The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium continues to maintain its excellent standing with the American Zoo and Aquarium (AZA), as one of 208 accredited institutions in North America. Several Staff members are actively involved as chairs, steering committee members, management group members and studbook keepers to the Taxon Advisory Groups (TAG), Species Survival Plans (SSP's) and Conservation Action Plans (CAP's); programs through the AZA. This year Mike Brittsan, the curator of the Shores Department was appointed to be the Chair of the Aquatic Invertebrate TAG, and Vice Chair of the Coral CAP.
Highlighting the Zoo's involvement in international conservation efforts, Dan Hunt, Assistant Living Collection Director And Mike Brittsan, Curator of Shores were participants in a biological survey in the Longxi - HongKou Nature Reserve near the city of Duijiangyanin the PeoplesRepublic of China. This survey was a result of the collaboration of the Columbus Zoo, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Government Agencies. Several teams were employed in the field to gather information on the biological diversity of the region as well as the social and economic impact that the reserve has on the adjacent villages.
Dusty Lombardi - Living Collection Director, represented the Zoo for the second year at a Global Cheetah Conservation Workshop, held in South Africa in July of 2002. Approximately 50 delegates from 15 countries were represented to assist in the common goal to Protect the Cheetah in the Wild and Promote Captive Management.
Asaba Mukosi - Keeper in African Forest, spearheaded a Conservation Education project in his native country of Uganda, in the western district of Kasese. In just four weeks 21 schools were toured and 20,000 children heard the conservation base curriculum developed by Asaba to educate the children on the native wildlife. Stuffed animals, rubber snakes, trading cards, 200 books, slide show and video were all a part of this innovative traveling education show.
The local Education Department has now adopted this project and is committed to visiting all the schools in this region. Adam Felts, a keeper in the Pachyderm area, went to the Damara land in Namibia in July of 2002. This was a Keeper exchange program with Save the Rhino Trust, a nongovernment organization. He observed, studied and tracked the black rhino to get a better understanding of their social organization. In return, the field director Simson Uri-Khob worked with Adam in Columbus to learn more about Rhino husbandry and our education programs.
In January, Shores Keeper Pete Johantgen continued working in the remote rainforests of west-central Panama as a team member of Project Golden Frog (PGF). PGF is a proactive conservation initiative with the primary goal of preventing the extinction of one of the world's most recognizable, culturally significant, and endangered amphibians, the Panamanian golden frog (Atelopus zeteki). Team members surveyed potential golden frog habitat for undocumented populations in addition to collecting several founder animals for ex situ populations. Pete returned to Panama again in July to study the nocturnal microhabitat use of the golden frog.
In January and February of 2002, Mike Zedekar, a keeper in the Herbivore Carnivore area went to the Makgadi Desert in Botswana, Africa to study the migration of Wildebeest and Plains Zebra in this region. This ongoing project will establish the number of zebras in the region, investigate the seasonal migration and daily movement, determine zebra mortality and look at what the following effects will have on migration patterns, grass nutrient levels, rainfall, fire, lion predation, human pressure and competition with grazing cattle. This information will then be used by the parks services to plan fences and man-made water holes for future populations within the park boundaries and nearby lands.
The Columbus Zoo continues to build its reputation as a leader and supporter of many regional wildlife initiatives also. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium under the Leadership of Doug Warmolts - the Assistant Living Collection Director and Mike Brittsan - the Curator of Shores, solicited grants and coordinated the opening of the "Freshwater Mussel Conservation Facility". This facility is located northwest of the Zoo along the banks of the Scioto River. Freshwater mussels are among the most imperiled animals in North America, and this facility was constructed to investigate the needed biology and ecology of those animals. Partners involved in the research are: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, USFWS, The Ohio State University and Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, Ohio River Valley Ecosystem Research Team, the Nature Conservancy - Ohio Chapter, and the Mussel Mitigation Trust.
The Zoo also continues its local involvement with an Eastern Plains Garter Snake release program in our backyard. Together with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife and the Cleveland Zoo, the Eastern Plains wildlife Area in Wyandotte County, Ohio. This year 47 snakes born at the Columbus Zoo were released at Killdeer Plains, bringing the three-year total to 96 snakes released into the wild.
The Zoo also participated in its third Manatee release. Two juvenile manatees, Brooks and Trident were released south of Miami on February 5, 2002. Brooks is an orphan that was pulled into the USFWS rehabilitation program to gain weight and size. Trident is a cold stress manatee that was brought into the program to recover from related injuries. Both manatees spent a year in Columbus prior to their release and were tracked and monitored for six months post release. Brooks was brought back into the program for medical reasons and is currently at SeaWorld in Orlando. Trident currently resides in the Keys and appears to be doing quite well.
The Zoo's Environmental Enrichment Committee consisting of 20 members and 6 departments was very active this year. The nine Zoo wide Enrichment Events were:
Eggs, Paws & Claws - Easter egg hunt for the animals.
Earth Day - Enrichment table set up with videos and photos for public viewing.
Cinco deMayo - Staff and Docent made piñatas filled with treats are given to the animals. Enrichment Day - Zoo wide event with stations set up around the zoo for visitors to participate in many activities. Adopt an Animal Night - Enrichment table with photos/video for public viewing. Block & Roll - Ice blocks are made with treats inside and given to the animals in August to "cool off". Melon Mania - Watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew melons are given to the animals throughout the say. Pumpkin Smash - In October, pumpkins and gourds are given to the animals in conjunction with Boo at the Zoo Event. Santa Paws - In December decorated cardboard boxes and paper bags of all sizes are given to the animals with a variety of scents and treats inside.
Zoo staff continues to develop skills in behavioral modification and training. These processes not only enhance the lives of our collection, but assist in veterinarians' medical procedures.
All departments participated in the Zoo's 75th Anniversary by highlighting a Conservation Project adopted by each department and setting up a display to share with our guests. Most departments are actively involved with the high school students from the "Zoo School" which opened this year. Keepers assisted students in projects to prepare them for the future in their science careers while enhancing the lives of our animal collection. – less–ZoomInfo