Women of the Zoo: Meet Amber
Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo Area Curator, Amber, always wanted to walk in the footsteps of the women before her that made waves in the animal world. This inspiration is what led her to care for zoo animals and their wild cousins. “We provide quality care for the zoo animals,” she continued, “…but local conservation is just as important.” Amber takes this responsibility seriously and humbly works hard for our friends in nature.
To help local wildlife, Amber is the Zoo’s liaison with Motus Wildlife Tracking System. The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is an international collaborative network of researchers that use automated radio telemetry to simultaneously track hundreds of individuals of numerous species of birds, bats, and insects. To achieve this, they partner with groups such as the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo to build towers in local areas. When a bird, bat or insect that has been tagged passes by any Motus Tower, it is logged in their data and posted on their website.
“This helps paint the bigger picture,” Amber explained. Being able to track the various species allows Motus to get a better understanding of their environments which can lead to answering why the populations are decreasing.
Ready to do their part, Amber and her team began carefully researching and planning how to build Motus towers. In 2019, they built four towers on Acres Land Trust’s properties and in early July, they built two new towers. To prepare for the new towers, Amber and her team analyzed past towers: looking for what went well and what could be improved. This time, they divided and conquered with Amber in charge of the solar power needed for the tower. “I did a lot of research trying to understand all the equipment we needed for that,” Amber said. “I learned a lot!”
The first towers took six hours to build but the newest ones only took two and a half! “We have definitely learned some tips along the way,” Amber said. “This is a project that’s gaining more momentum throughout zoos, but when we started, we didn’t really have any manual in front of us to tell us how to build this. We were kind of learning on our own.”
To help others avoid this self-taught struggle, the team was careful to document every step of the process and is now working on a detailed manual of things they wished they had known before building their first tower.
This is just one of the ways Amber has dedicated her time to improving the life of animals. Growing up hearing about women like Jane Goodall really made an impact. “It was awesome having a female role model like that,” Amber said. “That just gave me a lot of motivation and I always wanted to be her when I was younger.”
Now, Amber has the chance to be that role model who inspires other young people to walk in her footsteps.
Written by Tarah Zumbrun, communications intern