Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Here this ends my first full week of my summer internship at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Already I feel like I’ve learned so much, but I guess I should start from the beginning.

My first day was orientation, last Friday. I had shown up freakishly early by mistake, so I had the privilege to see the whole zoo wake up. There were quite a few other interns like me, so we were all brought into this room to discuss paperwork and to go over the description of what these next couple months—or in my case, six weeks—would entail. We were all given name tags and shirts, and they have a picture of a tiger on the front. Each of us went off to our separate department, and I was introduced to the three keepers that I’d be working with. Luckily, they all seem very patient with me so far, which I am extremely thankful for. The first day was mostly a great big tour of the zoo but we did a more in-depth walk-through of the department I am assigned to, which is called Outback Yard. It consists of Big Backyard, Budgie Buddies, and Wallaby Walkout. Big Backyard includes mostly farm animals, and it has a little barn with sister Nigerian dwarf goats that are in an unlocked gate so people can interact with them. Also in this area are chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, assorted invertebrates, and on the other side of the barn is a Vietnamese potbelly pig named Aloucius, and his turkey friend named Laredo.
Budgie Buddies is a big building that is called a “free-flying aviary.” Small birds such as finches and parakeets (referred to as “budgies” in Australia) fly around the space and are allowed to eat seeds off of sticks that the public can purchase. 

Wallaby Walkabout is a big pathway where the docile marsupials can wander around where they want to. Some are especially friendly and walk up to the guests to say hi! There are six wallabies—four Bennett’s wallabies (Bentley, Wendel, Yapa, and Alif) and two Parma wallabies. The Bennett’s are larger and more approachable, while the two sibling Parmas, named Monti and Sidney, are a tad more reserved.
And now that they have made their public debut, I am finally allowed to talk about the new female wallaby joeys named Kiah and Bindi. They were released from quarantine a few days ago because any new animal that is added into the collection is quarantined for 30 days to make sure they are cleared by the vet staff before they are around the rest of the animals. They are now spending time outside in their own section of the wallaby yard. I was lucky enough to help bottle-feed them twice a day for most of the week, which is always a highlight and brings a smile to my face.

I mostly would just talk to my mom about the joeys (or sometimes I call them walla-babies), but I have been doing so much. I’m working at cleaning the budgie floor, snake tanks, and the wallaby enclosure when they are in the yard. I’ve learned to prepare diets for the budgies, which consists of a lot of vegetables and some fruit. At times I get to assist with alligator diets; they get to eat mice, rats, cut-up chicken meat, and specially made “gator chow.” One of the more nerve-racking things was feeding the lizards. Some get crickets and some of the larger ones get live roaches. I did not want to bring to the surface to the keepers that I am scared of creepy-crawlies of any kind, so when one of them asked me if I wanted to feed an enormous live roach to one of the bearded dragons, the fear side of my brain screamed, “Bloody god no,” but somehow the words got lost on the way and twisted into what I think came out as, “Of course!” I am unsure if that was intentional, but already I am glad that this internship is helping somewhat with a lifelong fear. It’s just procedure, right? I should not let this keep me from doing the things I need to do, especially now when other lives depend on it. Or rather, the absence of fear.

Anyways, it’s been a great first week, and I am excited to see what I will be getting to do next.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge Internship with Rose Zoller

Hey! It’s Rose here and my internship is with Maine Coastal Islands National Wildlife Refuge. This summer I will be collecting biological data for common terns on Ship Island in Blue Hill Bay off the coast of Maine. During this internship I will be living on the island with my supervisor, Mary. We have already set up our 12’ by 16’ off the grid house.
 During Training I was able to help set up Petit Manan Island as well. This island is slightly larger than ship and farther off shore. The researchers here will be working with puffins as well as common terns. I assisted in preparing the artificial puffin housing and setting up the house. The lighthouse there is the second tallest in Maine; at 119’ it provides a beautiful view of the island.
               Once on Ship Island, we began by setting up the blinds (to watch the birds from). As we arrived a juvenile bald eagle was sitting on one, he stops in every now and then with two adults. The blinds are placed next to two new nesting areas that the refuge created this year in order to provide a safer breeding habitat for the terns. We placed decoy terns in the area and various beach items to encourage its use. Fingers are crossed.

              We then set up the house: a drainage system, solar panels, propane, and a Davis weather station. The next few days were spent cleaning up the island, scrubbing the blinds, setting up a compost, and mowing. So far is has been a wonderful experience and I’m learning new aspects to island/ bird research every day. I’ll be back next week with photos of the birds and seals! Till next time!

If you are more interested in what goes on with all of the refuge's islands check our blog :

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Discovery Reef and Stingray Bay

Let the summer adventures begin!

So on May 11th, after being home for approximately 16 hours, I officially left to trek out to Ohio for the summer. After a long drive me and mom made it to Columbus, OH and spent a couple of days hanging out till I began my internship at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. We toured the zoo and it is an incredible place! 

I will be starting my senior year at Unity in the fall (scary!) and I am double majoring in Marine Biology and Wildlife Biology. Last summer I covered the requirements for my wildlife biology internship, and this summer my goal is to complete the requirements for my marine biology internship. I am interning at the Discovery Reef and Stingray Bay sections of the zoo and aquarium and began my internship last Thursday. I will be here through the first week in August, lasting 12 weeks. 

I'll begin by just giving you a little information about Discovery Reef and Stingray Bay:

Discovery Reef is part of the Shores region of the zoo and has a tank that holds 85,000 gallons of water and is 65' long x 20' wide x 13' deep. This tank houses different species of tropical fish and a few different types of sharks. It is the largest tank and is definitely my favorite! They do diver interpretations here where a scuba diver feeds the fish and a staff or interpreter speaks to the guests about Discovery Reef.

Above photo is a view of the large Discovery reef tank from the aisle. There are also four other tanks. They are known as the "lagoon", the coral exhibit, the tide pool, and the seahorse exhibit. The lagoon and coral exhibit are neat because they both have live coral in them. There is also a touch pool where people can pick up and touch different animals (like sea stars, urchins, and horseshoe crabs). 

Stingray Bay is an 18,000 gallon pool that houses many stingrays. There are two species, southern and cownose stingrays in which people are allowed to feed and pet. This is one of my favorite sections of the zoo and it is so fun to pet the stingrays. Below are a couple of pictures of the exhibit and of some people petting and feeding the stingrays. 

My internship here will introduce me to the aquatic zoo-keeping field and will emphasize general husbandry for bony fish, stingrays, invertebrates, corals, and cultured food.
As my blog posts continue throughout the summer I am going to attempt to learn all of the species of fish and sharks that aquarium houses and hopefully post pictures. I will also describe my general duties for my internship and what I am learning while here. 
Till next time,