Saturday, July 16, 2016

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



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