Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Welcome to Arizona, the Grand Canyon State!

Greetings from Tucson, Arizona! 

Hello, my name is Amanda Stilwell. I'm a fifth year student and in the Zoo and Conservation Science program. I originally transferred to Otterbein from Syracuse University in 2012. This will be my third and final year in the program and it has been an amazing experience thus far. I was lucky enough to have been chosen by the Biology and Earth Sciences department, for internship at the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson, AZ, with fellow zoo student, Matt Vieth. Together, we will be spending the next ten weeks working at Reid Park Zoo working on the elephant baby watch team and much more. 

Photo taken right before we began our decent into Tucson. 

I've only been here for four days but it seems as though I'm finally getting use to the three hour time difference! Which may not seem like much (as I first thought) but when all your friends back in eastern standard time go to bed at eight o'clock, you start to notice! 

Matt and I arrived on Sunday though I got in around noon and he didn't arrive till that evening. My day started at 2:30 am to catch a flight at 6 am. Phew, was I exhausted when I arrived. Upon arrival I was instantly struck by the beauty of the land scape. Various types of cacti and palm trees and beautiful mountain ranges all around me. It's definitely not Ohio, and a far cry from my hometown in upstate New York. My lovely host for the summer showed me around town and took me by the zoo. The next two days, Matt and I spent time lounging, enjoying our central air, but occasionally venturing out into the 100+ degrees. 

Today, Matt and I had our first day of orientation with a couple of other fellow elephant baby watchers. It was the usual safety regulations and all about Reid Park Zoo. We were able to tour the grounds and meet other people from education, the zoo director and other keepers on elephant staff. The newly constructed elephant facility is the largest I've seen and more is being added on for the arrival of the new baby! Mabu (the bull of the heard) and Semba are expecting their third baby together. Punga and Sundzu are their first two calves together and also live with them at the Reid Park Zoo. However this new baby if the first to be born at the Reid Park Zoo. There is another female in the herd, Lungile that acts as an aunt. Often she is seen playing with the young males, as we were able to see today! 

*Photo taken from the Reid Park Zoo's webpage. 
*this information about the elephants was taken from the zoo webpage, news articles, education signs and brochures 
here is the link to learn more:

This summer will definitely be a great experience that I will never forget. I've already seen a real armadillo so check that off the bucket list! More to come on experiences we are allowed to share and cross your fingers the BIG bundle of joy comes soon!

FUN FACT: The Reid Park Zoo's logo is an anteater because they have a very successful anteater breeding program! Yay breeding!

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