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WE ARE OPEN, and all the hard work over winter has certainly paid off!! A South American bush dog, two red-bellied tamarins and three new lambs (yep, they’re pretty cute!) have all arrived at Tayto Park zoo over the past month.
In other updates, Dougie, our male Sulawesi crested macaque, and the rest of his troop have settled in amazingly well! They’re also part of our new Zoo Talk schedule so be sure to come hear all about them during your next visit.
Meet Satana, our Sulawesi Black Crested Macaque, and her young son Bumi (the Indonesian term for earth).
For followers of this blog, you might remember back in January construction was underway for new eagle aviaries? Well, they’re finished and looking great! Eight beautiful eagles are now visible for all to see including Bald eagles, a Steller's sea eagle and the iconic Golden eagle to name a few. Not only can you see them in their aviaries you can also witness them in free-flight during our World of Raptor displays. Anyone familiar with our displays will also remember Karl, our Secretary bird. Karl was a hugely important and popular part of our display. He helped us illustrate the physical diversity within birds of prey. Our raptor team was left devastated when he recently passed away, and we would like to sincerely thank all the veterinary team, including UCD, for providing the best veterinary care to Karl during his illness.
Staying with bird news, we were thrilled to receive confirmation that the management of red-billed toucans in zoos has been upgraded to a European Studbook. So what exactly does this mean? A European Studbook (ESB) is a breeding programme managed by EAZA (European Association of Zoos & Aquariums). There is one studbook holder for each species who is responsible for monitoring the population in captivity while providing recommendations on husbandry, breeding, movements, etc.
Below is a quick conversation with Terri, who is just one of the keepers who help care for our female red-billed toucan.
Me: Terri, what does it mean for you, as a keeper, to work with a species part of an ESB?
Terri: It’s so important to have healthy, self-sustaining populations in zoos so with our toucan now part of a studbook specifically established for her species, it has created a great air of excitement within the team. Personally, I’m proud to be responsible for her day-to-day care and to have the opportunity to work with a species that is part of EAZA’s breeding programme.
Me: Growing up, when did you realise that you had a love of nature and wildlife?
Terri: I’ve always had interest in wildlife and nature. As a toddler, I was always fascinated with invertebrates like ladybirds or spiders. Then growing up I was always the girl that other locals would drop off injured or sick wild birds to mend them back to health. I was always proud when it came to releasing them back to the wild. I loved climbing trees to see chicks in their nests and watch their parents care for them until it came time for them to fledge.
Me: Being a full-time zoo keeper is a tough job, have you ever found time to become involved in other conservation projects, volunteering, etc.?
Terri: Oh yeah! Becoming a zoo-keeper is no easy task, my first job was at Fota Wildlife Park 11 years ago. Since then many of my holidays and time-off is spent volunteering in other zoos in the UK and Europe (often for two weeks at a time). I want to learn as much as I possibly can! In 2013 I decided to go a little further and spend time in South East Asia. I volunteered with many conservation organisations who are responsible for various endangered species such as clouded leopards, moon bears, sun bears, fishing cats and many others. One of my responsibilities was to educate locals about their ‘wild neighbours’ and the positive presence they bring to any habitat. Locals who were once hunters became rangers whose job it now was to protect their forest and animals from poachers. They, in turn, earned a wage that meant they could support their families by saving species rather than poaching them.
We thank Terri for taking the time out to talk about being a keeper and looking after our amazing red-billed toucan!
Terri’s Travels: releasing a young python back to the wild after being confiscated by wildlife officials at a meat market in Cambodia.
Speaking of amazing Spring is definitely the best season – everything comes to life! More sunshine (and less snow, hopefully!!) also means that you can finally get outdoors and start to enjoy all nature has to offer! In spring not only are we busy looking after animals in the zoo but we’re also preparing for Grab That Gap. This is a brilliant BIAZA (British & Irish Association of Zoo & Aquariums) initiative which began a few years ago. It aims to encourage zoos to make the most of unused space. Hence the name Grab That Gap, by creating colourful wildflower habitats for some of our smaller native species and our all-important pollinators! We have our seeds, we’ve picked our spot, two actually, so now these areas need to be prepped for planting. With a little help from our Tayto Park landscapers, we’re hoping that our Grab That Gap 2018 will be a blooming success!!
Aisling (Head Keeper)