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Houston Zoo, Inc. Board of Directors Eduardo Aguirre E. William Barnett (Director Emeritus) Freda Wilkerson Bass Nandita Berry Jack S. Blanton, Sr. Winfield M. Campbell, Sr. Cathy Campbell Brock Michael Cordúa Jonathan Day Linnet Deily Anne Duncan Susan Ehrhardt Barbara Goldfield Martyn Goossen Robert Graham Dr. Bernard Harris, Jr. Stephen Kaufman
Donald R. Kendall, Jr. Glenn L. Lowenstein Daniel C. McNair Stacy Methvin Stephen D. Newton Charles Onstead Barbara Samuels Tony Sanchez III Cathryn Selman Louis Sklar Herman L. Stude Shawn Taylor Lori Vetters George R. Willy E. W. Bill Wright III Austin Young
On the cover: Matungulu, the female lion Photo by: Stephanie Adams Wildlife Production Team
10 SEA TURTLES
Editor: Michael Reina Creative Director: Melanie Campbell-Tello Design: Melanie Campbell-Tello Photography by: Stephanie Adams, Dale Martin, Cristina Mittermeir, Peter Riger, Linda Rippert, and Rachel Rommel Postmaster: Send address changes to: Wildlife Magazine Houston Zoo, Inc. 1513 Cambridge Street Houston, Texas 77030
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www.houstonzoo.org Zoo Hours: March 14 through November 7 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. (last ticket sold at 6:00 p.m.) November 8 through March 13 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. (last ticket sold at 5:00 p.m.) The Zoo is closed Christmas Day.
20 PREPARING FOR AN ELEPHANT BIRTH
DEPARTMENTS PRESIDENT'S PRIDE 2 AFRICAN FOREST PROGRESS 3 CARNIVORE KEEPERS 6
Wildlife is published by Houston Zoo, Inc., 1513 Cambridge Street, Houston, Texas 77030. ©Houston Zoo, Inc., 2010. All rights reserved. Subscription by membership only.
The Houston Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The official airline of the Houston Zoo Printed on 10% post-consumer waste recycled paper with soy-based inks
GREEN INITIATIVES 8 MEMBERSHIP 14 SUMMER CAMP ZOOFARI 16 ZOO PARTIES 18
PRESIDENT'S PRIDE As I write this letter, we are heavily involved in projects all around the Zoo. Because January and February are our slowest attendance months, it means they are always our busiest months from the standpoint of capital improvements. Among the projects we are working on, the largest is a complete restoration of our jaguar exhibit. We are all excited about how great this looks. Not only did we add a waterfall and pool and repaint the rockwork, we also installed new mesh to allow for a clearer look at the jaguars. Additionally, we increased the surface space outside the exhibit. Given the beautiful trees and the great animal viewing, it will make a perfect location for special events and parties. Another complex project is updating the area in the Childrenâ€™s Zoo adjacent to the otters and
These are just a sample of the revisions you will
adding rockwork in the bat cave and prairie dog exhibit. There are a number of different parts to this project, so we will have various areas closed for short time periods as we work though this project. That was also the case for the concrete replacement around the triangle bed behind Cypress Circle, where sides of the walkways were closed in February, but have now reopened. These are just a sample of the revisions you will see in March as we continue to make the Zoo better and better.
see in March as we
continue to make the Zoo better and
If youâ€™ve visited the Zoo recently, you may have noticed that our giraffe herd has grown yet again. For a change, this is not a new baby, but rather an adolescent male we received from the Cincinnati Zoo. As you know, we have had a very successful breeding program with our adult male, Kiva. In fact, it has been so successful that
the Zoo felt it was time to bring in a new breeding male, which is why we acquired Mtembei. He will be our new breeding male going forward because his genes are underrepresented in
D E B ORA H C A N NO N President & C EO
our herd. We will keep Kiva as well since he is so well loved here by both our guests and our staff. This just means at certain times he will be separate from some of the other giraffes so that he does not breed the females. We encourage you to visit the Zoo this spring and enjoy all of our recent MTE MBE I, the H o usto n Zo o 's ne w m a le gir a ffe .
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and ongoing upgrades.
AFRICAN FOREST UPDATE
AFRICAN FOREST BEGINS TO SPROUT The African Forest has been under construction for more than six months now and tremendous progress has been made thus far. Pictured above is a recent bird's-eye view of the entire project. To the left, behind the Wildlife Carousel, the yellow scaffolding is the foundation of the new Masai Giraffe Barn. The barn will open up into the giraffe yard that leads to an African Forest restaurant, pictured in the center. Visitors will be able to feed giraffes from a second-floor feeding platform by the restaurant. The cement building toward the back right is the chimpanzee holding area. This building will be completely masked by rich, natural-looking rockwork that will imitate the African environment itself. The rhino yard will be between the restaurant and the chimpanzee habitat. Excitement is building for the African Forest, both here at the Zoo and across Houston. Learn how you can contribute to making this dream come true at www.houstonzoo.org/africanforest.
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| SPRING 2010 | 3
UZIMA, MATUN G ULU, a nd N I M U E no w o n e xhib it to the p ub li c
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TRIO OF NEW
Three female lions, Uzima, Matungulu, and Nimue, are settling into
their new home and recently met our resident male, Jonathan. All three girls were born at the Fort Worth Zoo in July 2008, so they are not yet fully grown but are definitely full of energy.
“Matungulu, also known as Mattie, is the brave one,” says Houston Zoo Carnivore Supervisor Kevin Hodge. “The first day they came on
exhibit, Mattie was the one who came out first followed by her sister Nimue and then Uzima.”
One of the favorite activities of the new females is to climb around
on the large boulders in their exhibit. Their youthful exuberance is truly enjoyable to observe, as they bound from boulder to boulder, almost begging Jonathan to play with them. The girls often playfully
stalk and chase him, but being the cool cat that he is, Jonathan lets
the girls run wild and get acquainted with their new living space. The lions are getting more and more used to each other every day, and the girls have definitely caught Jonathan’s eye.
When you visit our lions next time you are at the Zoo, you may
wonder how and why zoos get new individual animals. As such, all lions in AZA-accredited zoos are managed by the Lion Species Sur-
vival Plan (SSP), which works to manage a species that is held by multiple zoos as a single population. The goal of the Lion SSP is to
ensure that the population of lions in zoos is healthy and sustainable. The Houston Zoo’s Curator of Primates and Carnivores Hollie Colahan serves as Coordinator of the Lion SSP. She keeps a board
in her office that has over 300 magnets, each representing a lion at an AZA zoo, to help her keep track of them all.
Using this information, the process of matching up lions becomes a bit like online dating. Animals are paired up based on their genetic
value (instead of hobbies or political views), and moves are recommended based on requests made by each zoo (as opposed to those looking for “friendship” or “long-term relationships”). In order to
know if an animal can contribute to improving the genetic diversity of a population, its pedigree must be known.
"I suspect that if Jonathan had an online dating profile, he would be
looking for a nice meal, fresh air, and female companionship," says Colahan. Sometimes our role in an SSP is to produce offspring and sometimes our role is to provide a home for a lion like Jonathan, who deserves to be king of his new pride. Come meet our new lioness trio soon! See more photos of them at www.houstonzoo.org/new-lions.
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C A R N I VO R E S TA F F :
rom preparing a new jaguar habitat to positioning cameras around an African lion exhibit for the debut of three new lady lions, every day is a new and exciting adventure for the Houston Zoo’s carnivore staff.
Their days usually begin at 7:00 a.m. with a short meeting, and then they each go their separate ways to take care of the carnivores. The Houston Zoo is home to some of the most dangerous carnivorous animals found in the wild, including lions, tigers, jaguars, and grizzly bears. Once the animals have been fed and their exhibits have been cleaned, it is time for training and enrichment. Enrichment is a way for the keepers to encourage natural responses from the animals by giving them different items such as a food they may not normally eat or a toy with a scent that the animal is not used to smelling. The keeper decides which type of enrichment the animal will receive based on a calendar that keeps track of which enrichment was previously given and when. Through training sessions and positive reinforcement, the animals are taught to come to the mesh and lay down for vaccinations or put their paws up to the mesh so that they can be examined. Because these animals can be dangerous, even in a setting such as the Zoo, our carnivore team has no direct contact with these animals (with the exception of the cheetahs and maned wolves). The cheetahs have been hand-raised by our keepers since they were small cubs, and the maned wolves are shy by nature. For all of the other animals, training is done through protected contact, meaning that there is mesh wiring that prevents the keepers from being in direct danger should a problem arise. “People always ask if we get to touch the big cats,” explains Carnivore Supervisor Sara Riger. “We tell them what protected contact is and that the only time we touch them is when they are safely under anesthesia during a medical procedure.” When you see this team on Zoo grounds, it is evident that they all share a special bond. A bond that was integral when training the cheetahs and Anatolian shepherds for presentations and now with the introduction of the three new lady lions to Jonathan. They help each other, support one another, and celebrate each other’s successes. “I have been a zookeeper for almost 19 years and this is the best group of people I have ever worked with,” says Riger.
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GETTING IT DONE
he jaguar exhibit at the Houston Zoo recently un-
derwent a major renovation. Before this, guestsâ€™ views were distorted by old, weathered plexiglass and a mesh overhang. Now, guests will be able to see the jaguars through the same type of mesh that is seen throughout the small carnivore area, and the area above is completely open and free. The exhibit will resemble a more natural jungle environment, and keepers will also be able to conduct more Meet the Keeper Talks. In the future, this revamped area will be available to rent for special events and private parties. Book a behind-the-scenes tour of the new jaguar exhibit at www.houstonzoo.org/tours.
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Being green is not about making one change; it is about changing behaviors and personal habits. Visit www.houstonzoo.org/green.
Putting A Spring In Your Step Four environmentally friendly pathways are the newest additions to the Houston Zoo’s landscape. The new pathways are made from recycled rubber tires, which accounts for the extra spring in your step. The recycled pathways will have a lifespan of 15-20 years which help save on both upkeep and the resources needed to replace them.
Recycle Bins One of the easiest and most impactful ways to be kind to our earth is to recycle! Next time you’re here, you will see a number of new public recycling bins. We are making changes for the better and would like all of our guests to help us along the way by using our new recycle bins.
A N E A R T H D AY C E L E B R AT I O N AND CONTEST
In conjunction with the Houston Zoo’s annual Waste Management Earth Day celebration on April 24 & 25, we are having a Green Globes video contest for Earth Day! All finalists will receive a special prize and one Grand Prize Winner will receive the Houston Zoo’s first ever Green Globe Award. It’s easy! Learn more at www.houstonzoo.org/greenglobes.
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CALL OF THE WILD SPEAKER SERIES March 25 | Cristina Mittermeir International League of Conservation Photographers Join us as we welcome guest speaker Cristina Mittermeir, Executive Director, International League of Conservation Photographers. From the popular to the scientific, Cristina's work has appeared in major magazines around the world including Nature's Best, National Geographic, National Geographic Explorer, and American Photo. A number of Cristina's Guardians of the Forest images were recently debuted at the Houston Museum of Natural History's Spirits and Headhunters: Vanishing World's of the Amazon exhibit. As a photographer and writer since 1996, Cristina has coedited nine books, including a series published with Conservation International and Cemex. www.houstonzoo.org/lectureseries
Generously sponsored by the Tapeats
April 22 - 29 | Robert Glen & Sue Stolberger
Fund and Charles T. Bauer Foundation,
The Wildlife of Africa: Art Exhibition and Sale
Continental Airlines, and KUHF radio.
Robert Glen is a lifelong student of Africa. His work has met with great success worldwide and is represented in many private collections. He has lived with nomadic camel herders in northern Kenya and in the most remote game parks throughout East Africa, but for the past 16 years Glen has lived and worked in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania, where he studies and sculpts in the bush. Sue Stolberger's studio is a camp on the banks of the Great Ruaha River. She finds the peace and solitude of the remote area not only conducive to painting but the best way to learn and observe from the vast array of wildlife that surrounds her home. She sketches prolifically and never ceases to be inspired and enthralled by the diversity of light, color, patterns, and designs that nature conjures up. Both hold a special place in their hearts for Ruaha National Park. As their home for many years, this vast area of virtually untouched wilderness teems with wildlife and stunning scenery, providing endless inspiration and motivation for the artists. WILD LIF E
| SPRING 2010 | 9
Coastal Conservation: Sea Turtles There are five species of sea turtles inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico, all of which are considered to be either threatened or endangered. Threats to these animals include drowning in shrimp nets, getting caught on hook and line, vehicle traffic, development of beaches, and pollution. One such species of sea turtle, the Kemp's ridley, is the smallest and the most critically endangered in the world. There are approximately 2,500 nesting females left today. However, just 50 years ago, 40,000 females were filmed nesting in just one day on a single beach. Due to more stringent laws, including requirements for shrimp boats to use TEDS (Turtle Excluder Devices), the slow but hopeful return of this magnificent sea-dwelling herp has picked up momentum. Sea turtles like the Kempâ€™s ridley are slowly recovering thanks to the collaborative effort of the scientific community, grassroots organizations, and many dedicated people. Last year, 197 Kempâ€™s ridley sea turtles nested on the Texas coast, a state record! Did you know that by purchasing a Houston Zoo membership you are helping us in our efforts to save sea turtles and other Texas wildlife? A portion of your support of the Zoo goes back to these conservation efforts. YOU are making a big difference! Consider upgrading your membership at www.houstonzoo.org/ membership.
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The Houston Zoo continues to support sea turtle conservation in a variety of ways >>
• Our veterinary staff examines and treats injured and sick sea turtles on the upper Texas coast year round. • Our aquarium staff often houses and cares for these injured sea turtles before they are ready for release back to the wild. • Conservation staff members also conduct Texas A&M Galveston-coordinated Kemp’s ridley sea turtles patrols during nesting season, which runs from April to July. • The Zoo holds sea turtle awareness events such as Sea Turtle Saturday and integrates sea turtle education into student programs like Conservation Crew and Summer Camp Zoofari. • We assist in funding for 1-866-TURTLE-5 beach signs, a statewide number that beachgoers may call to report hatchlings, sea turtle eggs, and nesting, injured, or dead sea turtles on the Texas coast.
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| SPRING 2010 | 11
Our Underwater Paradise The Kipp Aquarium currently has 23 aquatic exhibits housing specimens from all of the major aquatic habitats of the world. We have specimens that can grow as long as cars and others that will be only one-and-a-half inches at maturity. There are specimens that require the bright light of the sun for 14 hours a day and others that like to live in the dark. Our wide variety of aquatic animals includes endangered species from Australia and Southeast Asia. Some of the rarest aquatic specimens include the Arapaima gigas (the longest freshwater fish in the world) and the Australian pineapplefish (a deep ocean fish with a bioluminescent spot on its lower jaw). The Houston Zoo has been fortunate enough to successfully breed several aquatic specimens that have been feared to be extinct in the wild, including the Galaxy Rasbora, which has been breeding here for a year. Our permanent culture of moon jellies allows us to house and trade with other AZA institutions, and our four-eyed fish have bred this year with 14 new babies, which are growing like weeds. Multiple physical renovations have been made to the Kipp Aquarium in the past year. We are currently replacing many of the original fiberglass tanks, some of which are 30 years old and have started to deteriorate. So far, seven exhibits have been replaced ranging in size from 450 to 1,300 gallons. For the upcoming spring season, we are planning a new jelly exhibit with greatly enhanced viewing for the public. This exhibit will be approximately 600 gallons and will house white spotted jellies from the South Pacific. Additionally, new carpet was installed in December 2009, which changes the entire look of the Aquarium and adds to the ambience of regular visits and private parties. www.houstonzoo.org/kippaquarium
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THE HOUSTON ZOO’S AQUARIUM STAFF IS MADE OF ONE SUPERVISOR AND FOUR AQUARISTS.
MIKE CONCANNON, AQUARIUM SUPERVISOR AT THE HOUSTON ZOO SINCE NOVEMBER 2003 Mike’s favorite fish is the Banggai Cardinal fish. The Banggai is a species that was recently discovered and is only found on an isolated coral reef island in the South Pacific Ocean. It is threatened with extinction in the wild, so captive breeding may be its only hope.
JAMES WINECKI, AQUARIST AT THE HOUSTON ZOO SINCE DECEMBER 2005 James is a shark guy. He is in charge of our sharks here and sees them as more than just eating machines. James is always on the lookout for the next shark species we can house in the Aquarium.
REBECCA FUTCH, AQUARIST AT THE HOUSTON ZOO SINCE SEPTEMBER 2008 Rebecca loves the lionfish. She likes the inquisitive nature of the animals and the way in which they hunt their prey, using their long pectoral fins to herd prey toward their mouth. Also, its venomous spines give off that “don’t tread on me” mantra!
MAUREEN KONEVAL, AQUARIST AT THE HOUSTON ZOO SINCE SEPTEMBER 2008 Maureen’s favorite specimens are the jellies. She says that they are very fascinating animals that exhibit many strange behaviors, which is truly unique when you consider they don’t have a brain.
THOMAS REYNOLDS, AQUARIST AT THE HOUSTON ZOO SINCE JUNE 2009 The sailfin sculpin is Thomas’ favorite fish, found in the coldwater along the Pacific Coast of North America from Oregon through Alaska. Thomas is from Washington, so he has been around these animals all his life.
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| SPRING 2010 | 13
THE HOUSTON ZOO ADOPT AN ANIMAL PROGRAM
A D OP T Adopt One of Our Featured Residents
Exclusive Member Mornings Our member mornings are a great opportunity to hear from our Zoo’s experts and gain professional insight about a select animal. Member mornings begin at 9:15 a.m. and last approximately 45 minutes. Please visit www.houstonzoo.org/membership for more information.
UPCOMING DATES Sunday, April 11, 2010 Aquarium Saturday, May 8, 2010 Howler Monkeys
Go Behind the Scenes Members receive special discounts on behind-the-scene tours. Many members who have taken advantage of these tours say that they experience the Zoo very differently and make memories that last a lifetime. Visit www.houstonzoo.org/tours to book your behind-the-scenes tour today.
Zoobilee is Approaching Fast
Make this Mother’s Day special – give her a unique gift from the
This spring, take advantage of our members-only event, Zoobilee. Mark your
Houston Zoo! Does your mother do
calendar for Thursday, April 8 and Friday, April 9 from 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
a great job looking after her “mob”? In recognition of her constant love,
Zoobilee is a family celebration with Meet the Keeper talks, a children’s DJ, and
adopt our jovial mob of meerkats for
many more entertainers. Kids are invited to embark on a Zoo-style global trek
your mom this Mother’s Day. Adop-
to meet some of our remarkable residents and get a special passport stamped
tion packages can be delivered to
from exotic lands. Members attending Zoobilee will also receive a 20% discount
your mom anywhere in the United
on concessions and in our gift shop.
States. Pre-register at www.houstonzoo.org/zoobilee from March 1 – March 12. By adopting an animal through this program, you not only help in the care and feeding of that animal, but
2010 Member’s Rewards
also support important education and conservation programs at the
Members can now make food and gift purchases at the Zoo and earn Member
Bucks to be used toward purchases in the Houston Zoo Gift Shop. Inquire at the membership booth next time you are here.
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Sifaka Birth Primate keepers discovered a newborn Coquerelâ€™s sifaka on the morning of December 16. Sifakas give birth at the same time every year, so we had been expecting this baby for some time, but it is always a pleasant surprise to find a healthy infant first thing in the morning.
nobia. Kelyfamata, the first sifaka ever born at the Houston Zoo, was born last January. He and Dean are separated from Zenobia and the new baby, a male the keepers have named Sebastian, to allow them some time to settle into a routine. Due to the recent cold temperatures, mother and infant are staying inside but will be on exhibit in the Wortham World of Primates this spring. The Houston Zoo is one of only eight institutions to house Coquerelâ€™s sifakas in the United States. Outside the Wortham World of Primates, you will see our newest statue, the "Old Man of the Forest" (pictured below). Come take your photo with this life-size bronze orangutan statue, a gift to the Zoo from Toni, Noel, and Lisa Noble.
N E W P R I M AT E S
This is the second offspring for male Dean and female Ze-
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| SPRING 2010 | 15
CAMP Z O O FA R I is an action-packed, hands-on, week-long day camp for kids ages 4-12. Kids learn about the natural world, wildlife conservation,
and animals that call the Houston Zoo home. Register at www.houstonzoo.org/camp. 16 | HOUSTON ZOO | w w w.h o u s t o n zo o .o r g
All Sorts of Animals
NEW! Asian Expedition
Are reptiles slimy? Do birds have hair? We’ll uncover how animals are the same – and how they are different – as we investigate where they live, how they look, and what they do.
Travel the world’s largest continent from the tundra of the Himalayas to the tropical rainforest, and discover Asia’s unique cultures and exciting animals on this expedition of the east!
NEW! Animal Olympics
NEW! Feeding Frenzy
Get ready to act like an animal! Learn about the ways animals move and explore their environment, and discover the champions of the animal world.
Are you a picky eater? Animals can be too! From carnivores, herbivores, and omnivores to piscivores and sanguivores, we’ll dive into the amazing variety of animal foods and sample the many ways food links animals together.
NEW! Colossal Creatures From formidable fish and enormous reptiles to big birds and massive mammals, the Zoo is home to some of the world’s most colossal creatures. Have a humongous amount of fun learning what it takes to be a gargantuan in the animal kingdom!
Globe Trotters No passport is required for this trip around the world as we investigate animals in their native lands. Learn how people and animals coexist, and bring home your own eco-friendly souvenirs.
It’s Raining Wild Cats and Dogs
Meet the fantastic felines and clever canines at the Houston Zoo! Join in the flood of fun as we discover the similarities and differences between these “wild” relatives and your pets at home.
Mystery surrounds this week as you use clues such as animal sounds, smells, and scat to identify “zoo” done it. Perfect your scientific detective skills and even put them to use in your very own backyard!
Bringing Up Baby All animal parents have a special way to raise their babies, and sometimes even the neighbors want to be involved! Join us as we look at the different kinds of families in the animal world.
Hide and Seek Uncover the animals’ secrets to survival as we disappear into the hidden world of camouflage. Discover how spots, stripes, patterns, and colors protect both predators and prey.
Island Hoppers Take an exotic getaway this summer – without ever leaving the Zoo! We’ll travel the islands of Madagascar, Indonesia, Galapagos, and more, discovering the animals that call each island home.
NEW! Natural Mysteries Ever been inside a cave? Gone to the bottom of the ocean? Explore the remote and secretive spaces of our planet to discover the animals that call these amazing landscapes home.
NEW! Survival Secrets Ever wonder why birds migrate, why bears hibernate, or why armadillos are nocturnal? Join us as we sneak a peek into the behaviors that happen around the clock to help animals survive.
NEW! Green Scene Become a wildlife conservationist in your own backyard by learning about field biology, research tools, and green practices you can do at home. This camp is guaranteed to make you see green!
Keeper Camp Enroll for zookeeper boot camp and learn what it’s like to feed, clean, train, and take care of our animals. This is one time it will be okay to get dirty and messy!
NEW! Toad Trackers Discover what makes amphibians unique and exciting and why they’re disappearing from the planet. Learn about their habitat and biology and participate with Zoo staff in a monitoring program for wild toads on Zoo grounds! A Wednesday night overnight is included.
Zoo Design Build your own zoo complete with animals! Create a large-scale zoo animal, design its exhibit, and present your project to Houston Zoo staff. A Thursday night overnight is included.
WILD LIF E
| SPRING 2010 | 17
Saint Arnold brews up a good time for young professional supporters of the Houston Zoo! The Houston Zoo is lucky to have the fastest growing young professional donor clubs in town: Flock and Ambassadors. If you’ve ever been to one of their events, you know why. These dedicated supporters not only share a passion for the Zoo, they also know how to have a good time! And to help make each of these events outstanding, Saint Arnold has stepped in to generously donate and showcase their many beers so that all fundraising from these group activities goes directly to support the Zoo’s animal care and conservation programs. “The Houston Zoo is a tremendous asset to Houston, and we are proud to help them out,” says Lennie Ambrose, Marketing and Events, Saint Arnold Brewing Company. “Besides, they’re real party animals!” To learn more about the Zoo’s young professional donor clubs, please visit www.houstonzoo.org/flock and www.houstonzoo.org/ambassadors.
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Pack your binoculars, grab your passport, and join us on April 30, 2010 for the Zoo Friends of Houston’s 22nd Zoo Ball, “A Way To Africa!” Every other year, the Zoo Friends throw the wildest party at the Houston Zoo! So put on your finest “Safari Chic” attire and join us for a roaring good time around the Zoo’s reflection pool. No long speeches – just great music, fabulous food, and more fun than you can imagine! Back by popular demand, Skyrocket! will once again be providing musical entertainment for the evening. Named “Best Cover Band” at SXSW in 2007, this talented group from Austin, Texas will help you groove the night away with hit songs from the ‘70s and ‘80s. A portion of the proceeds from this year’s Zoo Ball will benefit the much anticipated African Forest exhibit at the Houston Zoo, with Phase One slated to open in December 2010. This new exhibit is the most ambitious and creative project the Zoo has ever undertaken and will no doubt be an extraordinary treasure for the Houston community and its visitors to enjoy for many years to come.
Chairs for Zoo Ball 2010 are Cristina Buaas and Sheila Hulme, and this year’s Honorees are Anne and Charles Duncan. Anne Duncan, a long time Zoo Friend, has worked tirelessly as the African Forest Campaign Chair, assuring its success. Individual tickets for Zoo Ball 2010, “A Way To Africa” are $500 and will be going quickly, so reserve your seats today! Table sponsorships start at $5,000 and include permanent donor recognition in the African Forest. To learn more about sponsoring a table or to reserve your tickets, please contact Ginger Moon at (713) 533-6584 or gmoon@ houstonzoo.org. And please visit www.houstonzoo.org/ africanforest and www.houstonzoo.org/naming-opportunities to learn more about the African Forest and the many available naming opportunities.
We a re b rin g i n g t h e adv en t ure s o f A frica to H o us t o n , an d w e'r e e xcit e d to share th e j o ur n ey wi t h y o u .
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| SPRING 19 2010 | 19
PREPARING FOR AN ELEPHANT BIRTH Leo J. Burke once said, “People who say they sleep like a baby usually don't have one.” For an elephant keeper, this is true months in advance of the birth of a calf. Preparing for a baby elephant begins years in advance. Elephants have an average gestation period of 659 days or roughly 22 months. This gives the elephant team plenty of time to be ready for the big day. How does one prepare for the birth of an elephant? While Zoo staff does not have to paint the nursery, we do have to “baby proof” the stalls and enclosures. When born, baby elephants weigh approximately 300 pounds and stand about 40 inches tall. Keepers have to make sure calves cannot slip out between the bars and get themselves into trouble.
Sh anti, th e Ho u ston Zo o 's 17-year-old fema l e Asi an eleph ant, is du e to giv e bir th so meti me b etween mid-M arch an d late April.
The first 20 months of pregnancy should be relatively uneventful. There is an occasional ultrasound and regular blood collections. Elephant keepers also increase activity levels for the mother-tobe. That means more exercise on a daily basis. Beginning about two months before the projected due date, Zoo volunteers and staff members begin 24-hour observations of the expectant mother. Using state-of-the-art video monitoring, volunteers watch the elephants from a remote location, documenting the elephant’s activities. Keepers are looking for any subtle signs that labor may be approaching. Members of the elephant team can view the elephants remotely from their home computers. The elephant staff also collects a blood sample every day from the mother to monitor progesterone levels. Changes in these hormone levels give the Zoo vital information as to when birthing is imminent. The frequency of ultrasounds increases to multiple times per week, and the elephant area goes into “lock down” as the team gets ready for the birth of the calf. All unnecessary traffic and activities are rerouted away from the elephants. Keepers try to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere for the elephants as the big day approaches. The Houston Zoo’s upcoming birth will be the first elephant birth in the new McNair Asian Elephant Habitat. With the exception of the herd’s adult male, Thailand, all of the other elephants and the elephant team will be nearby to watch and provide support during the birthing process. Learn how you can support our soon-to-be-born baby elephants at
20 | HOUSTON ZOO | w w w.h o u s t o n zo o .o r g
IT'S A POSTER! Texas Paradise in Peril Coastal prairies are native grasslands found along the coast of Texas and Louisiana. Over nine million acres of prairie existed as a vast grassland paradise for Native Americans and early settlers. Today, less than 1% remains. This critically imperiled ecosystem is home for many rare and endangered birds, mammals, reptiles, insects, and plants. See more beautiful photos of Texas coastal prairies at www.houstonzoo.org/prairies.
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PONGOS HELPING PONGOS PA I N T I N G S B Y O R A N G U TA N S , F O R O R A N G U TA N S B e n e f i t i n g t h e c o n s e r v a t i o n o f K i n a b a t a n g a n Wi l d l i f e S a n c t u a r y, B o r n e o
SATURDAY, MARCH 27, 2010 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. G Gallery in the Heights 301 East 11th Street, Houston, Texas 77008 (713) 869 - 4770
Featuring paintings by the Houston Zoo’s Orangutans, Elephants, Siamangs, Clouded Leopards, and Babirusa Join us for this very special evening featuring over 40 in-
and abilities. It allows them to fulfill their mission as ambas-
dividual paintings by the Houston Zoo’s orangutans. The
sadors for their species and generates precious funds that
paintings will be displayed at G Gallery in the Heights for
support conservation initiatives at the Zoo.
a single night in a fine arts setting, including a wine and cheese reception and photographic portraits of the featured
At the same time, this program engages the local community,
creating a deeper appreciation for the lives of all animals and inspiring a greater concern for their well-being.
The benefits of this program are many. It provides Zoo animals an outlet to express their intelligence, personalities,
Learn more at www.houstonzoo.org/php.