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Saturday, January 30, 2010

(S)he will be loved

It's a boy!

Last night, a baby zebra was birthed at the zoo!  So this morning, I was surprised when I wasn't there before Susie, and she left the keeper's quarters just as I got there, and then a minute later she was on the radio screaming there's a baby, there's a baby.  So a few of us went out there, but I didn't get to look then.  I went back and put together the rhino and zebra food dishes while Susie did a bunch of stuff.  When I was done with this we went out there, and she dropped me off in the zebra yard to clean up while she started feeding everyone so we would have more time to move zebras around since there was a baby now.  While I was cleaning the exhibit I caught my first glimpse at the new little boy.  He was soo cute.  When I was done cleaning we let the ostriches out so it would be easier to start moving zebras around and cleaned out their barn so we could move the mother and newborn into that area.

After we did that, we cleaned out the rhino yard really fast and got the rhinos and gazelle out before we started messing with zebras.  Then we cleaned out their back areas and went back to the zebras.  We put the male one out like normal, but kept the older female separate from the mom and baby.  When we got everything sorted out Susie started calling everyone that was off that needed to know there was a baby, and slowly all of them started showing up in the next half hour or so.  We just sort of watched the baby for a little while to make sure he started functioning properly and then we left to go do some tortoise and rhino stuff before more zebra time.

Cleaned out the tortoise areas and put out the new food, and then brought them out of their houses.  While we were up in that area, Susie tried feeding the crane again because he didn't eat very much early in the morning, but he didn't eat much again this time either.  It was kind of fun talking to the zoo visitors and being able to actually answer their questions.  I felt kind of important.

So we went back to the zebra area to start cleaning that out, one little pen at a time.  But right when we started there was a call over the radio saying something about the elephants, and Susie wanted to make sure that they told us when they started what they were going to do.  So we cleaned for about ten minutes and then went out into the zoo and went to the elephant exhibit.  The zoo had just bought a giant ball, and some of the keepers put it in the exhibit this morning, so we all gathered around to see if the elephants would play with it.  The Asian wanted no part of it, but the African played with it for a little bit before going to find food.  It was kind of cool to see them see a new toy for the first time.

When we went back to the zebras to finish cleaning there were a couple other keepers sitting and making observations minute by minute of the baby while I finished cleaning out the different zebra areas.  I got to see the placenta up close and personal, that was really cool but kind of gross at the same time.  That was pretty much it for the day.  Very zebra heavy, but totally worth while.  The baby was having problems nursing and stiff rear legs, so hopefully he's feeling better before I go back Tuesday.

Tap on my window, knock on my door I, want to make you feel beautiful.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Her Diamonds

Alrighty, another Tuesday done, another couple things learned.  Tuesday's still not too interesting, but whatever, it's still the zoo.

Started off with a keeper meeting where they talked about when and where certain trees are getting cut down over the next week.  Sounds like quite the project.  Then me and Stacey sat there while we waited for everything in the kitchen to settle down.

After a few minutes we went to the kitchen and I started on the tortoise diets while she was ordering stuff and on the phone and all kinds of weird stuff.  When I finished up the tortoise diets I put sunflower seeds and peanuts into little bags, I don't know why, and then filled up the containers of food.

Then we took the delivery of worms and crickets out of the boxes and put them in their places.  Playing with worms is interesting to say the least.  Then she had me help her a little bit with putting the bear diets together, and then I made the bucket of elephant treats for the training, which I saw Saturday so that was kind of neat to make the stuff that I saw being used earlier this week.  Once we finished that up we went to the city storage area which is right across the street behind the right field wall of Hi Corbett.  There's a store and maintenance yard and all kinds of weird stuff that she showed me, and it's all behind right field which is even weirder.  And that was the end of the day.  Exciting, right?  At least Saturdays are awesome....

And I don't know what I'm supposed to do so I sit down and cry too. But don't let her see

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Gotta Feelin

Yep, back to song names as titles for these ;)

Sooooo, Saturdays at the zoo are way cooler than Tuesdays.  Today started off exactly like last week, except way less intimidating.  I kind of had an idea of what I was doing, and I knew where I was going.  Started off with my keeper telling me to find some extra rubber boots that were big enough for me because the entire zoo was a swamp after all the rain that we had this week.  So I found some, luckily, and then we were off to start the day.  She had to go check on the tortoises to make sure they weren't too wet, so I mixed the vitamins and medicine into the rhino and zebra food while she did that, and then we loaded up the cart with all the other food and we were off.

First up is the rhinos.  I took their two food containers in and she brought the grain and pellets.  I fed the male one first since he was already in the barn and Susie started cleaning out his eye while the female came in and then I fed her.  Feeding them this week was way faster than last week, and of course, got some petting in while I could.

The next animals that get food are the ostriches and the zebras.  Ostriches are weird.  They just look and act dumb.  The entire back area was puddles from all the rain, so the animals weren't really moving around too much.  After the ostriches got their food the zebras got theirs, all in their separate areas, and the really old female getting a different diet from the other two.  The pregnant zebra looked fatter this week compared to last week, so that baby is coming and it's coming quick! So excited for when that actually happens.

Next thing on the to do list is to clean out the zebra/ostrich exhibit.  I started this while Susie went and fed the gazelle and carnivore birds (I always forget what they're actually called).  Cleaning exhibits is interesting when there are lakes in the middle of them.  Everything looks so much more disgusting.  Some of the wooden border decorations had fallen off too, so there was a couple gaps in the fence today.  After this we cleaned out the rhino exhibit.  That was even more disgusting.  The only place they poop in the exhibit was covered by water, so all their poop was underwater and we had to kind of muck it out.  But it turned out to be alright cuz we didn't have to get all of it.

This next part was the highlight of the day.  We left the big cart over between the rhinos and zebras, got in a fresh cart and went over to the elephant area! I didn't know I was allowed to even go anywhere near that area, but my keeper and the other one that was on elephants today let me in, so of course I went in.  To get to the place where they clean the elephants' feet, you have to go through the night barn and out to the kind of quarantine area, where they more the elephants into this little barred off cage where the gates are automatic and open and close to move the elephant through and keep them still while the keepers are doing stuff.  Kind of like an airlock I guess.  The two keepers told me exactly where they wanted me to stand as they brought the first of the two out, the Asian elephant.  This one is shorter but thicker than the African elephant, and apparently meaner because they wanted me to stand as still as possible, and my keeper Susie can't touch him because he doesn't like her very much, but she could use this whistle that they use to tell the elephant when it can put its feet back down when they're done cleaning it.  When he was done, they let him out into the exhibit and brought the taller African elephant out.  She's apparently nicer, so they were both doing stuff and then when they started doing her back feet they brought me around and let me touch her feet and scrape off some of the sand.  That was awesome.  I touched an elephant's foot!  And then, if that wasn't enough, they did some kind of tail training and wanted me to be an extra person to touch it for the elephant's training.  So I touched its tail too! Its tail hairs are really hard, kind of like a wire brush thing.  It was incredible to do that though.

When we went back to the main hoofstock area, we took the tortoises their food and then cleaned out the rhino, gazelle and that bird yards.  Then Susie had to go back and do other stuff with the elephants, so I started cleaning the zebra area while she was doing that, and then when she came back she bleached the girl zebra barn (girl zebras poop in their barn but the guy zebra doesn't, guys are obviously cleaner).  When we were done cleaning out the zebra area, she put the females out on exhibit and brought the male back in and that was the end of my day.

So, obviously, the most exciting part was the elephant part.  Hopefully that happens more often than not haha.  I feel like I'm starting to get the hang of it and hopefully next week we'll get everything done even faster.

I know that we'll have a ball if we get down go out and just lose it all

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

First Kitchen Day

Today was my second day at the zoo, the first one with my other keeper, Stacey.  She only works in the kitchen so that's where I stayed all day.

The day started off with her telling me to just stay out of the way and watch til all the keepers had their food and were out of the way, so that's exactly what I did, while eating a cookie that one of the docents brought.  When that was over, she finally acknowledged my existence and showed me around the kitchen and the warehouse area.  Then she gave me a fatty binder with the diet of every animal in the zoo listed inside of it.  She told me to read all of it, so I did.  It took about 45 minutes along with some other distractions including talking to the community service lady who also works in the kitchen.

After I was done reading, Stacey told me to make all of the tortoise diets, so I did.  A lot of salad and fruits and vegetables, and now I know the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber (I think). Seriously, they look way too alike to be completely different things.  After I was done making the different diets and putting them in the right refrigerators, the weekly delivery of mealworms came in, so I had to help put them in containers for the rest of the week.

When the worms were put away we cleaned up the kitchen and that was pretty much it for the day.  Vet visits are on Tuesdays and Fridays, so hopefully I'll get to be around those more often than standing in the kitchen and making tortoise diets...but it's easy work and for credit. And it's still working at a zoo, so it's not bad, just not as exciting as petting rhinos and getting chased by giant meat eating birds.

I can't walk and I can't talk anymore since you, walked out the door

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My First Day!!

So, this is easily the best thing that I've ever done.  I may have found my true calling in life this morning. :)

When I got there, it was a little strange because I was early and apparently not very many zookeepers get there early on a Saturday.  One of the older ones kind of introduced me to most of them, and then eventually Susie, my Saturday keeper, showed up.  Right away we gathered up all the food as she was explaining to me that they basically feed all the hooved animals a horse's diet.  We then started loading up our cart with all the food that we were going to need for the morning.

We went to the rhinos first.  It was awesome when she started tapping on their fence with a wrench and they came from their house to their different stalls to eat.  As she was treating one of their eyes, she told me to just stand there and pet it while she took care of everything.  Coolest thing ever!  I just stood there petting a rhino for a solid ten minutes, and it wouldn't be the last time!

After that we drove over to the ostriches and zebras and fed them.  The ostriches are kind of crazy, and the zebras are pretty funny.  One of the zebras is pregnant, and she's having the baby in the next month or two, so I'll get to experience that too! After feeding them we went into their exhibit and cleaned it out and fed the different birds that are in there.  When we left there, Susie told me she was going to go get something and sent me back into the exhibit by myself to go retrieve an ostrich egg that they had found.  So that was the first thing I did at the zoo by myself, and apparently it's the weirdest looking ostrich egg that they've ever seen.  So that's kinda fun.  Then we went back to the barn area and let the ostriches and zebras out into their area.

The next thing we did was check the temperature of the tortoises.  They were warm, so we opened up their house to the outside world, and let them cool down for about an hour before putting them out for the public to see.  After that we cleaned out the rhino/gazelle exhibit area and then let them out into their exhibit just as people were starting to show up.  When the rhino was leaving he stuck his head through the fence so I could pet him again. :)

When everything was out in their exhibits and everything was going well, we started cleaning out their night areas, gazelle first, then the rhinos.  When we were just about done cleaning the rhino barn, it was time to give the rhino his daily foot check up.  So I got to watch that happen, and stand there and pet the rhino the whole time so he would stay put and be happy.  That was the last time I'd see Bobo today (he's my new best friend).

The rest of the day was spent sweeping and raking the zebra/ostrich night area.  If you painted a horse with black and white stripes, it would be the same thing as a zebra.  Manure's the same, hay's the same.  Kind of ridiculous.

All in all, today was awesome!  Learned so much about the zoo and the different animals.  I'll probably forget some of it before next Saturday when I'm in hoofstock again, but that's ok.  I can already tell this will be the most incredible thing I've ever done.

Mr Jones and me, tell each other fairy tales

Monday, January 11, 2010

Orientation Day

On January 10, 2010, I officially became a zoo intern here in Tucson.  The first day was not very exciting in itself, but I am the most excited I have ever been for a semester.

When I got there, two other girls were there, Sarah and Jessica.  They were just standing there, and looking kind of confused.  Later on I found out that the zookeepers had been walking by laughing at them because we weren't allowed to go inside until all 5 of us were there.  So we stood there for about another 15 minutes waiting for the other two, Catherine and Adrienne.  Apparently Adrienne's been working at the zoo for a while in the education department, so she already knows all the keepers and where everything is, so that's sort of an unfair advantage.

When we did finally go in, we went over policies and safety and those kinds of things, and then got a quick tour of the back area, like the keeper's lounge, kitchen, vet area and other things like that.  Then we were assigned our first team activity.  A scavenger hunt around the zoo.  It was fun because I ended up with Sarah (who I had ecology with this past semester) and Catherine, and they're both really nice.  The other two are already kind of friends and they seem like they're going to exclude us 3, but that's alright.

So the hunt took as all around the zoo, and showed us the special gates to get to the perimeter road that we'll have to use a lot probably.  The zoo's not very big, and it's separated by geographical regions, so getting lost will probably not be too big of an issue the first couple of days there.

After we finished up the scavenger hunt, we were done for the day, but while we were walking on the perimeter road we got to see a tiger up close, along with a vulture, heron and a zebra.  We got our sweet volunteer shirts, and were officially done.  Those last encounters definitely got me even more excited than I already was.  After this semester is over, hopefully I know exactly what I want to be doing, and that being working in a zoo full time.

I will follow you into the dark

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Holiday Bowl Trip

Since I start working at the zoo for real Sunday afternoon, this will probably be the last post that has to do with something other than that, but what an awesome trip San Diego was. Let's just go through it day by day here.

Sunday the 27th: Got back at about 1 in the morning from the Coyotes game the night before. Woke up feeling sick to my stomach. But, I got everything packed and loaded up, bought a sandwich at Circle K, and went to the stadium to load the truck and stuff. Found out when I got there that our rookie bottom bass drummer couldn't find his uniform in his house, so he had to check out one that was three sizes too big haha. Before we got on the buses Scott called us over and told us we were getting sweet free shirts. So that was exciting.

On the way there, I got to sit by myself since there were a lot of people just meeting us in San Diego, so sleeping was a lot easier. Listened to Coldplay the entire way, non stop. I know, it's sort of ridiculous, but they're so awesome. When we got to the hotel, everyone had a different idea of what we were supposed to do, so it took a lot longer than it should have to get to the room, but once that was settled we dropped everything off and went downstairs for pizza/football watching. That night we wandered around Gaslamp and did magic tricks with a mime in front of Ghiradelli's. And I made the mime talk to me, so that was the victory for the night...

Monday the 28th: Quick breakfast and then off to the naval base. We were ultra late in getting there so we didn't have any time to warm up before the first time playing on drums in two weeks, but it still went pretty well. This is where we got to see the Nebraska mascot for the first time, which is a moment I will never forget. That thing is ridiculous. Also saw Ndamukong Suh walk onto the boat while we were playing. First time I saw him in person too. We didn't get to go on the boat, but it was still a good time, and definitely the best parade rout ever...out onto a pier.

Then came rehearsal. It was long, it got cold towards the end, and my knee stopped working towards the end, so it was painful. After rehearsal, we had the band banquet, which was long, hot and painful. The drumline wore tacky christmas sweaters though, so that made it better. But the main downer at that thing was that the montage video from the entire year didn't have the drumline in it at all, so that was really disappointing. The banquet went so late there was no time to go do anything afterwards, so we sat in the hotel and stared at what we thought was some dude not moving in the tower across from us for like an hour and a half, and one person named all the cleaning people. It was fun and ridiculous. Turns out it was a mannequin since it was still there the next morning. Oh well...totally worth it.

Tuesday the 29th: The first thing we did was the convention center, where we warmed up in a spot with the best warmup view ever, and we saw the high school band representing Nebraska for the first time. Also saw Suh at this too, so that was twice before the game even started, which was exciting for me. After playing all kinds of tunes, we left and headed for Sea World. That was awesome. There were way more people watching us play than I would have imagined, and everything sounded good. It was a really great time there. Then we got some free time there until some of us had to leave for a pep band gig. Did all the stuff I did there in the summer basically, except I saw Shamu this time, which is always a great time.

After Sea World, a small drumline had to do a pep band gig, and I was a part of that small drumline. We went to the Hyatt where the teams were staying, and they kicked us out early because we were so loud. This gave us extra free time for the rest of the night. We went to a restaurant called Ponchos de Charly, and our server was Don Octavio, so you can imagine how awesome that dinner was. Then we just wandered around Gaslamp some more, found an awesome candy store, and I had the greatest shake of my life at Ghiradelli's. We went back to the hotel kind of early because the next day was going to be ridiculously long.

Wednesday the 30th (Game day): Woke up bright and early to go to the Holiday Bowl Parade. Best. Parade. Ever. So many balloons, so many high schools, it was great. And we warmed up facing the ocean again, which I want to do every time we warmup now. We played Vader for the Star Wars people, so that was kind of funny, and we played Band Yell with Ironwood Ridge High, and that was really loud. The parade was great, so many people the entire route, and then we went to Broadway Pier for a "Battle of the Bands", where SE Lincoln High played Nebraska's fight songs, and we played everything. Then we walked probably 20 miles (that's what it felt like) to Seaport Village, where we had an awesome catered mexican food lunch. Just sat there and stared out into the bay. It was sort of cold, but not too bad. Then we went to the stadium.

It started raining when we got there. We unloaded everything and headed out to play at three tailgates. It was kind of a mist the entire tailgating time, so it actually felt pretty good. After making a complete lap around the stadium, we went into the tunnel where we stood for at least half an hour with IRHS and SELHS. There were lots of shoes hanging from the piping above us, so that was kind of odd. We finally went out onto the field to do pregame, and it was awesome. Qualcomm doesn't hold very many people, but it feels a lot bigger than Arizona Stadium or Sun Devil Stadium. It stopped raining for pregame and the first half, but started again at halftime. During pregame there were parachuters that landed on the field. That was amazing. And then we went up into our ridiculously great seats. Right on the field, lots of room. So much better than a home game or at ASU, or even Vegas. The game itself was horrendous. We never really stood a chance, but we still had an awesome time in the stands. Halftime was the greatest halftime show of all time. We played part 1, then a montage of music with the high school bands and fireworks everywhere, the drumline even danced to Love Shack.
It was great.

After the game everyone was really hungry, so a group of us went to TGI Fridays. It took a long time to get food, but when you're with fun people it really doesn't matter that much. After eating we just went back to the hotel since it was after midnight by then.

Thursday the 31st: Just got up, packed, loaded the buses and left. We stopped in Yuma for lunch, but ended up having to unload the equipment truck because it broke down just as we got there. That was the only exciting part of the trip back, mostly because I slept the whole way from Yuma to Marana listening to Five for Fighting. After we got back to Tucson I cleaned up my house and then went over to the staff's house for midnight, where I got the year off to a good start with friends. It hasn't stayed that great, but hopefully it will turn around soon.

So that was the best band trip ever. So much fun the entire time. Truly incredible. I hope we go back again next year. That's up to Foles and crew I guess.

Oh I, I just died in your arms tonight