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.
With 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.
A 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.
Behind 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
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The keepers at the Seneca Park Zoo have many exciting plans in the works for our three resident goats: Peter, Paul and Sheila.
Photos by Janet Dray
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
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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
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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Photos by Jeff Wyatt
Learning traditional medicine (especially use of local plants and seeds from farmers) and carefully listening to their priorities for improving herd health and welfare, provide a capacity-building platform for our community workshops.
Our first training session attended by thirty cattle owners from many villages surrounding Gunung Palung National Park started with coffee, cake and introductions. Classes and discussions including livestock nutrition, parasitism, housing conditions, hoof health and reproduction followed. After lunch, we enjoyed a hands-on workshop examining cattle, comparing shelter construction strategies and using our very own special recipe for making mineral salt blocks for cattle and goats.
Networking in group workshops or one-on-one with farmers and widows helps us promote best practices in livestock care and manure composting for organic farming, ultimately improving garden soil conditions and saving forest from traditional slash-and-burn practices.
- Dr. Jeff Wyatt, veterinarian
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Weighing our animals regularly is important because it’s a good tool for monitoring their health and their diet. A sudden weight loss (or gain) can indicate the animal may have a problem.
Photos by Mary Ellen Sheets
Some animals, like our orangutans, can be a real challenge to weigh because they are incredibly strong and naturally curious. Finding a way to use a scale without them being able to get their hands on it (and thus destroy it!) took some creative thinking on our part. We decided the best method would be to use a hanging scale above their enclosure and out of reach. We recycled a thick PVC sleeve large enough to hang a scale inside of it, and strong enough to hold several hundred pounds. The PVC tower would be bolted permanently to the top of the enclosure and the scale would be hung on a bolt inside the tower for weighing. The mesh on top of the enclosure prevents the orangutans from getting a good grip on the scale.
Now, how do we get them to hold onto the scale? It was decided the best chance of success is to reward while they sit still on the platform. How? Here’s what we came up with: An ordinary plastic cutting board bolted directly to the floor of the platform. Numerous divots were cut into the face of the board, allowing us to add maple syrup or honey as a treat. The divots make it harder to get to the reward, thus helping to get an accurate scale reading.
On weighing day, the scale is placed in the tower, the platform attached with a lock, and the cutting board smeared with honey. A keeper is stationed on top of the enclosure to read the scale. The orangutans were let in the room one at a time. The picture to the right is of Dara, who after a minute or two let go of the mesh with her right leg and sat completely still. She weighed in at 125 pounds, right where a female orangutan her age should be. With a fairly reliable weighing method, our goal is monthly weigh-ins. It’s been a lesson in improvising and ingenuity and it’s results like this that help make our jobs so rewarding.
- Brian Sheets, zoo keeper
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Photos by Andrew Winterborn
The Indonesian widows’ eyes light up as they proudly tell us about their goats’ family history, grazing practices and stilted slat-floored night quarters. As we perform our physical examinations, the tough questions come up such as “Why has my goat only had stillbirths?” or “Does my goat have cancer?” Andrew Winterborn, DVM (a University of Rochester veterinarian from 2005-08) and I began a two-week mentoring program this month with Health in Harmony’s ASRI conservation staff on assessing herd health of goat and cattle.
The Goats for Widows program provides goats to widows in villages surrounding Gunung Palung National Park’s peat and cloud forest, home to 10% of the planet’s population (~2,500) of wild Bornean orangutans. The goats offer the widows and villages revenue streams and livelihood alternatives to logging the rainforest. Healthy goats and cattle are essential to program success. Being the first ASRI community-based animal health program, the veterinary team sent by Seneca Park Zoo’s American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) Chapter will over the next two weeks mentor ASRI conservation staff and farmers on best practices to diagnose, manage and prevent diseases and disorders as well as establish a program harmonizing healthy people, habitat, wildlife and now livestock, a model One Health Initiative.
- Dr. Jeff Wyatt, veterinarian
Posted in Borneo, Dr. Jeff Wyatt, Health in Harmony | Tagged Animals, Borneo, Goats for Widows, Health in Harmony, orangutans, Seneca Park Zoo | Leave a Comment »
Photo by Mary Ellen Ostrander
I bet you have been wondering what our California sea lion pup P.J. has been doing now that he is six months old. Well let me tell you. I have had the honor of watching Marina, P.J’s mother, teach P.J new skills every day.
When P.J was first born, Marina taught him to enter the pool, then to swim, then to exit the pool, each a survival skill, each taking days for him to learn. She also taught him to stay in a little tunnel we have in the outside exhibit. We were nervous at first but Marina was very confident that she wanted him in there. Wild sea lions leave their pups for days in little tight caves for safety. Marina was again teaching P.J a survival skill wild sea lions know and teach their young. Amazing! Each task took great patience on Marina’s part. She gently went over how she wanted these tasks accomplished until P.J succeeded. I was in awe and thrilled watching Marina’s teaching abilities. Marina just turned four years old in June. Marina was a young and first time mother, just a pup herself!
Marina and Lily back in 2011. (Photo by Jeff Gerew)
Marina and her friend Lily are wild sea lions. They came to us from California’s Marine Mammal Center in Fort MacArthur almost three years ago. Both injured by bullets, Lily was shot in the right flipper and hobbles on land while Marina had a bullet removed from her left eye and her eye could not be saved. The Marine Mammal Center is run on donations; I have donated to the center and so has our American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK) chapter because of the great work the center does. Donate today and help save a life. They will really appreciate it!
I have just read documentation that researchers have recently discovered wild sea lions have and will adopt unrelated orphaned pups. Incredible! Lily has show great interest in P.J. She plays with him, sleeps with him and has protected him from us when she has thought we were too close to him! I have learned so much from Lily and Marina and now P.J. and I am truly thankful. About six weeks ago, Marina started calling P.J to her training sessions. I would call her to me then she would bark for P.J. She would not eat until he was with us. How cute is she! She has an education plan for her pup. Truly AMAZING!
Photo by Mary Ellen Ostrander
P.J will not eat fish for a few more months. Now he stations with her and I reward him with praise and he takes a fish to play with. They both target my hand together. When I pet Marina, I pet P.J. He is not afraid because his mom said it was O.K. WOW! The other day I was asking Marina to fetch a new toy. She was unsure of the novel item and was just touching it. I could not believe it when P.J pushed it over to me! Every day I am amazed and so very grateful! Come to the Rocky Coast Gallery glass and play with the sea lions and be amazed with me.
- Mary Ellen Ostrander, zoo keeper
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