Beginning of another new zoo season | News, Sports, Jobs

Warmer days, here and there, are making it possible for many of the zoo’s animals to get out of their barns for the first time in many months. As happy as it makes the guests that are attending on those days, for those animals it is the beginning of another new season.

It was a couple of weeks ago when the weather finally warmed up enough that some of the animals were able to venture outside. The exhibits were closely checked by staff because it had been a while since the animals had inhabited them, and until recently had been covered with snow and ice. But on that Thursday, the ground was dry, the winds were calm, and the temperature slowly crept up to the required limits for many of the animals. Out came the bongo, zebras, and finally the giraffes.

The giraffes have a spacious barn area, but it’s not the same as stepping out into the sunlight and seeing the world that had been just a memory since last fall. It has been a long cold and wet season with a few breaks since it was decided to start cooling down. First out was 21-year-old Kianga followed cautiously by her calf Amani, born last Sept. 29, so she has basically grown up in the barn over the winter. Once Kianga was confident Amani was okay in the outside world, she took off in a gallop kicking up her heels as she ran raced around her enclosure. Not to be outdone, Amani quickly took her mom’s lead as she shadowed her, running and jumping as she went.

After allowing the girls a few minutes of alone time, 20-year-old Mashama was given access to the exhibit and slowly made his way out to the center of the enclosure. He just seemed to take everything in while Kianga continued her romp. Amani, however, paused to take the time and check out Mashama. As exciting as it is for the adults to back outside again, for Amani, it is a whole new world.

At 6-months old she is eating solid foods, and as opposed to the hay she has become accustomed to, she is now faced with a virtual smorgasbord. She closely watched her mom to see what she could nibble on and just seemed to embrace every new experience. Kianga continued stretching her legs, stopping now and then to check on her calf and Mashama, but not for long before sprinting off in another direction. Mashama continued to pay attention to Amani and Kianga, when she’d give him a chance, but is a bit less active due to a medical chronic issue in one of his front legs that is being watched, closely monitored and treated by the keeper and veterinary staff.

By the next day, temperatures had dropped again and once again the animals were confined to their barns. Since that day, they have been out more and more, and as the number of warm days increase, so too will their appearances. Looking ahead, we are making plans to construct a large indoor enclosure allowing adjacent to the barn that will guests to watch them throughout the year, but until then, think warm.

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