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My Life Is A Zoo

This is where I will post interesting (or not so interesting) things that happen in my life. The subject matter will include any random things that I decide to put in (including animals, my work, my hobbies and my family).

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Some fun bird pics

On Friday, Boomer decided he wanted to join me out front (where I was doing some yard work). I set him up on the back of a chair and proceeded to give him a shower. which he seemed to like. However, he kept flapping so much that he came close to causing the chair to fall. To prevent that from happening, I place a pair of shoes on the chair to act as a counterbalance. Well, Boomer didn't like that so he got off the chair and proceeded to get up into the bushes in my front yard.

We continued the bath there.

All in all I think we spent a good, fun hour out in the front yard. The dogs, on the other hand, were not happy because I did not let them join us. I decided it was bonding time for me and Boo. I think we'll try this again next week! :)

No news is good news when it comes to Barbaro

From all reports, Barbaro is still doing well and continues to improve.

Here's an excerpt from an article on bloodhorse.com
"Barbaro is doing very well and seems perfectly content spending his holiday weekend at New Bolton Center receiving abundant carrots, apples and veterinary attention," said Corinne Sweeney, executive director at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center.

And this article states:

Barbaro has been fitted with a special shoe on his left hoof. The three-part, glue-on shoe was designed and patented by Penn's School of Veterinary Medicine and helps prevent laminitis, a life-threatening infection that can occur when a horse puts too much weight on its uninjured legs. The shoe extends the length of the left hind foot to match the length of the cast on his right foot.

And in this article from the Sun, a reporter answers some of his readers questions about Barbaro and his injury.

Other things going on at the New Bolton Center - Pet Projcts

This article discusses the pony herd that is kept at the New Bolton Center. The purpose is for research on equine behavior. Very interesting article.

And now I'm a car! :)

Can you tell that I've been taking a break from the more serious aspects of my life? Got this from a friend and, of course, I had to take it.

I'm a Mazda Miata!

You like to soak up the sun, but your tastes are down to earth. Everyone thinks you're cute. Life is a winding road, and you like to take the curves in stride. Let other people compete in the rat race - you're just here to enjoy the ride.

Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.

Not exactly the car I want (no room for dogs, really...and could you imagine me trying to evacuate in that?!) but still pretty cute. Maybe if I could have it as a second car...:)

Friday, May 26, 2006

Another one....

After taking the last quiz, I started looking around and found another one! And, since I obviously have nothing better to do than take online quizzes, I took it. :)

Here are the results:

Find your Celestial Choir

Works for me! Oh, and I only took this one once...for now. :)

What type of Fae are you?

I found this little online quiz on my cousin's blog. I couldn't resist taking it. :) I actually took it twice. The first time I was:

What type of Fae are you?

And the second time I was:

What type of Fae are you?

I think they both fit me. It just depends on the mood I'm in that day! :)

The Other SP Exchange

A week or so ago I joined a Secret Pal Exchange titled: The Other SP Exchange.

Well, yesterday the questions were put up and we were told to post the answers on our blog. This is to give my Secret Pal an idea of what I like, don't like, etc. So, here goes:

1. My favorite yarn to knit with is: natural fibers - wool, cotton, alpaca, etc. (I really like King Tut yarn, Knit Picks wool of the andes, and Rowan All cotton blend - but I haven't tried too many different brands soo....)

2. I really do not enjoy knitting with: acrylic yarns (though I will in certain circumstances)

3. If I had a choice, I would banish this yarn from my LYS: 100% acrylic yarns (sorry those of you who like knitting with acrylic. I just don't like them!)

4. If I could knit only one more project for the rest of my life, it would be: bags (felted and not felted) - their useful and make great gifts!

5. My favorite flower is: rose and lily

6. My current color obsession is: Green, Blue and Purple

7. My other interests are: dogs (ridgebacks, dobermans), bears (favorite is American black bear), snow leopards, tigers, reading (mystery, sci - fi, fiction), camping, horses, training, movies (comedy, sci-fi, drama, (no thrillers or horror), etc). baseball (Go Mariners and Astros!!!)

8. Something I wish I knew more about is: animal nutrition, flowers/gardening, building things (furniture, toys, using pvc, different power tools/connectors/etc)

9. A knitting technique I want to learn is: Intarsia, Fair isle, Entrelac, dyeing my own yarn, Cables

10. My favorite needles to knit with are: circulars!!! bamboo, wood, metal, whatever.
though I also enjoy knitting on dpn's (usually when my circs are too long for the project)

-- 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 0 -- 0

11. Do you knit socks? sort of (I've managed to complete 1 pair, I have 2 other pairs that I'm currently attempting to finish)

12. Please provide your foot measurements*:

* length (longest toe to heel): 9 1/2 inches
* instep circumference: 8 1/2 inches (ball of foot), 9 inches (center of foot), 12 inches (around base of heel)
* ankle circumference: 8 3/4 inches

(*a note to my sock knitters: If I have that request wrong, TELL ME so I can change it! Thanks!)

13. What was your favorite childhood movie? Any Disney movie (especially Brother Bear), Neverending Story. This isn't a childhood movie but I really really love Phantom of the Opera (both the stage production and the latest movie). I also like Les Miserable.
14. What is one thing in your knitting bag that you can't live without? stitch markers

15. What is lacking in your notions bag that you really, really want? (Cable needle, Kacha Kacha, Chibi, etc.) Cable Needles

16. What is currently on the needles at your house? 2 pairs of socks, an afghan (Americana Afghan from Lion Brand)

17. If you could do nothing but knit all day, every day, for the next month (and get paid for it!), what would you knit? again - felted bags.

18. Least favorite color(s): not too crazy about orange, yellow, lime green or pastels though when mixed in with other colors I usually like them.

19. Favorite genre of music? Or any way you want to answer that question...basically it's the what kind of music do you like question. Country (Jack Ingram, Rascal Flatts, Lonestar, George Strait, SheDaisy, etc). I also listen to various pop (no favorite artists though).

20. Favorite candy or sweet: milk chocolate (without nuts or peanut butter, unfortunately (I'm allergic to nuts and nut products))

21. What is the most challenging thing you have ever knit? The Asana Tank from Knitty

22. How long have you been knitting? Since January 2005

So, there you go Secret Pal. I hope it helps! Good luck!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Am I Crazy?

The answer is probably. I made the decision yesterday to sign Tori up for a CGC test on June 3rd. I even got the day off for it. Now I just need to register and pay. I'll be doing that in the next day or so. It's sponsored by the Houston Area Rhodesian Ridgeback Club (HARRC). It's taking place at Strawberry Dog in Spring, Texas and will also include the chance to play with some agility equipment - which is something I've been wanting to do with Tori. This would give us a chance to try it out and see if we like it.

I have my work cut out for me...She loves dogs and loves people, which is and is not the problem. She won't try to attack anybody but, well, let's just say she's very enthusiastic in her greetings. Plus, I usually walk her with a prong collar, which is not allowed during the CGC test. So...Tori and I have begun working on walking nicely on a buckle collar, on her attention to me and on the all important command - leave it. Hopefully, the last two will get us through the meet (but not over-exuberantly) a stranger and a stranger and their dog. She just seems to think she should play with every dog that comes along...I know, I know - it's my fault as I have not effectively communicated with her that she is not supposed to do that. So, we're working on it. We've taken three walks today so far (which she thinks is great!!) armed with lots of treats and, by the last one, she was walking on a pretty loose lead. My next step is to walk her over to the nearby PetCo and train her to do it there too (as well as ignore other dogs and people and to sit nicely for scratches).

I have to admit to being a little intimidated and unsure at my ability to train this dog to pass a CGC test in just over 2 weeks. (It's the time part, not the training part).

I just keep telling myself that if I can train a jaguar to willingly accept an injection by one of our vets within 3 weeks (success yesterday!!! He did walk off after the injection but he came right back!!), I can train my dog to be polite (or at least polite enough to pass the CGC test) in just over 2 weeks. Right?!

Breathe.......and repeat after me:

I can do this, I can do this, I can do this....

Wish me luck...I have a feeling I'm going to need it!

Bear Awareness Day 2006

The zoo just recently celebrated Bear Awareness Day - May 20, 2006. This was part of Defenders of Wildlife Bear Awareness Week. It was a lot of fun and went very well. Here's a rundown on what we did:

My coworkers put on two excellent, funny skits (the second one being better, I think, than the first since we had worked out a few kinks) on how you should and should not camp in bear country. Each skit had a good camper and a bad camper (or two). As each character did something another keeper (me, in this case) narrated what was going on and explained why it was good (making noise while hiking, using a bear resistant container, keeping a clean camp, etc) or bad (putting left over food in a cooler, throwing uneaten food in a trash can, feeding the birds, throwing food all over the ground, using perfumes, etc). After about 5 minutes of the skit we let the bears outside to walk through "camp."

Our male and one female (been together for 15+ years) went out in the morning. They calmly ambled through "camp" checking out everything.

Willie and Patty checking out the firehose hammock.

Willie and Patty checking out the metal trash can.

Patty checking out the picnic table with the bear resistant container.

Unfortunately she was just coming out of estrus so the male wouldn't let her explore much and he wasn't interested in exploring much of anything in "camp." In the afternoon, our other female went out. She checked out everything - knocked over the bear resistant container (into the moat, of course!), emptied the trash can, ate everything out of the cooler and pretty much did what any self respecting bear would do if they found those items within their reach. The cooler actually survived pretty good. There are only a few bite marks in it. All the guests were impressed at how fast, and easily, she ripped it open. I'll post pictures of that as soon as I get permission from the photographer.

There were also two presentations by Nathan Garnier (Texas Parks and Wildlife) on Black Bears in Texas and what Texas Parks and Wildlife is doing to bring them back into Texas. He explained why TPWD wanted to do this and what they've done in regards to public input and in preparation for bear/human conflict. Nathan and another TPWD employee, Ricky Maxey, also manned a booth in front of the bear exhibit with several different pamphlets on bears, etc. They also provided a interactive cd that allowed the guests to test their bear knowledge. The booth also displayed some of our biofacts (skulls, fur). Our gift shop even got involved by putting together a fabulous display on bears. Kelly (from our graphics/conservation department and an avid bear person) took several pictures and videotaped the two skits.

We are very thankful to Nathan and Ricky for coming out to Houston for our event and to all of the people (incl my coworkers, graphics dept, docents, conservation dept, gift shop, grounds, etc) who helped us put on another successful Bear Awareness Day. Now to start planning for next year's event!

Tori Pics

I decided to be brave and submitted three pictures of Tori to a dog photo contest: Dog Pix and Flix. I couldn't resist sharing her image with other dog people. All three pictures are ones that have been posted here - Tori with her tongue sticking out, Tori plotting a world takeover and Tori curled up in a little ball in the smallest space possible. I entered the first and last one in the best picture category and the second one in the 'Ears to ya category. Will she win? Who knows. I just thought they were nice photos and decided to share them. :) This is my first time entering any picture in a photo contest so it will be interesting to see what happens. There are lots of nice pictures entered. I'm glad I'm not a judge!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Barbaro is still improving

Here is an update on how Barbaro:

Barbaro's Wednesday

Long term outlook uncertain

Gate-crashing, injury unrelated

Here are a couple of other articles about Barbaro:
Get Well Cards for Barbaro Many feeling pain over Barbaro's hurt

Owner's had insurance (to me, this makes perfect sense if you're going to own a racehorse!)

As another interesting aside: Bernardini will not race in the Belmont. His owner feels that he needs a break after racing three races in a short period of time. Click here for the full article.

Most of these links are from the Baltimore Sun or Bloodhorse.com. Both of these are printing the most information at this time. I suspect that this will stop in the near future. I will continue to post updates on Barbaro's condition as I find them.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

New Project

Well, since I finished the baby blanket I had to find something new to knit. I always have to have at least one project to work on. I decided to start another Americana Afghan from Lion Brand. I have made this afghan before - in fact it was the very first project I ever knitted. I gave it to my mom as a "I hope things get better" gift a little over a year ago. This time I am using Wool - Ease Thick and Quick instead of homespun and, since I do not have the needles to get the correct gauge, I've altered the number of stitches and the rows to be knitted. I am using size 8 Addi turbo needles. I am casting on 80 stitches and knitting 140 rows for the field and will be doing 80 stitches and 20 rows, alternating, for the stripes. This afghan will be auctioned or raffled off as a fundraiser for RRUS, the dog rescue group I am a member of. It somehow seemed doubly appropriate that I am using yarn from Lion Brand, since Ridgebacks are also known as the Lion Hound. ;) Many Ridgeback owners are also very fascinated and interested in lions. Below is a picture of the afghan. I've only done about 17 rows of the blue field.

I really can't wait to see how it turns out. Since it is such a large project (I don't have the longest of attention spans so tend to do smaller projects) I suspect I'll be taking breaks. Luckily, I believe this is wanted for next years National Speciality so I have some time. :)


I am finally finished with the baby blanket I was knitting. I actually finished it a couple of days ago but didn't have a chance to get a good picture until today. I don't know the exact dimensions but it is slightly larger and wider than a 42" long wire dog crate. :) I think it turned out very well and hopefully my friend's daughter will like it. I'm hoping to get it to E (my friend) tomorrow so she can take it home to S tomorrow night. :)

Barbaro is now connected to the internet

An email address has now been established for Barbaro and Michael Matz. To me, this is great. We all express our sympathies, condolences and support in a variety of ways, email being one of them. If you would like to send Michael Matz and or Barbaro an email, click here. This will lead you to the USEF site that contains the email address. For those of you who do not want to go through all that, type the following address into your email message: matzbarbaro@usef.org.

There is now also a fan website for Barbaro, entitled: Get Well Barbaro. This is a place to leave get well wishes for him and view some of his pictures. You can also sign the guestbook. FYI - this is not an official Barbaro site. The webmaster is simply a fan of Barbaro's.

A very generous, anonymous donor has established the Barbaro Fund. This is not a fund for Barbaro. Instead it is a fund for the George D. Widener Large Animal Hospital. Again, the money that is donated to this fund will not be used for the direct care of Barbaro.

Also, for any of you concerned that the sole interest in saving Barbaro was for his possible use as a stud (in other words, simply because he could make the owners money) please read the latest article at bloodhorse.com - click here. In it Gretchen Jackson, one of Barbaro's owners (the other being her husband) states: "He is a beautifully conformed horse and he is striking and sensible and has always done the right thing at the right time. My hope for him is that he lives a painless life. It must be a pain-free life."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Great Website with Barbaro info

Here's another great website that has updates on Barbaro - Bloodhorse. There is a link to a slideshow of Barbaro pictures. To go directly to the slideshow, click here. It has some awesome pictures of the surgery, the xrays taken after the plate was put in, Barbaro being put into the recovery pool and Barbaro eating some hay after he recovered from the anesthesia.

The slideshow takes some time to load. I would suggest you do it from a computer with a highspeed internet connection. I have a cable modem and it took me several minutes to load it. It may just be that my cable modem is exceptionally slow right now but I wanted to warn you it may take a few minutes. I don't even want to think how long it would take to load on dial up. In spite of the load time, though, it is well worth seeing. The plate they put in his leg is amazing. Now, time will tell if Barbaro can win this race.

Another Barbaro Update

Here's the latest news article (from SI.com) on Barbaro. I've included some excerpts below. For the full article click here.

[KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. (AP) -- Barbaro underwent more than five hours of surgery Sunday to repair rear leg bones he'd broken in the Preakness, calmly awoke from anesthesia and "practically jogged back to his stall" for something to eat.

His survival, however, is still 50-50. ....

"Right now he's very happy," Richardson said after the surgery at the University of Pennsylvania's New Bolton Center for Large Animals. "He's eating, he's doing very good. But I've been doing this too long to know that day one is not the end of things." ...

.... His surgery began around 1 p.m. Sunday, and it wasn't until some eight hours later that Richardson and trainer Michael Matz emerged to announce that all had gone well.

"From the last time I saw him to now was a big relief," said a visibly fatigued Matz. "They did an excellent job. It's just an amazing thing to see him walk in like that.

"I feel much more comfortable now. I feel at least he has a chance." ....

Richardson said the pastern bone was shattered in "20-plus pieces."

The bones were put in place to fuse the joint by inserting a plate and 23 screws to repair damage so severe that most horses would not be able to survive it.

When he came out of surgery, Barbaro was lifted by sling and placed on a raft in a pool so he could calmly awake from the anesthetic.

Richardson said the horse "practically jogged back to his stall" and was wearing a cast from just below the hock to the hoof. ...]

Another news article on Barbaro's surgery can be found here. It was published in the Houston Chronicle. An interview with one of Barbaro's vets can be found on the CNN.com homepage.

Barbaro has many fans out there. Many of home have left cards, flowers, signs and other items (such as carrots and apples) at the Center. While I am too far away to do those things, I will continue to post updates on his progress because I, too, am a fan of Barbaro.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

What others are saying about Barbaro

Since I doubt I'll have access to every single piece of info regarding Barbaro and his current status, here are several other blogs I found that are posting (or have posted) about Barbaro, in case anyone else is interested. I am in no way affiliated with any of these. I just wanted people to be able to see what other people are saying. I've also included links to some websites.

Boulder Belt Farm

Our Beloved Angels
<--This one is actually a pet loss support journal.

My Own Planet <--This one has some nice photos of him.

Hoofblog: Hoofcare and Lameness Journal

I really like the last one. Plus, it looks like it will be the one most likely to continue with updates.

The Preakness Stakes website also appears to be posting updates. Also, the Baltimore Sun, a major Maryland newspaper, is another good source for news articles regarding Barbaro. That link will take you directly to their horse racing section.

Keep praying, thinking good thoughts, sending zen or whatever that Barbaro recovers from surgery just fine.

Barbaro Update

Here are some excerpts from an AP story regarding Barbaro and his surgery.

This was published in the Houston Chronicle and the article, in it's entirety, can be viewed by following this link:

Derby winner Barbaro undergoes surgery

The story was written by Richard Rosenblatt, who is the AP Racing Writer.


["You do not see this severe injury frequently because the fact is most horses that suffer this typically are put down on the race track," said (Dr. Dean) Richardson, the chief of surgery for the center. "This is rare."

"It's about as bad as it could be," he added. "The main thing going for the horse is a report that his skin was not broken at the time of injury. It's a testament to the care given to the team of doctors on the track and (jockey) Mr. Prado on the racetrack." ....

Richardson outlined Barbaro's medical problems: a broken cannon bone above the ankle, a broken sesamoid bone behind the ankle and a broken long pastern bone below the ankle. The fetlock joint — the ankle — was dislocated.

"The aspects of the surgery will be dictated slightly by what we find," Richardson said. "But the bottom line is we will attempt to perform a fusion of that joint and to stabilize it and make it comfortable enough for him to walk on." .....

Tucked away on a sprawling, lush 650-acre campus in Chester County, the New Bolton Center is widely considered the top hospital for horses in the mid-Atlantic region. The center is renowned for its specialized care, especially on animals needing complicated surgery on bone injuries.]

Saturday, May 20, 2006

And the xray results are in...

The xrays are back and Barbaro has a fracture above and below the ankle of his right hind leg. This is a very serious injury and is most likely career ending. It could also possibly be life threatening. Fractures are hard to heal in horses. It's very hard to keep them quiet for the length of time necessary to heal a break. Barbaro is headed into surgery as I type this. Here are a few websites on fractures in horses:

Emergency First Aid for Equine Fractures

Emergency First Aid Treatment

Practical Approaches to Fracture Treatment

Fatal Breakdowns - this is a news article that was written in 1998 but the information is still relevent.

The treatment of fractures in horses has improved significantly over the past several years. However, the challenge of keeping such an animal as a racehorse quiet for a lengthy period of time is still there.

Good luck Barbaro. We're thinking of you. I hope I can post better news on Barbaro as the days pass.

PS Here's a news article from the Houston Chronicle with some more information.

And the Winner of the Preakness is.....

Bernardini! Good job Bernardini. He ran a nice race and won by several lengths.

However, he didn't get to race Barbaro, who never finished the race. He was pulled up shortly after the break with a hind leg injury (right). He has been loaded into the ambulance. The on call vet says it appears to be a "significant injury" but won't know what exactly is wrong until after he has been thoroughly checked out. Michael Matz headed down to the track the minute he saw Barbaro being pulled up by his jockey, Edgar Prado (which was no easy task with this horse. He was ready to run and did not want to stop!)

The injury occurred after the race started - it appears he took a bad step shortly after breaking from the gate. Barbaro's false start did not have anything to do with the injury. (He broke early and ran a few feet before Edgar was able to bring him to a stop and return him to the gate).

I truly hope this is not a career ending injury, however, it does not look good. Leg injuries in horses aren't something to take lightly and Barbaro definitely did not want to put weight on that leg. Our thoughts and prayers are with Barbaro and his trainers. I hope he races again. He's a great horse and I'm glad I was able to see him run the Derby (even if it was on TV).

For more Preakness information, click here. It will take you to their official website.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Missing Whippet and Ridgeback Puppies

Denise Flaim, a newspaper reporter who also happens to own and breed Rhodesian Ridgebacks, is the owner of this blog. She always has interesting articles and posts and I highly recommend visiting it on a regular basis. There is one other, even more important reason, I like her blog. She is using her blog to keep people updated on Vivi - the champion whippet who escaped from the airport after Westminster. No, she has not been caught yet. But Denise does a wonderful job keeping everyone up to date on the search and gives tips on what to do if you see Vivi. Her blog also has the added benefit, to me, of having pictures of Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies. So, if you want to see how the search for Vivi is going (or read some really great articles or see some really cute puppies) click here. I also have a link to her blog in my Links section, under Blogs, titled "Animal House".

Thanks everyone and, if your near JFK airport at any point in time, please please please keep an eye out for Vivi (Ch. Bohem C¹est La Vie). It's time she went home!

How on earth does she do this?

How on earth does she manage to squeeze herself into such a small space? This is where she decided to be last night. We won't mention the large amount of space on the other side of me. She wanted right there in that spot. Go figure. I don't think it would be very comfortable but she apparently didn't mind. Oh to be that flexible!


No, not the city (though I like it too). This is an American Black Bear I used to work with. He was found in Alaska as an orphan and, since he was too young to survive on his own, was brought into captivity. He now resides at the Topeka Zoo. I had the privilege of working with him while I was there. I still miss him but I get occasional updates on him from a couple of my friends who are still there. He's a neat bear and I'm glad I got to work with him.

Bird Enrichment

See, I told you this word would show up. :) This Boomer again. I put a really neat perch in there with all sorts of rawhide and wood and things on it. Of course, he's more interested in the nut I gave him. Go figure. I guess he knows what his priorities are! He has gotten onto it a couple of times but he's not too sure about the swinging motion of it. That's all right though. It's the perfect place to wrap things on (like paper towels, printer paper, adding machine paper, etc.) I love to make him work for things he wants to destroy! This is a toy that came with him. His previous owner sent many items with him - several toys, two bags of mixed nuts, some perching and a cage. She truly did love him, she just wasn't able to keep him anymore. Which means that now I get to enjoy his company. Which I do, most of the time. :)

Latest Craft Project

Here is a picture of my latest craft project. It's a casting of jaguar print. I also did one of a lion print but I'm having some difficulty with blogger. I can't get them to load up the way I want them to so....you're getting one. Anyways, after it rains the exhibits end up a little muddy. When the cats walk through the mud they occasionally leave a nice pawprint behind. If you happen to have some plaster of paris you can use the print as a mold and make a nice casting of it. The print this was made from is most likely from one of the cubs, Reina or Tuco. I think it's a little small to be Cocoy (mom). These castings can be used for many things: educational programs, keeper chats, gifts, silent auction items, etc. Of course, there's usually only one or two good prints in the mud at any given time. You can make a mold from the casting, I just haven't gotten around to it yet. ;) These are fun to do, as long as you have the time. It takes 30-45 minutes for the plaster to dry and the cats have to be off exhibit during that time so we try to do these on days when there aren't many guests.

Jack Recovering

Here's a picture of Jack resting and recovering. (This is about the only way I can get a picture of him without the "nobody loves me" look). He took a tumble this morning on our walk. He went to get up on a curb and slipped back. He ended up sprawled spreadeagle on the street next to the curb. And of course this all happens in a matter of seconds and I can't react that fast. I helped him up and then massaged his right front leg (that he was not wanting to put weight on, of course). After a few minutes of that he was willing to try to walk. He limped through our (shortened) walk and when we got home I put an ice pack on it. He's now walking fine so I don't think anything permanent happened. I hate to see them get old.

(For those of you who don't know, Jack is my 9 yo doberman/lab mix. I adopted him from Pullman Animal Control the day after I graduated from college (May 10 1998). He was guessed to be 1 1/2 to 2 yo at that time. That was the best $25 I ever spent. He's been my constant companion and has been there for me no matter what was happening in my life. He's my best bud. I love you pup!)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Enrichment 101

I decided it was time to do a quick little 101 on enrichment since it is something that is bound to come up in my posts.

What is enrichment? According to the Enrichment Committee of AAZK enrichment is: "achieved by adding to a captive animal’s environment or by modifying that environment to stimulate behaviors resembling those of a healthy wild animal (Shepherdson, 1992a.) Enrichment is intended to encourage behaviors that are appropriate for the species, and that satisfy an animal’s physical and psychological needs."

Enrichment encompasses many things. It can be a sound, a taste, a touch, something seen, a toy, etc. Giving a domestic cat a fake mouse or catnip is enrichment. These are things that give the animal something to do or see or smell. Taking a dog to the park is enrichment. Just imagine all the different sights, sounds, smells, etc that the dog is experiencing while at the park.

Any animal can be enriched (from an ant to an elephant). At the zoo we use alot of enrichment ranging from perfumes/extracts/spices to large pieces of PVC wrapped in rope. One important thing about enrichment is it needs to change frequently. If we left the large piece of PVC wrapped in rope in the tiger exhibit for a week, the tigers would probably play with it for the first day or two but would then get bored with it. It wasn't new anymore. In zoo language - it's become furniture. It's always there, never changing. So, we rotate enrichment.

In the department I work in (Carnivores) we have different categories, including: toy (balls, boxes, shredded paper, pvc with rope, syrup barrels, etc), sound (radio, cds of animal sounds, cowbells, whistles, etc), smell (perfumes, colognes, spices, extracts, etc), food (whole prey, bones, fish, canned chicken, canned tuna, ice pops, etc. This also includes presenting the food differently - ie the animal usually eats ground meat so one day you give them a large chunk of meat), tactile (cocoa mats, shredded paper, hay, fire hose, browse etc), exercise (chasing a remote control car that is outside the exhibit), running with a keeper (who is outside the exhibit), etc), and visual (a mirror, a bird feeder placed outside a cat exhibit, someone walking by with an umbrella, etc). These categories are rotated on a daily basis. And yes, sometimes animals get enriched with several categories in one day - the guests themselves are enrichment to the animals. Training is also enrichment.

All these things keep the animals interested, active, engaged in their surroundings, and, in most cases, exhibiting natural behaviors. The perfume, to a cat (or bear, or wolf), replicates another animal coming through their territory. Therefore, the cat (bear or wolf) walks up to each spot with perfume and marks over it (cheek rubbing, urinating, etc) thereby letting everyone know this is his (or her) spot.

Domestic animals, especially dogs, cats, birds and horses, are enriched in ways you don't even realize. When you get home from work, you bring in all these smells from places you've been. If your dog or cat are anything like mine they're probably sniffing shoes, clothes etc the minute you walk in the door. :) Bones, toys, playing with you, catnip, the fishing pole toy, buster cube, kong toy with frozen yogurt, etc are all what I would consider enrichment. You are giving the animal something to do either physically or mentally or both.

So, that is enrichment. Hopefully it makes sense and doesn't confuse anybody further. For more (or better) explanation, or to see some examples, please visit AAZK's Enrichment Committee or The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Enrichment Page.

If they only knew...

I found this via a friends blog - Knatolee's World.

I suspect that the only reason I have a 17% chance of going to hell is simply because I'm too lazy to be evil...:)

Your Deadly Sins
Gluttony: 60%
Sloth: 40%
Lust: 20%
Envy: 0%
Greed: 0%
Pride: 0%
Wrath: 0%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 17%
You'll die from food poisoning - and then the natives will feast on your fatty limbs.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Addition to the Hat

This isn't the greatest of photos but I wanted to post it anyways. I decided the Ruffled Toddler's Hat needed something else. I thought it looked cute but felt it would look cuter with some sort of embellishment added. So I kniteed a cord and shaped it into a butterfly. Okay, it was originally supposed to be a flower but I decided I didn't like that so a butterfly it became. I can't wait to give it to C (who comes back to work next week!! Yeah!!!) to take home to L. I hope she likes it (and that it fits! :))

Meet Boomer

I thought it was time for everyone to meet my bird. This is Boomer. He is a blue and gold macaw. He's four years old and I am in his second home. The family that had him first (and hatched him) were unable to keep him for a variety of reasons and I had always wanted a macaw (either military or blue and gold). For the most part he is a friendly bird - with no real bad habits. He doesn't pluck his feathers, he doesn't screech for hours on end and he doesn't attack me unless I'm trying to get him out of his cage when he wants to be in it. And I can live with that. I know (and he knows) that I can get him out if I want to.

He's amazingly quiet in the mornings and during the day. He gets loud when I get home from work. :) Especially when I leave the room and go elsewhere in the house. FYI - he's allowed out whenever I am home and can keep an eye on what's going on. I shut the door to his cage when I'm gone and overnight. Tori likes to go grazing in there and I've caught Zoey in there a couple of times too...I'd rather not risk anything happening to either of them while I was gone or sleeping. And yes, the injury would be to the dog or the cat. That beak is not just for breaking open brazil nuts. He can draw blood. But, like I said, he is (for the most part) a friendly bird. :)

Friday, May 12, 2006

The Whole Family

the whole family
Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
Here's a picture of the jaguars at the zoo. I can't tell for certain which cub is which from the picture but I believe Reina is the one by herself and Tuco (male cub) is the one sleeping next to Cocoy (mom). Reina and Tuco are almost one year old. We'll be throwing them a birthday celebration in June.

A soon to be finished baby blanket

This is a baby blanket I'm knitting for the daughter of a friend (not the same one the hat was made for). The yarn is Lion Brands Pound of Love in pink and I'm using size 10 1/2 bamboo needles. The pattern is here: Wavy Boxes Afghan.

I'm making this at the request of E (my friend). I gave E a handknitted baby blanket when she was pregnant with A (her youngest). Well, A loves it and sleeps with it all the time. (I love it when my gifts get used!). E's oldest daughter, S, really liked it too, so E asked me if I would make another one in pink - which I, of course, agreed to do.

I'm only 4-5 pattern repeats from being done. Then it's just a matter of weaving in the ends, washing it and giving it to E! :)

Ivan's First Day

ivans first day
Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
This picture (and the one's in the posts below this one) was taken on Wednesday. This was his first day out on exhibit at the zoo. He is a rescue animal that we are temporarily holding while we find a permanent home for him (zoo or sanctuary only). He was part of a large confiscation in Texas which included several bears and another tiger as well as a few other animals. For more information read this article.

Ivan in the pool

ivan in pool
Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
Here he is shortly after he discovered the pool that the waterfall goes into. He spent several minutes relaxing in it and returned to it several times throughout the day.


Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
Here he is after checking out some really interesting smell. He did this alot this day! :)

In The Moat

in the moat
Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
This was Ivan swiming in the moat for the first time. He wasn't quite expecting the floor of the moat to suddenly drop so he was a little surprised. He handled it very well though and seemed to like being in the water.

A close up view

Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
Here's a close up of the Ruffled Toddler Hat. Zoey decided that she had other things she had to go disrupt and left. Crazy cat...

Ruffled Toddler Hat

Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
This is my most recent knitted FO. It is the Ruffled Toddler Hat. I used King Tut cotton yarn (green) and size 4 circular (and double pointed) needles. I made this for a friend's soon-to-be 2 year old daughter. L loves hats and I thought the ruffles would go well with her. And, since she can't be left out of anything, my cat Zoey decided she had to check it out and be part of the photo op.

(ignore the date stamp...I keep changing it and it keeps resetting itself...)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Isn't she cute??

Isn't she cute??
Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
And here she is plotting world domination.

FYI - Tori is a ridgeless Rhodesian Ridgeback....or maybe a Southern Black Mouth Cur. No way of knowing for sure since she's a rescue. But, she looks enough like Ridgeback for Ridgeback Rescue to take her so that's what I call her! :)

Meet Tori

tori tongue
Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
I was outside yesterday playing with my camera and decided to take some pictures of Tori and Jack.

So, I had her lay down in the grass (Tori: "Mom, are you serious? It's all poky. Me: Yes, I'm serious, lay down. Tori: "But it'll poke the sensitive skin on my poor unprotected stomach." Me: Tori, it's okay, lay down. Tori: "But Mom!!!" Me: " Just lay down and let me take some bleep pictures!" etc...)

So, after having the above conversation a few times (in between each she ran to the porch and looked at me) I was finally able to get 2 pictures. Literally. 2 pictures. Not 2 good pictures...2 pictures (which, luckily, turned out to be good). Here's one of them. I'll post the second one separately. You would think that I was torturing her. In her defense, I did just finish mowing the grass an hour before this whole drama so it was a little poky but come on! :)

PS I never did get any good pictures of Jack. I took a couple but they all had him looking away like I was going to beat him with the camera (which I have never done, btw. He is the most spoiled, pampered dog on the planet). Or I had just his butt as he walked out range right when the picture was taken. Someday...:)

Triple Crown? Maybe...

I just finished watching the Kentucky Derby, first jewel in the Triple Crown (for those of you who don't follow horse racing the triple crown is made up of 3 races - The Kentucky Derby (1 1/4 miles), The Preakness (1 3/16 miles) and The Belmont Stakes (1 1/2 mils) - all 3 of these races are long and tough and very few horses have won all 3). The Derby is also a colt and gelding race and is open to 3 year olds. The fillies run in The Kentucky Oaks - which is run the day before the Derby. The winner of this year's Kentucky Oaks is Lemon's Forever.

Anyways, the winner of this year's Derby is Barbaro - trained by Michael Matz (some of you may know him from showjumping) and ridden by Edgar Prado. This is Michael Matz's first Derby entrant and is Edgar Prado's first Derby winner. Will he be able to win all three races? Who knows. Only 11 horses have won all three. All I know is I'll be watching the Preakness and The Belmont and cheering Barbaro on!

Congratulations Barbaro, Michael, Edgar and his breeders and owners! I look forward to watching him run in the Preakness on May 20th.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Tiger? What Tiger?

Where is the tiger?
Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
This is something Krishna did alot. She honestly seemed to think that an elephant ear plant would be able to hide her. She weighed around 250 pounds and was several feet long. It didn't matter how small she made herself, she could not successfully hide her whole body behind one elephant ear plant. :)

Picture by Carolyn Mathews-Borak

Krishna (Siberian Tiger)

S. Tiger Krishna7
Originally uploaded by sibtigre2.
Here is a picture of Krishna, our Siberian Tiger Princess. See my post below for a Tribute to her. This picture was taken by Carolyn Mathews-Borak, another keeper who had the privilege of working with Krishna.

Tribute to a Princess

No, not a member of the British Royal family but a tiger.

On Wednesday April 19, 2006 we lost our Siberian Tiger, Krishna. She was 19 years old (almost 20) and had very clearly told us that she was ready to continue on to the next leg of her journey. Many of us believe that she was tired of being on Earth without Stubby (a male siberian tiger we lost to cancer in 2004).

Krishna was truly a Princess (with a capital P). Us zookeepers were her servants, the hired help if you will. And we loved her for it. She would always act aloof, like she didn't care if we were there or not, but the minute we started to walk away she would get mad - stand up and hiss at us. If Stubby came over for attention, of any sort, she would walk up and bite at him. It was like she was saying "you're not supposed to pay attention to the help!!" :)

Despite all that though, she would choose to hang out in the holding unit closest to us and would even choose to stay inside while we were there, even if she had access to her exhibit. (FYI - we work in protected contact with our carnivores. There is always a barrier of some sort (steel mesh, lexan, water moat, dry moat) between us and them. It's safer for everybody concerned.) She would just lay there, with her head up, and watch us do, well, just about anything.

Everyone who saw her loved her. And felt blessed to have been in her presence.

Good bye and Good luck Krishna. We'll miss you. Say hi to Stubby for us and tell him we miss him.

My first ever blog


I now have a blog. I never thought I would do this. I mean, I love reading other peoples blogs but I just never thought that people would want to read about my life. I mean, to me, it's not that exciting. But today I decided that I would inflict my life on all of you. Especially since I keep running into people who are absolutely fascinated with my job.


Here I am. Sorry world! :)