Setting a healthy example

The beginning of April brought on two things, the hope that warmer weather is on the way and the beginning of a fierce Eat Well Live Well competition amongst many departments in Monroe County.

OK, well, maybe we are the only ones that think it is a fierce competition, but as the Steps Champions for the last three years (soon to be four), we take it very seriously. Eat Well Live Well is an eight-week competition that encourages individuals to become more active and lead healthier lives. Members of a team use a pedometer to track and record how many steps they are taking each day and also count and record how many cups of fruits and vegetables they are consuming. The team with the highest average steps and the team with the highest average cups over the eight-week period receive an award and bragging rights. The individual with the most steps and the individual with the most cups receives a prize (and bragging rights), that varies from year to year.

Like I mentioned earlier, the Zoo, along with our friends in the Monroe County Parks Department, have taken home the prize for the most steps the last three years (soon to be four). We are also proud to say that the individual with the most steps has also been a member of our team each year as well! We are still working on the fruits and vegetable thing! In all seriousness, it is a great team building exercise and although some of our team members get a little creative (we won’t mention names) trying to increase how many steps they take, we have fun and get to engage in a little friendly competition while getting healthier.

- Kellee Wolowitz, Zoologist

Six lucky Monroe Community College’s anatomy class students joined U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) biologists from Tunison Aquatic Lab (Cortland, NY) and the Zoo’s veterinary staff last week, demystifying the anatomy of wild lake sturgeon.

The lake sturgeon were found dead in the wild over past decades and were stored in the USGS freezers awaiting the perfect time to be necropsied (veterinary term for autopsied.) The MCC students learned how to collect otoloiths (bones inside sturgeon ears useful for determining age) as well as identify unique anatomical features of a fish species which was a contemporary of the dinosaur 85 million years ago.

Seneca Park Zoo always welcomes our scientific, research and academic partners as we explore and conserve our natural world.

- Dr. Jeff Wyatt, Director of Animal Health & Conservation

Photo by Jeff Wyatt

Photo by Jeff Wyatt

In the photo at right, Robin English LVT (a zoologist and veterinary technician here at the Zoo) demonstrates a physical examination on a hedgehog to veterinary technology students in Rochester ‘s first veterinary technology training program offered by Medaille College (Rochester Campus).

The Associate’s Degree training program offers evening classes for adult students wishing to pursue a career in veterinary technology, including classes in wildlife and exotic species, dogs, cats, horses and cattle. The Zoo offers many opportunities through academic partnerships, the newest being with Medaille College!

- Dr. Jeff Wyatt, Director of Animal Health & Conservation

Photo by Marie Kraus

Photo by Marie Kraus

At least someone is enjoying our latest snow fall!

Click here to watch a short clip of Aurora rubbing and rolling in the snow as Zero looks on.


Photo by Matthew Burroughs

Photo by Matthew Burroughs

Creating a naturalistic habitat for our animals is important because it not only impacts visitors in a positive way, but the animal inhabitants as well. This is especially important for amphibians because they need proper places to feed, hide, breed and lay eggs. Recently, we were selected to receive some more Panamanian golden frogs (Atelopes zeteki) as part of the Project Golden Frog captive breeding program. The Golden frog is Panama’s equivalent of the bald eagle in the United States. Its image is displayed in restaurants and tourist attractions.


Exhibit photos by Tom Snyder

Our new Golden Frog exhibit features a blend of foam, epoxy and natural components.  The epoxy and foam help us build a secure exhibit that can be assembled or disassembled quickly. It can also be cleaned more easily. Ultimately we look to balance the health and safety of the animal with the needs of the public.

spz-5With the tank predrilled for a waterfall and an output for the filter, the initial landscape is cut out of dense foam board.  Once all the details are cut and the insert is fitted into the tank, the last part of the process begins. A two-part epoxy is applied over the entire land portion of the insert. This epoxy is specifically made for zoos. It dries to an inert solid, is very durable and can be molded and formed into almost anything.

below the first waterfall on insertA waterfall distributes water down into a collecting pool. The overflow distributes the water to a tributary stream and a rock overflow to the front of the exhibit.

The front of the exhibit features a grapevine bridge, banana plant and a small egg laying pond. Coco bark is embedded in epoxy to create a thin soil layer. The soil provides some land matter for the live mosses to grip and grow on.

Fern with Fogger onBehind the stream is a small growing area for plants and a future second egg laying site.

The plants will eventually take over and create a living wall.

Make sure you stop in often, as the exhibit will continue to grow and green up all the time!

 - Tom Snyder, zoo keeper

The keepers at the Seneca Park Zoo have many exciting plans in the works for our three resident goats: Peter, Paul and Sheila.

We are currently halter training them and starting to take them for walks around the Zoo. Not only does this provide a great visitor experience, but it is also provides the goats with exercise and enrichment.

We are planning on having a goat demonstration next summer which highlights positive reinforcement training methods and goat agility. Keepers recently walked the goats to the animal hospital for a weigh-in!

- Sue Rea, zoologist

Orangutans rescued in Borneo

Photo courtesy of IAR

Photo courtesy of IAR

Our visit with International Animal Rescue‘s (IAR) veterinary staff of five, led by Dr. Karmele Llano Sanchez and Dr. Adi Irawan, highlighted the urgent need to rescue orangutans from illegal possession as well as heighten community awareness to keep orangutans free and wild in Gunung Palung National Park and adjacent protected lands. Sixty-four orangutans ranging from orphaned neonates to rescued adults inhabit the new 60-acre rehabilitation center between ASRI Klinik in Sukadana and Ketapang.

The younger orangutans leap and swing overhead in the treetops, following their caregivers across the forested rehabilitation center. Impressive progress has been made over the past two years since our last visit to IAR. The new two-phase $2 million rehabilitation center’s master plan is well on its way to being realized. Phase 1′s campus with five new buildings, including a well-equipped veterinary clinic with radiology, surgical and diagnostic facilities in addition to quarantine, diet prep, dormitory and keeper support buildings, all provide the best resources anywhere to care for orangutans in need. Vertical climbing structures and spacious pens have been constructed with many more currently underway. IAR has worked diligently with the community to save orangutans and habitat through education outreach, purchase and protection of habitat as well as joining the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for discussions promoting protection of endangered forest.

Photo by Jeff Wyatt

Photo by Jeff Wyatt

All of the antibiotics and parasite medicine purchased by Seneca Park Zoo’s American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Chapter were a welcomed addition to the clinic’s pharmacy. We enjoyed discussing very similar clinical challenges providing the best medical care to orangutans, be they in tropical Ketapang, Indonesia or snowy Rochester. Throughout our experiences and discussions we continued our “One Medicine – One Health” theme, connecting IAR orangutan and ASRI villager health initiatives all promoting a healthy habitat for wildlife and people.

- Dr. Jeff Wyatt, veterinarian


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