Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Comings and Goings and Catch Up!

Come rain or shine, you gotta feed the bongo!
Wow, it's been waaaay too long since we have posted here on the RSCF blog!  That's what happens when you are caring for a few hundred critters every day!  It's been a HOT and STEAMY 2014.  Our rainy season (June through November) has been "normal" for the first time in years.  That means many, many days of 90 degree heat and near 100% humidity.  We've been getting afternoon showers nearly every day, the normal weather pattern for this time of year, and have been flooded on more than one occasion!  Great for the plants and animals, not so great for the staff who have to wade and work through it every day.  And the MOSQUITOS ARE OFF THE CHARTS!  For those of you who have never visited south Florida in the high summer be aware--our mosquitos are FIERCE!  For the first time a quite a few years all our staff members have had to use natural bug sprays almost every day.  We try to use bug repellents with natural ingredients like citronella, clove, lemongrass and lavender.  It smells much better, and the animals don't freak out when you get near them. 

Our 2014 baby season has been in overdrive, with eight baby bongo antelope on the ground right now, along with our orphan bongo baby, Delilah.  For those who do not follow us on Facebook, Delilah was born on Thanksgiving 2013.  Her mom died giving birth to her so we hand reared her.  She is amazing, we lover her, and she is growing like a weed.  Soon she will be introduced to our group of juvenile bongo, and will become part of the herd.  Until then, we are spoiling her rotten.  Her favorite treat on the planet is banana.  She will do ANYTHING for a banana, as you can see.  She has become a bit of a celebrity here at RSCF...who can resist those ears?  The short video below tells her story, which is by no means finished.  We'll do our best to keep you updated...

Our juvenile bongo herd.
We also rasied five baby red-browed Amazon chicks this year, who are all weaned and ready for outside enclosures.  We are waiting for some cooler weather to start introducing them to flight enclosures, to lessen the threat of heat related stress.  Soon they will be outside full time. 

Sara VanOstrand with some babies!
One of the most exciting events to happen at RSCF in 2014 is our new partnership with Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.  We partnered with LP, with the help of Miami's Batchelor Foundation, to create exhibits on and off site at LP specifically for red-brows.  They are the first zoo in North America to exhibit the species and as of July 11, 2014, 18 red-brows from RSCF are now residing at the zoo.  Beautiful on and off-site exhibits have been built, with six red brows on exhibit and two groups off exhibit (six and eight respectively).  The goal is to establish a breeding colony at LP to compliment our breeding pairs here at RSCF.  If you are in Tampa, please stop by and tell our birds HELLO!  We are in the process of creating a documentary about the program--in the meantime the short video below gives you some idea of the process.  It's exciting, scary and a milestone program achievement for RSCF and Lowry Park.  We are so grateful to the staff at RSCF and Lowry Park for working so hard to make this happen!!!

Speaking of staff, we have some new faces here at RSCF.  Our team welcomed summer intern and volunteer Genevieve Schave.  Genny is a student at the University of Florida and spent her summer break with us.  She has written a short summary of her experience with us--shared below.  We just sent her back to school last week and were sad to see her go.  Thanks for all the hard work, Genny, we hope to see you over your winter break!!!!

Genny with Dee-Dee, our golden-headed lion tamarin.
Genny's Journal: 
You Want Mealworms With That?
My Time at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation

Before my spring semester of college ended, I started filling out applications for typically routine summer jobs. When I settled back in at home, I heard about the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation and immediately made contact with Karen. Shortly after, I began working at the Conservatory five days a week and knew I had found the place I was meant to be. I’ve grown up with animals and couldn’t even begin to imagine a life without them. Rare Species Conservatory Foundation has granted me the opportunity to grow and add to my knowledge of animals. Some of the best friends I’ve made are living at Rare Species. Each day I noticed more and more personality traits show from the animals that were learning to accept me as part of the team.  Our little Ninita, a Pygmy Marmoset, tested my buttons day after day to see if she could escape for an adventure. I often had to convince her to stay with a toothbrush and a soft belly scratch. Our famous troublemaker Caiques, Zach and Bonnie, loved to play chicken for their food bowl each day, but were grateful when the job was done and grapes plentiful. So, while my friends from school spent the summer serving us humans, I spent my time giving to those who really appreciate it.

With worms on the side,

Genevieve Schave

While we said goodbye to Genny, we welcomed Stephanie Howard to our Keeper Team.  Stephanie is a graduate of Sante Fe Teaching Zoo in Gainesville, FL.  Stephanie has volunteered and interned at a variety of wildlife faciliteis, including spending several months caring for tigers and other large cats!  While we don't have tigers here at RSCF, Stephanie has already made friends with our local kitties--who all think they are tigers.  Welcome Stephanie!!

Stephanie with one of our FIERCE carnivores...
In fact, we need to introduce all our staff and volunteers, so that will be our next blog post.  See you soon!!!