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Ask a zookeeper (1 Viewer)

valence

Footballguy
What lizard makes the best pet? Assuming that you have the discipline, money and space to provide for it properly.
Crested Gecko. No heating required (mids 60s to mid 70s) can eat insects, but do perfectly fine with a powder mixed with water diet (Crested Gecko Diet), lots of different colors/morphs are very easily handled as well.
yep. these guys are good starters too. I prefer the beardies though.
 

rikishiboy

Footballguy
If you were in a Zoo Draft, which animal would be your first round pick? How about sleeper?
valence was in a zoo draft a couple years ago.....his first pick was the Asiatic Lion.I was want to add (as many before me have) this is a great thread.If a deadly animal 2 is ever started I would be very interested.
 

OC Zed

Footballguy
Maybe polar bears wouldn't like the taste of penguins and they could work it out? I don't know. Since all the ice caps in the north pole are melting we should ship a few to the south pole to see what happens.

couldn't be worse than what happened to this poor polar bear

A polar bear that swam more than 200 miles in near-freezing waters to reach Iceland was shot on arrival in case it posed a threat to humans.

The bear, thought to be the first to reach the country in at least 15 years, was killed after local police claimed it was a danger to humans, triggering an outcry from animal lovers. Police claimed it was not possible to sedate the bear.

The operation to kill the animal was captured on film.

The adult male, weighing 250kg, was presumed to have swum some 200 miles from Greenland, or from a distant chunk of Arctic ice, to Skagafjordur in northern Iceland.

"There was fog up in the hills and we took the decision to kill the bear before it could disappear into the fog," said the police spokesman Petur Bjornsson.

Iceland's environment minister, Thorunn Sveinbjarnardottir, gave the green light for police to shoot the bear because the correct tranquiliser would have taken 24 hours to be flown in, the Icelandic news channel Visir.is reported.

Sveinbjarnardottir's account was disputed by the chief vet in the town of Blönduó, Egill Steingrímsson, who said he had the drugs necessary to immobilise the bear in the boot of his car. "If the narcotics gun would have been sent by plane, it would have arrived within an hour," he said. "They could keep tabs on the bear for that long."

Steingrímsson also criticised police for not closing a mountain road where people congregated after hearing news of the bear. "There were around 50 to 60 people there watching. The police did not have many options when the bear ran down the hill, approaching the crowd," Steingrimsson said. "I'm very unsatisfied that the police did not try to catch it alive and did not close the road."

The oldest record of polar bears being sighted in Iceland is from 890, 16 years after the first settlers arrived. The last visit was in 1993, when sailors saw a bear swimming off the coast of Strandir. It was also killed.

Polar bears were frequently tamed during the middle ages, but since then no bear has been captured alive in Iceland. Receding North Pole ice is diminishing their hunting and mating grounds and jeopardising their survival.

A spokesman for PolarWorld, a German group dedicated to the preservation of the polar regions and the creatures which inhabit it, called the bear's death "an avoidable tragedy ... another great day for mankind".
WHAT???????????
 

OC Zed

Footballguy
If you had the chance to visit any ten zoos in the world, which would they be, in order -- and why?Also, GREAT thread! Thanks!
I'll list ten but not in any particular order. I still need to hit several of these some day:Bronx zoo - one of the largest, if not the largest zoo in a metropolitan area.Zoological Gardens of South Africa. I'm fascinated with how foreign zoos do things differently than us.Berlin Zoo - This place has been around since the mid 19th century and it survived WW2. Schonbrunner Zoo - oldest zoo in the world. late 18th century I believe.Singapore zoo - the exhibits in this zoo are absolutely amazing. Nearly all of perfectly simulate the animals natural habitats. Lots of "walk-in" type exhibits as well.San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park - A must see just for it's immense size and variety of animals. This park has been a pioneer in "cageless" exhibit design for the USDisney's Animal Kingdom - Nearly everything here is state of the art. Great for the animals and the guests. Some of the rides are pretty fun for adults too.Georgia Aquarium - Only place in this country that you can see Whale sharks. Pretty expensive, but totally worth the experience of seeing the worlds largest fish.Lion Country Safari - Pretty cool drive through Safari Park in West Palm Beach, FLAustralia Zoo - Home of the Crocodile Hunter. I miss that guy.
Does the aquarium in Okinawa have any sort of a reputation (good or bad)?
 

Chaos Commish

Footballguy
I concur this is a great thread. Thanks, valence. I laughed pretty hard at the first war teams question, but I do hope that silly vein of the thread has a worn out about now. Some questions. I have a piece of property about 7 miles as the crow... er vulture flies from the San Diego Wild Animal Park. A couple times a year a huge African vulture from the park perches on the telephone pole overlooking the backyard and just stares down all day. I've beaned it with an avocado and it won't leave. I've called the park and they tell me it will fly home when it gets hungry. WTH is going on around here!? Why do zebras chase rhinos all day at that park?Also you singled out Peregrines as a BoP you'd like to work with. I know they are amazingly fast, but otherwise they seem pretty generic to me. What is it about them that makes you list such a common BoP as the one you'd like to work with? When I look at pictures of BoPs, some of them are just incredible in comparison, imo. When you answer I'll share an interesting phenomena regarding Peregrines I've been observing every Spring/Summer for the last six years. If I both remember and get a chance, I'll take some footage this year when it starts happening again.
There are several different species of "african vulture". Can you be more specific? Are you sure it's not just a turkey vulture?Do things regularly die on your property? If so then that's the likeliest reason. Why are you beaning it with an avocado? it isn't going to mess with you or anything that isn't already dead.Zebras can be characters. I'm sure that when the rhinos have had enough they let the zebra know.I think you misread... or I mispoke. I'm pretty sure I said that peregrines were one of my favorites to work with as I have worked with them more than any other BoP besides Harris' hawks. They are just a lot of fun to work with because of their speed and agility. Lure training with them is about the most fun thing I have done as a zookeeper. I also love that they are specially designed to catch and eat other birds in flight. Some cool adaptations: notched beak that fits in between the vertebrae and used for snapping the necks of other birds, oversized feet for grabbing a bird in midair, and special bones in their nares for breaking up the airstream as they dive and hit their prey at over 200mph.I said that I would like to work with Bateleur Eagles some day.I'd love to see some of your footage.
Thanks for the answers. I forgot I posted the questions until now.Peregrines have colonized a valley in the desert (strange location for them and it's year round) and few know about it. BLM rangers have asked for secrecy because of the peculiar behavior being observed. There's several oddities, but most interesting, it's flight school for the babies and as hilarious as it is interesting. Lots of wipeouts going for a prey I do not believe they typically eat -- grasshoppers. One bird buzzes the grasshoppers sending them into flight and a squadron of baby Peregrines behind the first one picks them out of the air at impressive speeds. The adults feed on chuckar and dove with impressive aerial attacks. The abundance of food must be why this resembles a colony. I expect 20-30 nests this year. The vulture is... going from memory, a white back? Anyway, our turkey vultures look like 2-4 pound birds. This thing had to weigh ten pounds, and the Wild Animal Park has admits it's theirs and there's nothing they can do but wait for it to come home. I guess the flight feathers grow back before they catch it sometimes. I just don't understand why this one particular telephone pole and the behavior. It won't move. We've never seen it fly. Which is why I tossed avocados at it. I wanted to see if fly and make sure it wasn't sick or something. First I intentionally missed it. to see if it would take flight. Then as gently as tossing keys up to a window I hit it, not trying to hurt, trying to make it fly. But it doesn't move. You have an interesting thought. Could dead buried things attract it? This first time it happened a couple months after I buried a large dog on the property (maybe 80 yards from this pole). But that doesn't explain months later and then a year after that does it? My neighbor says it's an evil omen. It sure looks like one.
 

sho nuff

Footballguy
sho nuff said:
As a zookeeper...how do you feel about the Circus? More to the point...do they treat the animals (horses, tigers, elephants) well?
???
not a big fan of the circus. they still use bullhooks on their elephants and other animals.
I used one on my son last night.:)The horses just had a look of defeat to them...their thing was actually running in a circle with their heads down. Looked bad IMO. Ive seen horses running that look happy to be doing so (if its possible really to tell). These did not look happy.
 

valence

Footballguy
As a zookeeper...how do you feel about the Circus? More to the point...do they treat the animals (horses, tigers, elephants) well?
???
not a big fan of the circus. they still use bullhooks on their elephants and other animals.
I used one on my son last night.:kicksrock:The horses just had a look of defeat to them...their thing was actually running in a circle with their heads down. Looked bad IMO. Ive seen horses running that look happy to be doing so (if its possible really to tell). These did not look happy.
One thing you have to be careful with is anthropomorphizing. Placing human attributes on animals isn't always accurate. I'm not saying that these horses are or are not "happy", but you can't really place your emotions on most animals because there isn't a scientific way to know for certain that animals have emotions.
 

valence

Footballguy
I have an editor of a local newspaper\blog interested in this idea. Thanks for the tip guys. I'll keep you updated as I'm sure you are all awaiting the outcome with bated breath.

 

Mr. Yuk

Footballguy
valence said:
I have an editor of a local newspaper\blog interested in this idea. Thanks for the tip guys. I'll keep you updated as I'm sure you are all awaiting the outcome with bated breath.
:thumbup:
 

Mario Kart

Footballguy
valence said:
I have an editor of a local newspaper\blog interested in this idea. Thanks for the tip guys. I'll keep you updated as I'm sure you are all awaiting the outcome with bated breath.
If this idea turns into a small paying job on the side where you write about your day as a keeper or about animal safety and other things related to animals, that is pretty cool. Hope it works out. From small ideas come big rewards.
 

phthalatemagic

Footballguy
As a zookeeper...how do you feel about the Circus? More to the point...do they treat the animals (horses, tigers, elephants) well?
???
not a big fan of the circus. they still use bullhooks on their elephants and other animals.
I used one on my son last night.:)The horses just had a look of defeat to them...their thing was actually running in a circle with their heads down. Looked bad IMO. Ive seen horses running that look happy to be doing so (if its possible really to tell). These did not look happy.
One thing you have to be careful with is anthropomorphizing. Placing human attributes on animals isn't always accurate. I'm not saying that these horses are or are not "happy", but you can't really place your emotions on most animals because there isn't a scientific way to know for certain that animals have emotions.
There sure as hell are.
 

nyftbl_giants

Footballguy
"I don't thin they would want to take over the world though. I think they would just want to be left alone"

Amen.

Great thread

 

valence

Footballguy
Well the zoo has told me that I cannot work with local newspapers because according to our Social Networking and Media policy they have the right to deny the media access to any zoo employee. They are choosing to exercise this option in this case.

Instead they want me to help out with a column for their own blog. I'll probably give them a hand with it, but in addition I created my own blog which is now live at Ask the Zookeeper

Until new content is generated, I'll be posting some of the questions from this thread there.

Thanks again for all your ideas and support!

 
Well the zoo has told me that I cannot work with local newspapers because according to our Social Networking and Media policy they have the right to deny the media access to any zoo employee. They are choosing to exercise this option in this case.

Instead they want me to help out with a column for their own blog. I'll probably give them a hand with it, but in addition I created my own blog which is now live at Ask the Zookeeper

Until new content is generated, I'll be posting some of the questions from this thread there.

Thanks again for all your ideas and support!
Good luck dude!
 

RC94

Footballguy
Well the zoo has told me that I cannot work with local newspapers because according to our Social Networking and Media policy they have the right to deny the media access to any zoo employee. They are choosing to exercise this option in this case.

Instead they want me to help out with a column for their own blog. I'll probably give them a hand with it, but in addition I created my own blog which is now live at Ask the Zookeeper

Until new content is generated, I'll be posting some of the questions from this thread there.

Thanks again for all your ideas and support!
I like your blog so far. Good luck with the column and blog.
 

RC94

Footballguy
I have seen a few TV shows about Rhinos and the tame ones are always friendly, curious, smart and have a fun-loving personality. It's different than what one would expect by just looking at them or only seeing the limited footage we have of them in the wild. Have you had much interaction with rhinos? If so, what do you think of them? If not, what do your friends/colleagues who have think of them? Any interesting stories?

 

valence

Footballguy
I have seen a few TV shows about Rhinos and the tame ones are always friendly, curious, smart and have a fun-loving personality. It's different than what one would expect by just looking at them or only seeing the limited footage we have of them in the wild. Have you had much interaction with rhinos? If so, what do you think of them? If not, what do your friends/colleagues who have think of them? Any interesting stories?
I haven't worked with rhinos. They've been on my short list for awhile. i just haven't had the opportunity.
 
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valence

Footballguy
Sorry for neglecting this thread and the blog. I have been in the process of interviewing and moving and accepting a new job at the San Diego Zoo.

I started work on Saturday and so far it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm getting to work with some species that I haven't worked before.

 

Hawks64

Footballguy
Sorry for neglecting this thread and the blog. I have been in the process of interviewing and moving and accepting a new job at the San Diego Zoo.I started work on Saturday and so far it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm getting to work with some species that I haven't worked before.
Congrats on the new gig! Do you hear things happening/rumors/etc at zoos around the country? Curious to know if Brookfiled Zoo is finally going to do the right thing and move it's last elephant out and not keep any in the future.
 

phthalatemagic

Footballguy
Would you allow interspecies dating? Say if a zebra and a muskrat approached you about their love, would you let them visit each other? If not, why not?

 

bostonfred

Footballguy
Good deal valence. Good luck.

I still love the implication from the thread title that most zookeepers have huge secrets that they could never tell us, but you're breaking some kind of zookeeper code to share the real dirt with us.

 

inca911

Footballguy
What's the best way to get a behind the scenes tour at either the Minnesota Zoo or Como Zoo? Got any associates or secret passwords?

 

Abraham

Footballguy
Do you generally think that zoo animals are well cared for? I realize that's a bit of a subjective and open-ended question, but considering they are in captivity I'd like to know if you think most zookepers have the animal's best interest at heart.

 

Card Trader

Footballguy
I'm sure this is a very stupid question, but here goes anyways

Do you know of any examples of animals keeping "pets" like humans do, caring for another animal and keeping as one of their family?

 

RC94

Footballguy
I have seen a few TV shows about Rhinos and the tame ones are always friendly, curious, smart and have a fun-loving personality. It's different than what one would expect by just looking at them or only seeing the limited footage we have of them in the wild. Have you had much interaction with rhinos? If so, what do you think of them? If not, what do your friends/colleagues who have think of them? Any interesting stories?
I haven't worked with rhinos. They've been on my short list for awhile. i just haven't had the opportunity.
Please file this question away for later. I am really curious about yours and/or your colleagues' thoughts about these animals once you do have some interaction with them.
 

valence

Footballguy
I'll get to these sometime tonight or tomorrow. had a late training day today so the dog is going nuts for attention.

 

boilerdave

Footballguy
Jack Hanna had a Siberian Lynx on the David Letterman show last night...I'd never seen one before, pretty cool looking cat.

 

valence

Footballguy
Sorry for neglecting this thread and the blog. I have been in the process of interviewing and moving and accepting a new job at the San Diego Zoo.I started work on Saturday and so far it looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm getting to work with some species that I haven't worked before.
Congrats on the new gig! Do you hear things happening/rumors/etc at zoos around the country? Curious to know if Brookfiled Zoo is finally going to do the right thing and move it's last elephant out and not keep any in the future.
Not sure exactly about Brookfield, but many smaller zoos are going towards moving their elephants to other locations that can better care for them. I'll send out some feelers on that story
 

valence

Footballguy
Are there any animals that appear to be menacing but are surprisingly docile?
three off the top of my head:1. Moray eel - have to open and close their mouths to draw water over their gills, which exposes their rows of teeth. They are actually quite timid and will hid from you. Once out free swimming though, they are relatively easy to handle.2. Sand Tiger Shark - rows and rows of visible jagged teeth contribute to this shark's terrifying appearance. they are actually extremely mellow and rarely ever have any incidents with humans.3. King Snake: colors mimic that of the extremely venomous coral snake. This coloration has evolved as a way to frighten away potential predators
 

valence

Footballguy
Good deal valence. Good luck. I still love the implication from the thread title that most zookeepers have huge secrets that they could never tell us, but you're breaking some kind of zookeeper code to share the real dirt with us.
I wouldn't say I'm breaking any sort of zookeeper code, but I have said more than I probably should about some of the zoo's I've worked for.
 

Mario Kart

Footballguy
Would the San Diego Zoo be like the summit of Mount Everest in Zookeeper achievement? Is that zoo still the #1 zoo in the country? If yes and yes, than huge congrats on that move. From Washington, I believe that is where you are, to San Diego, that is a pretty good distance as well.

 

valence

Footballguy
What's the best way to get a behind the scenes tour at either the Minnesota Zoo or Como Zoo? Got any associates or secret passwords?
Don't know anyone at Minnesota zoo. sorry. You could become a volunteer and do it that way.
 

valence

Footballguy
Do you generally think that zoo animals are well cared for? I realize that's a bit of a subjective and open-ended question, but considering they are in captivity I'd like to know if you think most zookepers have the animal's best interest at heart.
I believe that most zoo animals are well cared for. Most zookeepers definitely have the animal's best interest at heart. There are always your few outliers that to them this is just a job, but Of all the people I've met in this field I couldn't say that about more than a few.One thing people don't realize is that there isn't really any "wild" left anymore outside of possibly Antarctica. Even Africa the last place on earth you can really see megafauna running free is mostly wilderness preserves. The populations are managed in some regards. In the preserves there are poachers that kill thousands of animals a year. In Borneo and Sumatra, forests are being cut down and turned into palm oil plantations. Those forests are the only place in the world where Orangutans live. They could easily be extinct in the next ten years.Captivity isn't as terrible as it is sometimes made out to be.
 

valence

Footballguy
I'm sure this is a very stupid question, but here goes anywaysDo you know of any examples of animals keeping "pets" like humans do, caring for another animal and keeping as one of their family?
KoKo the famous sign language gorilla sorta had a cat for a pet.I don't know if pet is the right term, but ants tend to aphids which help produce food for them so they are kinda like livestock for ants.I don't think the Jungle Book really happened if that's where you are going.
 

valence

Footballguy
Why are women so fascinated with pandas?
It's the whole black and white thing, similar to why people love orcas. They are just big charismatic mega fauna that the public falls in love with. On one hand they are good because they help get people excited about animals which sometimes trickles down to other less celebrity animals. On the other hand, they tend to get the majority of the conservation money while other just as important, but less attractive species get only a very small piece of that pie.
 

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