Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife Conservation’
Any area residents interested in learning more about birds, trees, wildflower identification, and all manner of other nature topics can sign up now for Master Naturalist classes beginning Saturday, February 23 at the Good Zoo. An introductory class Names and Identification taught by zoo director Penny Miller will teach students how to use field guides, internet resources, keys, and other resources to identify plants and animals seen in nature, taught from 9 am – noon. Popular bird expert Dr Scott Shalaway teaches Birds from 1 pm -5 pm the same day. The four hour class discusses bird biology, identification and back-yard feeding . Other spring classes include Turtles in Trouble-Conservation of the Box Turtle; Wildfowers, Trees, Citizen Science Investigators, and Nature Interpretation.
Students can pick and choose classes at their own pace and may take up to three years to complete the program, but it is possible to finish in one year. Classes cost just $6 per hour of instruction. Classes are held at the zoo on Saturdays and Sundays and often involve walks in the woods and occasional field trips to a farm pasture, wetlands or streams. The curriculum was developed by the West Virginia Division of Wildlife to develop citizen scientists and naturalists across the state.
There are 14 required classes such as Mammals; Trees; Wildflowers; Backyard Habitat Improvement, Insects, and 10 others, and a variety of electives to choose from including Box turtles; Medicinal Plants; Nature Photography; Spiders; Invasive Species; Mushrooms; Astronomy and many more. Instructors include Good Zoo staff, West Virginia Division of Wildlife biologists and area college professors. Students are all nature lovers and represent a wide range of ages and backgrounds from college students, teachers, scout leaders, farmers, fisherman, to retired folks and nature photographers.
“Anyone of any age or background fits into the group, you just have to be a nature lover,” said Vickie Markey-Tekely, the zoo’s curator of education.
Student Daniel Caron said, “The program is a fun and interesting way to learn about nature. I enjoy the program’s interactive, hands-on format. The classes teach me to see something different every time I step outside. This has helped me when working in my own backyard and everywhere I travel.”
“This is our 10th year, and many of our students participate in several backyard bird projects, put up bluebird boxes, survey and report frog calls, raise and tag monarch butterflies, and improve their garden and property to attract wildlife,” said Penny Miller, zoo director. Others like to help out at state or zoo wildlife events, or pass on their knowledge to children. “I enjoy teaching my grandkids and neighbors about the monarch butterflies I rear and tag,” said certified Master Naturalist Carol Saseen.
For dates, times, and an application please visit the Master Naturalist section at www.oglebay-resort.com/goodzoo or call Vickie Markey-Tekely at 304-243-4033 or Penny Miller at 304-243-4027.
“Volunteer at the WILDEST place in town!” said Vickie Markey-Tekely, Curator of Education at the Good Zoo. “We are currently looking for teen and adult volunteers at the zoo.”
Volunteers assist with summer camps, birthday parties, sleepovers and other education programs. Volunteers also share what they learn about wildlife by talking with visitors at zoo exhibits and even use live animals and artifacts to educate others.
Teen volunteers must be in the 7th grade or above. Applications are available on the Oglebay website or call the zoo education office at 304-243-4068. The Teen Volunteer Application deadline is Monday, January 7, 2013.
Adult volunteer training is held periodically throughout the year. To receive an application or more information for the adult volunteer program, call 304-243-4033 or e-mail email@example.com.
We’re sure that many of our Good Zoo members are aware of the work that the zoo does to care for and breed endangered species like the Grevy’s zebras, African wild dogs, red pandas, and Panamanian golden frogs (just to name a few) at the zoo, but zoo staff, interns, and volunteers also perform a substantial amount of field conservation with the wildlife in our region as well. Over the past decade the zoo has trained nearly 60 local students in field conservation and wildlife medicine techniques through our college internship program. Some of the projects that we have and are currently working on include conservation of the Eastern hellbender, wildlife diseases in the local region, and raptor rehabilitation.
The Eastern hellbender is the largest salamander in the Western Hemisphere, growing up to 30” long. This fully aquatic salamander is considered rare or endangered in each of the 17 states that it inhabits, including Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. Since 2005, with funding support from the West Virginia Division of Wildlife, Good Zoo staff have studied the populations and habitats of this species throughout the state of West Virginia.
In 2007 during one of his surveys, zoo curator Joe Greathouse encountered a nest of hellbender eggs that had been abandoned by the father and was growing a fungus on the clutch of eggs that would have devastated the embryonic salamanders still in the eggs. He brought those eggs back to the zoo and we raised over 120 of these individuals to the point of the eggs hatching. This was a critical moment in the conservation of this species, as it was the first time that eggs from this species had been hatched in a zoo or aquarium anywhere in the world!
Our friends at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo, and the Fort Worth Zoo helped in raising several of these animals to nearly one foot in length. While we were raising these individuals, Joe studied habitats in West Virginia to determine the best place to return these salamanders to the wild, and physiological assessments and genetics studies were conducted on these individuals through collaborative efforts with the Wilds, San Diego Zoo, and Purdue University.
With funding assistance from the West Virginia Division of Wildlife and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, veterinarians at the Good Zoo were able to equip 30 of these individuals with tracking devices, and he will be studying how these individuals move in the wild over the coming months. Several of these individuals are also being utilized in reintroduction programs in the states of Ohio and Indiana as well in an attempt to hopefully be able to one day bolster the populations of this rare species in association with habitat protection.
Over the past decade, Good Zoo employees have also conducted surveys to look for a variety of diseases in local wildlife. Did you know that an ill great horned owl that was brought into the Good Zoo for rehabilitation was the first animal to have tested positive and confirmed the presence of West Nile virus in wild birds in the state of West Virginia? Since that time, we have collaborated with Cornell University and local public health officials by sending blood samples from birds that are brought into the zoo’s raptor rehabilitation program to Cornell University for analysis in order to monitor the presence of this disease in our local wild birds.
The amphibian chytrid fungus is a pathogen that is driving frogs and salamanders to extinction throughout the world. With funding assistance from the West Virginia Division of Wildlife, zoo employees and interns have collaborated with scientists from Marshall University, Washington State University, the Wilds, San Diego Zoo, and Smithsonian’s National Zoo to study the presence of this disease and its impact on amphibian populations in West Virginia.
The Good Zoo is also one of only four federally licensed facilities for the rehabilitation of wild raptors in the state of West Virginia. With the assistance of local citizens, humane officers, and conservation officers who transport injured raptors to the zoo and funding assistance from the West Virginia Division of Wildlife, we work to provide veterinary care and rehabilitation to ill or injured birds of prey with the goal of enabling their release back to the wild. Over the past decade, zoo employees have treated and returned more than 130 of these individuals to the wild in our region.
If you have any interest in supporting or participating in any of the zoo’s conservation programs, please contact us at (304) 243-4029 or e-mail Joe Greathouse at firstname.lastname@example.org or Penny Miller, Director of the Good Zoo, at email@example.com.