soil to get the planters full but it looks great now it’s complete. We’re hoping to get a bee’s nest too! The squirrels are already taking full advantage of the free nuts and I’ve noticed some birds coming down which is great. Hopefully it will allow visitors to learn more about the wildlife that’s on our doorstep and not just the wildlife that’s overseas.
I’ve also done the usual jobs of photocopying, laminating, cleaning and feeding the beardies and the bugs! Last week I went on meet and greet, something I hadn’t done before. Basically just greeting the schools on arrival, we get a lot of school groups and if they aren’t managed it can create chaos on the admission desk. I’m slowly getting to grips with the school visits/education sessions booking system as well - it’s a nightmare! The phone never stops ringing!
Today I’ve been doing odd jobs, but I got to use my creative side to work on a display that had been done by one of the education team. I printed various leaves and laminated them all then put them around the display to make it a bit more appealing to look at.
That’s pretty much it for the past few weeks! Apologies if it wasn’t very exciting but there’s not been much to report.
I hope everyone has had a great Easter, I’m currently demolishing an Easter egg as I type! I was back at the zoo today and as soon as I saw the sun this morning I knew we’d be in for a busy day!
I started off my morning feeding and cleaning the bugs followed by the bearded dragons. I then had a tonne of photocopying to do, and I mean a tonne! I spent over an hour at the photocopier, sorting health and safety documents out for the new seasonal educational officers. I returned to the office and put them all into files and before I knew it, it was 11:30!
I had a really awesome experience today as my friend Laura, research and education officer at the zoo, took me to feed the rainbow lorikeets (pictured above, a photo I took which is now being used on posters in the zoo, also pictured above!). Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) are a beautiful Australian bird with magnificent coloured feathers. I think they are stunning to look at, their colours are just fantastic and so vibrant! They mainly feed on pollen, nectar, fruit and seeds and today I had two pots of nectar for them. I held a pot in each hand and stood in their enclosure and they came flying over! I had two on each arm and three sat on my head, picking my hair!! It was amazing! I felt like the bird lady in Mary Poppins haha! Visitors to the zoo can pay £2 for this animal encounter and I’d recommend it to anyone.
After my lorikeet encounter I headed over to the farm as they needed an extra pair of hands due to the amount of visitors. I started off getting the guinea pigs and rabbits out for the children to stroke but as it moved to afternoon I did animal contact sessions with visitors, allowing them to hold a baby chick. This was rather eventful as the chicks I was using decided they wanted to try and fly every time I placed them in a child’s hands, so naturally when they started flapping the children started jumping or screaming! I’m sure there’s a rule about never working with animals and children…
I’ve posted a photo of the baby chicks above too so you can all see how adorable they were! That’s it for another week! Hope you’ve enjoyed reading :)
I can’t believe another week has passed, where is this year going?! It’s the Easter holidays so the zoo is usually really busy, however with this current cold snap I think people are opting for indoor activities! The zoo was still relatively busy for a cold, rainy day though which is always nice to see.
I started my day with my usual weekly task of cleaning and feeding the bugs and the bearded dragons which I always enjoy doing. Then I got the job of cleaning a massive banner outside ‘Creepy Crawly Corner’, not the funnest of jobs but I didn’t mind as it’s good exercise using a brush to clean high up on the wall! That took up most of my morning but from 11am onwards I was on the children’s farm!
I’ve never worked on the farm before, it’s relatively new having only been built last year. It’s one of the best areas in the zoo as it’s really interactive and the kids love being able to stroke the animals. Jobs on the farm are mainly focused on making sure the visitors are getting some hands on encounters with the animals so my day has consisted of cuddling rabbits and guinea pigs, taking the ferrets and shetland ponies, Mia and Perry, for walks, letting visitors meet the sheep, ponies and donkeys and doing feeds. It’s been awesome!! We’ve been trying to tame two four week old bunnies which are just adorable, they need to get used to being handled so we were on cuddle duty a couple of times which was lovely.
The funniest part of my day involved a contact session in one of the outside paddocks where I took some children in to meet the donkeys. Leah, born at the zoo last year, is a bit mischievous and decided that she wanted to eat my top!! She started to pull at it and chew, all in front of some visitors! Not only did she think my top was good to eat, she decided to grab a woman’s handbag and wouldn’t let go! I was mortified but couldn’t help but laugh.
All in all, it’s been a great day. Nice and different to what I usually get up to and lovely because I got to spend the day with the animals. I’ve posted a couple of photos too! The donkeys are Emma and Eliza and the two Shetland ponies are called Mia and Perry, they are on loan to the zoo from Eaglandhill Shetland Pony centre for the Easter holidays.
This week at the zoo I went on my first outreach. An outreach session is when we go out to local schools and do one of our education sessions. It was a really nice change to go out rather than be in the zoo classroom. We took with us the Madagascan hissing cockroaches, giant African land snails, Jimmy the royal python and Kelloggs the corn snake. The kids loved it! It’s so nice to see children interested in animals and asking really good questions too.
When we returned to the zoo I had lots of posters for Easter activities to sort so I spent a bit of time laminating and printing - boring jobs but need to be done! Once I’d got the boring bits out of the way, I cleaned and fed the bearded dragons. They are fed on a variety of fruit and vegetables along with some live food such as crickets, all of which are dusted with calcium or D3 (vitamin) on a rotated basis, to prevent metabolic bone disease. Above is a photo of me with one of the beardies!
I then spent the afternoon cleaning and feeding the bugs, as you can see I’ve got one of the Madagascan hissing cockroaches in the photo above. I do love those little guys, they are awesome and very important to the ecosystems in Madagascar. The roaches feed on all the bacteria, faeces and rotten food on the forest floor, so they act as little binmen! They also have a really clever defence mechanism, they hiss - this confuses potential predators such as Ring-tailed Lemurs into thinking a snake is present, so they run away. The cockroaches have tiny holes on their backs which are called spiracles and they use these to breathe. If they sense a predator they breathe in and push the air out through these holes so quickly that it makes a hissing noise and that is why they are called hissing cockroaches.
I also spent some time watching the Gorilla group on their island. They were shut off from the island when Meisie the baby was born in 2010 so now the keepers are slowly allowing them back on for an hour each day. They have to be very vigilant as Meisie is a terrible two year old and gets up to all sorts of mischief!
One of the best things this week was seeing new arrival Andina! She’s a Giant Anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) and she is magnificent. She arrived two weeks ago from Madrid zoo and we’re waiting for a male to come within the next month. In the past two weeks I haven’t seen her as she had remained mainly indoors, but not this week. She spent the entire day investigating her enclosure, it was so lovely to watch.
Well, that’s it for this week! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and also learnt something interesting. Thanks for reading!
Thank you for stopping by to read my blog! I’ll start by filling you in on how I got into working at the zoo!
Back in 2010 I did a 3 month placement as a research and conservation officer at Blackpool Zoo. It was amazing! I conducted a research project, created educational activities for visitors during the summer, created new educational interpretation for the ape house and worked on conservation touch tables which had various confiscated illegal wildlife trade items. I also did a lot of photography work for them which was fantastic. I was very lucky as they have published a lot of my work, including the image on the billboard at the front of the zoo! The above photo, shows me and my photo of Meisie the baby Western Lowland Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) on the billboard!! Oh and that’s also me cuddling Jakar the Tapir :)
Fast forward to 2012 and I’m no longer a student, so alongside my current job I decided to go back to the zoo as a volunteer in the education section. My weekly duties include cleaning and feeding the bugs we use in the education sessions, at the moment these are Madagascan Hissing Cockroaches (Gromphadorhina portentosa), Thai Stick Insects (Phaenopharos herwaardeni) and Giant African Land Snails (Achatina fulica). They are all easy to clean and feed and require minimal husbandry. The stick insects are fed on privet leaves and the cockroaches and snails are fed on a variety of fruit and vegetables.
We also use reptiles in the sessions, we have Jimmy and Geoff the Royal Pythons (Python regius), Sid and Tony the Blue-tongued Skinks (Tiliqua nigrolutea), Kelloggs the Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus guttatus) and we have some Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps), which are yet to be named!
My other jobs include helping in education sessions, lots of admin stuff and just generally helping out really. I’m moving onto Primates soon (with a bit of luck!) so that will be rather exciting.
Well, that’s a bit about the stuff I get up to, although it’s different each week so feel free to pop back.