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Posts Tagged ‘zoo’

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Photos: The Wilds
In Columbus, Ohio, you can camp overnight at the zoo.

A couple of my grandchildren brought sleeping bags on their latest visit, hoping to try camping — if not in a tent, then on the bedroom floor. A tent might be a little too exotic for where they are in life, although it worked for Suzanne when she was five weeks old.

Exotic camping makes me think of my friend Cathy. I saw her on the train the day she retired, and she told me that she was planning an overnight at the Columbus zoo. Apparently, you can sleep in a yurt. It’s not cheap. There is also a lodge or cabins, if you prefer.

The website says, “Today, it’s difficult to imagine The Wilds and its 9,000 plus acres as anything but a home to rare and endangered species from around the globe living in open range habitats.

“However, the park that has transformed wild life conservation practices was once devoted to strip mining.”

I loved reading this description of how the landscape was rescued from that devastation.

“The immense landscape of The Wilds and its mining history provides an ideal setting to study the process of ecological recovery and restoration. Ongoing biological inventories have recorded over a thousand species and provide an essential baseline for studying changes in populations over time.

“It is difficult for trees to survive on reclaimed mine land due to soil compaction and low nutrient availability. Instead, The Wilds has successfully established nearly 700 acres of prairies at The Wilds which provide beneficial pollinator and wildlife habitat.  Now we are conducting research to see how prairies change soil properties over time and whether the deep roots of prairie plants can prepare the land for the return of forests. …

“Wetlands are considered the most biologically rich ecosystems in the world.  However, development has caused these habitat types to become among the most endangered. The Wilds has restored a 20-acre area into a quality wetland refuge that supports a diversity of vegetation, waterfowl, and aquatic wildlife.  The removal of invasive species such as cattail is an ongoing effort. The ultimate goal is to increase native wetland vegetation and improve habitat for waterfowl and other aquatic wildlife. …

“Many of the reclaimed forests at The Wilds are in poor health, with low species diversity and overgrown with invasive species. The restoration department is currently working on restoring ~30 acres of forest. In order to accomplish this, invasive plant species are removed and native ones are planted in their place. Removal and replacement is a long and tedious process, but ultimately it will increase the biodiversity of the area. In addition, we intend to create native amphibian habitat by constructing two vernal pools and improving existing wetlands in the area. The end result of these combined efforts is expected to encourage more native animal and insect species to not only inhabit the area, but to thrive. …

“We have expanded our scope to improving the reclamation process immediately after mining. One essential step is seeding the land with new plant species. Traditional seed mixes used in land reclamation are not designed to create diverse habitat for wildlife, they simply aim to revegetate the land. We helped [the Ohio Department of Natural Resources] create more ecologically friendly seed mixes and monitored to see if sites planted with the native mix could revegetate the land as well as the traditional mix. Thus far, we have seen that mixes including native grasses and pollinator plants can definitely be successful, and that they undeniably increase native cover over traditional mixes. We are still working on long term monitoring of this project.”

To the conservationist side of me, this is all very impressive. But having just read a deep, thoughtful history of the destruction of Appalachia called Ramp Hollow, I can’t help but think that mining destroyed not only the environment but the ability of families to make a living off the land. I’d really like to see restoration for the people, too.

More.

Restoration Ecology

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Nordens Ark

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Photo: Nordens Ark
Nordens Ark in western Sweden is dedicated to protecting and preserving endangered species.

Two of my grandchildren had a happy time this summer at a Swedish park that is dedicated to protecting and preserving endangered species. The children’s Swedish grandmother told me that the pony rides and other attractions draw families in to Nordens Ark and then get them interested in supporting the sustainability mission.

From the paark’s website: “Nordens Ark is a private non-profit foundation that works to ensure endangered animals have a future. We are engaged in conservation, rearing, research and training, as well as doing what we can to increase public awareness of biological diversity. Much of our work is done in the field, both in Sweden and overseas.

“We strive to strengthen populations of at-risk species by releasing individuals into the wild, and by improving the habitats in which they live. In Sweden, Nordens Ark has national responsibility for breeding and releasing, among others, the peregrine falcon, white-backed woodpecker, lesser white-fronted goose, green toad and several beetle species.

“Since the turn of the millennium hundreds of mammals and birds born at Nordens Ark have been released into nature, among them otters in Holland, European wildcats in Germany and lynxes in Poland. We have reinforced the Swedish peregrine falcon population with more than 175 individuals, and Sweden’s amphibian population with some 10,000 animals.”

More at the website, here. Sweden Tips lists the park in its survey of Sweden’s best zoos. If you want to visit Nordens Park, you can also find lots of enthusiastic comments at Trip Advisor, including “a fantastic place for a photographer” and a recommendation to come at feeding time.

Someone I know, 3-1/2, took a pony ride at Nordens Ark in Bohuslän, Sweden, this summer. The park encompasses more than [900 acres] and includes pastureland, woodland and animal facilities.
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Video: PBS NewsHour

Not long ago, Julia Griffin of PBS NewsHour interviewed an artist who has turned plastic trash into sculptures with a message.

“JULIA GRIFFIN: Octavia the octopus, Priscilla the parrot fish, and Flash the marlin, all sculptures now on display at Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and all made of trash pulled from the Pacific Ocean. …

“Angela Haseltine Pozzi is the lead artist and executive director of Washed Ashore, a nonprofit seeking to educate the public on the plastics polluting the word’s oceans.

“ANGELA HASELTINE POZZI: We create sculptures that can teach people about the problem. And, as an artist, it is a real challenge to use everything that comes up off the beach.

“JULIA GRIFFIN: In six years, Haseltine Pozzi and her team of volunteers have created 66 sculptures from more than 38,000 pounds of debris collected from a stretch of Oregon’s coastline.

“The countless bottle caps, flip-flops and beach toys are just a fraction of the more than 315 billion pounds of plastic estimated to be in the world’s oceans.

“Such plastics not only pose entanglement threats to Marine animals, but are often mistaken for food. …

“JULIA GRIFFIN: As scientists debate how to clean the water, Haseltine Pozzi hopes her sculptures will inspire visitors to curb pollution in the first place.”

The exhibit can be seen at the zoo until September 16, 2016. More at PBS here. Check out the Smithsonian’s site, too.

Photo: Smithsonian

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In this story from radio show Studio 360, we learn that music is intriguing to animals, at the very least arousing their curiosity and perhaps stimulating and soothing them.

“Laurel Braitman is a historian of science and the author of ‘Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves.’ She’s particularly interested in the mental health of animals in captivity.

“ ‘If their minds aren’t stimulated, they can end up with all sorts of disturbing behaviors,’ she says. Braitman wondered if music — so often soothing to people, but usually foisted on animals without their permission — could help counter their symptoms of anxiety and depression.

“That led Braitman to arrange a series of concerts for all-animal audiences: gorillas in a Boston zoo and a small herd of bison in Golden Gate Park. Recently, the bluegrass band Black Prairie played for the residents of Wolf Haven wolf sanctuary in Tenino, Washington. …

“Can we say that they liked it?

“Researchers are trying to answer this question in controlled experiments where they observe whether animals move toward or away from speakers, depending on the music.

“Dr. Charles Snowdon of the University of Wisconsin collaborates with a composer, David Teie, who writes music tailored for certain species. They base their compositions on sonic frequencies the animals use in nature. Their music for domestic cats features tempos of purring or suckling kittens; small monkeys called cotton-top tamarins, on the other hand, got music that sounds remarkably like nails on a blackboard. ‘It is pretty godawful if you ask me,’ Snowdon says. ‘But the tamarins dig it.’ ”

More here.

Music for Wolves: Black Prairie from Aubree Bernier-Clarke on Vimeo.

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The first time I really got into the Internet and computers was in 1994 when I was working at HBR. We all loved experimenting with kooky screen savers. Do you remember flying toasters?

Flying toasters are what I think of when I look at what reader Rob Moses is doing with his camera on a drone. Here are photos from a flight over the Calgary Zoo. (Rob lives in Canada.)

He writes, “I have been flying around this DJi Phantom 3 Professional Quadcopter lately. I took this picture with it flying over the Calgary Zoo. One of the most fun things around flying one of these things is having the ability to shoot photos of views people don’t really see. This picture is a good example of a view not seen. I only wish there was some animals walking around in the picture haha.”

Seeing what your flying camera picked up must feel similar to riding on a train through people’s backyards, where you get a sense of lives as they are lived that you never get from a front lawn.

Be sure to check out the Rob Moses Photography blog, here.

Photo: Rob Moses Photography

 

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On the whole, I believe in having zoos, but I do realize most of the animals would rather not be there.

So I was interested in a zoo concept that was tweeted this week by @SmallerCitiesU. It’s an article about a plan for a zoo in Denmark.

At Good magazine, Caroline Pham asks, “Is there an ethical way to publicly display captive animals? Danish architecture firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) is on a mission to answer that question with a hefty redesign of Denmark’s Givskud Zoo. …

“Their recently revealed plans for what has been dubbed ‘Zootopia’ attempt to mesh nature with inventive design in a 1,200,000 square meter park imagined under advisement from the zoo staff. Manmade buildings would hide within the constructed natural environments and animal habitats would mimic ones found in the wild as much as possible.

“Renderings showcase a circular central plaza with an ascending ramp-like border where visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the entire park, which features varying natural environments (that seem to be fairly open-air) connected by a four-kilometer hiking trail. …

“The project is currently in progress, with the first phase set for completion in 2019.” More here.

Photo:  Bjarke Ingels Group

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Today I went to the zoo. I was busy following my three grandchildren around and didn’t take many pictures. If you want to see great photographs of all the animals, go the website of the Franklin Park Zoo.

There were a lot of people at the zoo today, my fist visit. So many little kids everywhere! We weren’t there at the right time to help feed the giraffes, but I enjoyed seeing them. Here are couple giraffes with a zebra in the shared space — and a photo of a zoo employee dressed up as a giraffe. I also got a shot of my older grandson on the slide. There’s a big playground at the zoo.

Suzanne thought one of the primates looked a little morose, but the lemurs were very chipper — and the birds. Hard to tell if the snakes were chipper. The big cats were sleeping.

After the zoo, the kids, their parents, my husband, and I went to Sophia’s Grotto in Roslindale for lunch, where we sat outside under a tree. The two-year-old grandson took a nap in his carriage.

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Photo: Ashley Foughty, via Associated Press. Foughty spotted the renegade Rusty in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood, and twitter did the rest.

Ashley Foughty uses social media.  And a good thing, too. If she hadn’t responded to the zoo’s call for help finding an escaped red panda, who knows what might have happened.

Trip Gabriel writes at the NY Times, “Rusty the red panda, who disappeared from the National Zoo, hijacked the news cycle on Monday.

“To help find Rusty, a raccoon-size mammal with a striped tail and moon-shaped face, the zoo turned to social media, and suddenly half of official Washington broke from Serious Events to tune in to the saga of the runaway panda.

“On Twitter and Facebook, the hunt for 11-month-old Rusty … exploded in a mix of concern, humor. …

“ ‘Rusty the Red Panda eats shoots and leaves,’ Jake Tapper, CNN’s chief Washington correspondent, filed to Twitter. …

“The zoo announced Rusty’s disappearance to its thousands of Twitter followers in a message at 11:51 a.m, which was retweeted nearly 3,000 times in an hour. …

“At midday, mentions of ‘Rusty’ on Twitter nearly equaled those of ‘Obama.’ ….

“ ‘Edward Snowden and Rusty the red panda relaxing on a Havana beach,’ wrote J. D. Ross, a communications director at Syracuse University, referring to the American security contractor wanted on spying charges. …

“Once again, social media proved to be a powerful dragnet. Around 1:15 p.m., a Washingtonian posted a picture on Twitter of Rusty in a patch of weeds in the Adams Morgan district, not far from the 163-acre zoo.”

Read what happened next. Note to all escaped zoo animals: Twitter will find you.

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Lisa W. Foderaro writes in today‘s NY Times (here) about several elaborate carved-pumpkin events in and around New York City. Her article caught my eye because yesterday Suzanne and Erik took their baby dragon and Erik’s mother, sister, niece, nephews (in costume), yours truly and my husband to something pretty dramatic along those lines. In Providence.

As I was reading Foderaro and feeling competitive with New York, this bit in the story jumped out:

“Two carvers, Ray Villafane and Andy Bergholtz, who developed a national following on the Food Network’s ‘Halloween Wars’ show, were at the [New York Botanical] Garden in mid-October, using six-inch rinds of Atlantic Giant pumpkins to sculpture the zombie, whose organs and intestines poke through his cracked ribs. Their assistants were busy harvesting chunks of pumpkin with handsaws and, for the zombie’s jeans, steaming pumpkin rinds.

“Mr. Villafane, a commercial sculptor who has made a year-round business out of carving pumpkins, said … his one disappointment this year was that the official ‘all-time biggest pumpkin,’ the first to weigh more than a ton, did not make it to the Bronx, as was planned. The 2,009-pound specimen, grown by Ron Wallace in Coventry, R.I., ran into trouble.

“ ‘It sprang a leak and rotted on the way,’ Mr. Villafane said. ‘We wanted to carve the world-record holder, so that was sad.’ ”

Well, excu-use me! A Rhode Island monster pumpkin should have gone to the Roger Williams Zoo’s Spectacular, which was way better than anything the Times described. I’m afraid that Mr. Villafone tempted fate. Clearly a curse struck that giant pumpkin when it crossed the border.

The Roger Williams Zoo Spectacular lasts the whole month of October, involves 25 carvers carving 25,000 pumpkins (replaced as they decay), and many fun themes (with piped-in music). We wandered from “Star Wars” to Beatles to “Gone with the Wind” to “The Wizard of Oz” and on and on. I was as amazed as the relatives visiting  from Sweden.

The idea of 25 people carving pumpkins for a month is in itself amazing to ponder. How much do pumpkin carvers get paid? What work do they have during the other 11 months? Are any from Rhode Island School of Design?

The Spectacular would have been a bit scary for the youngest among us, I think, but he was jet-lagged and zonked out in the stroller. A buffet before the walk around the lake was super and got us in early, in front of incredibly long lines. Read more about it all here.

Photograph by Suzanne, Luna & Stella

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