Saturday, July 16, 2016

Welcome to Texas: Dallas Zoo Vet Hospital Edition 2

Name: Eliza Hanes
Class Year: 2018
Hometown: Vestal, NY
Internship: Vet Hospital Intern
Location: Dallas Zoo

One of the Cougars at the Dallas Zoo
As I get ready for week seven of my internship here at Dallas I have a lot to look forward to yet! Upcoming, I get to shadow the cat row keepers for a day, the reptile keepers for a day, and I get to present my project to the staff in the vet hospital. When I shadow the keepers on cat row, the species that I will get to see are the cougar, the bobcat, and the ocelot. While in reptiles I am not entirely sure which species I will be working with, but I am super excited for all the information that I will learn. I am still working hard on my tiger project and as the date for presenting gets closer and closer, I am getting excited to present the final project. 

Earlier this week, I got to shadow the keepers in the Savanna. Abigail and I switched internships for the day so I spent the morning in the giraffe barn. I worked with Chris and Allison, and got to clean the feed yard (where the

An albino crocodile in the reptile building
giraffe feeding occurs), North Donga (one of two yards for the warthogs), and the giraffe holding yards. After cleaning those, I got to watch them shift the animals on exhibit that day. That day was the first day that the lechwe were put on exhibit with the giraffe. I really enjoyed being able to see this introduction between species occur. The animals that were on exhibit that day were the greater Kudu, lechwe, ostrich, giraffe, and guinea fowl. After the animals were on exhibit, I went back to the giraffe barn and helped Allison and Chris clean the giraffe barn. We finished that right at lunch time, and since Abigail is in the registrar in the afternoon, I left the Savanna to go work on my project. Overall, I really enjoyed the time that I got to spend in the Savanna.
The vet hospital has been pretty exciting lately with a new vet student that started and a few visitors. The vet student is a fourth year student from Brazil, and I have really enjoyed getting to know about what their school system is like as well as what their zoos are like. She is a super nice person and I have gotten the opportunity to work closely with her as she and I work together to set-up for and take down procedures, as well as we both accompany the vet techs for treatments.

Me already for a procedure
This week we also had a visiting vet student come from Fossil Rim. Fossil Rim is a wildlife center that primarily has hoof stock species. We had an exciting big cat procedure on Thursday this week, so Fossil Rim’s vet department arranged for her to be able to be here for it. She is a second year vet student and was super excited to be there for the procedure. Just before lunch, I was able to give her a tour of the hospital, as well as take her into the zoo to see her favorite species, the African Elephant. This was the first tour of the vet hospital that I had given, and while it was not completely smooth, it turned out okay.

That day we also we visited by Dr. Kramer, the Otterbein alumni who set up this internship, and an
old Dallas Zoo board member. As you can imagine, with all of these visitors, the hospital staff, and the carnivore staff, radiology (the room where we do most procedures) got pretty full. Even though it was a rather full room, I learned a lot through that procedure, and I helped where I could. Mostly I just filled out the anesthesia sheet for the techs. This sheet consists of tracking the anesthesia, the oxygen level, heart rate, respiration rate, temperature, and medications given to the animal. This is something that I am asked to do during many procedures to free up the techs, but every time I fill one out, I learn something new.

An Aoudad at Fossil Rim
This weekend, Abigail and I went to Fossil Rim. Fossil Rim is a really cool place to go and I highly recommend it to anyone who travels in the area. It was a bit of a drive for Abigail and I to get there, but it was definitely worth it. When you purchase your ticket to go in, you can also purchase a bag of food to feed to the animals. They ask that you do not hand feed anything but the giraffes, rather throw the food on the ground for the animals. While on our trip, we saw many hoof stock species, some friendlier than

Abigail was super excited to be this close to a zebra
A gemsbok at Fossil Rim, a more stand-offish animal
others, and of course also got to see some of the Texas driving that we are now getting accustomed to. Some of the animals at Fossil Rim are very bold and will walk right up to your car and may even stick their heads in your window! Others are more timid and will be more stand-offish than that.
On my last blog I touched on the Dallas weather that we see here. While it rains a little bit less now, all the weather still stays the same, hot, but not quite 100, and when it rains, it rains. This time I shall touch on the Dallas drivers. Honestly I think it is seen throughout all of Texas, but I have not traveled far enough to say for sure. When Rachel and Lauren, the Otterbein students who were interns here last year, warned me about Dallas traffic, I was expecting never ending traffic jams. While we have
As seen on the right, passing a vehicle on the shoulder
seen a fair amount of traffic jams, I now realize more of what they meant. Half of the time when I make it back to the house I am relieved that my car, Abigail, and myself are all safe. Dallas driers are very aggressive and do not always follow the rules of the road. Abigail and I have seen cars merge across four lanes of traffic without looking, pass another vehicle on the shoulder of the road, and pass another vehicle using the turn lane. As you can imagine, driving like that can cause a lot of accidents, and that is the truth. Every morning we watch the news, and there is always at least one, but typically two or three car accidents in the Dallas area before we even leave for the zoo at 6:25AM. Dallas driving is definitely crazy, and while I will miss a lot of things when I return to Columbus, the traffic and driving are definitely not on that list.

Excitement in the Savanna

Name: Abigail Smith
Class Year: 2018
Hometown: Troy, OH
Internship: North Savannah/Registrar Intern
Location: Dallas Zoo

Hello all from Dallas again! Things are moving right along as I enter my seventh week and temperatures continue to climb. These past two weeks have been exciting!

One of my latest achievements is learning how to identify all ten of the guinea fowl, which are named after candy. We have two species of guinea fowl: Helmeted and Vulturine. The helmeted are all female and their names are: Pez, Razzle, Skittle, Red Hot, and Zotz. The vulturine are all male and their names are: Goober, Reese, Buttercup, Twix, and Nestle. I also was trained to test the hotwire in our main exhibit. It’s pretty simple, we go out into the exhibit and use a device to make sure it is working and the voltage is in an acceptable range for the safety of both our guests and the animals themselves.

Vulturine Guinea Fowl (phto provided by
Helmeted Guinea Fowl (photo provided by          

Testing the Hot Wire

This past week has been very exciting for the North Savanna (my section), as they are introducing the lechwe for the first time to other species in the savanna. So far they have been introduced to ostriches, giraffe, greater kudu, and guinea fowl. Little aggression has been seen between the species, which is what we were all hoping for. At some point we will introduce the zebra, but currently we are letting the current species get assimilated with each other.

On Tuesday of last week, I got to be a Hospital Intern for one day and Eliza took my place in the North Savanna. We had a morning meeting at 7:30 where we discussed the plans for the day and also celebrated Dr. Reins’ birthday. That morning we had a procedure on a large cat and I got to be in charge of recording it vitals at certain intervals and also keeping track of the anesthesia used. I enjoyed seeing the whole process of transport to the hospital, the procedure, and then transport back to its enclosure. Afterwards I got to help clean up and put things away.

Tree of Heaven
Sometimes on days when we have extra time in the morning we go out onto the exhibit to pull weeds and toxic plants. The main toxic ones we look for are Tree of Heaven, Nightshade, and a vine with heart shaped leaves. Tree of Heaven is identified by its symmetrical leaves and also it smells of peanut butter.

On Friday of last week we had to postpone shifting ostrich and giraffe to exhibit because of severe thunderstorms. Jeremy (animal behavior specialist) took the opportunity to tell us a crazy story. This is not an uncommon occurrence with him, haha.

Story Time
I got the opportunity to take an animal behavior class for interns taught by Jeremy. We learned all about training, what to do and what not to do. Most of this I had learned previously in my classes at Otterbein, but it was a good refresher! Also I got to hear all about Jeremy’s adventures from when he was a trainer at Sea World in Florida.

This weekend Eliza and I ventured to Fossil Rim after hearing nothing but good things and we were not disappointed. It is a drive through safari park that has over 1,100 animals, most of which roam freely on the 1,800 acres. We saw everything from giraffe, to rhinos, antelope, and a ton of deer. Most of the animals there are very accustomed to people and will come right up to your vehicle. Overall it was very worth the drive and I would recommend it to anyone visiting the area!

European Red Deer



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Livin' up the last days

Year: Senior, Class of 2017
Location: Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China
Internship: Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding- Animal Behavior Research

            After our great Emei trip (yes I finally got to see a monkey and almost cried of happiness), it was back to work for us! We took the late bus in and spent the day entering in data as well as helping with the red panda poop samples again! A lot of our time lately has been spent watching the pandas, recording what they do, and then entering in the data. Although it may seem repetitive, there is something new that happens every day with the cubs. Sometimes they fall and make VERY loud noises, other times they curl up next to another panda and fall fast asleep. It makes data collecting always an adventure! :)
            Last week Taryn found a new way to open lychee fruit at lunch. We were all so mesmerized by it! That same day Ju, Taryn, and I went ahead and tried hot pot all by ourselves! We went to this place just near our university where you cook the food on sticks in the hot pot. It was so delicious, we absolutely loved it!
            That weekend we went to the black bear center with Sarah, her interns, and Alex (their guide). There we learned all about the bear bile farms that happen in China. The black bear center rescues bears from these farms, which only have the bears to collect bear bile from them. We took a tour and saw a huge yard with all of the saved bears they had. We also heard about the stories of Alex, Oliver, and Rupert. It was very touching and moving to hear about all of the work they have done!

            We also did a lot of shopping! We went to Chunxi Road to get some souveneirs for our families and friends back at home. Chunxi Road is one of the largest shopping areas in Chengdu. We stopped in front of the IFS building and took a bunch of pictures in front of the giant panda climbing up the side of the building. Afterward we hopped on over to Wide and Narrow Alley to buy some more gifts. I also went ahead and tried some stinky tofu that weekend too! It was actually very delicious, although it was a little smelly. :P

            On Monday, we went to eat hot pot with Ju, Sherry, Joy (one of the other red panda interns), and Chen (Sherry’s husband). It was my favorite hot pot that I have had so far! The broth was actually a beef based broth where the broth melted inside the hot pot. We tried a bunch of new foods, from fish to rice noodles. After the hot pot, we walked around the city at night, which was breath-taking. The city is so pretty at night, with all of the lights flashing everywhere. A half hour later, Taryn and I took the bus back to campus.

            It almost seemed as though the week flew by from that point. We spent most of our nights eating various dinners with Ju and walking around where she lives. The weekend came before we knew it, and next thing we knew we were out shopping again! Saturday we went with Lan (one of the interns from the panda base), his girlfriend, and Ju. First, we ate at Wenshu just outside the temple. Lan ordered a bunch of different kinds of noodles for us to try and they were very delicious! After we found a few stores which we popped into and looked at things to buy. Jinli was the next stop for us, and the five of us headed over there. From trying lots of food to buying lots of souveneers, we had a blast just hanging out around Jinli. :)

            Sunday was our last day with Ju before she left for Thailand. Taryn and I had bought her a stuffed animal alligator which she absolutely loved! The three of us went to do some more shopping at the art market as well as Wide and Narrow Alley. We met James for dinner that night and went to a delicious fish restaurant. Ju always tells us how great the fish eyeballs are, so I decided to go ahead and try one. It was realllly squishy! I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it, but my reaction was nowhere near that of the durian (see Taryn’s previous posts) :P After dinner we went and walked around a bit. Taryn accidentally fell into a pond and we all had a great laugh for a while! We ended the night by getting boba (of course) and said farewell to Ju.
            It is crazy how Taryn and I have less than two weeks left in China. There is so much left I want to do, yet so little time to do it! I already miss Ju dearly, and know I will definitely miss China as much, if not more, than I did last time I left. I cannot wait to see what adventures Taryn and I have within these upcoming days. Here’s to livin’ up the last days! :P

Saturday, July 2, 2016

My Journey Continues at the Dallas Zoo

Name: Abigail Smith
Class Year: 2018
Hometown: Troy, OH
Internship: North Savannah/Registrar Intern
Location: Dallas Zoo

It is the end of my fourth week here in Dallas and the time is flying! As the weeks go on I am getting more accustomed to my daily routine. One thing I am still not used to is the weather. For the past two weeks it has been in the upper nineties with heat indexes of over one hundred degrees in the afternoon and temperatures are expected to continue increasing. To combat these high temperatures it is important to drink lots of water to stay hydrated and always wear lots of sunscreen. Although, fortunately for me, I am usually inside during the hottest hours of the day.  The rain here is also intense. One minute it will be sunny and blue sky and the next it will be thunder storming out of nowhere.  Sometimes it causes problems because in the main savannah exhibit heavy rain causes trenches in the soil/sand that can be dangerous for the animals.

I have been working hard to learn to be able to identify individual animals and so far I can identify all giraffe and the two warthogs. Giraffe include: Katie, Chrystal, Jade, Ferrell, Tebogo, Five, Jesse, and Auggie. Warthogs include: Toby and Teddy. I am working on identifying individual ostriches but they are a little more difficult. Ostriches include: Paprika, Sage, Nutmeg, Saffron, and Cinnamon. We have one greater kudu whose name is Bo and five lechwe (which are a type of antelope) whose names I have not learned yet. By the end of my ten weeks here I will hopefully be able to identify all animals in my section by name. This is an important skill to have especially in case one of the animals is injured, it is important to know which one. It is also for the reasons of keeping track of behaviors of individual animals over time.

Warthog training
As I am getting more comfortable in my internship I am being trusted with more responsibilities. Last week I was able to help with warthog training one morning. The warthogs have training sessions at least once a day, preferably twice a day. The two brothers, Teddy and Toby, were born at the Dallas Zoo in the Savannah section, but were moved to a different section for an extended period of time. Just a few months ago they returned to the Savannah, but they have forgotten how to enter and exit the barn. We have been working to get them to enter the barn when they are given a “cue” by a keeper.  To do this we start getting them used to following commands. We ask them to “come” and reward them with fruits and veggies when they do so and then we ask them to “go” and another person on the other side of the exhibit rewards them for going to them. These are called “A to B’s” because they are being trained to go from point A to B. Last week they passed the milestone of entering the barn all on their own, hopefully soon they will be able to do this consistently and be comfortable with spending time there when we clean their exhibit.

On a normal day I am normally tasked with stationing giraffes when we shift them from the barn to the exhibit. It has been getting tougher to do so because we have ran out of the giraffe crackers we normally reward with and the company is no longer in production. As a substitute we have been using produce, but it is not nearly as effective and the giraffes loose interest very quickly. We have ordered a different brand of crackers and will hopefully be trying them out soon.

Four out of the five ostriches
Besides stationing giraffe, when we have enough people, I have been observing the stationing of the other animals such as greater kudu, zebra, and ostrich. So far I am allowed to station ostrich on my own. This includes calling the ostriches to me when they enter the exhibit and rewarding them with pieces of lettuce through the fence. This is keeps you on your toes because getting lettuce to five ostriches at once requires speed, while at the same time making sure they don’t get your fingers!
Distracting the Ostrich

Normally I spend most of my time working with the giraffe, but this past week I have been trained in the hoof stock barn and in “Donga”. The hoof stock barn is where the greater kudu, lechwe, ostrich, and guinea fowl are housed. We have two types of guinea fowl: vulturine and helmeted. The vulturine are a beautiful blue and black color and the helmeted are mostly black and white. Working in the hoof stock barn is nearly the same as the giraffe barn. It has been interesting learning about how to take all the different animals there. The lechwe are new to the barn and are still being trained to enter and exit, similar to the warthogs. This past week we set up what is called a “boma” which is essentially a temporary fence in the main exhibit. This serves the purpose of allowing the lechwe to be in the main exhibit, but not yet integrated with the rest of the species.  During the process of setting up the boma I got to help by distracting the ostriches with lettuce.
Setting Up the Boma

Back in the barn, I found an ostrich egg and two guinea fowl eggs when cleaning. This was my favorite part of the day! The ostrich egg is from Paprika, who I am told lays eggs “on the regular.” After many eggs are collected a small hole is drilled in the bottom to drain them and they are sold in the gift shop. Sometimes they are also used for art projects.
Guinea fowl egg (left) ostrich egg (right)

The other place I was trained in is the Donga which is where the warthogs are kept. I learned how to prepare produce, clean the exhibit, and take care of the barn upkeep. A part of working in the Donga is providing enrichment for the warthogs. On Friday we gave ice treats to the warthogs made out of orange Gatorade and various fruits and veggies. This serves to keep the warthogs entertained and hydrated because they do not sweat. It was fun watching the boys go at their treats. Teddy got into his the fastest by pushing it into the water so it melted faster.
Toby with ice treat


In the afternoons I normally go to observe the baby elephant on the cameras, work on my registrar project, or go browse collecting with an elephant keeper. One afternoon however, I got to go on a tour of the gorilla building. I really enjoyed getting a sneak peak into a different section. Gorillas are code red animals, which means that they are considered a serious threat if they were to ever escape. Because of this the keepers always have to have two doors between them and the gorillas.

After three afternoon browse collecting sessions I am starting to be able to consistently identify many of the plants we can feed to the elephants. I am also developing an eye for catching things we can feed. We can’t feed anything with vine growing on it or anything with the common parasite: mistletoe. Before I came to Texas I though mistletoe was an innocent plant that was used during Christmas celebrations. I now know that it is a parasite that grows on diseased trees and is toxic to elephants in large quantities.

Mistletoe growing on American elm

 Besides all of the fun I am having at the zoo I have been on a few outings with Myra and Eliza. We went out to see Zootopia, which was really good! We also got free tickets from the Dallas Zoo to see The Beauty and the Beast, a musical. I had never seen the movie before, but now I want to! We also got to go to a screening of the BFG provided by the Dallas Zoo as well. One of the most exciting things we did was going to Chipotle and the Fort Worth Zoo for my 20th birthday and Myra got me a cake with my name on it! Overall I would say it was a successful birthday.

Fort Worth giraffe
Dallas night
Screening the BFG
I’m having a great time here in Dallas and I apologize for the very lengthy blog post. Look for another in a few weeks!

Welcome to Texas: Dallas Zoo Vet Hospital Edition 1

Name: Eliza Hanes
Class Year: 2018
Hometown: Vestal, NY
Internship: Vet Hospital Intern
Location: Dallas Zoo

Hi Everyone! My name is Eliza Hanes and I am a senior Zoo and Conservation Science and Biochemistry and Molecular Biology double major at Otterbein University. This summer I am completing a ten week internship in the  vet hospital at the Dallas Zoo. I am staying about half an hour away from the zoo with North Savannah/Registrar intern Abigail Smith and Advancement department employee Myra Lummus. At the house, we are always surrounded by pets. The permanent residents are two puppies, Jetta and Whiskey, two rats, Ivy and Lexi, a cat, Savannah,  and a ball python, Leroy. When we were first here, there were eight puppies, but they have all since found loving homes. We also dog sat a Schnauzer poodle mix, Elmo. 

It is the end of my fourth week here in Dallas and I am really enjoying my internship. While it has been hot, with the heat index being above 100° daily, we have also seen a good amount of rain and thunderstorms.  When it rains in Texas, it really rains. The street that we live on has some problems in the rain. The end of the road, it begins to flood with most rains, especially the torrential down pour that is seen here in Dallas. One minute it is sunny, the next thing you know it is raining cats and dogs. Luckily this rain has been mostly on the days that I am not interning at the zoo so I am able to stay inside and wait out the rain.

Elmo and I 
Every day that I intern, there is something different going on. We always start the day with the ever entertaining morning meeting. This is pretty much the one time when the whole hospital staff is together during the day, so we see a lot of derailments. The intended agenda is how the animals are doing that day, what procedures there are, what treatments are scheduled, general schedule stuff, and then miscellaneous stuff. This is a very interesting part of the meeting because the hospital manager, Dianna, comes up with a list of things that have happened on 'this day in history.'

After the morning meeting, I go with one of the techs to either set up for the morning meeting, or to fill blue sheets (medication schedule sheets) for the animals that are on medications. The techs are really nice and do a really great job of getting me as involved as possible. The techs are Laurel, Deb, and Cass. They rotate by week whether they are in the lab or on procedures. This makes it so that I get to work with each of them. Normally, the hospital would have another tech, however they are currently in the interviewing to fill the empty position.

Some lunches I go out and walk around the zoo to see the animals
Then the morning is usually filled with one or more procedures. These procedures are scheduled so they aren't emergencies. Typically the procedures are either diagnostic, quarantine, or annual exams. Some mornings we have a dental work, or are moving an animal between two exhibits, and about once or twice a month, there will be a surgery performed. This procedure is typically done by one of the vets, Dr. Bonar, Dr. Raines, or Dr. Connolly, but if it is a code red or high profile animal, there are at least two vets present. There is one vet scheduled on procedures for a day, then the other vet is on emergency calls. If there are three vets present that day, then the third is scheduled for paperwork that day.

After the procedures I will help the techs clean up after the procedure. This can take anywhere from half an hour or a few hours depending on what the morning procedure was. Throughout this time, if the emergency vet gets a call to go look at an animal, or if an animal gets brought to the hospital for emergency treatment, the emergency vet will bring me with them to observe the treatment.

Through the past few weeks I have been able to see procedures on animals small through large and I have gotten to learn a lot about veterinary medicine. The vets are super knowledgeable about many species, even including species that are not housed at the zoo. One day, Dr. Bonar told me a lot of information about black rhinos, his favorite species to work with. Black rhinos are very susceptible to diseases, and as he put it, 'can be peeing blood one day, and dead the next.'

Depending on how busy the day was, it will typically end with setting up for the next day's procedure.

Fort Worth Zoo with Abigail
One of the big projects that I have gotten to work on with the techs has been monthly meds. This is done for the beginning of each month and it is filling prescriptions for animals that get meds just at the beginning of the month. These meds are pretty much all anti-parasitical medicine that prevent things such as fleas and ticks. While this is not too hard of a task, it is time consuming, as after the prescription is filled, they have to be sorted into sections and then further broken down into departments. This project can take anywhere from one day to one week depending on how many people are working on it.

The other big project that I am working on is one that I will be presenting to the vet department at the end of my internship and will have a side brown bag (a presentation for the whole zoo over the lunch hour) that relates to it. For this project, I am looking at the urinary tracts of cats, particularly Sumatran and Malayan tigers, with an emphasis on the kidneys. This is because I am looking at the keeper daily reports to note one particular occurrence in their urine.

I am really looking forward to the rest of my time here in Dallas and the future knowledge that I will gain. 
Abigail and I at the pre-screening of The BFG

In Dallas, I have gotten the opportunity to do many things with Myra and Abigail. We got the opportunity to go to the off-Broadway showing of Beauty and the Beast and  pre-screening of The BFG. We also went to see Zootopia together. All three were of no cost to us, with two opportunities being from the Dallas zoo. Abigail and I also decided to go to the Fort Worth Zoo to celebrate her 20th birthday. There is so much to do here in the Dallas area, and many adventures await this summer.