Archive for April, 2014

There’s a New Cat in Town

lynx zoo attraction

Actually, we have two new cats at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo!  Meet Thor and Loki, a pair of Canada lynx brothers who arrived just in time for zoo opening this week.  The cats were shy at first and spent most of their time inside the hollowed-out logs in their exhibit.  However, feline curiosity eventually prevailed and the young brothers are beginning to explore.

Canada lynx are carnivorous, so the zoo’s lynx eat a special all-meat diet mixed with vitamins and minerals.  Both of the cats are eating well and zoo keepers have found a way to encourage them to explore even more.  According to zoo keeper Rachel Purcell, “We spread their food around the exhibit.  This way they’ll come out of the logs and down the hill.” 

The cats also have distinct personalities.  Purcell states that, “Loki is a little more outgoing but Thor’s confidence is slowly coming along.  On Monday morning they spent an hour exploring near the front of the exhibit.  They’re both doing well.”

canadian lynx zoo attractionNot your household kitty cat Lynx fur is typically yellowish-brown but can include some gray. Their ears boast long, dark hairs that point straight up and act as hearing aids.  Adult lynx as well as kittens display this ear trait.  Canada lynx also have a black-tipped tail.  Lynx have long legs and large, furry paws that act as snow shoes.

A nocturnal loner Lynx usually live alone in a territory that encompasses anywhere from 5 to 100 square miles, and they are nocturnal so they sleep during the day.  The zoo’s lynx are often spotted napping inside their logs but can become active during the day time, especially in the morning.

A northern resident
Canada Lynx (also known as Canadian lynx) live throughout Canada and in northern areas of the United States.  They are typically found in forests but can also live in tundra regions.

The zoo’s Canada lynx exhibit is located just inside the front gates, across from the lion drinking fountain.  Guests can visit Thor and Loki seven days a week – Be sure to get a look at those giant paws!

Click on the pictures below to enlarge:

Posted in: Central Zoo, Zoo News

Get the Scoop on Australia

kangaroo zoo attraction

We’re building a new Australian Adventure!  Phase I is already underway and includes a new Ice Cream Shoppe, expanded seating for the Outpost Grille, new restroom facilities, and a new entrance near the train station.  Oh, and speaking of the train, crews are installing a new grade-level train crossing complete with authentic railroad crossing gates.

ice cream zoo attraction

Construction professionals put the finishing touches on the new Ice Cream Shoppe

 Buy Recognition Tile Button

The Australian Adventure first opened in 1987, funded entirely with donations.  The new Australian Adventure will be built with donations as well.  Construction for Phase I of this $7 million project is well underway, and we’ve already raised more than $5 million toward our goal.  You can help by purchasing an engraved Recognition Tile with your contribution of $400.  Contributions of $1000 or more will also be recognized on a permanent aluminum plaque.

Your Recognition Tile will be part of a one-of-a-kind sculptural display near new Australian Adventure entrance.  We’ll engrave your tile with your family name, the names of your children or grandchildren, or in memory of a loved one.   

What will Phases II and III have in store?  Plenty!  Here’s a condensed version of the plans:

Welcome to Stingray Bay

See eye to eye with gentle stingrays as they glide across a shallow pool in a brand-new exhibit that’s sure to be a highlight of the new Australian Adventure.  Housed in the former Australia After Dark building, Stingray Bay features up-close viewing opportunities and state-of-the-art life support systems.  A limited number of guests will have the chance to touch the stingrays under the guidance of zoo staff – a truly amazing experience!

Splash in Crocodile Creek

Go ahead – kick off your shoes and wade into Crocodile Creek!  Like a cool oasis in the Australian Outback, Crocodile Creek beckons with clear water and large boulders.  Kids wade in the shallow water, building dams with small rocks or making tiny rafts from sticks.  Shaded benches await nearby for those who prefer to rest.

Dive in the Great Barrier Reef

From the Australian Adventure Plaza, stroll over to Stingray Bay or the completely remodeled Great Barrier Reef Aquarium, showcasing the diversity of the world’s largest coral reef system.

New themed displays and interactive elements enliven your experience among our ocean wonders.  Sharks, jellyfish, and tropical fish benefit from all-new life support and filtration systems designed to keep the salt water tanks crystal clear.

The Land of Birds

Cross the bridge into the Outback and experience the magic of Australia’s vast, desert interior.  Encounter a few of Australia’s 800 species of birds, including the strikingly-colored galah, also known as the rose-breasted cockatoo. Walk through a brand-new aviary teeming with cockatiels and magpies.  Brightly-colored rainbow lorikeets nibble on nectar, just like they would in the wild.

Nearby, four-foot-tall emus strut across their yard, showing off their shaggy gray feathers.  In the background, you hear the distinct call of a flock of kookaburras.  Hoo-oo-oo-oo-ah-ah-ah!

Meet the Reptiles

Have you ever encountered a shingle-backed skink?  How about a spotted python?  These and other Australian reptiles greet you in the renovated Australian Adventure.  Stop by the tin-roofed hut and get nose-to-nose with these scaly creatures.

Meet the Mob

The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo was among the first to unveil a walk-through kangaroo experience when the Australian Adventure first opened in 1987.  This one-of-a-kind journey continues as you stroll among our mob of eastern grey kangaroos, which is one of the largest in any North American zoo.  Watch for ‘roos hopping across the path in front of you! 

Say G’Day to the Dingoes

As Australia’s top predator, dingoes have been persecuted and hunted for bounty.  The zoo’s dingo pack is among the largest in the country. On cool summer mornings, watch as the energetic dingoes explore their exhibit bordering the Outback Adventure River Ride.

Float on the River Ride

You’ll be drawn to a relaxing float on the Outback Adventure River Ride.  Already the most popular ride in the zoo, exciting improvements will make the ride even better.  Authentic Outback details – as well as a few surprises – bring out the explorer in you!  Like all zoo rides, the Outback Adventure River Ride generates important income to support your non-profit zoo.

Click on the images to enlarge:

Posted in: Australian Adventure, Kangaroos, Zoo News

Only 10 More Days!

countdown zoo attraction

We selected April 26 as our opening day way back in September of 2013, and now it’s almost here!  We are nearly caught up from the challenges that the winter weather threw at us, and our staff is in high gear prepping for opening day.  Here’s a list of what we’re doing this week:

  • Exhibits are getting minor repairs and new paint jobs on warm days.
  • Rides are being cleaned and “un-winterized” to prepare for the required state inspection they undergo every year.  This winter provided a few hurdles: the Australian Adventure River Ride finally thawed at the end of March!  This week, crews are reinstalling the Sky Safari ride chairs.  (See the photo gallery below.)
  • Landscaping crews are mulching the zoo’s many flower beds.
  • New employees are being trained to take on their new tasks.
  • Zoo favorites like the Lion Drinking Fountain get a makeover to look their best in your family photos!
  • Last but not least, the animals who have been living in warm indoor quarters will move into their outdoor enclosures next week.
capuchin monkey zoo attraction

The capuchin monkeys will move onto Monkey Island next week.

All of the staff and volunteers at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo are counting down the days to April 26.  We hope you’ll join us in making 2014 the best zoo season ever!

Click on the images below to enlarge:

Posted in: Monkeys, Zoo News

Tengku Helps Wild Orangutans

orangutan

Tengku, the zoo’s male Sumatran orangutan, has something new to add to his resume:  International Researcher.  Tengku’s contribution to the research of Dr. Graham L. Banes, a biological anthropologist who visited the zoo last week, may help save these rare apes from the brink of extinction.

orangutan research zoo attraction

Dr. Banes shows some of his research to Tengku.

Dr. Banes studies the biodiversity of orangutans in zoos and in the wild and is building a database containing genetic information on every captive orangutan in the world.   

Tengku provided a blood sample so researchers can study his DNA as part of a four-generation study.  Zoo keepers had already trained him on this procedure via operant conditioning.  This video from 2012 shows the procedure:

Managed programs have existed in zoos for decades, but zoos are not the only participants in orangutan research.  Orphanages and rehabilitation centers, which are found on the “front lines” of orangutan conservation, are also included in this study.  Such facilities house orangutans who have been displaced, injured, or orphaned as a result of habitat destruction.

Dr. Banes explained that ensuring genetic biodiversity in zoos and rehabilitation centers is important.  A genetically diverse population decreases the likelihood of health problems and reduces the rate of infant mortality. 

A healthy zoo population will become essential if Sumatran orangutan populations continue to decline.  Orangutans have endured an 80-90% reduction in their natural habitat.  In other words, they are running out of places to live.  Their species is listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN (source: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/39780/0).   To compound this situation, proposed changes in Indonesian law further threaten the survival of orangutans in the wild.  According to Dr. Banes, “Preserves are being un-protected.” 

Tengku is helping his wild cousins, and so can you.  The AZA has prepared an online petition to the Indonesian government regarding the destruction of the 10-20% of rain forest cover that remains.  You can go to change.org to review and sign the petition.

The IUCN estimates that there are around 7,000 Sumatran orangutans left in the wild.  To put that number into perspective, consider that Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis holds 70,000 people for NCAA basketball tournaments. 

The zoo’s conservation page lists resources for those wanting to get involved with the conservation of wild animals and wild places.

Click on the photos to enlarge:

Posted in: Conservation, Indonesian Rain Forest, Orangutans

Hello, Little Jellies

moon jellies zoo attraction

Thirty one-month-0ld moon jellyfish arrived at the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium this week!  Hatched at the New England Aquarium, these two-inch-diameter moon jellies joined 13 adult jellies in the Great Barrier Reef Aquarium.  

Because moon jellies have an average life span of six months in the wild and one year in captivity, the introduction of new moon jellies is a yearly event at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.  The babies will mature quickly and should have a bell size of six to eight inches when the zoo opens on April 26.

Zoo keepers transitioned the babies into their new aquarium slowly.   A large bag containing the new moon jellies was placed inside the aquarium but was not opened right away, allowing water temperatures to equalize.  Little by little, zoo keepers allowed small amounts of water from the bag and the aquarium to mix together.   Click on the video for behind-the-scenes footage of the acclimation process:

Moon jellies are not endangered and are a favorite food of several endangered sea turtle species.  However, balloons and plastic grocery bags closely resemble jellyfish when floating in the ocean.  If sea turtles ingest the balloons and bags, they can die.  You can help sea turtles by recycling plastic grocery bags and avoiding mass balloon releases.

Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital.

Posted in: Aquarium, Baby Animals