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We’ve had another month of exciting activity in the Tayto Park zoo, as always the animals have kept us on our toes! From shearing the farm animals to snapchat spotlights; preparing fruit-kebabs and carnivore-cakes our zoo keepers have been busy as beavers!
During these past few weeks, one of the most essential tasks has been keeping the animals cool during warm weather, is just as important as providing them with warmth in cold weather. Extra water baths have been set up for our birds, we’ve hung animal friendly “ice pops” (ice-blocks filled with fruit or vegetables) from trees for some of our exotic species and last but not least our sheep and alpaca were sheared!
You might have read in our April Zoo News edition that we noticed breeding behaviour between our Japanese red-crowned crane - I’m delighted to report that the female has laid an egg! At the moment we don’t know if the egg is fertile as this is a very tentative stage so we will be making sure there’s minimal disturbance to the aviary. Incubation usually lasts around 1 month so we’ll be keeping a close eye on them over them over the next few weeks.
While all the zoo keepers are super passionate about carrying out the care for animals, there are some things that we just can’t do alone. In times of need, we call upon our amazingly talented Zoo Maintenance Team. Having qualified tradesmen as part of the team is a huge benefit. We work closely with the maintenance team and each day starts with a brief meeting at 8am to discuss and organise what tasks need to get done. This month however our “keeper-talk” has certainly rubbed off on the zoo maintenance lads as they have made some amazing new enrichment items constructed from old tyres.
Working in a zoo means you always have to be creative, whether it’s thinking of new habitat designs or coming up with new training protocols. But without teamwork, very little can be achieved. During your next visit to the Zoo in Tayto Park, stop and notice the outdoor houses, the climbing frames or the tree’s that need pruning - these are all jobs which are made possible thanks to the cooperation within all areas of the Zoo team.
The month of May also left our keepers devastated as we lost our 14 year old Von der Decken hornbill. This relatively small species is native to East Africa where their lifespan is estimated to be about 10 years. In the wild, like many other species, poaching and destruction of natural habitats are just two of the threats facing the Von der Decken hornbills.
Insects, such as locusts, make up an important part of the diet for hornbill species.
The sadness was very shorty followed by a fantastic surprise, as the zoo keepers arrived to work one Saturday morning were utterly thrilled to find not 6, but 7 Sulawesi black crested macaques. Our older female, Drusilla, had given birth overnight. Sulawesi black crested macaques are critically endangered and so they are part of an international breeding programme. The birth of this macaque (we think it might be a girl but not sure yet!!) is so important if this species is to survive long into the future.
Love Your Zoo week also kicked off towards the end of May. This is another one of BIAZA’s engaging initiatives to not only promote the good work that zoos do but also to encourage young and old to support their local wildlife park or zoo. If you’re interested in learning a little more about BIAZA such as what the organisation is and what it means for Tayto Park to be part of this professional body or more importantly to learn about the conservation, education and research work it supports, then please visit www.biaza.org.uk.
Aisling (Head Keeper)