Sunday, July 31, 2016

Welcome to Texas: Dallas Zoo Vet Hospital Edition 3

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

It is the beginning of week nine, which is bitter sweet since I am only here for ten weeks. While I am really sad to be leaving this wonderful internship that I have greatly enjoyed, I am looking forward to these last two weeks. Coming up in these two weeks I will get to do a switch day where I go to tigers, I will present my project to the hospital staff, and of course I will be able to observe more procedures, training, and treatments.

While at the hospital, I have gotten to see a lot of training sessions with animals. The vet techs have a regular schedule of training sessions so that they can have a relationship with the animals to do some routine procedures such as blood draws, injections, and hoof trims. This makes it less stressful for the animals since it completely voluntary. The animals that I have gotten to see blood draw training on have been tigers, snakes, cougars, anteaters, and emus. I have gotten to see hoof trim training with giraffes and okapi, and injection training with okapi. During my switch days I have also gotten to see husbandry training on ocelots, lions, and cheetahs.
Acid Fast Staining
On a slower day, I can find myself in the lab on occasion. The techs do a lot of work in the lab to monitor animal health and to keep the hospital running smoothly. In almost every procedure there is a blood draw and the techs run a CBC (complete blood count) and a chemistry analysis on the blood. The animals that are trained for blood draws also have blood samples submitted to the lab for the same reason. Keepers will also regularly submit fecals to the lab to be examined by the techs,
who will then do both a direct and a float analysis of the fecals. Routine water collections also occur around the zoo, and the techs process these water samples to make sure that the water chemistry is what it should be. During my time, the techs have taught me how to do some of the lab work. I have been taught to set up fecals, set-up and read the water sample testing, and I have learned acid fast stains, which tests for the presence of bacteria in the genus mycobacterium. When I am in the hospital, if the techs find anything interesting in their tests, they show me what it is that they see.
One afternoon, I got to go on a tour of Barn 8, which is located in the Wilds of Africa. Barn 8 holds the incubator room for bird eggs. This makes it so that if an egg gets rejected, the keepers are still able to give it a chance by providing
supplemental care. Barn 8 also holds some of the breeding pairs of birds that Dallas zoo houses. This allows the Dallas Zoo to create optimal breeding environments for the birds, and reach many achievements such as being the first institution to successfully breed saddle bill storks under human care.
 I love cats, so my “hospital mom” Diana set up a switch day where I went to cat row for a day. This was so much fun for me as cougars are my favorite animals, and they are housed in this section of the zoo along with ocelots and the bobcat. Cat row itself is a historic building which means that it cannot be torn down, nor make it drastic modifications. The cougars are named Apollo and Lakai, and they were originally from Canada where they were found abandoned. The bobcat is named Rufus and
Lina and Jasari
the ocelots are Malagre and Joaquin. In the morning, I got to observe Malagre’s primary keeper, Libby, train Malagre. Currently she is working on getting Malagre to open her mouth for husbandry purposes. After that, the diets were fed out and we cleaned the exhibits before we cleaned the back holding areas. After finishing cleaning, Libby and I went over to the carnivore building on the other side of the zoo to help the lion staff with the demo (predator encounter). The cheetahs were the ones that were coming into the demo yard to be trained. The Dallas Zoo only uses positive reinforcement which means the animals have the choice of
whether they want to go into the training session or if they want to give the behavior, and if they don’t, there will be no consequences. The primary carnivore keepers opened the demo yard for two cheetahs, Bonde and Kilima to come in, but only Bonde chose to participate in training.  After the demo, I went to the anteater building for a little bit to see the work that is done there, and then we went to lunch.
Otter at Sea World
Orca at Sea World
 After lunch, we went across the zoo to do another demo. This time the lion sisters, Lina and Jasari, were invited into the demo yard for training and they both came in! While they both came in, only Jasari really felt like participating in the training. After the demo, we headed back to Zoo North to feed PM diets at Cat Row. In the middle of feeding PM diets, Diana came to do blood draw training with the cougar boys. This training is set up so that the voluntary blood draw can be a less invasive way to monitor the health of the animals. After the training, we finished PM diets and then cleaned the dishes before heading home for the day.
Not only do I have a passion for felids, but I also am very interested in herps. Due to this,
Live oak at the Alamo
Diana also set up a morning where I got to go to the reptile building. In this switch morning, I learned so much about reptiles and amphibians by going section through section through the reptile building. I starting in section one and the keeper and I fed chameleons their diets, and then went and misted the other reptiles in his section. After that I went to another keeper’s section where I got to many amphibians including the large collection of dart frogs that the zoo houses. When I finished with that I went to yet another section and I got to see a large group of non-venomous reptiles that included the reptiles that are held by volunteers and during the keeper talks. This section also housed the zoos Texas Horned Lizards. The zoo has been successful at breeding these native lizards and wholeheartedly stand behind them. Then I headed off to my final section of the day that housed a large number of venomous species. This is not that surprising as the Dallas Zoo houses the largest venomous collection housed in a Zoo in the Unites States. This section houses king cobras, spitting cobras, and
Ducks at the Riverwalk
Riverwalk Duck
argentine racers. Other venomous snakes housed at the zoo are eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, Ethiopian mountain vipers, and my personal favorite, bushmasters. In this last section I got to learn a lot about antivenom, snake venom itself, and the process to become a venomous snake keeper.
While Dallas is a great city, I have developed a fondness for the city of San Antonio. Abigail, Myra and I spent a weekend in San Antonio and we went to Sea World San Antonio, the Riverwalk, the Alamo, and Downtown San Antonio. This was the first time that I had been to Sea World and I was really impressed by all the training that they have completed with their animals. The relationship that they built with their animals was great. The shows were really cool as well, with my personal favorite being Azul. Azul included a combination of the animals performing the behaviors they were trained to do, and aerialists and divers putting on a spectacular show. The Alamo was a great stop as well. It was super pretty and there was a lot of history built in. After that we also wandered around downtown and did the Riverwalk. The Riverwalk may have been one of the prettiest things we have seen all summer. As a Zoo major, I of course spent half the time looking at the wildlife while being sure to look at the surroundings as well.

The view from Reunion Tower
Abigail and I also went to Six Flags and to Reunion Tower. These are both things that are located in Dallas County and are definitely worth the trip. Six flags had a lot of great rides and we had so much fun. Reunion tower was really exciting as well. It started out with a light show to announce the baby elephants name, Ajabu, and then the Zoo set up the opportunity for us to go up in the tower. Thanks to this, we got to get and aerial view of the city at night which was a spectacular sight to say the least. We are definitely living up our time in Dallas and I am sad that it is coming to an end. 

Downtown Dallas at Night

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.