Sunday, July 31, 2016

Out and About in Texas

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

Rounding the end of my eighth week here in Dallas things are picking up speed. These past couple of weeks have been very busy. I got the opportunity to go on a tour of Barn 8, which is where a lot of breeding pairs of birds are housed. We learned all about what goes into raising baby birds from getting the right two parents together to caring for them post-hatch. We also got to see how they “candle” the eggs before they hatch. This is the process of putting the eggs up to a strong light source to see into them and make sure they are in good heath i.e. positioned correctly and heart beating.
July 21st was Dollar Day at the Dallas Zoo. We had over 20,000 guests admitted to the zoo for just a dollar each. That seems like a lot, but last year was over 40,000. This day was almost a normal day for me, except we accelerated our work in the barn so we could take shifts monitoring the public. This mostly involves just walking around and making sure Tebogo doesn’t try to eat any of the guests' belongings out at the giraffe feed platform.
This past week we also got two more helmeted guinea fowl added to our collection: Nerd and Twizzler. These were returned to us from Barn 8, which I mentioned previously. This means we now have 7 helmeted guinea fowl. When they were introduced back into the confusion, or a group of guinea fowl, I was tasked with observing them for a few hours to make sure they were having positive interactions. 
On Tuesday of last week I got to spend the afternoon in the savanna (I normally only spend the mornings there). I got to help prepare the giraffe diets for the evening when they come off exhibit and we put up browse in the barn for their enjoyment. The afternoon is the perfect time for training because there is less going on. I got to observe the training of Katie, one of our female giraffes. She was asked to walk into the GRD (giraffe restraint device) voluntarily to be weighed. They asked her to walk in and out several times to make sure they got an accurate weight. She was also then asked to stick her tongue out to make sure it is healthy. After she performed the behaviors correctly she was rewarded with a piece of her favorite browse.

Sea World
Outside of the zoo Eliza, Myra, and I have been very busy. We went to Sea World, the Alamo, and the Riverwalk in San Antonio, all in one weekend! Sea World was great. We got to see several different shows including Sea Lions and Otters at Play, One Ocean, Azul, and Sea Lion High. My favorite show was Azul because there were amazing acrobats and divers doing amazing stunts way up above the pool. We left Sea World in the afternoon and headed over to the Alamo. I imaged it to be way out in the middle of nowhere like the pictures show in the history books. This was not the case; it was located smack dab in the middle of downtown San Antonio. After the Alamo we wandered (literally) to the Riverwalk, which is essentially a small canal with a whole lot of shops and restaurants on either side of it. The canal was really beautiful and I’m sure it would have been even more so if we could’ve stayed late enough to see the night-lights.


Speaking of night-lights, the zoo announced the name of the elephant calf I have been observing, by a light show on Reunion Tower. We all went to see the light show and learn the baby’s name: Ajabu. After the show we got to go up into the tower and look out on the city all lit up.

View from Reunion Tower
Virtual Reality Gear
Also this weekend Eliza and I satisfied our appetite for thrill at Six Flags Over Texas. We got there before the park opened at 10:30 A.M. and stayed until it closed at 10:00 P.M.. We rode all ten “top-thrill” rides, some multiple times, and a few of the “medium thrill” ones.  We got the pleasure of riding the new virtual reality coaster. Before you get on you are handed a headset which is basically a phone strapped to your face. When you pull it over your eyes all you can see is that you are sitting in  a fighter jet in a hangar. The ride starts going and the jet starts going, most of the ride is you flying in the jet crashing into things and blowing them up. Overall it is actually pretty realistic. The best part of the day was when we got off of The Riddler at 9:50 P.M. and ran to ride our favorite coaster, Mr. Freeze Reverse Blast, one last time before the park closed. We arrived just in time to get on the last ride of the night. When the coaster got back into the station, the operator announced that he would let us ride again if I beat him at rock paper scissors. Unfortunately I met my match; fortunately he let us ride again anyway. So we got to ride our favorite coaster a total of three times in one day! What a great way to end the night.

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