Friday, May 29, 2009

Swimming with Sparky

This summer Sparky V, who retired from shows in 2000, celebrated his 31st birthday. As the second oldest sea lion in a North American zoo, he has encouraged his trainers to find new and creative things to train him to do that he is physically capable of doing in his old age. Sparky V has always had a uniquely laid back temperament and a trusting relationship with his trainers, so in the summer of 2008 we started getting in the pool with him and training him to do water behaviors. Because of his old age we had different goals than many other facilities that swim with their sea lions. Sparky V would not be doing any fancy foot-pushes or pulling us through the water; the purpose of our water work would be to keep his training new and exciting and allow him to spend more time in the water where he is most comfortable. This video is a clip from last summer when just began to work with him in the water. The first behavior we trained is called a water present, where he floats next to the trainer with flippers extended so we can take a good look at his entire body. The most important part of this behavior is that he is calm. He relaxed immediately with the behavior and responded positively to the water work. You can see in the video that a large portion of his training is using fish and touching him as reinforcement for his calmness. We continued this training inside during the winter, although it is more fun in the sun!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kudu Debut

After completing some upgrade work in the kudu exhibit over the weekend, today was the first day the three male Lesser Kudu were able to go outside for the season. While it was not an extraordinarily warm day, the three boys appeared to enjoy the weather and could be seen sparring, running around the exhibit and pushing their horns in the soil.

After a few days the kudu will be joined by two crowned cranes and two yellow-billed storks. Once all of them are settled in, we will introduce the two female zebra into the mix. Minnie, the younger zebra, has not been on the outside display yet as she just came to us only a month ago from Mesker Park Zoo in Indiana. She should be interesting to watch as she runs around the display and meets her display mates.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Orangutans in the sun

After a very long Minnesota winter, the orangutans at Como Zoo were let outside for the first time this year. All three adults explored the exhibit thoroughly munching on their breakfast as they moved around. Jaya, the one year old clung to Mom Markisa's back, not quite sure of his surroundings. I'm sure he'll be dangling from the ropes and hamming it up for the crowds in no time.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Como Shuttle Ready For Action!

The new Como Shuttle kicks into gear THIS WEEKEND! Stop circling the parking lot looking for that elusive spot and hop aboard the super comfortable, super convenient shuttle. It will drop you off at the front door! It is wheelchair and stroll assessable. Pick up location is at the State Fair Grounds Parking Lot at 1736 Como Ave. It starts at 9:30am and the last run is at 6:30pm.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Baby Giraffe

Sunday, May 10, 2009

New Zebra On The Block!

On April 25th, we welcomed a new zebra into our collection. While she still has the coloration and fuzziness of a baby, she is almost a year old and came to us from Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville, IN. The keepers have named her Minnie and she now lives with our other female zebra, Thelma. Once the weather cooperates and the okay is given by our veterinarian, the zebra will be seen frolicking outside with the lesser kudu, crowned cranes, and yellow-billed storks. For now, you can stop by and see her in the hoofed stock building closest to Zoooper Foods.