How can you get DOUBLE points in the Swap Shop? Any time an animal section has a Spotlight on the Species or other program focused on an animal or plant - bring in a Nature Journal on that topic!
Nature Journals can be as simple as information on sheets of notebook paper. They can be as detailed and elaborate as you like – your only limit is your imagination. But remember, the more work you do, the more points you get! So do some research and get ready for double points!
Need more information on the Naturally Wild Swap Shop and how it works? Click here.
Some of the species that will be in the Spotlight the remainder of 2012 include:
September 22 Spotlight on the Species – Rhinos
October 6 Spotlight on the Species – Komodo Dragon
November 7 Climbing for Cloudeds (Clouded Leopards)
Guess who is on exhibit? That’s right, Peach & Andy! They came out of quarantine on Tuesday. After a day getting used to their inside holding and new neighbors, we let them out on exhibit to explore.
Andy is already displaying to protect his girl & his territory.
The exhibit looks fantastic, thanks to our contest winner Susan Draper and her husband, Mickey. And Also special thanks to our fantastic Horticulture Team who planted the exhibit after all the props were in place.
We have seen some really cool behaviors that we haven’t seen from other callitrichid species, such as scenting and then flicking their tails. Come visit Peach & Andy and let us know what cool behaviors you observe!
Peach & Andy checking out the howler monkeys next door.
We are still working with the titi monkey SSP to identify a pair to introduce to Peach & Andy, so stay tuned for more on your exhibit!
The next time you are in the Natural Encounters building, look closely near the ground in the Rainforest exhibit. The two little mammalian vacuum cleaners you’ll see there are recent additions to the Zoo, our Giant Elephant Shrews. “Phoenix” and “Karma” are young brothers, arriving from the Denver Zoo where they were born last year.
Shrews use their remarkably long noses to dig into the mulch and gravel to nab mealworms, crickets, and other parts of their diet. In the wild they forage for a wider range of insects and other invertebrates, so to round out their nutrition our commissary also prepares for them a custom blend of earthworms, cat food, peanut oil, protein powder, and vitamin C.
Though Phoenix and Karma are small, they are full grown adults. There are more than a dozen species of shrews that range in size from tiny pygmy shrews to these “giants.” They are found in parts of East Africa, including coastal forests of Kenya and Tanzania, though due to their natural ability to hide in the undergrowth and tendency to live far from human habitation, they are very rarely seen in the wild. Their habitat is under threat as well, mostly due to agriculture and logging.
This video shows Phoenix nosing around the lower gravel area and munching mealworms in the Rainforest exhibit; Karma was feeling particularly shy that day and stayed well hidden in the upper mulched area. (We made sure he received plenty of mealworms as well that afternoon.)
Wish Phoenix and Karma a happy birthday when you see them! They were born on May 27, 2011.
First of all, I would like to congratulate Susan Draper on winning our contest posted in the last blog. Susan will be at the zoo this Saturday to help prepare the exhibit for our new Goeldi’s monkeys, Peach and Andy. Susan’s husband, Mickey, will be joining us as her chosen guest. We have plenty of work to keep them busy. It’s important to change out the climbing structures in our exhibits in between previous residents moving out and new residents moving in. We have lots of grape vine and branches that need to be put into the exhibit so Peach and Andy have plenty of arboreal pathways and can easily get in and out of their night house. Hope Susan and Mickey are ready to get dirty!
The second piece of news is that Peach and Andy were both given clean bills of health by our veterinarians and after a few days of visiting through a mesh barrier they were able to meet face to face. Everything went exactly as we had hoped and it does indeed seem to be love at first sight! Now we just have to wait for them to clear their required quarantine period and then we can move them to their new home. Are they not the cutest couple?
There seems to be no question that they are going to be a great couple! Photo credit: Jennifer Stevenson
How can you see six different species of bats all in one day? Bat Fest Houston at the Houston Zoo and the Waugh Bridge! The United Nations has declared 2012 The Year of The Bat – come see the celebration we have in store!
Straw Colored Fruit Bats
Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15 are the dates for Bat Fest Houston. On both days there will be children’s activities, keeper chats and bat related information booths at the zoo from 10:00am – 3:00 pm. If you come on Saturday you will also have the opportunity to attend a bat seminar in the zoo’s Brown Education Center from 10:00-12:15 that will include some great speakers. The talks will include information about bats from around the world and the bats in our own back yard as well as a new threat to bats, White Nose Syndrome. You will also be able to visit the zoo’s bat exhibits where you can see Jamaican Fruit Bats, Seba’s Short-tailed Fruit Bats, Pallas Long-tongued Nectar Bats, Straw Colored Fruit Bats and an Indian Flying Fox Bat!
If visitors 18 and under bring a nature journal or report to the Naturally Wild Swap Shop on the topic of bats they will receive DOUBLE points on these two days! Don’t know about the Swap Shop? Click here to learn more.
The best part – all of this is included in your regular zoo admission.
Bat emergence at Waugh Ave. Bridge
And the fun doesn’t stop there! From 6:00pm to 9:00pm join us at the Waugh Avenue Bridge (Waugh Avenue at Allen Parkway) for more children’s activities, bat chats and an amazing emergence of 250,000 Mexican Free-tailed Bats from under the bridge. The Waugh Bridge activities are completely free. Click here for information on parking at the bridge.
Get ready for a batty fun time at the Houston Zoo and the Waugh Bridge! 2012 has been named Year of the Bat by the United Nations Environment Program. In celebration, the Houston Zoo, in association with Texas Parks & Wildlife and several other organizations will be hosting Bat Fest April 14-15, 2012.
The fun will start at the Zoo at 10:00AM. On both Saturday and Sunday there will be booths, children’s activities and zookeeper chats about bats. On Saturday only there will be a bat seminar with some awesome speakers from 10:00-12:15 in the Brown Education Center.
In addition, to help celebrate, The Naturally Wild Swap Shop will be giving double points for any Nature Journal on bats. Dont know about the Swap Shop? Click here for more information.
The best part – all this is included in your paid zoo admission.
The festivities won’t stop there. Be sure to join the Houston Bat Team at the Waugh Drive bat colony (corner of Waugh Drive & Allen Parkway) from 6:00-9:00PM. The Waugh Drive bridge is home to a colony of 250,000 Mexican Free-tailed Bats. There will be bat chat presentations from members of the Bat Team along with children’s activities and an amazing emergence from the bats at dusk. Click here to check Facebook for parking info.
A student at Texas A & M University at Galveston where she studies marine biology, Kaitlin McGraw interned at the Houston Zoo last summer. “When I came to the Zoo, I heard stories about the animals, and where they came from,” said Kaitlin. “I was surprised to learn how many of the animals in the Zoo’s Carnivore Department came from private owners who had kept them as pets,” Kaitlin added. “I wanted to do something to help people understand that keeping big cats as pets is not a good idea,” Kaitlin added. The result was a series of video presentations profiling the ‘rescued cats’ at the Houston Zoo and recounting their individual stories. The videos were produced using a Canon PowerShot camera and edited on the iMovie platform. “In the future, I hope to work with an organization like the Houston Zoo, promoting conservation education or traveling to new locales, working with marine and wildlife sanctuaries,” said Kaitlin.
I wanted to give everyone a quick update on where we are with our exhibit. I have contacted the New World Primate Taxon Advisary Group (TAG) leader to find out the availability of our most frequently mentioned choices. I included emperor tamarins, callimico (Goeldi’s monkeys) and titi monkeys.
Titi monkeys are known for the endearing habit of entwining their tails.
Taxon Advisary Groups work under the umbrella of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and over see an entire taxa of animals, for example I mentioned the New World primate TAG. There are also a Felid TAG, a Lizard TAG and many more. If you read my last blog you may remember what an SSP is. TAGs oversee SSPs. Have you picked up on the fact that the zoo world has a LOT of acronyms? The AZA website even has a list you can refer to because there are so many! For now I think if we can keep AZA, TAG and SSP straight we should be good.
I will keep you posted on what the TAG says about our choices. I also asked if there were any species that particularly needed space. It’s always good to play nice so if we need to place an animal in the future the TAGs and SSPs will remember that we were willing to help out.
For all the rodent fans out there, there are agoutis available, although we’re not sure how far down the cement around the bottom of our exhibit reaches. We’re going to look into that to see if there is enough of a dig barrier to contain a rodent species.
Another option comes from reader MC. MC suggested a South American opossum species. Any ideas of what species might work? Post your ideas to the comments!