National Intern Day and National Zoo Keeper Week!
National Zoo Keeper Week
July 18-24 is National Zoo Keeper Week! Tanganyika relies heavily on its team of zookeepers- they are at the heart of what we do here! We have five main departments at the park: Carnivores, Hoofstock, Primates, TMC (Troublemaker’s Cove), and BREZ (Birds, Roos, Education Animals, and Children’s Zoo).
The Carnivore team covers most of the meat-eating animals we house, which includes snow leopards, cheetahs, Amur leopards, and lions, to name a few. The Hoofstock team cares for anything from goats to pigs to giraffes. The primate team covers, wouldn’t you know, any and all primates! We have ring-tailed lemurs, colobus monkeys, mandrills, and many more! The TMC team looks after a wide variety of animals, including penguins, sloths, otters, armadillos, Luna (our albino alligator), and Quilliam (a porcupine!). Definitely some troublemaker action in there, at least occasionally … Lastly, there’s the BREZ team, and they work with a myriad of birds, kangaroos, education animals, and children’s zoo animals (bunnies, guinea pigs, and tortoises). The education animals vary greatly and consist of animals like Cleo the ball python, Dan the legless lizard (any Forrest Gump fans?), and Cheeks the prairie dog, to name just a few.
Our keepers stay busy; a day in the life includes anything from cleaning, to enrichment, to training. Next time you see a keeper, ask them the what, when, how, and why of whatever they are working on! In addition to their daily routines, our keepers help with animal encounter feedings like rhinos, hippos, penguins, and lemurs. If they are not out facilitating these feedings, they might be found training a few of the interns. These trainings allow our keepers to continue their valuable work behind-the-scenes while also providing interns a chance to learn more and move up in the field!
Karen T., a primate keeper, discloses what makes the job so great, “My favorite part is how much all the keepers love the animals they work with. My dream animal to work with is lemurs. I love their individual personalities and goofiness. My favorite animal at the park is our siamangs, I love watching them interact out on the island.”
Eric O., one of our hoofstock keepers, states, “I have a couple of favorite things! I started here as an intern four seasons ago and I really appreciated the internship because it offered a wide range of experience with different species that helped me settle into what varieties I prefer working with. As a keeper now, the internship is still a good opportunity for me to help newcomers take the same journey I did. I also love the family I work with. To paraphrase an old saying, a friend sticks closer than a brother. The team I call family here has each others’ backs. When it comes to working with animals, I am not picky! I am lucky to be working with one of my goal species, camels. I also have prior experience with birds of prey and wouldn’t mind working with them again. I also really love crocodilians and I think it’d be cool to gain more experience with them someday. My favorite animal at the park is the camels, of course! They are fun to talk about because they have developed a lot of unique adaptations for survival in harsh desert environments that distinguish them from other large mammals. They’re also as goofy as they are awesome; being very intelligent and curious, they tend to be troublemakers. It’s like working with 1,400-pound toddlers!
Our keepers work extremely hard to ensure that our animals receive superb care, and we cannot appreciate them enough! We love you guys!!
July 29th is National Intern Day
National Intern Day is a holiday created by WayUp that’s dedicated to recognizing and celebrating the future leaders of the world: interns!
Tanganyika Wildlife Park has an internship program that comprises both Keeper and Education routines. While these two programs may seem different on the outside, they share some things in common.
Both Education and Keeper interns help to work the encounter stations. These stations consist of a giraffe feeding, lemur feeding, kangaroo petting, lorikeet feeding, children’s zoo petting/feeding, and camel rides (available Fri, Sat, & Sun), as well as rhino, hippo and penguin feedings. The interns typically wear brown t-shirts with the giraffe TWP logo, and can be seen all over the park any day of the week. As interns, they are here to learn more about the fields of zookeeping and zoo education.
The Education interns have the opportunity to teach and assist with a variety of programs, including guided tours, onsite programs, outreach events, birthday parties, camps, and classes. These interns also gain valuable experience working with volunteers and docents.
To elaborate on what the Education interns do, Taylor Breeden is here to give you the low down: “My internship looks like setting up for our Jungle Juniors program and shadowing outreach programs. I got the opportunity to pick an education program to learn and be able to do on my own. I picked outreach because outreach has been a passion of mine since high school. I have loved taking animals to places outside the zoo, which lets people who possibly can’t visit the park have the opportunity to meet a cool animal up-close and personal as well as learn about them. I do spend the majority of my working days on encounter stations. The majority of my education experience will come from volunteer time.”
Bijou Macdonald, another Education intern, has something to add: “My Education routine is fairly similar to Taylor’s; most of the time, you can find me out at the encounter stations (especially Lemur Island, of late). However, I am currently volunteering to get trained in on our Cub Club program, which is a short storytime program targeted at young toddlers. Each week, we sing a song together, read a fun story, and learn about a corresponding animal visitor. Last time I shadowed the program, the visitor was Bubs, our Eurasian Eagle Owl, and we read Owl Moon! Outside of Cub Club, I am working on progressing my animal ambassadoring; you may soon see me out in the park with our Bearded Dragon, Creeper! He is a personal favorite of mine.”
On to the Keeper interns! When working with keepers and not while working encounter stations, these interns are more behind-the-scenes; they can be found in the barns and facilities most of the time, helping keepers clean and gaining hands-on experience with the animals in our care. These individuals get to spend time working in each department of the park, from the bird routine to rhinos.
Sarah Willin, one of the Keeper interns, has loved the internship so far and shares just what makes it so wildly unique: “As a keeper intern, I am assigned one department at Tanganyika every 7 weeks to shadow. I am currently shadowing the hoofstock department which has been an amazing learning experience so far. I do spend most days on encounter stations which enables me to grow in my guest interaction skills.”
Special July Experiences! Bat-eared Foxes and Troublemaker’s Cove Painting Night
Bat-eared fox mystery experience!
Here at Tanganyika, we have two bat-eared foxes: Todd and Tilly. Bat-eared foxes occur in two different populations of Eastern and Southern Africa. Their prime habitat is mainly short-grass plains and areas with bare ground, but they are also found in open scrub vegetation and arid, semi-arid, or winter-rainfall shrub lands, and open arid savanna. Bat-eared foxes are insectivores, which means termites, dung beetles, and other insects make up most of their diet. The ears of these guys can grow to be 5.3 inches long! What can they do with those big ears?
Bat-eared foxes can hear larvae chewing their way out of an underground dung beetle ball. They can also detect the sound of harvesting termites chewing on short grasses. Bat-eared foxes have specialized teeth for chewing up insects, and their lower jawbone is designed to open and close rapidly. Maybe if you get to feed them, you will get to see their fast jaws in action! This month only (July), you can spend some up-close and personal time with them. Because they are mostly nocturnal in the summer, you’ve got to do this experience if you want to see them in action! Here’s what keeper Stacey had to say about our bat-eared foxes:
“Todd is more outgoing and adventurous. He is very smart and willing to work for any kind of food. Todd knows how to target, sit, and scale. We just started a rise and stay behavior as well. He is very talkative (Tilly will join in sometimes, too) and loves to rub on your arm.
“Tilly is a bit more shy but warms up quickly if you have her favorite food, hornworms! She is also very smart and is picking up on new behaviors quickly. She knows how to target and scale. Like Todd, Tilly just started a rise behavior!”
They are such characters, and each is very different!
Witness the creation of a masterpiece, troublemaker style!
Have you ever seen a sloth, otter, or penguin paint on a canvas? Create beautiful patterns and color combos like a true artist? This July, one of the unique monthly experiences at Tanganyika involves just that. Each participant in your group can pick one of three animals (sloth, otter, or penguin) to watch and assist in painting. Sydney is the sloth artist, and all three otters will probably contribute to your painting. There’s a little more leeway in choosing our penguin artist; the majority of the time, Beth is the penguin chosen to create the artwork. However, since September of 2020, we have had 18 chicks born at Tanganyika (a fact we are very proud of!), so a newcomer may very well be chosen in her stead. It could be Rye Bread (Bijou’s favorite penguin!), Nugget, Tilapia, or another of our 52 African penguins – you’ll have to see once you arrive!