Thursday, November 12, 2009

Time Flies

Well it has definately been a long time and so many many things have happened and I can't believe that there are only 4 short weeks left of this semester! I have so far survived Davis week, some animal tragedies, Projects week, being and emcee in my first show, and our first fundraiser Boo at the Zoo.

So I thought Davis week was awesome, all of the second years left for their trip to Northern California and we got to take care of their animals while they were away. I got to take care of Friday the racoon, Bennie the Capuching monkey, Sierra the dog, and also the troop of 7 Capuchin monkeys. I had so much fun taking care of all my animals and was definately sad to leave them when the second years came back. I definately got very attatched to them and can't wait until we get animal assignments and I get to ask for them again.

.:Friday the cutest Racoon ever!!!:.

.:Sierra the Beagle mix whom I love!!!:. .:Bennie the very old but very sweet Capuchin monkey:.

So eventhough for some of us Davis week went very well our class did go through a very sad tragedy. Our Sea Lion Schmoo fell very ill and would not eat due to complications of old age. In the middle of the week the staff decided it was time to put her down. Schmoo was definately a legend at EATM and some students have even came here just to work with her. She was known for teaching the students rather than the other way around. Our class was also very upset especially because her trainers did got get the chance to see her or be with her before this decision was made, however some of her old trainers from past years did show up and lended her and all of us their support. I, myself was very attatched to Schmoo eventhough I barely got to do anything with her besides just watch her in her enclosure, but I definately hoped and wished to eventually work with her. She will definately be missed and always remembered. We all love you Schmoo!

After the incident with Schmoo a lot of students started to feel really down and it was really important for us to support each other. By the time Projects week rolled around I think even due to some mixture of exhaustion, frustration, and upsetting circumstances for the most part Projects week went a lot more smoothly and successfully. During this week I got to work with some birds. Zeta the red-crested Turaco, Cookie the African Gray, and Rodan the green-winged macaw. I had a lot more fun in this area than I initially thought I would. It way fun learning how to take care of these birds and be able to take some of them out and ask behaviors. Ofcourse there were the occassional bites and what not but nothing too bad.
.:Cookie the African Gray:. .:Zeta the Red-crested Turaco:.

Despite some scheduling problems and just a completely hectic weekend our Boo at the Zoo fundraiser was incredibly successful! We made about 3 times as much money as we ever had! Our guests definately seemed to have fun playing the kiddie games, watching some halloween themed shows, interacting with some creepy crawlies and so much more. As you can see some of us relieved our stress by eating leftover candies and treats and playing in some of the kiddie games. As you can see I enjoyed the foraging for candy game most:)

Well a lot has definately happened and I feel I've learned so much and I can't believe this is still only the start of what Im going to be able to learn and do here. I'm so excited for what is coming next semester and all the things I am going to achieve at the end of this one. So here are some other pictures of some more animals I got the chance to interact with. .:Paco the white-nosed Coati:.

.:Darwin one of our Sugar Gliders:.

.:Handling Darwim in one of our shows:.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Not the First nor Last Spurts of Excitement

So it seems like lately there has been a buzz of excitement around the zoo for many reasons. It seems like we are just starting to be able to learn and be able to do some really cool stuff around the zoo. Such as, learning how to do all the positions involved in doing shows, being back-ups, & going on walks with animals.

Another thing students are giddy about is that we got our assignments for which areas we will be in while the second years go on their field trips. Some are so ridiculously excited, some very upset, and some like me are pretty darn happy but would be no matter where they were put. I got what we call MMQ for one week and Parrots for the other. MMQ area is really cool because there is a variety of animals to care for such as, a racoon, a capuchin, a bobcat, an alligator and even a dog. Parrots is probably not my favorite area, not that I have anything against birds, but they are just not my favorite. I would have to say that probably has to do the constant squawking. So today was definitely very exciting as we all found out the specific animals we would care take on. I got Sierra the dog, Benny the capuchin monkey, & Friday the racoon, who I am especially excited about.

I did however recently fall a tad in love with one of our birds named Cain, a chattering lory who I was initially somewhat scared of, due to some horror stories of him biting and being quite aggressive. Yesterday his trainer took him out around some first years who wanted to possibly care take on him and to see who he would like and who he wouldn't. Much to my surprise as I say in to watch he walked right up to me crawled up my arm onto my shoulder and started to lick my ear! Not going to lie, he totally gave me goose bumps! Then, after his trainer removed him he did it again and attempted another time or so. I totally changed my perspective after that, and apparently licking my ear must be the way to my heart haha! ..::Cain, the Chattering Lory::..

So doing Parrot area for the first time and I have to say its very muddy, and hurts your back from having to squat down to clean tubs of water & ducking in and out of cages hoping a bird doesn't fly at you or worse fly out of the enclosure. It does have the perk of getting to walk the emu twice a day which is painfully slow because our emu Julietta seems to be afraid of the entire world and walks slower than most of our tortoises. We constantly have to stop a nudge her walk down the same hill she walks down twice a day and walk through a little wet asphalt which seems to be the scariest thing in the world for her. Its a funny joke that they say often which is that and emu's brain is only as big as their eye so whenever we talk her out for a walk it's like she's seeing the zoo for the first time every day.

Before that I didn'tget to clean or feed any animals because I was in nutrition area, which is at first really intimidating but then really fun. We make most of the animal's diets at the zoo and the scary part is that if we make a mistake we don't want to make any of our animals. Also, one day I ending up making like 15 pounds or so of raw meat for our large carns which seemed like not a big task at first but after a while the smell of the raw ground meat really got to me and I felt overwhelmingly nauseous. I'm just thankful I didn't loose my breakfast, YUCK!

I also got to do Primate area which was really fun because I got to feed a ring-tailed lemur a banana & watch him eat it, which is just plain adorable. We also wrestled with some capuchins in order to close the guillotine door so that we could clean their bedroom without them hassling us. This was usually the funniest part of the day being that those darn little monkeys are a lot stronger than you would think & can hold down that door with a lot more strength than you would imagine. I actually recently found out I get to be a caretaker on the capuchin troop, and now I know that that week will be a very interesting and challenging one, but I'm definitely up for it. We also got to clean a Gibbon named Samantha & I actually got a video of her calling in the morning. It still amazes me that the sounds she makes can come from a monkey.

Finally this week I got to be in Carn area which is awesome. I get to work around a lion, hyena, 2 mountain lions, a tiger, 2 servals, a grey wolf, and a coyote. It can't get much better than that for me even if I do have to squeegee water away from the enclosures until by back gives out. We also do something in that area called "switch" where one animal leaves its enclosure in order to go into the larger enclosure called the arena. Seems like a pretty simple idea, but the fact that we are dealing with such large potentially dangerous animals requires very special procedures. This includes walking through numerous times checking that all animals enclosures are locked and secured, that all animals not switching are locked in their bedrooms, & also people stationed at certain areas to pull guillotine door, close slider doors behind animals entering & exiting the arena, & a person to either open or close the enclosure door behind the animal switching. This is definitely one of my favorite things to do in this area because I just think it is so awesome watching a lion run through a corridor into the arena to go pounce on the meatballs her trainer left for her, or watching the wolf trot back to her enclosure to find a buried rat, dig it up carry it around only to bury it again. To me it is just so amazing to watch.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Caretaking, Back-ups, & Fires OH MY!!

So these 3 words have definately been buzzing around school quite often lately and getting everyone especially the first years quite excited. In the last couple of weeks we have definately learned a lot both expected & unexpected. As I mentioned before we were learning how to be a caretaker on Schmoo the Sea Lion if we wanted. Sadly, I didn't get picked which I was pretty bummed about but with some wishful thinking maybe I will still get to be her trainer. Either way I am confident I will love and learn from whichever animal I get. So we also have been assigned more animals to caretake on such as some birds and primates. I got to be a caretaker on the Capuchin troop which should be really interesting. We also will be finding out some more animals we get to caretake on when the second years go on their field trips.

Along with the excitement of the oppurtunity to caretake on certain animals we have all been learning how to be back-up certified and learning how to handle certain domestic & "handler" animals which are animals we as first years are allowed to take out, interact with, & hold without having to be that animal's trainer. Back-up certified also means we are able to go with trainers & their animals if they need a "back-up". This is important at our school because no animal is allowed out of their enclosure without 1 person & a back-up. Yes, this includes the rabbit, Chinchilla, & even the dog. This may seem strict & unordinary but it teaches us discipline & also in my opinion prevents some people from being over confident with animals which can sometimes lead to unsafe conditions and ultimately cause harm to humans or the animals. So the second years are very excited now that we are all back-up certified because they can take out their animals more often since there are more of us and ofcourse us first years are more than willing to assist. Also, all the first years are so excited to take out certain animals like the Tegu, the turtles, & the bunny. All the handler animals are definately getting lots of attention!

..::Me & Max the Black & White Tegu...Pretty much my favorite reptile so far::..

..::Me, Ashley, & Jenny holding one of our large Pythons::..

So you may be wondering what fires have to do with anything at the zoo. Well, let's just say we definately had a scare. One Tuesday afternoon we were sitting in class and were interrupted by our zoo director and she let us know there was a fire approaching near the surrounding hillsides. Surprisingly after the announcements & some slight organizing & direction we pretty quickly manage to put together all the crates for all the animals in each area in order to prepare for a possible evacuation. Despite the stress and suddeness of the situation, and the fact that we haven't even had our fire drill yet, everyone worked together extremely well and were very effiecient if we did need to evacuate. Luckily the fire did not get close enough for us to evacuate, but Wednesday morning the fire did seem pretty close and looked very dramatic before the sun came up at 6 in the morning, and we made the decision to put all of our birds in a classroom because birds are extremely sensitive to smoke. Thankfully shortly after the sun came up the fire closest to us was put out and not long after that the other fires were extinguished. So eventhough we did not expect this experience I think it was great that we were able to learn exactly what to do because sometimes drills don't/can't cover some details. Ofcourse none of us wanted such a threat or would ever hope for it, but it definately gave us a positive outcome.

..::Fire at about 11:30 am on Tuesday::..

..::Kind of blurry but an idea of how close the fire got at about 6:15 AM Wednesday morning::..

So we have been learning more and more things each day and frankly it's quite exciting and overwhelming. It's definately good that we are staying on our toes because some days are so rigourous and tiring we definately need these spurts of excitement to keep us focused. It definately seems to me and some others that especially right about this time we are kind of hitting a wall, exhaustion is setting in, homework is piling up, & bank account are running low, so challening and rewarding situations alike absolutely help me to always re-evaluate why I'm here and why I'm working so hard to be here and not to forget how lucky I really am to be able to chase my dreams.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Days are Longer and the Coffee is Stronger

So a few weeks have pasted and so much has happened. I am getting pretty adjusted to my new schedule. I have also been getting used to morning Areas. So far I have been placed in the Show/ Aviary/ Wildlife Theather , and Hoofstock areas. I have to say I really enjoy both so far and I don't really understand why getting up so early to pick up poo, sweep, rake, and bleach still excites me but it does. So my first week in Area was in Show/ Aviary / Wildlife Theater which was a lot of different areas & responsibilities crammed into one. We got to do such things as, clean a beaver pool, rake the aviary & scrub the ponds, big up galapagos tortoise poo, feed & clean weezer (the opossum), Dusty (rabbit), & Aladdin (chinichilla) and give him a dust bath, which if you haven't seen before...well let's just say it's one of the cutest things in the world to watch! haha!

It was pretty fun in that area however, Hoofstock I think was my favorite of the two, especially because we got to walk the mini horse, Nick twice a day :) . That alone probably made scooping up toddler sized buffalo poo up!!! We also got to learn how to switch the camel and buffalo (switching him from one enclosure to the next). Seems like it might be easy but sometime both of them get a little curious and can stick their giant heads out to grab you farther than you think!

So far I've learned that eventhough days like today which start with me getting up at 4/4:30 am..staying at the zoo until 5pm or so, and then getting off work at 10pm can be really rewarding even if the reward seems as small as getting to walk the mini horse for a few minutes a day.
Also today we got to learn about the oppurtunity to be Schmoo the Sea Lion's caretaker and/or trainer. She is a lot of work so anyone who if even thinking about asking to either caretake or train her has to go through a series of workshop like activities to recognize and learn how much time and committment she takes. I'm really excited because I'd really love to train her however, there is definately some steep competition for her as students have to compete with grades, attendence, volunteer hours and such in order to be able to get to train her, but the caretaking positions for her are picked at random. I really hope I get to caretake on her because I would really love to learn more since I definately want to go into the marine mammal field. Although I will be thrilled enough just to go through the workshops and learn a lot there as well.

Last week we had 4 bobcats and a coyote from the Wildlife waystation come stay at our zoo for a little while because of the fire problems they had down there. I thought it was pretty cool that we were able to help them out, and I wa slucky enough to take a sneak peak on all the new critters as I was doing a round for daywatch. Luckily they all got to go home and are hopefull happy to be back home.

On a sad note, today our caracal Samburu was put down. Apparently he wasn't doing very well and was having some nuerological problems. For us first years, this was the first death at the zoo we experienced. It just made me feel for the trainers because it could happen to anybody's animal, and it just sucks when you loose an animal you have been loving and taking care of. But it's something we all know going in and I think all of us just want what is best for the animals and to make sure their quality of life is sustained as long as possible and when it can't be any longer to do the right thing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Getting Better Everyday

Me and Arrow Me and Nova

Me and Arrow again...

Another few days has gone by and I'm starting to realize how much this program is going to change me and how it has changed me already. For one, it only took 3 days of getting up between 4am-5am to turn me into an avid coffee drinker (I have always hated coffee). I also feel a tad more like a hippie now a days, especially after watching a movie in my wildlife conservation class and finding out what my ecological footprint was (you can find yours at click on ecological footprint)which was 4.9 planets meaning I use up a lot of non renewable resources in order just to keep my lifestyle.

On a funner note I've gotten to do some really cool things lately. I got to walk an cool! I got to man 3 birds of prey, a blind barn owl named Sweet Pea, a red-tailed hawk named Arrow, and a great horned owl named Nova. It was definately a really cool experience and I was so excited to finally get some hands on experience, and I can't wait to do it again. I also started what was pretty much our first day of area yesterday and my job was to clean the cement slabs and mats in our mini horse Nick's corral. I thought this wouldn't be too hard, except the hose had a huge leak and I pretty much got all wet and I wasn't very good attatching the bleach bottle to the hose and I'm pretty sure I got most of my clothes bleached. But all in all it could have gone a lot worse I guess.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

First week accomplished!

So today officially marks my second week of EATM and I've already learned so much but am afraid of what I may or may not forget. There are just so many rules and what not. So this last week I got to watch and observe a baby siamang who was just irresistibly cute, which makes it even harder because until students get animal assignments we can't talk to, look/smile at, pet, touch or anything to any of the animals. For all us animal people it's probably one of the harder things to do especially when the monkies consistently howl at you, or the dog Sierra wags her tail and wimpers everytime you walk by, and even when Taj the tiger sits in her pool and looks like a little house kitten. Although it does makes sense why we have that rule, it allows for the animals to bond better with their trainers amongst other reasons but it just makes me more excited to get my animal assignments in the spring!
This last week I also learned how to do more things around the zoo, did some volunteer work, and did what we call "all day area". I learned how to walk and groom our mini horse Nick, learned how to properly place a choke chain on a dog, and ofcourse more cleaning. For volunteer work I helped dig some holes for our sea lion Schmoo who is getting a new deck and I also helped paint the 3 little pigs coral, which was pretty nasty since I kept getting paint everywhere including my hair. Then at all day area yesterday I learned how to do the ticket booth, answer phones and enter daily records, and watched the primates to make sure the public wasn't messing with or feeding our monkies. So all in all I had a somewhat eventful and somewhat tedious day, but somehow I still managed to enjoy myself and have fun. :)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wake up call 6:30 AM!!!!

So I got up this morning around 430am...and let's just say yes I am a morning person but I can tell this feeling is going to wear off real quick. We survived workday which was Friday which included weeding, shoveling & raking dirt, leaves, etc. For our group we also had to disassemble a rusty primate cage which was no easy feat. Then at the end of the day we were apparently initiated by being coaxed out to the lawn to "take a picture" when really the second years were just gathering us all together so they could dump water, spray hoses, & turn on the sprinkers from the roof above us.
So, yesterday was the real first day of EATM I guess...didn't last long though. I donned by weekend EATM uniform for the first time which was pretty cool I guess, but i'm sure I'll get sick of wearing the same stuff every day eventually. We learned how to do what we call "AREA" in parts of the zoo. This includes cleaning, feeding, and checking on animals in certain areas of the zoo. We also learned how to tie a falconer's knot(shown above) with one hand which scared me because we have to be tested on this and all I could think of is how long it took me to learn to tie my shoes. Fortunately I finally figured it out and can tie that knot with my eyes closed. :)
So any way I have to get going soon in order to be at school by 630am SHARP or else points get deducted.