Thursday, August 27, 2009

Saying Goodbye

Tomorrow is my last day at ZooQuarium, and it is going to be very difficult to say goodbye to all the animals, especially saying goodbye to Jasper. It makes it even harder because Jasper still won't take food from anybody else. A keeper, Nat, who I work with calls him a "momma's boy" since he only will come to my hand for food. I just hope that when I visit he still knows who I am.

Well this summer has been very productive. I have been working at the zoo and a restaurant at night so I could save up enough money to go on an EcoLife Expedition next summer in South Africa. I was able to save enough too!
Working at ZooQuarium is not just about doing presentations everyday in front of the public, but also opening the zoo which includes cleaning everything, doing rounds, and making all the animals' diets and feeding them out. I also worked at the front desk in the admission/gift shop area when needed. It gets pretty hectic working at a zoo, but I love it. I find myself doing odd jobs and different tasks everyday. It's quite an experience. I have now been working at ZooQuarium for three summers in a row and I plan on going back to visit during all my school breaks and working there next summer when I get back from Africa. I'm probably going to stop in to see Jasper before I even go see my parents every time I go home for a school break.

Jasper has been the biggest inspiration in my life, and I wouldn't trade my time I spent with him this summer for anything else in the world. I know I will never forget about Jasper and the bond we've formed, and I just hope that he doesn't forget about me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Final reflections on a chilly...but awesome summer!

As the summer draws to a close, I wanted to wait until I returned to the United States to post my final report of my internship with the New Zealand Department of Conservation. I spent the last few days working on my final presentation of the survey results on what makes a DOC site successful.
I want to take this opportunity to personally thank all the DOC employees I worked with and for the hospitality they extended to me during my internship. DOC employees like Felicity Lawrence, General Manager for People & Organisation Development, my immediate boss Gavin and Sue, who took me under her wing, all contributed to my enjoyable and successful internship. Provided below is a photograph of my farewell party at DOC headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand.
The highlights of my internship included being responsible for creating a survey that prioritized recreation sites for future management decisions involving public use, working at a DOC site on Matiu- Somes Island and visiting Milford Sound on the South Island. While visiting the South Island I was fortunate enough to see several species of flightless birds that are endangered. I also experienced the largest earthquake in many decades, measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale. The epi-center of the earthquake was located thirty miles to the south of Te Anau.
My last week DOC had me visit the zoo in Wellington. One of the most interesting animals I observed was a Red Panda that was eating apples. Provided below is a photograph of the Red Panda.
I also had my final presentation of my survey findings and overall I think it went really well. I was happy to not only get positive feedback but also constructive feedback such as suggestions of how I could have gotten certain information easier and more in depth with other pieces as well.
On my last day my co-workers had a farewell party for me. This came as a surprise and it was such a nice gesture. Although the trip overall had its bumpy parts the good experiences by far outweighed the bad and I learned so much, not only about my field of study but about myself as a person. I will never forget this journey.

Lastly I want to thank Shaun Driscoll, Brad Dannaefred, Greg O’Connor and my flat mates Mike and Annita for their help in making my internship become a reality and helping me on a daily basis. I hope to return to New Zealand in the future. It is truly a beautiful country.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Good Ending

It’s rut time. Bucks chasing does all over the place acting peculiar. I’ve seen more deer this week than in all my time here so far this summer combined. Just yesterday afternoon Mr. Brecht gave a few calls with his deer call and immediately a young 6 pointer stuck his head out of the golden wheat. A few more calls and the buck was strutting towards with a purpose that was amusing and made me feel strangely uncomfortable. I believe the buck would have walked right up to, so intent was he, but at 30 yards out Feh, the hunting dog, couldn’t resist her instinct any longer and rushed forward towards the field. A quick command by Mr. Brecht stopped her in her tracks but the deer realized something was wrong and charged off into the shadows of the forest.
The last weekend of my internship was spent in a sort of drive hunt. More accurately though it should be called a push hunt. On Saturday night about 20 hunters with 8 dogs between them met to drive the wild Boars out of the corn field. The hunters where placed all around the corn field and a few others, the dogs, and me where assigned the task of running through the corn field to drive the pigs out. I realized very quickly after entering the corn field that it would be very easy to get lost there. Most of the plant stood a good 2 to 3 feet over my head. The serrated leaves left countless small stinging cuts all over my face and arms. It was a crazy experience rushing from one side of a corn field to the other with terriers running by your feet howling and barking coming out the other side just to start over again in the opposite direction.
Two hours later, sweaty and raw, Mr. Brecht invited everyone for a beer at the local bar. It was a good finish to a great summer.

Posted for Nils Bell

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Crunch Time!

Yesterday was a very sobering experience for the volunteers at the center. The manager of the center, Simon, called a meeting and announced that two of the volunteers, Sam and Alisdair, were getting kicked out. WFFT relies heavily on the performance of its volunteers. Therefore, rules on drunkenness and noise level at night are extremely important for the welfare of the animals. Apparently, Sam and Alisdair had been spoken to on many separate occasions about staying sober and quite after 10pm. However, that still did not soften the shock of Simon’s announcement. With only 18 volunteers, we weren’t all friends, but we all knew each other fairly well. The center was also scheduled to lose a few volunteers by the end of the week, bringing our numbers dangerously low. Unfortunately, Simon didn’t predict that expelling Sam and Alisdair would cause a chain reaction which resulted in the center losing three additional volunteers prematurely. So for the next week, the remaining volunteers are going to be working extra hard to compensate for the loss.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Week 7- The last week!!

Well this is finally the end. I know everyone says it, but time really does fly by! My cabin and I lived in the moment this past week and took nothing for granted. My ropes group was another amazing group and I was so happy that the last week went smoothly. The last week were filled with some of the most nice, kind, and polite kids I have ever met!They were at camp because they loved it and it is so important to not lose that kid inside ourselves. We get older and take on so many responsiblities that we forget how to live. Kids live everyday, we should not be afraid to do the same

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Around the Center

Her name is Sue, but she looks like Cindy Lou Hoo to me.

Ollie enriches himself


Randy the great hornbill. A.k.a- the terrorizer

Food House #1, where fruits and vegetables for the animals are kept

Iggy the Iguana

In the Groove

It’s day 11, and for the past couple of days I have been caring primarily for other wildlife. This includes the basic duties of the other teams such as food preparation, feeding and cleaning enclosures. Team other wildlife is made up of the animals at the center that do not fall under the two primary dietary divisions of either primates or bears. Other wildlife is made up of two iguanas, two otters, three langurs, a horse, four hornbills, a cockatoo and a peacock. Typically, other wildlife and quarantine go hand in hand. The animals in quarantine are those that are new to the center and are kept in quarantine for a few months before placed within the center in order for staff and volunteers to closely observe the animal to test for everything from health to social behavior. Currently, there are fifteen animals in quarantine, two leopard cats, five macaques and eight gibbons. For the past few weeks, other wildlife and quarantine have been run by a volunteer named Sara. Unfortunately, she will be leaving for India in less than a week, and she and the two volunteer coordinators, Emma and Tommy, have been training me to take over when she moves on. I really enjoy what I’m doing and I know that the more I do it, I’ll love it even more.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rainy Days

Today was a pretty rainy day, so that means a bad beach day, so therefore a busy day at the zoo. When it rains, we have to do our animal presentations at our covered stage area which is a lot smaller than our normal stage area that can seat a lot more people. When it is busy and we use the covered stage it is always difficult because everyone tries to cram under the covered area and crowd all around me. I always feel like people can't hear me as well in there too. It's a bit stressful.

Anyways, today I got to meet a falconer who lives in MA, and she helped us make new perches for a bunch of our birds. We just got a falcon yesterday. He is gorgeous!!! He is half peregrine, half gyrfalcon, and his name is Denver. He originally comes from Colorado, so the name is fitting.

I have always wanted to work with animals, and a few years ago I couldn't decide if I wanted to work with different animals everyday that were out in the wild and observe them from a distance, or if I wanted to work with the same animals everyday at a zoo. After thinking about it and starting to volunteer at ZooQuarium I quickly decided that I wanted to be able to work with animals that I could interact with, even if that meant taking care of the same animals day after day. I would rather be able to bond with animals like I can at ZooQuarium because it is one of the best feelings in the world when an animal approaches you because they know you and trust you, and most of all understands that you're the hand that feeds them. :)

Also, teaching the public is a great joy as well. I love teaching people everyday about the animals I love and care for so much. Today after my hawk show, a bunch of little kids were buying little stuffed red tailed hawks from our gift shop. That definitely put a smile on my face to know that I had that much of an impact on those kids.

Working with animals and even being on a stage in front of an audience with an animal just comes so natural to me. There is nothing else I would rather do for the rest of my life then to work with wonderful animals and help give other people a better appreciation and understanding for them as well.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Summer is coming to an end

It has been very hot here the past few days. It's really tough doing animal presentations in the direct sunlight, especially while holding a stinky sweaty skunk at the same time. Well, all I know is that no matter how tough some days at the zoo can be and no matter how annoying some zoo guests can get as well, the second I leave to go back to school I am going to want to go back to the zoo. ZooQuarium is like my second home during the summer and this year I have grown very attached to Jasper the hawk as well. I wish I could take him to Maine with me. I know that leaving Jasper is going to be the hardest thing I have done in a long time. If it wasn't for leaving him I would be very excited to go back to school, but right now I am not looking forward to saying goodbye. At least I will be working with him all the way up to the day before I move in.

Doing animal presentations with Jasper is one of the best feelings in the world. He trusts me completely now, and even knows when it's time to go do a show. We have such a bond, and I really hope that when I go back to ZooQuarium he will remember me and that our trusting relationship does not go away.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Monkey Ate my Glasses!

It’s the end of day five for Amanda and me at the rescue center and we have just had our first day off, although not by choice. The day before we were collecting food bowls from a macaque enclosure when I made the rookie mistake of allowing my face to get to close to the cage and within seconds I received a sucker punch between the eyes and my glasses were gone. Patty, a female long-tailed macaque, was munching on my frames while I called to Amanda to get help. After what seemed like hours and multiple spectators later, a member of the Thai staff at the center simply went into the cage and retrieved what was left of my glasses, two lenses and the bridge of my once beautiful blue plastic and wire frames. By this point in time I was completely distraught, because not only was I in a country where I couldn’t speak the language, now I couldn’t even see. Luckily, I was told by many of the volunteers that optometry was very popular in Thailand, and it wouldn’t be difficult for me to find a place where I could get my macaque scratched lens into new frames. It was also fortunate that, at the time, two of the volunteers spoke Thai fluently and they were able to write me a note to give to an optometrist explaining what I wanted. So with the knowledge that I would soon be able to see again, and with the note from my Thai friend, Lissa, Amanda and I made our first of many trips to a nearby city called Hua Hin (pronounced Wa Hin). Upon arrival to a huge mall known as Market Village, we quickly discovered an eye care center and within twenty minutes, I had received an eye exam, new frames, and contact lenses, so I would never have to relive the experience. Amanda and I also got some pizza, and the indulgence of cheese after five days without was almost as satisfying as getting my eyesight back.

week 6 at camp farley

This past week was not the best, but it was still a good week. My cabin was more talkative, but they were not as friendly to each other. It was hard trying to balance the different personality clashes. As long as I make the effort it will be okay. The kids this week were good and very fun during recreation. I love when they get so competitive and express so emotion when they are playing games. The excitement uplifts the counselors and it is a great feeling when you finish a game of capture the flag or kickball. There was one camper in particular that was so postivie during a game of kickball. We were down by 5 points, but she kept encouraging the whole team and it is moments like that that remind me how much I love this career choice.

Ropes was okay this week. We actually were able to get to a new element. They were good towards the end so I am glad I did not let the first few days get me down.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Week 5 at Camp farley

Well yet another week at Camp Farley. This week in ropes went amazing! The kids were cooperative, great listeners, and the best part ctually enjoyed ropes! A lot of times we get kids that sign up for the wrong reasons and it was refreshing to get kids that wanted to be in the adventure! Unfortunately it rained on their last day so a good hand full of them did not get to finsih the zip line and I felt so horrible about that, but the weather is unpredictable. Sometimes you get lucky and what you say actually gets through some kids so the lesson I learned this week is to always kepp changing things and reinventing yourself. Never stick to the same routine because it won't always affect one group like it would another. I had such an amazing week with them and I have to say they were my best group all summer!

My cabin was a little different. They were so tightly wound together that it was nearly impossible for me to get to know them.I felt like outsiders in my own cabin. I felt as if they did not care at all, but I undrestimated them. At the end of the week they hugged me and thanked me for such a good time. I was so surprised, but I was so glad that they had a good time. Even though someone does not express their every feeling and thought does not mean that I should have freaked out.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cape Cod Canal Flows On

Wow, it's been a long time since I've posted. A lot of water has passed under the dam (what dam? There isn't one) since the nail incident. We've had everything from technical difficulties in the theater to near-drownings in the canal. I have been getting a steady increase in attendance at my Sagamore Hill Hike; this past Friday, I had eight people! That was really good, especially since my previous maximum was four.

So far I have worked two evening programs, both of which were Kevin's. The most recent one featured a climatologist from NOAA, who talked about hurricanes and other storms that affect the New England Coast. I have also worked two Canal Kids programs, which are held on Wednesday mornings. The first topic was a touch tank of canal critters, which is so popular that we had about 90 people (including adults) show up. This past Wednesday we talked about marine debris and did a beach cleanup. The kids were more interested in looking for starfish and crabs than in picking up trash, but by the end of the program we had enough material to create an art project out of trash. The final result is on display at one of our recreation areas along the canal.

Every afternoon at 2pm, we give a tour of the Vistor Center, in which we focus on how the Corps of Engineers works to keep all ships that pass through the canal safe. When I'm working I'm usually the one to give the tour, since I'm the one doing an internship. We don't always have people interested in going on the tour, but a couple of times I have had about 10 attendees.

Last Friday one of the bosses at the Field Office taught me how to drive the full-size company pickup. I had never driven anything that big before, but it was a lot easier than I expected. Now I can drive any of the company vehicles anyone might ask me to. Being able to drive a truck will be a useful life skill, since park rangers' company vehicles tend to be a little on the big side. Driving that big boat-on-wheels really made me appreciate my little car!

Also on Friday was our Founder's Day celebration. Founder's Day commemorates the founding of the Army Corps of Engineers back in the 1700s. We had a cookout at Midway Recreation Area, and we all ate way too much! It started to rain right in the middle of the meal, but we were sitting under a pavilion, so it didn't matter. It was nice to have a(n authorized) 2-hour lunch break and hang with coworkers on a social level.

Today we had an unfortunate incident involving a couple of near-drownings. Two men almost died after disobeying orders not to go scuba diving in the canal. The Coast Guard and one of our patrol boats saved them, and I'm sure that now they understand why swimming in the canal is prohibited. The current moves at about 6 mph, which is faster than anyone can swim.

Well, that's a quick synopsis of what I've been up to. The picture below is of a tall ship that passed through the canal days ago.