Sunday, June 13, 2010

Programs, programs, programs...

Heather here again,

This week was a short week, but A LOT of new things were done! I didn't start working this week until Wednesday, so I was able to enjoy a nice 3 day break. My first day back started with assisting one of my supervisors Brandon at a Zoo2U program. Zoo2U programs can be either a table with animals or a Wildlife Encounter, like the one we did. We brought along the Ball Python, Guinea Pig, and Screech Owl to Beaver Run Elementary School for 4 classes of 1st graders. The first two presentations Brandon did the presentation by himself and I observed, except when he needed the Guinea Pig. Brandon is sadly allergic to the piggies so he had me hold them while he did the talk. After those two presentations he let me do all of the handling, which I was wicked excited about. The kids were all good and well behaved, but we did have to compete with the gym classes walking back and forth behind us, and we all know how distracted young kids can get.

After I got back and helped get all of the animals and carriers squared away I was suppose to observe animal care in the Visitors center with Nadia. Half way through Brandon came in to get Nadia to do handling and realized that we really need to get started on our animal presentations. So he gave us 10 minutes to study and bring two animals up to the Education Building. I chose the Guinea Pig and the Ball Python and Nadia chose the Ferret and the Screech Owl. We both gave our ten minute talks on our animals to Brandon and Leonora who in turn gave us feed back on what we needed to work on. Needless to say we are signed off on two more animals.

Then when Nadia and Brandon went in to the aviary to return the Screech Owl and do handling I decided to tag along. I'm glad I did because I got to hold Clack Clack, our Barred Owl. It was awesome because the first time handling her I didn't have to deal with her "forgetfulness" of not having two wings, I had a very well behaved bird. Did you know that Barred Owls are all fluff? It's crazy how fluffy all of the feathers are on their head!

Thursday was pretty fun with my day starting off in the Visitor Center. Me, Kyle, and Bridget, one of the docents, had the task of providing enrichment for the mammals, snakes, and birds of prey. For the snakes we collected various herbs out of the garden. Apparently the snakes seem to like them, so I just went with it. The mammals were given some much needed play time, the Chinchillas in their balls and the piggies in their playpen. The two chillas investigated each other and the Guinea Pig through their plastic walls. When the Guinea Pigs got fed up they just pushed the ball out of the way. While Kyle and I watched over the animals in the main room, Bridget gave the Hedgehog a bath. Lastly the birds of prey were entertained with sounds of frogs and songbirds. Some showed interest, others carried on with their slumber.

Brandon came in to do handling of the lower level birds, so I took advantage to handle Clack Clack again and the Great Horned Owl. This time Clack Clack managed to hop down to the ground, but I easily got her back onto my glove. Great Horned Owl was also fairly easy, but he is HUGE, HEAVY, and has the grip of death! Also he has a bad habit of leaning every which way, making you want to lean your hand the other way to counter him but you cannot do that. For the rest of my shift I decided to walk around with the Broad Winged Hawk. It was pretty fun talking to little kids about the hawk and seeing the look on their face when they realized I had the bird on my glove. The Broad Winged was very good about the whole ordeal, even ignoring the grackles and mockingbirds that were following us. I was able to get all the way to the other end of the Zoo where I was going to turn around and then it happen....around 150-200 middle school student came in a swarm to the Zoo. I was afraid that someone was going to try and grab at the hawk, but surprisingly no one did. I was so glad no one did either, because that's just one of those situations that I don't know how to handle.

Saturday was the big day of Zoobalation, where the zoo raises money through silent auctions, restaurants serving food amongst the exhibits, and other entertainment. This also means that no one really came in until 1-2 in the afternoon, leaving animal care to Noelle and I. All animal care included everything in the aviary, visitor center, education building, and at the moment break room. It was all mostly cleaning and feeding, well feeding the ones we could. Unfortunately we have run out of crickets at the Zoo, and they are on a ordering cycle, so they just kind of come in when they do. It ended up taking us 3 hours to get everything done that needed to be done. It was good training for me being my task for Monday is to do the visitor center care on my own. Then it was Zoobalation prep......As Lara put it when she came in, "Crazy Lady" was giving everyone orders, even people who didn't work for her. Everyone that was trying to leave work had to sneak out before one of the guest notice you.
This week was a bit crazy for three days, but I was busy and it was fun. I was able to take in everything that was thrown at me. The only thing I did not feel to great about was my presentations, but that is something I just have to work on. Getting over my fear of presentations is probably my biggest challenge of my internship. But hopefully after giving more presentations I will feel comfortable about the whole situation. Over coming this will also help me in what ever path I end up taking after college.

And the other challenge begins....Solo runs through animal care and presentations.
Wish me luck!!!!

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