Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Home from the tundra!

It's always a weird feeling coming back to work after a vacation, but this is a completely new feeling! I have been in Churchill for the last 2 weeks out on the Tundra Buggy everyday talking with visitors about Polar Bears International and polar bears in general. As a zookeeper, my main responsibility was to share with people how polar bears in zoos are turning out to be some of the most important subjects to help us protect bears in the wild! They are serving as ambassadors for their wild counterparts in an unprecedented way by participating in research projects that help us learn more about bears in the wild and protect them more effectively. In addition, I go on to talk about just how amazingly the bears have adapted to one of the harshest climates in the world. I was truly inspired by being out on the tundra everyday talking with people who care about bears, collaborating with other zookeepers, and answering questions about polar bears and climate change. Sometimes it may feel like the problem is too big, or its too late to change, but talking with the top scientists who say we can still change and meeting so many people who care and are ready to take action got me motivated to make as many changes in my life as I can! Now I am hoping to keep this momentum and inspire all of us to lead more sustainable lives in hopes of saving the polar bears!

Friday, October 24, 2008

ZooBoo on Twin Cities Live

Thursday's Episode of Twin Cities Live on KSTP

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Max the Harbor Seal

On September 23rd Max, a 26 year old harbor seal, was transported to the University of Minnesota for removal of an ocular tumor on his right eye. Dr. LaRocca, a veterinary ophthalmologist, worked in collaboration with Como Zoo’s vet Dr. Trent and the University of Minnesota veterinary staff. The surgery was a success and Max had his one month check up with Dr. LaRocca today and is healing well. He is continuing to participate in his operant conditioning training program. Since Max participates in his own medical behaviors through training, we were able to closely monitor the tumor before surgery and are now able to examine the surgical site. The keepers would like to thank all who helped make this medical procedure a success.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

ZooBoo on KSTP

Monday, October 20, 2008

October at Como Zoo

October brings about many changes at the zoo. The switch to winter hours occured on October 1, meaning the zoo closes at 4pm instead of 6pm, bringing all the zookeepers to the zoo at the same time instead of in split shifts. Wood cutouts of animals and fairy-tale creatures among other things start springing up all over the grounds in preparation for Zoo Boo. And, as the temperatures continue to drop, it is time to winterize the Bird Yard. The migration of the flamingos, ducks, and geese from the Bird Yard exhibit occured last Thursday. Keepers rounded up the birds carrying them down to the Animal Support Building where they were checked over, weighed, and photographed before being placed in their indoor holding. The Animal Support Building is once again filled with noisy quacking and honking.

Our newest addition, the flamingo chick hatched this July has grown like a weed! As you can see in the picture below, it is almost the same size as the rest of the flock and is starting to get the pink feathers of an adult. Feather samples have been sent to a lab to determine the sex of the little one. We will continue to give the flamingos access to their outside holdings during the nice sunny days in October, but it is nice to be able to close them in at night to make sure they stay toasty warm. Hopefully next spring will come quickly and we can look forward to moving them back to the Bird Yard for everyone to enjoy.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Baby Giraffe in the News

Monday, October 13, 2008

Baby Giraffe

A new baby giraffe born October 3 made it's big debut today. The "little" girl is 5' 5" and approximately 150 pounds.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Happy birthday to me!

As I sit here and write my blog, two of my friends (Maribeth and Becca) are singing me happy birthday!!!! So.....today was my birthday!!!!!!!!! haha...and if I might add, probably the best birthday I will ever have. The day was filled with once in a lifetime activities that I will never forget. It all started out by the mother and her two cubs coming up to the Tundra Buggy for the first time. I invited them to my party : ). haha That was amazing.

After taking hundreds of videos and pictures of the bears, we had a priority to fulfill. A helicopter ride to be exact. What a wonderful birthday present right?! We took a tundra buggy out to a safe place where the helicopters would be picking us up. The group met with the pilots and drivers and learned about these amazing vehicles before we piled into them for our ride to the den. As I entered the helicopter, I had no idea what to expect. I had requested to sit in the front so I could get the full effects of the ride. It truly felt like I was in a video game. It felt surreal. Our pilot was an amazing tour guide considering he was telling us about the land hundreds of feet off the ground, going at about 90 miles per hour. As we landed I imagined what the tundra would feel like, and as I stepped out onto the precious tundra floor, I was surprised by the squishy spongy feeling under my feet. It was amazing. After exploring the maternal den, looking out over the river at the autumn trees, and investigating about the earth, we hopped back onto the helicopter to return to the tundra buggy. It was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever encountered!!!!!!!

After returning to the lodge, we did a video conference, ate lunch, and got some business done. Kathy came up to me and asked me if I wanted to call my parents. I wondered “well I don’t REALLY want to, but I guess that would be nice, seeing it is my 17th birthday!” So she took me into the girls bunk for some reason, maybe because it is quieter in there, and I called my mom and dad. After I was done, her and a few adults led me to the dining car and told me to open the door. So I did! I opened the door slowly, and peering inside, I saw that it was dark! I was like, “what the heck?!” and all of a sudden, everyone popped out from under the tables and yelled “SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!” and began singing and taking pictures. Of course, I began to cry because all day I was hoping that something really special would happen. My dream came true! It was amazing. It was so sweet that they spent their time and efforts to make my birthday even better!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sneakin on the Computer

Good evening Como!
It's 11 o'clock in the evening and the reason I'm up so late is because we had a very amazing experience tonight!!! The group was being given a presentation about the greenhouse effect and The Northern Lights by Stacy when we got interrupted by the shouting of "BEAR! BEAR!". The mother and two cubs that we have been tracking came to our camp and were right outside our windows!!!! It was the most extravagant beautiful site I've ever seen. And actually right at this moment everyone is crowding around the windows looking in awe at them and taking pictures. I am not technically supposed to be blogging because I was on "kitchen duty" but I thought I just had to let you guys know!!!!!

Tomorrow's my birthday and the group has some BIGGGGGG plans!!!!

I'm off to shower and get ready for my big day!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

guest speakers!

Hello Como! Here are a few pictures from my previous days of adventures!!

Today was filled with adventurous activities but i would like to just touch base on a few of the most exciting and important ones.

We ventured onto the tundra, hoping to spot some bears, and after almost giving up and going home we did! Or should I say James did! Out in the distance along the horizon James spotted the mom and two cubs that we think were the ones we spotted yesterday. The group got to witness them trudging across the water in a single file line and resting in the grass on the other side. That was an amazing site. I definitely took a lot of pictures!

After returning from our adventure on the tundra we did some group activities and then Carolyn and Robert's friends from Churchill came in and talked with us about their career as trappers. Parker, Jim, and Betty brought with tons of different pelts from various animals which were incredible! Everyone got to feel them and take pictures with them. They told us about their lives and told us some stories about their hunting experiences. Definitely very inspiring...

The group then was greeted by a man named Kevin Burke. He is an official Tundra Buggy driver. We all sat in the meeting car listening to his fantastic stories about driving the buggy's and how he got started in the business. His inspirational stories and words of wisdom consisting of "follow your dreams" brought tears to my eyes. Kevin is an amazing guy.

Now I'm off to watch the sunset!! : )

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Today was the day!!!

Oh my gosh!!! Today was the day of our first polar bear sighting, and for me it was the most amazing moment of my life. Eva (the student from Denmark) spotted them first, and yes it was a THEM!!!!! Our first polar bear sighting was of a mom and two cubs. How incredible is that!?

Well ill start from the start. We woke up at around 7:15 and ate breakfast at about 7:30. Breakfast consisted of oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, and toast. The group then gathered in the meeting car for a quick discussion about natural tundra happenings, and what our plan is for the week. After getting abruptly interrupted by a bear warning...we were told to gather our belongings, change into our long underwear and blue coats, and load onto the buggy. After about an hour of driving through mucky ponds and over gigantic boulders, we spotted an arctic hare and some birds. Finally Eva spotted some white blob in the distance which just happened to be a mom and her two cubs!!! Like Robert Buchanan said "all you can hear is the sound of your own heart". He was so true! It was the most amazing feeling and sight i had ever seen. We followed them around for about 2 and a half hours, watching them walk, lay, and play with sticks. Those 2 hours seemed like 5 minutes. After oohing and ahhing over these three adorable bears, we decided to head on back to the Tundra Buggy Lodge. After returning we split off into our groups and we began planning our "Impacts" presentations.

Well I'm off to dinner now!!!!

Friday, October 3, 2008

First night on the tundra buggy!!!

Hey everyone!!!! I arrived in Winnipeg yesterday at around 2 PM. I didn't get lost in the airport! Yay! I was greeted by Robert and Carolyn Buchanan and soon met with the other campers in the lobby restaurant. Everyone was so nice. We sat and talked until everyone arrived at about 4:30 and then we gathered in the “Lakeside” meeting hall in the hotel. We did an ice breaker, listened to guest speakers from the sponsor’s of the camp, and ate a delicious dinner (which had AMAZING deserts!) After dinner we had a power point presentation by Robert Taylor who takes incredible pictures out here on the tundra! I envy his picture taking skills. After that inspiring power point, we were given CANADA GOOD JACKETS!!!!!!!!, probably the most amazing jackets ever. We are the first camp to receive these 350$ blue jackets with a fur hood! How cool is that?! After the meeting we departed to our rooms and got ready for bed. My roommate was awesome! Her name is Maribeth Flowers. Seeing we had to arise at 4 AM, we went straight to bed after talking for a while.

Our day consisted of waking up at 4 Am and boarding a small personal jet. We visited Parks Canada wildlife center and then got on a coach bus and headed for the small town of Churchill; which has a population of about 900 people. Very different from our Como Park Community, but very unique and full of character. After walking down the street we ate lunch at Gypsy's cafe and soon after we visited the school/community center, post office, and the amazing Hudson Bay! After our little tour, we hopped on the coach bus and visited the polar bear jail! we met with Sean Bobier who is the Conservation Officer of Churchill.

After that... what we all were waiting for!!! Our first expedition to the Tundra Buggy! We drove for about 2 hours onto the tundra and arrived at our amazing Tundra Buggy Lodge! The group claimed bunks and then gathered for a safety meeting. The meeting ended and we scurried to the dinner car to eat a delicious dinner cooked by Robert Greg the cook! We ate sandwiches and soup! Now the group is just blogging away and hopefully...waiting to see the Northern Lights!!!!!!!

Now I'm off to see the Aurora Borealis!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Hey! It's the night before I leave for Churchill and I'm supppper excited!!!! I am sad to say that I haven't packed yet..but I'm working on it. I am so anxious to meet everyone tomorrow after arriving in Winnipeg. I can't wait to depart on my adventure to the tundra and learn everything there is know about POLAR BEARS! I'm looking forward to gaining speaking and leadership skills so I can return to my Como Park Community and share what I've learned. I can't wait to hop on that tundra buggy and go exploring!!!!!!!!!

Now I'm off to catch a polar bear! : )