Archive for March, 2014

Look at these Animal Masterpieces

animal painting zoo attraction

Picasso said “Every child is an artist.”  At the zoo, we think “Every animal is an artist!”  Last week, four zoo animals painted “masterpieces” that will be auctioned at future zoo fundraising events.  The artists were Hugh the penguin, Mawson the dingo, and Tengku and Tara the Sumatran orangutans.  

Fundraising is not the only reason the zoo’s animals paint.  The activity provides physical and mental challenges that elicit natural behaviors.  This type of stimulation is also known as “animal enrichment.”

The following media gallery showcases each of the zoo’s artists at work:

 

 

 

The photos below illustrate “before and after” shots of the creative process.  Click on any of the thumbnails to enlarge:

 

 

The following videos show Sumatran orangutans Tara and Tengku working with paintbrushes:

 

 

Posted in: Enrichment, Zoo News

She’s Red, Blue & Green All Over

red-tailed green ratsnake zoo attraction

What zoo animal has a blue tongue, green scales, and a red tail?  Our new red-tailed green ratsnake!  The young female snake was approximately one week old when she arrived in November.  She will eventually join the zoo’s adult male red-tailed ratsnake in the Indonesian Rain Forest.

The red-tailed green rat snake’s name is a bit misleading.  Here are some fun facts about these snakes:

  •  Red-tailed ratsnakes are recognizable for their striking green scales and bright blue tongue, not for a red tail.  As the snake develops into adulthood, it may or may not end up with a red tail.  It’s tail could be red, but could also take on a brown, green, gray, or even purplish hue.
  • Despite their name, red-tailed green ratsnakes are more likely to eat a rat than to be mistaken for one.  This species of snake also eats birds and their eggs along with smaller reptiles.
  • They are a non-venomous snake.  They kill their prey by squeezing and suffocating them, a process known as “constriction”.

Red-tailed ratsnakes are native to Southeast Asia, where they are valued as a natural, ecologically-friendly means for rodent control.  As such, this species has been left alone to thrive and is not endangered.

Click on the photos below to enlarge:

Posted in: Zoo News

The Baby Boom Continues

crocodile skink zoo attraction

The zoo’s baby boom continues as zoo keepers welcome a new addition to the Indonesian Rain Forest…a teeny, tiny, two-inch crocodile skink.  It’s the first time this reptile species has ever been hatched at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo!  This imperious addition to the animal kingdom weighed-in at two grams, approximately the weight of a pencil eraser. 

Although its name implies a lizard of force and stature, this particular crocodile skink began its life cycle in a fragile state.

Late last year, zoo keepers discovered by accident that the adult crocodile skinks had produced an egg.  Dave Messmann, a zoo keeper in the Indonesian Rain Forest, accidentally disturbed the egg while cleaning the skinks’ aquarium.  “We were concerned about the disturbance.  It’s a best-practice to avoid moving a reptile egg once it’s discovered, ” Messmann stated.  He also explained the reason why zoo keepers would have preferred avoidance, “An air pocket inside the egg can shift if the egg is moved, potentially causing the embryo to suffocate.” 

Hoping for the best, zoo keepers decided to incubate the egg and observe.  They constructed an incubator by filling a deli tub with wet moss and poking holes in the tub’s lid.  The egg was carefully placed atop the moss and the tub was placed on a shelf.  The egg was then allowed to incubate at room temperature, undisturbed.  After sixty days, a live hatchling was observed!

At eleven days old, the crocodile skink baby weighed-in at 2 grams.  Now thirty days old, the baby is doing fine and continues to develop normally.  It will likely reach an adult length of eight inches and top-out at one pound.

Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital.

Click on the pictures to enlarge:

Posted in: Baby Animals, Indonesian Rain Forest, Reptiles

The Colobus Babies Have Names!

colobus baby zoo attraction

This just in – Zoo keepers have named the two colobus monkey babies at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo! 

~Jibini’s baby is male and named Obi (pronouced “oh-bee”).  His name means “heart.”

~Wamblenica’s baby is female and named Mchumba  (pronouced “meh-choom-ba”).  Her name means “sweetheart.”

Obi and Mchumba were born in late January.  Click here to read the zoo’s earlier blog post announcing the colobus babies’ births.

Why did keepers wait so long to name the babies?  “We wanted to wait until we found out both of their sexes so we could give them corresponding names,” says African Journey Area Manager Amber Eagleson.  Determining Mchumba’s sex took longer because the infant monkey clung very tightly to her mother, and keepers waited some time before approaching mom and baby.  This clinging behavior is typical in colobus infants.

Zoo Keeper Jessica Walker reports that the babies are developing normally and have undergone behavioral as well as physical changes.  “Since their arrival, the babies have developed rapidly!  Initially they clung tight to their respective mothers, and either nursed or slept for the majority of the day.  They vocalized only slightly.  Now, although they still display the clinging and nursing behaviors of infancy, both babies have been moving more and have found their voices.”

Walker also notes changes in Obi and Mchumba’s physical appearance.  “The first couple of days after birth the little ones were completely white.  Their coloration is slowly changing to resemble the black-and-white pattern of an adult colobus monkey.   The change will be more noticeable in the coming weeks.” 

The photos below were taken on February 27, 2014, around the time of the babies’ one-month birthday.  Click to enlarge:

Posted in: Baby Animals, Monkeys, Zoo News