This was a kind of slow week at the Zoo being the week after forth of July. Monday I started off animal care and handling in the Visitors Center. I haven't gotten it down pat as far as how much food some of the animals get, but I do know for the most part what is needed to be done on a daily basis. For example, I know most of the animals get fed Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and that the Box Turtle gets his food every odd day. Also that the Chinchillas only get their dust baths on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Those kinds of things I have done. It's also taken less time to get the whole Center done due to the fact we haven't had crickets for a week and a half. Though as I was doing my job, Mary was in there cleaning filters so I had someone to talk to the whole time. Mostly about how she's been applying for jobs on the AZA website, it was nice to get insight from someone who was already done with school and is in the searching stage. By time I was done it was already time for me to keep the building open, I went over my time a bit and never got to roving.
After roving Andre came by and dragged me off to go roving with him. We rounded up Hulgan, our Sun Conure, and chased him into the office in order to catch him and put his harness on. That was an adventure in itself! Finally we got him all settled and I grabbed the Corn Snake and out we went. The were a few groups of Mexicans walking around the Zoo, some speaking enough english, others not knowing a word. But the ones that knew not a word could very clearly get across the question "Is the Corn Snake poisonous" through hand gestures. After a nice walk around the Zoo we went and banged out the round two handling.
Thursday I was suppose to have the Visitors Center open from 9:30-11am, but I walked in to four large trash cans and a bowl of mice and rats. It was apparently snake feeding day so I got to help out with that. It was cool how the Boa took her rats so gently and with grace. In the end Crick the female Boa ate 5 adult rats, Elvis the male Boa ate 10 Mice, a record for him. The male Ball Python, Ricky, ate 8 mice and the female Python, Lucy, ate 11 mice. While Lara and I were feeding the snakes, Kyle was busy doing animal care. At one point he went outside to put some things in the compost bucket and then peeks back in the door asking if our Opossum got out. I look out there and sure enough there was an Opossum in the compost bucket. Joy came by and took him to a different location to release him. It was so cute. But on that note, the Opossum that we've had in holding has been cleared to be an education animal!!! We're waiting for the little bugger to get bigger and then he is eventually going to be moved into the Aviary, but for now he's in a cage above the Ferret.
Last task for Thursday was to do Education Building and Aviary handling. The aviary was the fun part of the whole task! I finally got to hold the larger birds, larger being the Red Tailed Hawk, Spectacled Owl, and Turkey Vulture. Turkey was no problem at all, his personality being that of a large lap dog. He's one of the better birds with the "Step Up" concept, and he doesn't have a death grip. The only reason he's a higher level bird is his aggressive playfulness, a.k.a. playing tug-o-war with anything. The other two birds were the difficult part. Specs you have to sneak up on because she likes to fly back and forth in a descending pattern. But once you grab a jess you can just wait for her to calm down and then swing her up. Red Tail, missing an eye and all, you have to come from the sides so she has an escape path. With her you just have to watch out for the talons/back flipping, grab a jess, hold on and eventually she will perch herself on your glove. It was so exciting to be able to do that.
Today was EXTREMELYYYY SLOWWWWW. It was pouring rain when I came into work this morning, so there was no ed talk. I mean really, who is going to sit outside in the pouring rain. Also which animal other than the turtles is going to want to be out in the rain. With that being I just went of to do aviary care and handling. I took me about an hour and a half or so to get the job done. I'm just glad today wasn't Bird of Prey diet day, just regular old mice/rats/chicks. Since it was raining I decided to be nice and give all of the birds one of their food items by hand, and by hand I mean tongs. I was amazing to see the Great Horned Owl scarf down a whole rat in one swallow, tail and all! Turkey, being the pig he is, took food with no problem.
I was a little reluctant to hand feed the Red Tailed Hawk, but I was curious on how she would take her food. So I slowly walked up to her with the tongs out reached, the whole time she looked like she wanted to jump and fly. But when I finally got close enough to her she reached out with her talons and ripped the rat from the tongs! Just the power for one swipe was amazing! The last bird I hand fed was the Peregrine Falcon, who is very shy and skittish. He didn't know what to think at first and jumped down to the ground to run around a bit. So I just put 3 of his items on his block. He started to come closer so I held the forth item out to him and he took it. As I walked out of his pen he did a little trot over to his food and placed it down next to the rest.
Every day that I work with these animals I just get surprised by their personalities and with some the sheer power they hold. Even with the injured animals, some are amazingly powerful. Next week I work three six hour days due to Zoo camp, so I need to get all the sleep I can get these next two days.