Feeding The Animals: The most surprising thing I learned was that at one time one quarter of all animal deaths in zoos were caused by visitors feeding the animals. The visitors were feeding the animals peanuts, popcorn, candy and even wrappers! Fortunately this is changing as zoos are becoming more careful in enforcing the "Don't Feed the Animals" rule and zoos are providing areas set aside so that people can feed certain the animals specially provided food.
We talked about what some of the animals eat. Birds vary a lot in their diet from owls, who eat mice to kiwi, who eat only worms, to exotic birds which have a mixture of fruits and vegetables. Lions eat meat of all types; sometimes even whale meat. Apes and monkeys eat fruit and vegetables and something called a "monkey cake," which is a mixture of cereals and vitamins. As the animals eat a wide variety of foods, the zookeeper has to follow written menus made by the veterinarian and the zoo curator.
We then learned about Ostriches. Ostriches are unique in that they are birds that cannot fly and they are the largest of all birds. They are also the only bird that has two toes on each foot. They are found only in Africa's plains (grasslands) and deserts.
How Zoos Get Their Animals: We learned about how zoos get their animals by experiencing each of the ways. Each of the possibilities were written on an index card and these were chosen randomly. James was involved in the zoo's breeding program. He chose the elephant to participate in this program. Our zoo already had one elephant so James' program got another elephant to make a pair. James then rolled a die to determine how many babies were born to the zoo's pair of elephants. He rolled a "1," so the pair had one baby, which James colored and added to the zoo.
Katie helped Alex choose a Rhino for the zoo. They were responsible for using the zoo's money allocation for the purchasing of animals. They picked an animal that they did not already have, and one they thought they would not be able to get any other way.
Sometimes people get animals for pets and then try to give them to zoos when they don't want them as pets any more. Quentin was in charge of deciding which of the animals or zoo was to keep of those that were offered as gifts. This week he was offered a snake, a turtle or a Parrot. Quentin chose to keep the parrot. He colored and added this to our zoo, deciding which habitat was appropiate.
The Baltimore Zoo is renovating some of their cages and have offered to loan these animals to our zoo. Sam was in charge of deciding if we wanted to borrow any of these animals. He decided that we could use the temporary use of the Crocodile and colored and added this to our zoo. We needed to modify our Savanna cage, giving the Crocodile a pond.
The Purposes of Zoos: Most people go to zoos for entertainment -to look at the interesting animals and relax in the beautiful surroundings. Young children like to visit the petting zoo where they can touch and feed animals. Zoos have other purposes besides entertainment. These are the things we discussed today. Zoos are places of scientific research. The information learned about the animals are published in books and magazines. Zoos also have educational programs and give lectures and tours. Zoos also try to save animals that face extinction. Helping endangered animals is called wildlife conservation. The boys looked at pictures of people at zoos and determined which purpose was most appropriate to describe the pictures. The boys earned animals to color and add to the zoo.