Zoo Days

Hi I'm Nic!
I'm a 26 year old zoologist and I volunteer at Blackpool Zoo. I thought I would document what I get up to! I hope you find it interesting! :)

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!

Tagged: Blackpool ZooZoo DaysZooVolunteerVoluntary workPersonal

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