Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Boardwalk Exhibit


 We have a wonderful new way to exhibit our White-tailed Deer and Spanish Goat herds.  Visitors can now use a boardwalk to get much closer to the animals on display.


At the end of the boardwalk, there is a large covered area for shade and seating.


Our deer herd was a little nervous about this new addition to their yard.  It took them a few weeks to be comfortable around the structure and the noise of the people on it.  They are back to their old routine of randomly eating and grazing, but visitors are now much closer to them.


The deer food makes the wild turkeys very happy.


 We also added one of our Spanish Goat herds to the right side of the savannah.  They have been very active in their new area, and they love the new grass.  We will not need a lawn mower!


Our female herd is currently on display.  Last week, they began having babies!  We now have 4 babies from 3 mothers.


This was our first baby's first day on exhibit.  Our male herd is still on our pond exhibit with our mute swans.

Please welcome Angel


Please welcome our newest Marsh Tacky horse to Brookgreen Gardens.  Her name is Full Southern Gospel, and we call her Angel.  She is a little over a year old.


Angel joins our white mule, Elvira, and replaces our two Marsh Tacky fillies, Slough and Tilly.  We own Elvira, but our Marsh Tackies are loaned to us by an owner in Florence, South Carolina.  We get the young horses used to seeing new people and simple tasks like grooming and walking.  When they are old enough, they return to Florence to be trained on a saddle. 


Elvira is 19 years old this year.  She is retired from riding, so we do not even own a saddle.  She is very good with the new horses. 


Angel has beautiful coloration, and has a dorsal stripe (from head to tail) that is common in Marsh Tackies.  Please come visit Angel at our Plantation Barn!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Cypress Aviary


Our Cypress Aviary is home to about 100 birds that are native to South Carolina's swamps.  All of our animals are non-releaseable, and many of the egrets and ibis came from rehab centers or other zoos.


In 2012, our white ibis started breeding and had six babies.  The adults are mostly white, and this juvenile has brown wings.  The exhibit is tidal, and many wild species of turtles, frogs, and fish come in to visit.


The largest population in the aviary is the black-crowned night-heron.  The adults are a striking black and grey with red eyes, and the juveniles have brown speckles with yellow eyes.  For the last four years, our herons have been very successful nesters.  While we are happy to have a self-sustaining population, we have decided to share our good fortune with other zoos. 

Night herons look the same whether they are male or female, so first we needed to do some gender testing.

http://youtu.be/44RQ2BHqmMM

We collect a drop of blood and mail it to a lab.  They send us the results in about a week.  We identify each birds using a band on their leg.


We began our testing on three babies that fell from their nest too early.  They were raised by zookeepers until they were old enough to be reintroduced to the adult herons.


Zoo staff have tested 28 birds over the last month, so we have this down to a science!   Last week, we drove the first group to another zoo.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Wood Duck Survey

We've had a very busy spring here at Brookgreen Gardens!  Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a survey of our wood duck nest boxes.  Two wonderful Brookgreen volunteers use their boat to visit 39 nest boxes.  It took about three hours to complete the survey.  We wait until most of the ducks are finished nesting, and look for evidence of those nests and successful hatches.


Each box is numbered, and its location is recorded on a GPS device.


Wood ducks prefer a clear flight path and will not use a box that is covered by water plants.  Allen needed to trim around several of the boxes while balancing on the boat.



Allen opened each box to check for evidence of wood duck activity.  Sometimes we found Prothonotary Warbler mommas or eggs (look carefully).


Richard found a yellow rat snake.  Once he determined that the nest was inactive, the snake was returned to the box.


This eastern screech owl returned for a second season.  He was not happy to see us, so we decided not to disturb "his" box.


And wood duck eggs!  Females lay about twelve eggs.  Many of the boxes had evidence of recent nesting and eggshells from successful hatches.


The scenery was quite nice as well, and we were able to peek at some heron nestlings.  I was happy to be a small participant in a successful program.





Monday, March 10, 2014

Otter Birthday Cards

At our otter celebration, visitors were given the opportunity to make birthday cards for the otters.
We hung the cards at the otter exhibit for two days.  These were two of my favorites.



Otters love their fishy birthday cakes!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Otter Celebration Pictures

Otters and visitors had a great time at our Otter Celebration on Saturday.
Our thanks to everyone that helped to make it a success!  

Here are some photos, courtesy of Anne Malarich.

Our first cake was paper mache with fish in the candles.




We had a huge tide on Saturday, and the otters seemed to have fun swimming over areas that are normally dry.  We have seven otters total, and they are managed in two groups.  We rotated the groups onto a different exhibit in the middle of the day.  All the presents and cakes were eventually dragged into the water.

Many of our otters were born in March, and this is a very common time for our wild otters to have pups as well.  It is also breeding season.  Otters sometimes take a full 365 days to have their babies!  Fortunately for them, they are not actually pregnant the whole time.  This process is called delayed implantation.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Meet Caesar

Please welcome the newest member of our Brookgreen family!


Caesar is a male tunis sheep, and he was born on February 21, 2014.  
He was named by our large animal veterinarian.


His mother, Mole, keeps a very close eye on her baby.  She is not aggressive, but puts herself between zookeepers and Caesar, and calls for him when we need to pick him up.


Caesar spends most of his time nursing and sleeping, but he loves to jump around (for no apparent reason), and we recently gave him some hay bales for exercise.


Caesar is easily on view at our Plantation Barn.  Until he is a little older, Caesar will be in the sheep stall with his mother.  This arrangement also gives Mole a rest from the group and the male sheep, Ramsey.  The young females in the group are showing a lot of interest in the new baby through the fencing.