Sunday, May 23, 2010

Just Like Me -- KCZoo Preschool Program

Preschoolers like to get their hands on many different things. Well, in our program called “Just Like Me” we try to exercise all of their five senses. A story is used to focus the preschoolers’ attention and then compare our five senses to unique animal senses. Like this chinchilla pictured. We are focusing on the sight sense. Chinchillas have huge eyes to see well at night when they are normally awake.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Make Less Trash

In our after school program, the topic of the day focused on the 3 Rs. The first is reduce, by purchasing products that have less packaging we are creating less trash. The second is reuse, when we reuse things like clothes or toys by donating them to Goodwill or better yet purchasing from thrift stores we cut down on new clothes and toys that need to be made. And the final R stands for recycling. Our after school students were very familiar with recycling and how important it is to help cut down on trash that goes into landfills. To celebrate recycling, we made trash mobiles with some discarded items. Just in case you were wondering, we did clean everything before our students began creating their masterpieces.

Toad Breeding at the Kansas City Zoo

Two years ago, the Kansas City Zoo joined up with a small group of other zoos who are devoted to helping the Wyoming Toads. These toads were declared extinct in the wild and this dedicated group has spent the last decade breeding and reintroducing toads and tadpoles back into their native habitat.

The keepers at the Kansas City Zoo started the breeding process with the toads held here. For the next month, several pairs will spend time in an induced hibernation. After this time, the toads will come out of their hibernation, and spend a few days eating before mating. Hopefully, this breeding will be successful and tadpoles from the toads at our zoo can be sent back up to Wyoming to be released.

Monday, April 5, 2010

KCZoo School Group Fun

Food Chains
In our After School Program, the topic of the day was food chains. Food chains are very important in each ecosystem, it is when one animal eats another to survive. If one animal completely disappears, then the food chain is broken. So we wanted to find out if any of our after school students knew what a food chain was. One child answered with a lot of enthusiasm, “Like McDonalds and Burger King.” Hmmm…close but not quite what we were looking.

We all know that pooping or as the scientists call it defecating is very natural and necessary part of life. Yet people are both fascinated and grossed out by it when our Zoo animals do it. We decided to take it one step further and put it in a jar. We had our after school students try to match the poop to the correct animal. It wasn’t too hard, especially if you think about the size of the animal and what it eats.

Spring has sprung
Spring is supposedly right around the corner even though the weather is having a tough time catching up. You will see trees budding and the shoots of flowers breaking through the ground soon. But what about the plants at the Zoo? In our Zoo Learning Center we have many different kinds of plants.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Snakes Alive Opens Thursday, April 1

Snaking Across State Lines

Snakes Alive at the Kansas City Zoo is opening Thursday, April 1. Public is welcome to the ribbon cutting at 10 a.m.

In creating our Myth-buster graphics in Snakes Alive we searched for these best snake images to use. Robert Makowsky was kind enough to let us use his image of the Amazon Tree Boa. This specimen was caught in Peru in the limbs over a small tributary of the Amazon. After the snake was photographed it was immediately released in it original location.

Robert Makowsky is with the Department of Biostatistics at University of Alabama at Birmingham. Thank you Robert!

Slither, slide, walk or run to the Kansas City Zoo to busta-myth about these glistening ornate patterned creatures. Did you know snakes don’t have eyelids or ears and their “noses” are also found on the roof of their mouths? Starting April 1 – you can find out this and more at Snakes Alive.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Camels are Breeding at the Kansas City Zoo

Camels are breeding at the Zoo!
Dromedary Camel, Camelus dromedaries

In mid February, the Zoo received a male camel with the intention of breeding with two of our females. He has until late April to get to know his female companions; we are very hopeful that these two females will become pregnant.

Camels typically breed from January to May. Male camels come into what is called “rut” which is another way to say that he is ready to breed. During rut, males become very aggressive towards other males; they secrete a bad smelling substance from glands on the back of their heads and will inflate the back portion of the roof of their mouth and push it outside the mouth. None of these things sound very attractive, but thankfully the girls are still interested in him.

The camels are breeding in an off exhibit yard, but when the girls aren’t with him you can see them on exhibit in Australia. Camel gestation period is approximately 12-13 months, and they typically have one calf. Come out to the zoo and see our beautiful girls, and make sure to check back next spring to see if we have any new little camels running around the yard.

Rebecca Prewitt, Discovery Zone Animal Supervisor

Saturday, March 13, 2010

KCZoo Polar Bear - Training from Toledo Zoo

I recently returned from a trip to the Toledo Zoo where I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know Nikita, the polar bear that will be joining us at the Kansas City Zoo. He is going to be an awesome addition to our animal collection. Nikita is currently 3 years old and he weighs over 800 lbs already! He is very playful and wants to investigate anything new.

His favorite toy to play with is a 55gallon plastic barrel. I watched him play with this barrel for over an hour. He took it all around his exhibit, in the water, out of the water, everywhere. Polar Bears (and Nikita especially) are very strong and destructive. It only takes him about three days before his beloved barrel is torn in half and he needs a new one.

In the wild polar bears mainly eat seals. In the zoo Nikita’s current diet consist of fish (trout and capelin), a dry food, and a nice dollop of beef lard! He also gets some fruits and vegetables as enrichment. One of his favorite enrichment foods is cantaloupe, especially if it is frozen first.

I really enjoyed my trip to the Toledo Zoo. Everyone there was really great, and gave me lots of great information about Nikita and about polar bears in general. I can’t wait for Nikita to come to the Kansas City Zoo and for everyone to meet him.

Andrea O’Daniels