- Visit the Aquarium
- Animals & Exhibits
- Fun & Learning
- Aquatic Research
|August 4, 2010|
|Hi everyone! Well, day #2 is complete. It is just about time to go home now. I know your day is pretty much just starting in the U.S. Nola laughs at me because every time she asks me the time, I forget and give her Connecticut time (I still haven't changed my watch!). Yesterday afternoon, we went to what they call their “chick headquarters”. They don't have room here at SANCCOB to keep all the chicks they get in (some years they have as many as 500 chicks for the year – could you imagine?), so one of their wonderfully dedicated local volunteers, (or “vollies” as they call them) sets up a chick shelter at her house. Her name is Cheryl, and two whole rooms of her house are dedicated to the SANCCOB chicks of various species. Right now, she only has eight African chicks and one egret chick. They house all their chicks in crawfish containers lined with towels, except for one chick, which is just a few days old and in an incubator. She takes care of them, feeds them and gives them all their treatments. She cleans each container and launders all those towels daily! Some of the other SANCCOB vollies come to her house each day to help, but she is such an amazing person! Nola was there to conduct her weekly physical exams on the birds. It seems that some of the chicks that hatch at SANCCOB have a balding problem. They are not sure why, but they go through a period where they lose all of their feathers, including their down. They eventually grow back, but for a short time, they are completely bald! Cheryl and Venessa made them some wonderful outfits to wear when they go outside in the backyard. Once the birds are above a certain weight and fully fledged, they can return to SANCCOB to finish their rehabilitation and eventually get released. Today we learned that we are definitely going to Dyer Island tomorrow. We leave very early in the morning – I think about the same time most of you will be going to bed there! I spent most of today getting equipment ready for the field tomorrow – mostly labeling and counting tubes. Nola is quite funny! I keep offering to help with cleaning and such around the facility, but she won't let me! She keeps telling everyone I am not a normal SANCCOB vollie, I am special and I am hers! So I have stuck to just helping her with most of her work, data entry and labeling tubes. Today, she had to check on a bird at the local aquarium, Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. Then she had a meeting in town. She had me tag along, and left me to visit the aquarium while she went to her meeting. I met the penguin keeper there as she was doing their daily march of the penguins. They take their rockhoppers and king penguin from their exhibit to an outdoor exhibit for the day. How do they get there? Not in crates like ours... They walk through the aquarium, down a large spiraling ramp three floors down to the exhibit! And the birds just line up and take off! They know exactly where to go and aren't distracted by the people at all! It was so funny to see! The trainer had me come out on the exhibits with her and record her feeds. She was surprised to see that the king penguin, Ivan, was quite taken with me and immediately began preening me and vocalizing! I guess this a rarity there, as their birds have no training and are not handled at all. She does want to start a training program, though, and had mentioned she saw our penguin training presentation. She was very excited to grab my e-mail address to send questions my way. That was pretty much it for the day. It was kind of an easy day, I guess, but the tough stuff starts right away tomorrow. Wish me luck on my first day in the field! I hope all is well back home. On days that I am at SANCCOB, I have the ability to check my e-mail at least once during the day and send an update. I miss all of you and, of course, our nice, trained, friendly penguins!|
Skittish African Penguins cross a road on Robben Island in South Africa.
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