Archive for Farm Animals
Got Pumpkins? We do! It’s that time of year again, when pumpkins and gourds take over the zoo’s landscape. They’re festive and provide the perfect backdrop for our annual Wild Zoo Halloween event, but our sea of squash is more than just décor. The pumpkins we stock also provide enrichment for the zoo’s animals.
Lemurs, red pandas, and pigs are among the many animals at the zoo who have “pumpkin playtime” on their enrichment calendars. Each animal approaches the Fall treat in a different way.
Lemurs lick honey and raisins off the outside of the pumpkins. (We can thank their zoo keepers for the five-star dinner presentation.) Red pandas forage inside pumpkins, but not for the seeds. Instead, zoo keepers fill the pandas’ pumpkins with their preferred diet of bamboo. The zoo’s pigs approach the filled pumpkins in a different way, treating each one like an “edible bowl”.
Animal enrichment is a daily event at the zoo with a variety of activities tailored to each animal’s needs. This time of year, pumpkins are aplenty and provide a seasonal twist for zoo animals.
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Posted in: Central Zoo, Enrichment, Farm Animals, Indonesian Rain Forest, Orangutans, Red Panda, Zoo News
Guess Which Animal Weighs 120 Pounds
If you visited the Indiana Family Farm at the zoo last weekend, you might have noticed that our goats got some extra attention from zoo keepers. Many of our guests were curious why the goats were paraded, one at a time, into a nearby barn. It was goat-weighing day, of course!
The zoo keeps a variety of records on each of its animals, including weight. Zoo keepers track each goat’s weight throughout the year to look for any fluctuations. Keeping accurate health records, including weight, helps zoo keepers and vet staff monitor for changes in the animals. This in turn helps the keepers and staff to spot potential health concerns early.
“We weigh each goat monthly, or more often if we have concerns about the animal not eating enough,” states zoo keeper Chase Caldwell.
With goats, however, keeping up a robust diet usually isn’t a problem. Most of the zoo’s goats will try to eat almost anything, including maps, purses, shoe laces, and even the scale. “It’s a goat thing,” says Caldwell. “They like to test everything out to see if they can eat it. We don’t even have to train them to step onto the scale. We just put food out and they step right up.”
Which goat topped the scale? It was Oliver, a buff-colored male weighing in at 55.3 kilograms (about 120 pounds).
Click on the photos to enlarge:
Posted in: Central Zoo, Farm Animals, Zoo News
Extreme Makeover: Sheep Edition
The sheep got serious “haircuts” last week on the Indiana Family Farm, with each sheep shedding about ten pounds of wool!
Roxy, an 8-year-old female, and Jerry, her 7-year-old son, got their semi-annual shearing at the hands of zoo keeper Sarah Sloan. Wielding heavy-duty electric clippers, Sloan carefully trimmed every inch of each sheep, creating mounds of wool on the barn floor. The wool is donated to local artisans, who spin it into yarn for knitting.
“Shearing helps keep the sheep comfortable now that the weather is warmer,” Sloan said. “If we didn’t shear them, their wool would continue to grow and become matted.”
The sheep were surprisingly calm during the procedure. Zoo keeper Heather Schuh held each sheep’s head while Sloan did the shearing. Sloan stopped occasionally to check the temperature of the shearing blade, making sure it wasn’t getting too hot. “The blade gets caked with lanolin from the wool,” she explained. “We replace it after each shearing session.” Lanolin is a waxy substance that naturally occurs in sheep’s wool and allows the wool to easily shed water. Lanolin is used in lotions, ointments, and many industrial products.
After their extreme makeovers, Roxy and Jerry appeared unfazed by their now-slim silhouettes. “After shearing, we can get a good look at their body condition, and they’ll be a lot more comfortable in the hot weather,” said Sloan. The sheep already have their next “haircut” appointment booked for August.
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Posted in: Farm Animals, Zoo News