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SAFARI The Official Magazine of the Toledo Zoo • Volume 27 • Issue 1• Spring 2018

Be Healthy


Healthy isn’t a goal; it is a way of living. Here at the Zoo, our animal care staff works very hard each and every day to ensure the physical and mental health of all of our animals. While health includes a balanced diet, it also necessitates veterinarian check-ups, maintaining proper habitats, managing social groupings, eliciting natural behaviors and more. Additionally, our work here extends to wild populations as we support and participate in conservation of endangered species all around the globe. We truly are committed to bettering the health of all species and the natural world.

The Official Magazine of the Toledo Zoo Volume 27 • Issue 1 • Spring 2018

OUR MISSION Inspiring others to join us in caring for animals and conserving the natural world. Cover photo: Amur Tiger

Safari is an exclusive benefit to Toledo Zoo members. Membership also includes free, unlimited, year-round admission and parking during regular Zoo hours; a subscription to the Zoo’s e-newsletter; early access to Summer Concert Series tickets; discounts on Zoo merchandise, classes, programs and more; and discounted admission to 150+ zoos and aquariums nationwide. toledozoo.org/membership

We hope you enjoy these insights into the inner workings of your Zoo. Read on to learn more about the many jobs of our animal care staff, how healthy meals are prepared for more than 10,000 animals and much more.

GO GREEN and help the Zoo conserve by receiving your Safari magazine via email! To opt out of the printed version, please visit toledozoo.org/safaremail


Email membership@toledozoo.org or call 419-385-5721 ext. 6002.

Healthy living isn’t just for the animals though. The Zoo is a great place to log many educational and entertaining steps toward your family’s health. We look forward to seeing you out and about enjoying our animals and the world around us!


2 Hippo Way • P.O. Box 140130 Toledo, Ohio 43614-0130 419-385-5721 • fax 419-389-8670 Catered Events Development Education Group Sales Library Membership Communication Visitor Services Volunteers Zoo PAL Zoo Gift Shop

ext. 6001 ext. 2074 ext. 2042 ext. 6001 ext. 2043 ext. 6002 ext. 2145 ext. 6003 ext. 2045 ext. 2068 ext. 3111


Kim Haddix


Teri Reed


Staci Bekker Jen Brassil Adam Cassi Chuck Cerbini Bill Davis Michael Frushour Hannah Gerritsen Wyn Hall


All my best,

Jeff Sailer executive director

Jay Hemdal Anna Miller Anne Overly Beth Posta Bev Schooner Dale Sinkovic Dr. Kirsten Thomas

Homewood Press


Call for artists...

Contact the editor at 419-385-5721, ext. 2145 or kim.haddix@toledozoo.org

Join us for the 2018 edition of Wild about Art: Toledo Zoo’s premier Art Fair!

Connect with us!

toledozoo.org An accredited member of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums | W A Z A United for Conservation


Safari is published quarterly by the Toledo Zoo, P.O. Box 140130, Toledo, OH 43614-0130. Second-class postage paid at Toledo, Ohio and at additional mailing offices. Printed on recycled paper. © 2018 by Toledo Zoo.


Safari Magazine • Spring 2018

WildART August 4-5 about

If you are interested in being an exhibitor, please email artfair@toledozoo.org, look for our application on ZAPP or visit toledozoo.org for details.


with Bev Schoonover and Cindy Fromme, commissary stewards The Zoo’s commissary or food and bedding supply / kitchen for our animals employs two full time and one part time staff to service 10,000 plus animals! The typical day for commissary steward, Beverly Schoonover begins with arrival to the Zoo at 6 a.m. At this time, she and co-worker Cindy Fromme, load their flatbed truck with the first round of deliveries for the Aviary, Tiger Terrace, Primate Forest, Great Apes, Tembo Trail and Aquarium. After completing the first round, they head back to re-load for the second round to Tembo Trail, Reptile House, Nature’s Neighborhood and the Museum of Science. The third and final trip of the day is over to the North Side for Arctic Encounter® and Africa! While they are delivering supplies, they also pick up buckets and bowls from the previous day. “The delivery process with approximately 20 stops averages about two and a half hours, but depends on the number of items, especially big feed bags,” said Schoonover. Upon returning from deliveries, the staff of two (with the help of one part-time person) washes all the buckets and bowls they picked up from the previous day and then works on orders and incoming shipments. They wrap up their work day around 3 p.m., after preparing the next day’s deliveries.

The commissary works hard to ensure that our animal residents have healthy diets full of fresh, tasty ingredients. “We have fresh produce coming in at least three times a week. What we feed the


pounds of Feline carnivore diet


pounds of eggs

1,567 bales of hay

1,980,000 crickets

Cindy (left) and Bev.

animals is high quality human grade, not seconds or leftovers. Just like restaurant kitchens, we are held to strict health standards, but in this case it is by the USDA. We order from many of the same suppliers as local grocery stores and will even run over to Kroger if we are low on a necessary item.” While the commissary fills special orders, they also have a set schedule. “Tuesdays are our big delivery days. We get in a lot of produce, worms, eucalyptus browse and multiple pallets of feed. On Wednesdays we make salads for the next four days and pack 100+ buckets of produce for the following week. On Saturdays, we fill 50 buckets and 30 additional containers with meat and fish from our freezers to thaw. We have two refrigerators, two freezers and a feed room at the Commissary Building along with two other freezers in the Aquarium and Arctic buildings. We also have another storage building on the North Side of the Zoo for bedding supplies. What we do is a lot of work most don’t think about, especially all the different things we do. We place and receive all the orders, keep inventory, rotate stock, prep and ready food, order vitamins and bedding supplies and then deliver everything to all the animal areas. We do this every single day!” And combined Bev and Cindy have approximately 50 years of experience working at the Zoo and doing it all every day! “We work well together and certainly have it down to a system.” And we are all certainly glad they do, our animals depend on them!

1,990 pounds of fruit


pounds of fish


pounds of veggies



Safari Magazine • Spring Safari 2018 Magazine • Spring 2017



Individual Animals: 10,228 Species Represented: 732

with Dr. Kirsten Thomas, veterinarian It has been said that real doctors treat more than one species. The Toledo Zoo actually has a group of staff veterinarians and veterinarian technicians to treat our more than 700 species. Read on to get a behind-the-scenes peak at a day in the life of Dr. Kirsten Thomas, staff veterinarian, in her own words! Being a zoo veterinarian is a challenging and tremendously rewarding job! We play many roles in animal care, including preventative health, emergency care, diet assessment, geriatric care and neonatal medicine. Our day to day jobs include annual exams for each individual animal, emergency interventions, performing blood tests and fecal exams, weight management assessments and diet reviews. We also have a highly skilled team of technicians to assist in diagnostics and who also spend a great deal of time working directly with the animals. I am frequently asked how we perform physical exams on the animals. Much of the work is done with gentle restraint and by the animal’s choice. We work with many of the animals to train for blood draws, nail trims, dental exams and more with positive reinforcement. Keepers work hard to capture natural behaviors that can then be used for the animal’s care, like opening their mouth or showing their feet. In addition, keepers can also train their animals like running the ultrasound probe over their abdomen or taking blood from a vein in their arm. When they make progress, the animals are rewarded with verbal praise and usually a food treat. In these situations, the animals have the option to walk away at any point, but most learn quickly that the reward is worth a little pinch. A good example is Boomer, one of our male orangutans. Orangutans are prone to respiratory inflammation and infection. Boomer also has allergies, and will often have a runny nose and sinus drainage. Through the hard work of keeper staff and vet staff, Boomer has learned to be voluntarily nebulized. Through training and repetition, Boomer recognizes that being nebulized (holding the mask up to his mouth and nose) will make him feel better. In addition, with regular use, this will also help prevent future respiratory inflammation. For more in-depth examinations, we will sedate the animals.


Safari Magazine • Spring 2018

Many animals are actually trained for accepting injections as well, so that the need for darting animals is minimized. We do everything we can to minimize stress and maintain a positive relationship with the animals. With a team of veterinarians, there is always at least one veterinarian on grounds. We are very lucky to have trained vets on grounds, so that when an emergency arises, action can be taken immediately. Just like humans, animals can get all kinds of ailments from a simple cold, to a treatable bladder infection or a more emergent case such as a broken bone. Having veterinary staff on grounds allows rapid response and treatment to alleviate pain and protect against additional complications. An example of an emergency case was when Kahli, a female orangutan, found a beehive under a log one evening and was stung several times. She came inside, pointing to all the places she had been stung. The staff called me over to assess her, and I gave her an injection of benedryl. She is trained for injections, so when I showed her the shot, she offered me her shoulder and took the injection willingly. To this day I still laugh at how dramatic she was about it afterwards though! Once the shot was complete, she dramatically laid down on the floor with her blanket, giving me the saddest face! Then I showed her treats and it was like nothing ever happened! She came running back over and took her snacks with her normal enthusiasm! One of the challenges of my job is working with each animal’s different personality and temperament. Some animals have very strong opinions of who they like or don’t care for. When an animal doesn’t respond well for one of us, another doctor will step in. It is all about figuring who has a better relationship with certain animals. For example, I have built a very good relationship with Lucas, our young male elephant. When I first started working here, I went over to introduce myself to him with a bunch of bananas. As it turns out, this started me out on the right foot, and I have worked hard to maintain that positive interaction and trust with Lucas ever since. He always knows there is a banana in store when I come to visit. When Lucas fractured one of his tusks while playing, this positive relationship really came through! Lucas trusted me and willingly allowed me to do a thorough exam, including radiographs in his mouth. He voluntarily stood very still while we removed portions of his broken tusk with power tools to get down past the fracture

point, allowing it to heal and grow properly again. Since then, he has been doing great and has not had any additional tusk issues. Our positive relationship remains intact, and he still loves his bananas. Personally, one of my favorite parts of my job though is the geriatric care. Many zoos, including ours, have an aging resident population. Just like with our human senior citizens, it is imperative that we keep them active and help them maintain muscle mass and strength. This is true across the board, whether it be a geriatric toad, lizard, antelope or great ape. We do a lot of work with physical and behavioral therapy, training behaviors that help improve circulation and mobility over time. It is a great way to keep the animals moving while creating a fun way for vet staff, keepers and animals to interact while strengthening the human-animal bond. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also do a lot of neonatal care. It seems like we always have a baby or are awaiting an imminent arrival. We spend a lot of time monitoring pregnancies. There are multiple ways for us to do this, including hormonal tracking, regular prenatal exams and ultrasounds. Many of our mammals are trained to let us perform voluntary ultrasounds. This helps us know when to expect an offspring and also to keep an eye on the health of both the mom and fetus. We can perform many of the same interventions you see in human medicine, such as cesarean sections, if the need arises.

Of course, it is also a lot of fun to see a baby’s birth and watch it grow! I was lucky enough to be present when Binti, our newest baby giraffe, was born. It was an amazing thing to see! Research and conservation work are other large parts of my job. As an Association of Zoos and Aquariums facility, we work very collaboratively with other zoos across the country and throughout the world. Each zoo’s findings and best practices help the association create parameters for offering our animals the best care, taking into consideration both physical and mental wellbeing. A lot of the work we do also helps provide better care for the wild populations of the species we care for too. Overall, being a Zoo vet is an incredibly satisfying and rewarding career for me. I enjoy getting to work with such a variety of animals, tackling different treatment challenges and celebrating different victories each day. I also work with an amazing team of veterinarians and vet techs! It takes the entire team to keep our animals in top condition! I take pride in knowing that, through my work and this Zoo, I am making a difference in the lives of animals every day.

In one year our vet staff performs:

Exams: 1100+

Fecals: 897

Blood tests: ~400

Radiographs: 570

Safari Magazine • Spring 2018


HELPING Hands When thinking about a zoo, most of our minds go straight to animals; however, what about the humans who care for those amazing creatures. Your Toledo Zoo is home to more than 10,000 animals representing more than 720 species and we have an animal care staff of approximately 70 individuals who care for them. These humans lend much more than just helping hands to ensure future generations know and appreciate all the greatness of the animal kingdom. To learn more, we sat down with two keepers to discuss their roles in caring for our animal residents.

Conservatory. We keep it a balmy 80 degrees with the help of an overhead heater and heated cement slab. Emerson has his own custom-made ‘skateboard’ (a dolly with oversized wheels) to help us transport him, but it still requires the assistance of 4-5 people to lift him onto it and re-adjust in transit. Once he’s inside, he is restless for the first few weeks, as he doesn’t have grass to eat and can’t reach the plants because of the plastic barricade. But during this time we offer him more hay and enrichment and the horticulture staff feeds him an extra head of greens at lunch time,” detailed Gerritsen. As fond as many guests are of Emerson, the feeling seems to be mutual. “He is very curious and likes to try and climb. He likes to look at people and is quite sociable with the public. He has gotten to know and trust me and being that he is very food motivated starts walking toward me as soon as he sees me coming. He will try anything I put in front of him, including my shoelaces and radio if I’m not careful. I always say he’s like a bulldozer, he will just run stuff over to get to what he wants. But he’s a good boy and will also stand real tall for me to scratch his neck, which he loves!”

Elephants with Anna Miller, elephant keeper

Galapagos Tortoise Care

As they are the largest land mammals, you can imagine there is a lot that goes into keeping elephants healthy. Elephant keeper, Anna Miller let us in on a few of the many things she does to help keep our elephant herd active!

with Hannah Gerritsen, herpetology keeper

Hannah Gerritsen is a herpetology keeper and the main human helping hand for Emerson, our 100+ year old Galapagos tortoise. In her role, Gerritsen checks on the 450+ pound tortoise twice a day, in the morning and evening. “I feed him one head of greens (endive, romaine or escarole) twice a day and put out Timothy hay for him to munch on along with grass in his outdoor exhibit. While the hay isn’t his favorite thing, it is like kids eating vegetables, it’s important for his digestion and wellbeing. We also feed him carrots for vitamin A and celery because it is high in fiber and low in calories. I also clean up after him as he defecates multiple times a day and I ensure that there is no trash in his exhibit, as he is attracted to bright colors, so he thinks that litter such as chip bags are food,” said Gerritsen. Another important part of Gerritsen’s job is to monitor temperatures for Emerson, as Galapagos tortoises are native to tropical regions. “From Memorial Day to Labor Day Emerson resides outside in Galapagos Garden. When the nighttime temperatures drop into the 50s, we move him into the 6

Safari Magazine • Spring 2018

Elephants are extremely smart and as the saying goes, they never forget. According to Miller, elephants are extremely creative and adept at problem solving. To keep their minds and bodies active, the elephant staff changes the daily routines of the elephants often. “We will lower different feeding nets from the ceilings indoors or the trees outdoors at different times throughout the day to keep the herd in almost constant motion. Throughout the exhibit we also have several other feeding options. Each day we place large amounts of browse (tree branches) in piles in various spots so that each elephant can select their own pieces and have a space to eat it in. We also stuff treats in our enrichment walls and other items like tires to allow the animals to forage for their favorites. Each day we also create different mounds of dirt, sprinkled with treats such as white potatoes, for the elephants to dig through and destroy. Just the other day, Twiggy spent 45 minutes digging in a dirt pile for potatoes. Everything we do is our best effort to simulate their natural wild behaviors, patterns and situations,” said Miller.

So what does an elephant eat in a day? “Renee will get three and a half bales of hay, each tightly packed and weighing approximately 50 pounds and access to seven feed nets. Twiggy gets two bales of hay and four feed nets and Lucas gets one bale of hay and some extra supplements in his own indoor stall. They also each get browse and individual servings of pellets or biscuits. We monitor behaviors, keep weights on each individual animal and will supplement as necessary but for the most part they have to learn to fend for themselves. They each have their favorite foods and learn how to seek them out.” In addition to the many food dispensers, the staff also exercises the elephant herd each day. “Through positive reinforcement, we ask each of the elephants to do many different exercises to help keep them moving and help us better care for them. We will have them stand on their hind legs, stand on balls, move heavy tires and logs, lay down, put their ears out and stretch. When they perform the requested move, we verbally praise them and also give them a reward, usually carrots. While all of these behaviors serve as exercise and mental stimulation, they also allow us to get them to step on a scale, handle their feet for nail trims, touch their ears for blood draws and other health checks.” As Miller tells, training has been going very well, because just like human kids and parents, elephant learn a lot by watching their parents and each other. “Lucas (and Louie when he was younger) will mimic Renee. He is learning a lot of different natural elephant behaviors simply by watching his mother and Twiggy train. It is a lot of fun to watch him grow, learn, explore and discover each day! They are all extremely smart and challenge us each day to keep their enrichment new and novel. We have a great give

and take with our herd. It says a lot for both our staff and our elephants!” As you can see through these two examples, our animal care staff works extremely hard to ensure that all of our animal residents are active and fit. It has been said that you must love yourself enough to live a healthy lifestyle…well…our animal care staff certainly LOVES our animals enough to ensure they are living healthy lifestyles!

Safari Magazine • Spring 2018


Development VOLUNTEER

of the Year

We have two people to recognize as Development Volunteers of the Year. They are business partners, who have shared the same Zoo journey and we are pleased to recognize them together. They both began their volunteer careers at the Toledo Zoo in 2016. They enjoyed attending Feast with the Beasts, one of the Zoo’s fundraising events, in 2015 and wanted to get more involved. They serve on planning committees for both Feast with the Beasts and Once Upon a Vine, and they have brought creativity and fresh ideas to both of these events.

Bill Davis, volunteer coordinator; Jeff Sailer, director of Toledo Zoo; Jim Moore and Tim Valko

For example, they created some signature drinks for the event, using their own home-made shrub, which is a fermented syrup that can be used as a flavorful base for cocktails. They both bartended at the sample table, which became a very popular location. Indeed, according to Robin Guidera, development manager, the two volunteers have developed quite a following at both Feast with the Beast and Once Upon a Vine. One is more of a food aficionado while the other likes to find and improve fun and festive cocktails; together they become a positive force

at our fundraising events, introducing guests to items that are trendy or even off the grid. Not only do they help plan for these events, they also serve as ambassadors for the Zoo, by bringing guests to visit special exhibits and other fundraising events, soliciting donations, supporting auctions and hosting gatherings at their home. They are both greatly appreciated by the Development staff for their dedication, follow through and charismatic senses of humor. It is our pleasure to recognize them, the dynamic duo of our development department: Jim Moore and Tim Valko.

WHO’S NEW at the Zoo

Cardinal tetra Paracheirodon axelrodi Date of Arrival: September 7, 2017 On Exhibit: Jewels of the Amazon The Cardinal tetra forages for tiny organisms found on underwater plants, roots and leaf litter in areas of slow moving shallow water.


Safari Magazine • Spring 2018 2017

American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber Date of Arrival: Hatched at the Avian Breeding Center on July 14, 2017 On Exhibit: Flamingo Key This American Flamingo chick is the first flamingo chick to ever hatch at the Toledo Zoo.

Elliot’s Pheasant Syrmaticus ellioti Date of Arrival: September 5, 2017 Endangered Status: Near Threatened On Exhibit: Pheasantry The Elliot’s Pheasant is endemic to Southeast China and lives in evergreen and coniferous forest.

Climb, Stretch and Zipline your Way to HEALTH with Adam Cassi, Aerial Adventure Course manager

In addition to walking our grounds, Toledo Zoo has another way to help our visitors be healthy:

Expedition Africa

Here are some healthy facts:

The thrill of the Quick Drop, Zipline and/or Flight Line also gets adrenaline pumping which helps to heighten mental and physical alertness by oxygenating the body and brain.

Aerial Adventure Course!

There are 35 stairs to the beginning of the Course.

The SkyBridge is 765 feet long or .15 miles.

Participants carry approximately 15 pounds of gear throughout the Course.

Mark your calendars now for the soft opening of weekends in May and grand opening on Memorial Day Weekend!


The Course allows participants to utilize upper body, core and leg strength, balance, coordination and muscles they may not typically stretch to complete a total of 16 challenges. The Course also requires participants to clear their minds and be mentally present in the moment, which can help reduce stress.

Don’t forget the Course is fully customizable to your activity level and is family-friendly!

Safari Magazine • Spring 2018


Hand-rearing BIRDS with Chuck Cerbini, curator of birds

throughout chick development. “Sometimes the process begins with a fresh egg, like our first Many-colored Fruit Dove chick. The egg was teetering on the edge of the nest about to fall off and splat on the ground. We took the egg and put it into an artificial incubator. (Sometimes we replace the taken egg with a ‘dummy’ egg, but that is usually to discourage the parents from re-laying. Sometimes we can also give the egg to foster birds, usually domesticated birds, to raise through hatching.) Once we make sure the egg is in the right environment, we weigh it daily to document the chick’s growth. In my opinion, watching an egg develop is one of the best parts of my job.

Hand-rearing birds. While those simple words may sound incredibly fun and rewarding, according to curator of birds, Chuck Cerbini, it is all that but it’s also a lot of late nights and hard work! “Hand-rearing birds takes a lot of manpower and effort, but as it is for a big result, we are happy to do it. In an ideal world, in every case the parents would raise the chicks but that isn’t always feasible. People tend to ask why aren’t the chicks with their parents or why do we hand-raise birds and not just let natural selection take its course? In both cases the answer is the same, we want to maximize breeding success as many of our species only produce one egg and/or are endangered,” explained Cerbini. By definition hand-rearing is the process of humans caring for and feeding animal young until they are full grown or able to be independent. “Since we are not the animal’s natural parents, hand-rearing is a lot of trial and error. Over the course of time we have developed many techniques, but each species and even individual animal’s case is different. Honestly, handrearing is both an art and a science as we try to replicate what bird parents can do so well. For example, Crested Coua very rarely successfully raise their own young in captivity, so we use protocols developed at other institutions to maximize hand-rearing success. Another example is the Pink-necked Fruit Dove. Toledo Zoo became the home to the entire AZA population of the species after the population in zoos became critically low. We have been working hard at getting the population back to healthy numbers and learned this year that hand-rearing the squabs can be a very effective way of helping the process along.” While bird species are very different, from ducks to doves and flamingoes to finches, the basic principles in hand-rearing can be similar, even as human care happens at different times


Safari Magazine • Spring 2018

After the chicks hatch, we keep them warm in either an incubator or with the help of a heat lamp in what’s called a dry brooder and continue putting daily weights into a growth chart. At this point the amount of our involvement is determined by the species. Bird chicks come in two types: precocial and altricial. Precocial chicks are born feathered, with eyes open and quickly become mobile and capable of feeding themselves. For example, Kiwi are extremely precocial. (see below) In fact within several days of hatching, Kiwi chicks are completely on their own, with no parental involvement.

(Raising a Kiwi was a completely different experience than any other in my career, but that’s another story!) Altricial are the opposite, they are born naked, eyes closed and require help feeding. The precocial chicks usually only need assistance for a few days, as where the altirical birds like fruit doves require feedings seven times a day for several weeks! In these cases, one of the hardest challenges for human keepers is trying to replicate the bird parent’s natural crop milk, which is high

species. We want to mitigate their ability to imprint on humans, or develop what they think are natural bird species’ behaviors from human parents. To prevent that, as soon as we can, we like to give the chick visual access to an adult of their species. Then, with supervision, we slowly introduce the chick and adult in hopes the young will learn how to be that bird, including breeding and hopefully raise its own chicks later in life. Cerbini says he often gets asked if there is a difference between parent raised and hand-reared birds. “Trained eyes can see behavioral differences quite easily if they exist, but in a lot of cases there may be no difference at all. Sometimes, parent raised birds are basically still wild and can act just like their parents. Hand-reared birds tend to be tamer and more tractable or able to be held and/or trained, which can make them great for Zoo education or outreach programs.”

in fat and protein. For long-legged birds, such as storks and flamingoes, we also need to exercise the chicks to ensure proper growth. Weather permitting, we will take them outside in the natural UV light and encourage them to follow us around and work their legs. We continue assisting the chicks until they reach the fledging stage, when they would typically leave the nest and fly. (Birds instinctively know how to fly, so we don’t need to teach that.) When this stage happens differs from species to species. For example, Tragopan pheasants can fly in a week, while lorikeets take two months and ducks anywhere between 50 and 70 days. It all makes sense when you consider the bird’s natural history. Next, comes the point where we need to introduce the hand raised chick to its own

As one can glean, handrearing is a LOT of work. But as Cerbini chuckled, it is most definitely a bird keeper’s guilty pleasure.

“It is a lot of fun. They do so many endearing things and you learn a lot about that particular species. From a scientific perspective, it would be great if every chick could be raised by its parents, but from a personal view the whole process is an amazing adventure we all love!”

Flamingo chick

Safari Magazine • Spring 2018


Basic ENRICHMENT with Beth Posta, curator of behavioral husbandry Contrary to the beloved Jungle Book song, animal care is more than just the bear necessities! Like humans, animals thrive best when their care is holistic, or all encompassing. To learn more, we sat down with Beth Posta who oversees the Zoo’s animal welfare program.

The Zoo’s animal welfare and enrichment program is comparable to a company’s wellness program. It provides guidelines for generating the best health readings for each of our resident species. Beyond that, it looks at each species and even individual animal’s physical fitness, mental state, overall health and ability to “be the species” or a gorilla’s ability to simply be a gorilla! General animal health and well-being isn’t as simple as it sounds. It is more than just shelter and sustenance. It is every detail from appropriate housing, including nesting materials and proper temperature and humidity, to just the right amount of UV lighting or sunlight and individuals having their own space. “It is true that animals have personalities. Just like humans, they have different habits, likes and dislikes and social skills. Some animals might have dominant personalities. These animals might be leaders of their troop, or they might choose to scoop up and hoard much of the enrichment provided. A dominant personality can also have an effect on the training program. The hierarchy of the gorilla troop is a good example. If we work with a subordinate animal, like Sufi our newest adult female that receives food rewards during training sessions, we also reward the dominant animal for not interfering. In this case that could be Johari, the most dominant female and/or Kwisha, the silverback male. We recognize the role of the leader and that by bringing one of the troop out of the social group for a few minutes to train with the care staff, we are asking the troop leader to relinquish some control and trust the staff to return the subordinate back to the group.” When looking into the physical state, Posta considers many factors, including: Where and how does this species spend their time in the wild? When are they most active? How do they use their muscles and body? What activities do they engage in daily? What are their social interactions? How do they learn and explore? Posta gave the example of swamp monkeys. “Swamp monkeys are somewhat different than the other monkey species at the 12

Safari Magazine • Spring 2018

Zoo in that in the wild, they spend a considerable amount of time on the ground looking for bugs and other delectable treats lurking in the dirt and grass. They spend a substantial amount of time overturning rocks and digging through rotten logs to find food. Knowing this, we have placed a rock bed and digging areas throughout their exhibit. We stock them with mealworms to encourage the swamp monkeys to use their natural behaviors and work to find and obtain their food.” When delving into the mental health, Posta and her team have their work cut out for them. “It is very hard to tell an animal’s mental wellbeing. As an innate survival mechanism, they are so good at masking it. However, their behavior is a good indicator of their overall state. Our goal is a positive emotional state. We look not only at what’s important FOR the animals for us to take the best care of them but also at what’s important TO the animals.” For example, elephants are not accustomed to snow in their native wild range, but when they can do it safely, our herd actually enjoys playing in it and it serves as a new and novel enrichment for them.” To achieve all of this, Posta and the entire animal care staff utilize a plethora of enrichment items and exhibitry to make all aspects of each species’ life as natural as possible. “We truly take a team approach to animal well-being. It really does take a village to give all of our residents everything they need to thrive.”

HORTICULTURE with Dale Sinkovic, horticulturist Did you know orangutans love Cornelian Cherry Dogwood fruit that is quite sour but high in vitamin C? Or that lemurs crave Hibiscus flowers? Veteran Zoo gardener, Dale Sinkovic knows all of this, as he tends the vegetable and herb gardens that provide healthy, fresh produce treats to our animals! The herb garden is located near the entrance to the Formal Gardens while the vegetable garden is housed across from the butterfly garden. Both are organic, pesticide free and top dressed with compost. They are open to visitors, however, it is requested that you do not pick vegetables or herbs. As Sinkovic recalls, the vegetable garden originally started as an heirloom garden growing mainly tomatoes. However, the heirloom plants did not produce enough to harvest daily, so cherry tomatoes were planted. Now Sinkovic grows sweet peppers, two types of pole beans, onions, kale, cucumbers, radishes, okra, eggplant, beets and cardoon, a Mediterranean plant related to the artichoke. He also grows herbs, including basil, fennel, chives, dill and banana leaves. While this may sound like just a seasonal treat, Sinkovic noted that the commissary will freeze and save excess banana leaves for later use. Sinkovic admits that the animals prefer his fresh produce over some of the same foods coming from the commissary though. He recalls, great apes keeper Suzanne Husband noting that the orangutans will pick through their food to find his treats. J.J., a long-time orangutan resident who passed away in 2017, loved Sinkovic’s cherry tomatoes and green beans. “He would even politely hand back to keepers the foods he didn’t care for!” Sinkovic also revels in the fact that even though there is no set harvest or treat time, the animals seem to know when he is coming. “They recognize my big green bucket.” Each animal has their particular favorite food too. Emerson, our Galapagos tortoise, is given banana leaves as a special treat. Much to the delight of visitors, Boomer, a male orangutan, will climb all over the exhibit to find his favorites. As Sinkovic says, “our orangutans especially like fresh fennel and basil, so I grow plenty so there is enough to take every time I make a delivery.” Sinkovic’s treats serve as a healthy and tasty enrichment for numerous animals, as they promote many of the natural behaviors the animal care staff wants to encourage, including foraging, climbing all the way to the top of the exhibit and even hoarding of favorite foods from exhibit mates.

It is safe to say that Sinkovic’s produce makes both the keepers and the animals very happy!

We give Dale’s green thumb,

Safari Magazine • Spring 2018



with Anne Overly, great ape keeper Western lowland gorillas (gorilla gorilla gorilla) are four to six feet tall as adults and can weigh anywhere from 150 to 400 pounds. They live in the heavy rainforests of west central Africa and eat a vegetarian diet of roots, fruits and plants. A group of gorillas is known as a troop and is led by one dominant male, known as the silverback for the band of gray hair that grows across its back as he matures. The troop maintains a ¾ to 16 square mile home range. Western lowland gorillas are listed as critically endangered and declining on the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species due to three main interconnected threats: habitat loss, bushmeat hunting and human encroachment.

exhibit. I also put out browse, or leaves and bark that is good fiber and digestive aids. Then I add some enrichment items, such as puzzle feeders, or grapevine wreaths smeared with jello as a special treat. When the exhibit is ready, I head back to the gorilla holding area to train with the troop. This is when we work with each individual animal to help us take the best care of them. We have them open their mouth to check teeth and practice ultrasound and needle stick behaviors to prepare them for anytime they would

Your Zoo is home to a troop of western lowland gorillas consisting of four females, Johari (29), Nia (15), Kitani (22) with new baby Mokonzi, and Sufi (16), led by silverback male, Kwisha (29). Anne Overly, shared a day in her life as a Toledo Zoo gorilla keeper. “Every day is different with these gorillas. I love these guys and I just want to share them.”

Kitani and baby Mokonzi (male).

My work day starts with an 8 a.m. department meeting. After that, I go to the great apes building to do a visual check of the animals. Then we separate the group to give each individual any medications or supplements, along with individual portions of leaf eater biscuits, an important part of their diet. As they eat, I clean and set up the exhibit. I take buckets of cut up vegetables, such as onions, eggplant, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and bell peppers and scatter them throughout the meadow or indoor


Safari Magazine • Spring 2018

need a vaccine, shot or blood taken. All of our training is done with positive reinforcement, usually a food reward, and by the animal’s choice- they can walk away anytime. At 10 a.m. the Zoo opens and the animals shift on to exhibit, meaning they are given access from their overnight holding area to the meadow or indoor viewing room through a series of doors and tunnels. Once they are on exhibit, I spend five or 10 minutes observing to make sure everyone is moving well and eating.

After that, I head back inside to clean their holding areas to help maintain their physical health and eliminate germs. I take a lunch break at noon and then at 1 when the gorillas are outside in the meadow we do what we call a roof feed. This is where the keepers take a bucket of treats, usually tomatoes or fruit, onto the roof of the building and toss them down to the troop. At this time, we also do a little training, much to the delight of visitors who get to see Kwisha clap and “smile.” After we finish with the roof feed, I head back inside to prepare the next day’s diet. Then, we head out for another roof feed between 2:30 and 3 p.m. We then wrap up our day by setting up the indoor holding area for the night by putting out lettuce and bedding and possibly another scatter treat or small diet item like green onions or snow peas. Just before 5 p.m. we bring the troop back inside and get them settled in for the evening. Once they are set, the staff leaves instructions for the night keeper to check on the gorillas and departs for the evening. After we leave, the gorillas eat and then make their nests. Gorillas are very similar to humans, so they will usually sleep through the night with the occasional snoring bout and will just be getting up and shaking the sleep off when we arrive in the morning. I often get asked which gorilla is my favorite and truthfully I adore each of them for different reasons. I think Nia and Sufi are my favorites because I tend to like the animals that have attitude and they both have a lot of spunk. They are young and play a lot more than the older

Gorillas are generally calm and non-aggressive animals, unless they are disturbed or threatened. They are known to be quite intelligent also: they have been observed using tools in the wild and in captivity have been taught simple sign language.

gorillas. It’s fun to watch them test their boundaries and push the buttons of the older ones. Kitani is so laid-back; she just doesn’t care most of the time. Jo always looks so pensive and is always thinking but sometimes it’s about how to make trouble. And contrary to popular belief, Kwisha is just a big sweetheart. He doesn’t always take to new people, but when he is comfortable with you and trusts you, he is a big softie that will train well and interact with enrichment. Working with these amazing creatures may have happened by happenstance for me, as I started working with elephants, but it has been such a great ride since then! I learn as much as I can from my animals and really enjoy working with smart animals as they constantly present different challenges and enjoyment too. Gorillas have a strict hierarchy and it takes a while to earn their trust. You really have to work at it but they are where my heart is. To me, it is important to find the area that challenges each of us in the best way and apes are a good fit for me.

Gorilla diet. Safari Magazine • Spring 2018


Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Toledo, OH Permit No. 707

P.O. Box 140130 Toledo, OH 43614-0130 The Toledo Zoo is open every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. January through April: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Memorial Day to Labor Day: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. May & September: Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Weekends, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. October 1 – November 15: 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. November 16 – December 31: Daytime hours, 10 a.m. - 2:59 p.m. Lights Before Christmas hours, Sunday - Thursday: 3 - 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 3 - 9 p.m. All Lucas County residents receive free Zoo admission every non-holiday Monday 10 a.m. - noon. (Must show valid proof of residency.) The Zoo remains open for one additional hour after gates close to allow visitors to complete their visit. However, many animals may be off exhibit during the last hour.




10 | Vanimal-tine’s Day toledozoo.org/valentine

13 | Garden Tour toledozoo.org/garden-tours

3-5 | Spring Break Camp toledozoo.org/camps

23 | Wine Tasting (Arctic) toledozoo.org/wine

21 | Party for the Planet toledozoo.org/planet

Wine Tasting & Dinner (Malawi) toledozoo.org/wine

17-19 | Presidents’ Day Weekend Free Lucas County Admission

24 | Teddy Bear Care Fair toledozoo.org/teddybear

19 | Camp for a Day toledozoo.org/camps

27 | Garden Tour toledozoo.org/garden-tours

23 | Once upon a Vine toledozoo.org/vine

30 | Animal Egg Hunt toledozoo.org/egghunt

Wine Tasting (Aquarium) toledozoo.org/wine

Breakfast with the Bunny toledozoo.org/bunny 31 | Breakfast with the Bunny toledozoo.org/bunny

For more information on these and all events at the Toledo Zoo, please visit toledozoo.org/events


MAY 19, 2018 Register online at toledozoo.org/dartfrog Registration includes parking and Zoo admission on race day!

TOLEDO Public Schools

Thank you race partners: Title Sponsor

Packet Pick-up Sponsor

Kids’ Fun Run Sponsor

Media Sponsor

Team Sponsors

Profile for Safari Magazine - The Toledo Zoo

Toledo Zoo Safari Spring 2018  

The Zoo's member magazine. Theme: Be Healthy

Toledo Zoo Safari Spring 2018  

The Zoo's member magazine. Theme: Be Healthy

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