Saturday, June 17, 2017

Securing a Future For Wildlife

Name: Kyle Turner
Class Year: Class of 2019
Hometown: Pickerington, OH 
Internship: Conservation and Science
Location: Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo new logo
Hello, my name is Kyle Turner, I am a third year Zoology and Conservation Science Major at Otterbein University.  This summer I have the opportunity to Intern at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo in the Conservation and Science Research department.  I am working under their Curator of Conservation Kym Gopp and their Conservation Engagement Specialist Emily Baber.  I was brought on board to assist them while the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is going through a re-branding.   For this re-branding they are focusing on highlighting their conservation program: Future For Wildlife.  This program has six main conservation efforts: Andean Bears, Asian Turtles, Giraffes, Gorillas, Lions and Cheetahs, and Illegal Wildlife Trade.  I found it quite fascinating how the Cleveland Zoo works with each of these efforts, and I am excited to see how the Future For Wildlife program will bring them to light for a broader audience to see.
            For my time here I am getting to see not only how the zoo runs their conservation programs, but many different aspects of how a zoo functions.  Emily Burland, the other Otterbein Intern in Conservation Education whom I am partnering with, have been fortunate to be able to attend some different sessions for interns around the zoo.  We have attended one that showed us around the show program and we learned the history and evolution of that program up to what it is today.  We also had the pleasure of talking with their director of development, Kim Epley. There we learned about her job and how the Zoo works with both the Cleveland Zoo Society and the Metroparks, a very interesting mixture to see working.  There are still more session to come and I personally cannot wait to attend them. 
Emily and I meeting with Isaac after his lecture
            One great part of working with in the conservation department is that Emily Burland and I have been able to meet with some of the conservation partners.  June 9th we met Isaac Goldstein who is the partner with the Andean Bear Conservation Alliance, June 14th we met Bob Montgomery who is a partner for giraffe conservation and the lion and cheetah conservation efforts, and June 16th we met with Amy Dickman who is the partner of the Ruaha Carnivore Project.  Each one gave a lecture on what they are doing to help support conservation and the connection they had with the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.  Each one had a deep connection with the zoo and were very proud to say that Cleveland was their partner. After the lectures I was fortunate to go to a lunch with the partners, and it was great getting to talk to them and hear both amazing stories of their past and then some exciting plans for the future. 
Emily Burland (Left), Amy Dickman (Center), and Me (Right)
            When there are no sessions or talks happening, I am working in the office on a hand full of projects.  Most projects are focused on trying to create ways to facilitate the conservation messaging to the Cleveland Zoo’s audience.  I have created quizzes and come up with different tools of engagement that I hope can create a valuable learning experience for guests.  I have also become an extra brain with Kym and Emily Baber to work on questions that the zoo has to come up with a possible answer. Emily Burland and I have also joined together on some projects put before us.  We are in the process of creating and conducting a few different surveys for the zoo, and we hope to produce valuable finding by the end of the summer.  To help with explaining to the public about the conservation programs, Emily and I have created engagement kits that will help facilitate learning and that can be used for the conservation department any way they want, on or off site. 

            It has been three weeks here, and I am loving everything I am learning.  Everyone is extremely friendly and some I have had great conversations with.  I have learned that sometimes an interaction can open up opportunities to learn and experience new things.  I feel that I have learned a lot already, and I am excited for what the rest of the summer holds. These projects will hopefully uncover useful information and there is one that has caught my attention.  More to that when it comes. Thank you for reading and I hope to have some exciting things to share in my next post.

Welcome to Monkeyland

Name: Sofia E. Contreras
Class Year: 2019
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Internship: Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary
Location: The Crags, South Africa

Here I am writing another introductory post about my intership and the experiences I have/ will be having. Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted my previous post. In it I mostly described my daily routine here at Monkeyland. It's not a particularly exciting schedule. I get up, walk to work, do some feeding, help with guests, help with food delivery, and then am back at the front gate greeting and helping guests. My day starts at 7:15 and ends early at around 22:00 with work going on between 8:00 and 17:00.

Not much has changed since my first post. The biggest difference between then and now is that I am now leading guests on tours through the forest on my own. I defeinitely like what I do now better becasue guiding tours gives me something to do with myself and is a good way to meet new people from all over the world.


There is so much that has happened since I first started working on May 20th. However, in order for most of my experiences to make sense, it is important to understand the goals, values, and history of the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary.

Monkeyland first opened up in 1998 and is the first of three sancutaries that are run by the SAASA (South African Animal Sanctuary Aliance). The other two sanctuaries are Birds of Eden and Jukani. As an organization, SAASA aims to provide rescued animals a permanent, final home. Each sanctuary tries to provide a sustainable habitat that is as close to the natural habitats as possible.

What sets Monkeyland apart from other primate sanctuaries is that it is a free-roaming, multi-species enclosure. The main forest
is 12 hectares large, with 4 hectares where there are no paths and no one goes through. The forest houses 11 different species of primates from all over the world. They include: Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, Ringtail Lemurs, Capuchins, Bolivian and Common Squirrel Monkeys, Vervets, Geofroy's Spider Monkeys, Black and Gold Howler Monkeys, Black Backed Bearded Sakis, Lars Gibbons, a Hanuman Langur, and a Spectcled Langur. In addition to these species we are temporarily caring for two Buff Cheeked Gibbons and there are Chacma Baboons in the forest surrounding Monkeyland. In total there are an esitmated 600-700 individuals!

In addition to the primates in the forest, there are others who cannot be released into the forest for various reasions. They include a group of Capuchins that are too friendly to people, a pair of Lars Gibbons who are too aggressive, and our special monkey home, where monkeys with severe injuries, illnesses, and other abnormalities are housed.

Caring for all these animals mostly consists of feeding and some cleaning. In the forest there are 15 feeding stations that are refilled twice a day. Feedings are in the early morning and again in the afternoon. All food is prepped up at the farm, and their diet consists of a variety of fruits and vegetables, bread or cooked pasta for carbs, and sometimes cooked chicken or hard boiled eggs for proteins. A popular food amongst all of the animals, though, are peanuts. For the species that primarily eats leaves there are more than enough produced by the trees in the forest.

It is because of a combination of having excess space and food that all of these species are able to live together.

Overall, Monkeyland is an amazing, unique sanctuary that operates to give a final, wild home to animals who need it. Whether they came from private homes, circuses, closed down zoos, or from zoos with a surplus of animals, if an animal can be taken it will be.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

New Mexico "Land of Enchantment"!

Name: Rebekah Perry
Class Year: Junior-  Class of 2019
Hometown: Huntington, West Virginia
Internship: Wildlife Rehabilitation Intern
Location: New Mexico Wildlife Center, Espanola, New Mexico

Now that I have officially been working here at the New Mexico Wildlife Center for a full week, I think it is time to tell a bit about what I have been doing, and what it is like here in the “Land of Enchantment”, New Mexico!

     First, New Mexico. Have you ever thought of a desert being 7,000 feet above sea level? Neither had I! The climate I am in is called the “High Desert”. The views are breathtaking, and never get old. I can look out my window and see sandy mesas rippling through my dry and arid backyard, and yet still see snow- covered mountains towering in the distance at the same time. The temperatures range anywhere from 80-100 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, but then drop down into the 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit range after the sun goes down. Sometimes it “rains” here, but it evaporates before it even hits the ground and creates these wild and wispy cloud formations overhead. Warm winds gust by anywhere from 15-30mph almost every day, so as you could imagine, the dust and sand blowing everywhere can be quite frustrating. But nevertheless, this peculiar and fascinating climate is thriving with plenty of flora and fauna to discover. Not to mention, the sunsets and stargazing are amazing!

     What kinds of critters live in this strange environment anyway? Well, New Mexico is actually made up of five different ecosystems: Desert, Grassland and Prairie, Forest and Foothills, Mountain and Alpine, and Riparian. Where I am located, in Espanola, New Mexico, just north of Santa Fe, we are surrounded by all five of those. In the desert ecosystems, animals like the spotted skunk, coyotes, badgers, the western diamondback rattlesnake (which I had a class on how to handle with snake hooks), and horned lizards are common. In the prairies and grasslands, turkey vultures, desert cottontail rabbits, red tailed hawks, pronghorns and the ever-so popular roadrunners find a home. Some creatures who thrive in the forests and foothills include the great horned owl, gray fox, elk, mule deer, black bears, and many songbirds. In the alpine climate, like the snow-covered mountains I told you about earlier, are things like tiny black-chinned hummingbirds, barn owls, mountain lions and butterflies. Finally, in the riparian forests of New Mexico, bald eagles, American kestrels, sandhill cranes, raccoons, osprey and even the occasional jaguar come along. So, we see an incredible bio-diverse clientele here at the New Mexico Wildlife Center.

     How do we manage it all? Well a sign that hangs on the office door of the center says it all, “If you think our hands are full, wait until you see our hearts”. Wildlife rehabilitation is a hard job, where sometimes your losses outnumber your successes. But boy is it incredibly rewarding to be able to give animals a second chance at life in the great outdoors. I have learned to do so many new things here already! I now consider myself a mother bird, and have tended to many hatchlings every hour. I have learned how to do a complete initial intake exam for new patients, draw blood and prepare a blood smear slide for testing, process and evaluate an x-ray (the x-ray processing room is so dark, and it is very tricky to know what you are doing without any lights!), and administer wing wraps and tail guards to injured birds. I am discovering a lot about anatomy, learning how to evaluate emaciation and dehydration in animals and give keel/body condition scores and administer fluids subcutaneously (yes, that means through a needle!), memorizing what medications treat which ailments and how to administer them, and I have learned a great deal about the importance of strong organization and communication skills within the clinic. The shifts are long and busy, but at the end of the eight hours, I truly do feel like I have made a difference in the animal world and that I am doing my part to take care of the wonderful creatures that we roam this Earth with. I look forward to telling everyone more later!  

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Relieve Stress by Surrounding Yourself With Loud, Irritated Birds

Name: Eileen Connon
Class/Year: Class of 2019
Hometown: Mandeville, LA
Internship: Cape Parrot Project
Location: Hogsback, Eastern Cape, South Africa

Hello again! It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks here in Hogsback since my last post. The title of this one comes from an article title that I saw on Facebook- quite the entertaining read! I feel like it pretty accurately summarizes what I'm doing this summer. Interning here is a weird mixture of routine and surprising because we wake up just about every morning around 5 to leave by 6, but where we go varies. We’ve gone to Zingcuka Forest, a pecan orchard in nearby Alice, a large hill/small mountain in Sompondo, and some suburban streets in King William’s Town. I haven’t actually been to Zingcuka in a while, but Delaney and Cassie went out to observe while Kate and I observed in Hogsback one morning. Delaney and Cassie then did a tree phenology survey on a transect in Zingcuka while Kate and I did the same on a transect in Hogsback.

Kate checking for fruit on one
of the transect A trees- they're
pretty tall!

The phenology surveys are to see which trees are fruiting when, both in terms of times of year and stages of life. There are 70 trees on each, so it's definitely a decent expedition to do each one, and the surveys happen monthly. Kate and I came back via Swallowtail Waterfall, which was an intensely steep trek, but very fun. 

After that, we spend almost an entire week in Alice trying to catch a parrot to track, but no luck. The mist net we use is pretty tall, but the parrots kept flying right over it! We spent a lot of time getting very, veRY EXCITED ABOUT THE PARR- aw,  he flew right past it again.

To the right is the mist net we use for catching- the tallest one I’ve ever used! It takes all four of us about fifteen minutes to set up. Below is a photo of Cassie and Delaney setting up the sampling station in the back of the bakkie. The sampling station has all the tools we need for taking measurements, blood samples, feather samples, photos, etc when we finally catch a parrot. Delaney and I have tried to set it up ourselves a couple of times, but Cassie always rearranges it, so we just let him do it now. My job is to be on camera, so that when we do catch a bird, I can photograph every step of the process, as well as take photos for data collection, so that we have a good record of the process.

Despite the lack of capture, being in Alice did finally give me a chance to take some pictures of the parrots! They’re very photogenic.

Smize that Tyra Banks would be proud of

And it gave Delaney time to get in touch with nature with some arts & crafts.

Queen of the Pecan Orchard

But mostly, it’s just waiting around.

this picture was only SLIGHTLY staged..
There's something breathtaking about hiking above the clouds.
Or maybe that's just the altitude...
With no luck catching and Kate taking a day off, Cassie, Delaney and I headed out to Sompondo to, in Cassie’s words, “Climb a little hill.” The mist was quite heavy as we arrived, so we couldn’t see just how big the “hill” (and Cassie’s lie) was. When we stopped for a moment next to a reservoir, Delaney and I thought we had reached our destination, only for Cassie to tell us that we were only an eighth of the way there! Finishing the hike was worth it, though, as we got a beautiful view of the valley as the sun rose and burned away the mist, and we were right next to a tree that the parrots foraged in.

On our way back down the “hill” we stopped again at the reservoir, only this time we saw something moving in the little well-it was a sheep! Luckily, Delaney jumped right in to help.
He wasn't very grateful

At the beginning of this past week, I ended up getting pretty sick, so Kate insisted I stay home, and I ended up missing the first catch! She wasn’t a good candidate for tracking, though, so she was released. The next day, I was again home sick, and while they didn’t catch another parrot, they did accidentally catch a crowned hornbill! It was quickly freed from the net and released, and man am I jealous! I’ll let Delaney elaborate on both of the catches since she was actually there. Unfortunately, as soon as I was feeling better, a huge storm hit Cape Town that affected us all the way up in Hogsback. 

One of the other project staff added the
mattress and we appreciate it!

We had some pretty intense winds, so we knew that catching a parrot was not going to be an option. That’s when we decided to head over to King William’s Town and look for parrots there. Our first day, the wind was still incredibly strong, so we didn’t see a lot of parrots and we didn’t get any useable vocal recordings, but we did get some errands done. Errands included a trip to the South African DMV, where Cassie was in and out in less than FIFTEEN MINUTES! The next day we returned to King William’s Town, and this time we were able to get some pretty incredible recordings, so we were happy. The tough thing about King William’s Town is that it’s about an hour away, and at least one of us always has to ride in the back of the bakkie. It gets pretty bumpy back there! I figured out pretty quickly that it’s a pretty good place for a nap, though, and Delaney agrees.

I'm sensing a theme...

We were planning on heading  to a new observing location yesterday morning, despite it being Saturday, but the wind had kicked back up and it was definitely not worth it! Delaney was not exactly thrilled to be told that she had woken up so early for nothing…

And that catches us up to today! We had a very nice day off; we took a short hike close to home, stopped by the shop, cleaned up around the house, Cassie made some delicious sandwiches for lunch, and now we’re sitting in the local coffee shop/pub watching the French Open. I'll leave you with just a few more pictures. I'll try and update again soon!

Cassie, Delaney, and me at the 39 Steps waterfall earlier today

Cassie really, really loves trees

Here's a picture of Kate and Cassie, so you all
have a picture of who I'm always
talking about