Thursday, May 25, 2017

Life of Great Apes in Omaha, Nebraska

Name: Rebecca Morro
Class/Year: Class of 2018/Senior
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Location: Henry Doorly Zoo; Omaha, Nebraska
Internship: Great Apes

I began my great ape internship on May 4th, 2017.  Working 40 hrs/week, I have Tuesday and Fridays off.   I don't mind having split weekend days because it separates my work days.  I am rooming with a friend that lives about 30 mins away from the zoo.  I typically wake up at 6:00 am and leave the house around 6:40.  My start time is 7:30 so it gives me enough time to brave rush hour traffic. I clock in at the education office then head to the Orangutan building.

Upon walking up the orangutan building I check all enclosures to make sure everyone is up and moving around.  By then I am greeted by a keeper and we go inside the keeper area.  The keepers administer medicine to the Orangutans and in that time I am responsible for changing the foot baths and changing out the laundry.  Once medicine is given out we do our first shift of animals.  In the old orangutan building we house five Orangutans, two Gibbons, one Prevost's squirrel, and one Melodius laughing bird. A shift is when a family comes in the back holding so we can clean and set up the main enclosures.  By cleaning the enclosures we take out all old enrichment; some include clothes, plastic bottles, and paper towels. Along with cleaning poop, old food, and wet straw.  Once completing cleaning tasks we set up the enclosure for the day.  We add new enrichment (apes like to have at least five new enrichment a day), food for the day and their daily primate biscuits.  After checking to make sure all tools and bags are taken out we lock up and switch the apes out.  Doing the same procedure three times again in the old orangutan building.

Split between two levels the "net" orangutan building houses two Orangutans, two Siamangs and one Langur.  Once heading to the nets we clean the outside enclosures first collecting the old things and then setting them up for the day. Once set up, we let out the Siamangs in their own habitat and the Orangutans and the Langur in one.  After all cleaning is done and animals are out on display we chop up diets.

Diets include sweet potatoes, cabbage, lettuce, tomatoes, celery, apples, pears, bananas, and primate browse.  When diets are done we then clean all the backside enclosures and finish any cleaning left. When all cleaning is done and food is prepared it is typically around noon.  We take lunch all together in the basement of old gorilla.

Our lunch breaks lasts in hour.  Depending on what tasks still need done in the orangutan buildings we will head up there or if all tasks are done we will help in old gorilla building or make new enclosure set ups.  If all tasks are done, some days I will observe primates on behavior.  Doing the tasks that all keepers do, gives me a great perspective of the life of a zookeeper.

My day ends around 4:30 pm. I go back to the education building to clock out and start my journey home.
Amoi, Borneo Orangutan

Nets, Outside Enclosure 

Timmy, Western Lowland Gorilla

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