October 15, 2014
Wild Zoo Halloween Presented by Edy’s kicks-off in 2 days, and the zoo is filling with straw bales and pumpkins!
Maintenance Director Byron Hattaway oversees the large haul of pumpkins and other Halloween decorations that adorn the zoo every year, “The zoo brought in 400 bundles of corn stalks and about a dozen bushels of corn for decoration this year,” states Hattaway. “The zoo also uses around 500 bales of straw for decoration and to build the mini maze for the little ones.”
Pumpkins continue to roll in from the field during the first two weeks of October. Guests often want to know how many pumpkins the zoo brings in each season. Hattaway acknowledged that, “Pumpkins are a bit more of a guess. Between [regular pumpkins] and the squash and funny shaped pretty gourds it could be 10 or 12 dump trucks full.”
Any way you size it up, that’s a LOT of pumpkins!
Here are the answers to some of the other frequently-asked Halloween questions:
Is there a member discount?
Yes! Zoo Members get $2 off admission at the gate and online.
Are the treats orangutan-friendly?
All treats offered at the Wild Zoo Halloween Presented by Edy’s are palm-oil free or are manufactured by companies that are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The sustainable production of palm oil is crucial to the survival of orangutans, because their rain forest habitat is often destroyed to create poorly managed and unsustainable palm oil plantations. Download a Palm Oil Shopping Guide to help you make orangutan-friendly choices when you shop.
Is the whole zoo open?
Wild Zoo Halloween Presented by Edy’s activities are located in the Central Zoo and portions of the Australian Adventure. The African Journey and Indonesian Rain Forest will not be open during the Wild Zoo Halloween Presented by Edy’s.
Can anyone trick or treat?
Guests of any age can purchase the Admission + Trick-or-Treating package, which allows collection of 10 treats and a pumpkin from the Pumpkin Patch.
October 9, 2014
The Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo today unveiled two new pavilions under construction in the African Journey, funded in part by a generous donation from Parkview Physicians Group.
“The zoo provides an outstanding venue for families to spend time together, something we believe is important as we look to promote health and well-being throughout the community,” said Dr. Mitchell Stucky, president, Parkview Physicians Group. “Parkview Physicians Group appreciates the opportunity to invest in and help to promote one of Fort Wayne’s most treasured attractions.”
Named the Parkview Physicians Group Pavilions, the two structures combined can seat more than 400 people. The pavilions will be used for zoo events and special activities, and will be available for rental when the zoo opens for the 2015 season in April.
“The Parkview Physicians Group Pavilions answer a long-standing need for local businesses and organizations in our community,” said Zoo Director Jim Anderson. “We can now host events in the pavilions, and provide rental space, catering, and an amazing zoo experience for zoo guests.”
As a non-profit organization receiving no tax support, the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo operates on revenue from tickets sales, memberships, and donations. The Parkview Physicians Group Pavilions will provide a new source of revenue, allowing the zoo to remain self-supporting and operate without tax funding.
“By supporting the zoo with this donation, Parkview Physicians Group demonstrates their commitment to the entire Fort Wayne community,” said Anderson. “They are an outstanding community partner.”
Organizations wishing to rent the Parkview Physicians Group pavilions may contact the zoo office at 260-427-6800 for more information.Zoo News
October 3, 2014
Tara, a Sumatran orangutan at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, is expecting a baby this fall. This is the first pregnancy for 19-year-old Tara, and the baby would be the second orangutan ever born at the zoo.
“We’re excited about Tara’s pregnancy and the chance to add to the population of this critically endangered species,” says Zoo Animal Curator Mark Weldon.
The baby is due sometime from mid-November to early December. The father is Tengku, the zoo’s 28-year-old male orangutan, who arrived in Fort Wayne from Zoo Atlanta in 1995. Orangutans are pregnant for an average of 245 days, or a little over eight months.
Tara came to the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo in April 2013 from the Columbus Zoo in Ohio and was introduced to Tengku and Melati, a 29-year-old female orangutan, about a month after arriving. Zoo keepers regularly monitor Tara’s hormonal cycles and after changes were noted in her cycle this spring, zoo keepers used a human pregnancy test kit to confirm the pregnancy. (Certain brands of over-the-counter tests are known to react accurately with orangutan hormones.)
The breeding of Tara with Tengku was recommended by the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums that seeks to maintain genetic diversity within populations of endangered animals. About 320 Sumatran orangutans live in zoos worldwide, and only about 15 babies are born each year in the world’s zoos. These red-furred apes are found only on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia, where the population is in drastic decline due to illegal hunting and the destruction of their forest homes to build palm oil plantations.
At age 19, “Tara is the perfect age for breeding,” says Zoo Keeper Angie Selzer, who cares for the orangutans. However, Tara has never given birth, nor has she lived with another female who has delivered a baby. As a result, Tara may not know how to raise an infant. “Orangutans learn by watching others,” says Weldon. “If Tara’s never observed maternal behavior, she may not know how to take care of a baby.”
To address any potential issues with the birth, zoo keepers have prepared an extensive Birth Management Plan. Using a plush stuffed toy and operant conditioning, Tara has been trained to bring her “baby” to keepers who will bottle-feed it if Tara fails to nurse. Tara has also been trained to present her nipple to keepers to nurse her baby, in the event that keepers must provide daily care for the infant.
In 2006, female orangutan Sayang delivered the first orangutan ever born at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Just one hour after giving birth to a healthy male infant, Sayang collapsed and died unexpectedly from a blood clot in her lungs.
The baby, named Dumadi, was cared for around the clock by zoo keepers until he was eight months old. He moved to Zoo Atlanta in 2007, where he was fostered by Madu, an experienced mother, and integrated in to the zoo’s orangutan group. Orangutans have the longest childhood of any animal other than humans, and require maternal care until they are six to eight years old.
Baby Animals, Indonesian Rain Forest, Orangutans
October 1, 2014
It’s a girl! Madi the ring-tailed lemur was born to mother Kyna and father Ombe on September 22. The baby is doing well and will be on exhibit for the rest of the season, weather permitting.
You may think most animal babies are born in the spring, but lemurs are typically born in the fall. Their breeding season occurs in April and gestation lasts 4-5 months. Ring-tailed lemurs are born with lots of hair and with eyes wide open. At first, the baby clings to its mother’s chest, but later it will ride on her back. The young are independent after six months.
You can help support the care of Madi and other zoo animals by adopting a lemur.
Madi is short for “Madagascar,” the home of ring-tailed lemurs in the wild. Less than 10% of Madagascar’s forest cover remains and due to this drastic loss of habitat, ring-tailed lemurs are an endangered species.
Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital. Click on the photos to enlarge:
September 24, 2014
Everybody needs a friend, and Warrick, our lone North American river otter, has a new one! Kramer, a young male otter, recently joined Warrick in the exhibit.
Warrick had been alone since Heather, the zoo’s female river otter, passed away last spring. Zoo staff immediately began searching for a companion for Warrick and found Kramer, an active and energetic otter who was being relocated from Louisiana.
Kramer and Warrick hit it off during their introduction period, and have become faithful companions. According to zoo keeper Samantha Emberton, “Warrick and Kramer are very active together. Kramer is a lot younger and he keeps Warrick moving. We’ve also noticed Kramer picking up some of Warrick’s habits, like stuffing all of his biscuits into his mouth at the same time.”
The two otters are quickly becoming a favorite among zoo guests. “They cuddle and play and swim together,” states Emberton. “They’re good buddies.”
Otters were once extirpated (locally extinct) in Indiana, but were reintroduced here in the 1990s. They are now present in several waterways in our state.
Zoo guests can visit Kramer and Warrick until the zoo closes for the season on October 12 and during the Wild Zoo Halloween, weather permitting.
Click on the photos to enlarge:
September 17, 2014
Maliha the red panda is 14 weeks old now and spends a lot of time outside of her nest, but it wasn’t long ago that zoo guests wondered if they’d ever get a look at the adorable cub. As expected, it took about three months for Maliha to venture outside on her own and begin exploring her surroundings (video and photos below).
International Red Panda Day is this Saturday, and Zoo staff put together a Baby Book to commemorate the endangered cub’s first three months of life. Zoo babies are sponsored by Lutheran Children’s Hospital.
Click on the photos to enlarge:
September 10, 2014
When we say “power lunch,” we’re not talking about business executives making big decisions while noshing on a meal. No, we’re talking about actual power – like when a 200-pound alligator lunges forward, clamps its massive jaws onto a jumbo-sized rat off a stick, then swallows it whole.
Feeding the zoo’s alligators is not for the faint of heart. Zoo keepers deliver the gators’ food with long tongs, staying as far away from the reptiles as possible. The zoo’s two American alligators, Ron and Penelope, are cooperative at feeding time, but they’re far from cuddly.
Aside from rats, the alligators also eat specially-formulated biscuits and gelatin – yes, gelatin – twice a week. According to area manager Shelley Scherer, “They’re still hungry after eating the rats and biscuits. The gelatin keeps them full without adding unnecessary calories.”
Alligators were once endangered in the United States. But strong laws and careful management brought this species back from the brink of extinction. The population of alligators is now stable.
Click on the photos to enlarge:
September 4, 2014
Vultures are often characterized as scary, Halloween-esque creatures. Their appetite for dead flesh doesn’t win them many fans. If you check the zoo’s Facebook page you’d be hard-pressed to find a “vulture selfie” or “save the vultures” post from any of our followers, but these birds aren’t as ghoulish as their reputation suggests.
International Vulture Awareness Day is this Saturday, September 6 – A day when conservationists and vulture aficionados bring attention to these misunderstood but important creatures.
Back to the question at hand…Why do vultures eat dead animals? The removal of carrion (a.k.a. rotting flesh) is a necessary link on the food chain. Vultures can eat rotting flesh that contains anthrax, botulism, and cholera bacteria with no ill effects because acids in the vulture’s stomach destroy these organisms, thereby removing them from our ecosystem.
At the zoo, the vultures eat a commercial meat diet, plus rats and small bones.
Have you ever met one of the zoo’s vultures? Vincent the turkey vulture lives in the Central Zoo across from the lemurs. He enjoys a morning rodent diet and he’s known for displaying his beautiful, black wingspan throughout the day. The African Journey is home to four Ruppell’s griffon vultures. You can find them on the Savannah where they’ll often perch near the pedestrian deck for a photo op!
Stop by and visit the vultures on your next zoo visit…and bring your questions. Our zoo keepers are happy to talk about these fascinating but misunderstood birds.
Click on the photos to enlarge:
August 27, 2014
Zoo fans might remember the story of Mr. Happy, a 27-year-old Blanding’s turtle who came to us last year with a serious medical issue. The friendly turtle, who resides at Pokagon State Park, had ingested a large rock that was blocking his digestive tract.
Blanding’s turtles are endangered in Indiana, so Mr. Happy is an important ambassador for our state’s wildlife. When he got sick and stopped eating last year, park officials and zoo staff were quick to respond. You can read about his surgery here.
We’re happy to report that one year later, Mr. Happy is doing great! Staff from the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo recently paid a visit to Mr. Happy and his caregivers and discovered that the turtle is healthy and thriving.
Interpretive naturalist Mandi Webb spoke of the turtle’s healthy appetitie, “He’s doing very well. He eats a lot. We call Mr. Happy the ‘finisher-upper’ because of how much he eats.” Webb works with Mr. Happy almost every day and stated that his appetite never wanes.
Long-time park naturalist Fred Wooley concurred with Webb, “Mr. Happy is doing very well. We’re fortunate to have contacts within the animal conservation field who will provide medical care for sick or injured animals. Blanding’s turtles can live to be 80 and Mr. Happy is eating and behaving normally.”
To demonstrate his vigor, Pokagon staff arranged a race for Mr. Happy. His opponent was Mr. Box, an eastern box turtle who resides with Mr. Happy at the park’s Nature Center.
Although Mr. Happy didn’t win this time, Webb assured his fans that the turtle wasn’t upset about the loss. “Mr. Happy does win races sometimes, but he’s easily distracted. Sometimes he just wants to stop and look at the leaves on the ground.”
Perhaps Mr. Happy’s story has a lesson to offer: Don’t race too quickly to the finish line without stopping to enjoy the journey.
Click on the photos to enlarge:
August 20, 2014
How does a sea lion get to the dentist? That’s a trick question. Sea lions don’t go to the dentist – the dentist comes to them! Or, in this case, the zoo’s veterinary intern, Dr. Kami Fox makes the “house call.” Dr. Fox recently performed a dental exam on Fishbone, an thirteen-year-old sea lion at the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo.
“Training with Fishbone has gone very smoothly and she’s very eager to work,” states Dr. Fox.
Zoo keepers regularly look into the sea lions’ mouths, but the team wanted to employ x-rays to spot potential tooth problems before they become serious. To take x-rays, though, the keepers needed to prepare the animals through training that involved operant conditioning. Zoo keeper Rachel Purcell began by training Fishbone to become comfortable with the x-ray plate in her mouth. “I started by putting a small x-ray plate on a tongue depressor and getting her used to me situating it around in her mouth. After she was doing well with that, Dr. Fox started visiting with the hand-held x-ray machine,” she said.
Purcell describes the sea lion’s reaction to the new procedure, “Fishbone wasn’t quite sure what to think of it at first, especially when it was touching her whiskers, but she soon got used to it.”
Dr. Fox noted that Fishbone’s mouth is generally healthy and she did not order any treatment at this time. She did indicate some areas of concern that zoo keepers and vet staff will continue to monitor.
Dr. Fox explains the benefit of preventive exams, “Now that we know there are abnormalities associated with several of her teeth, we can continue to monitor her closely with oral exams and periodic radiographs. If any changes occur, we are now better prepared for the necessary dental work. This has been a prime example of how behavior training assists us with preventative medicine so that we can be proactive and provide the best possible care for our animals.”
(Click on the photos to enlarge.)
Central Zoo, Veterinary Care, Zoo News