Did You Know?

I have a confession to make, and this may be shocking to some, so brace yourselves.  

This is the first zoo I’ve ever worked at.  

Worlds are colliding, the room is spinning, and you aren’t sure which way is up anymore.  This news has turned day to night.  If you’re at work, you’ll need to go home to cope.  If you’re home while reading this, you for some reason need to get to work immediately.  If you happen to work at home, get to the shed.  Of course I’m kidding (about this news being at all earth shattering…), but if the room is spinning, you should probably get a ride home.

When I first walked through the gates here as an employee, I figured everything that was in the park would become uninteresting to me over time.  In other workplaces, I might have been excited about the .25 cent vending machine, the free espresso, or Hawaiian shirt day; but that wears off after the first few months.  I’ve been here for over a year now, and I’m still excited about everything here at Potter Park.  It is one of the greatest things in the world to be involved in an organization such as this, where I get to learn every single day.  I’d like to share just a few of the things I’ve learned since I’ve been here, so here goes:

Big cats are just that: big cats.  They sleep/rest/plot for 16 to 20 hours a day, just like your house cats.  A lot of people expect that our lions are always running about, leaping and roaring, making sure to express their dominance to all in the Zoo.  That’s just not true.  Why does our male (Kota) lounge on the rock in his exhibit for the majority of his day?  Because that’s what he would be doing in the wild.  When he does get going though, Kota IS the Lion King.  

Magellanic penguins pair bond; meaning, they stay with the same partner year after year.  As if they couldn’t get any more appealing or adorable, you can now imagine two penguins as a little old married couple.  In the wild, the male will reclaim the same burrow from the previous year, and wait for his partner.  She can recognize her mate through his call alone.  It’s ok if you “squee’d” at that.

There are less than 20 zoos in the country that have Pallas’ cats on exhibit, and Potter Park Zoo is one of them.  A visitor shared this information with us.  I'm sure it wasn't a revelation to a lot of keepers and staff here, but it was sure news to me!  These cats are located at the back of the Zoo near the Bird and Reptile House (don’t worry, non-snake people, you don’t have to see anything scaled in order to get to them!), and a lot of people miss them.  Look them up next time you are in the Zoo, they’ll be happy to see you.  

The point is if you want to, you can learn something new every time you visit the Zoo, no matter how many times that may be.  We have a lot of fantastic members who visit us many, many times a year, and they really get into their trips to the Zoo.  They bring friends who haven’t been in a while, spout off animal facts, and take dozens of photos and videos; which means they see more than the average observer.  So I urge you, the next time you come to Potter Park, or visit any zoo for that matter, get into your visit.  Stop and watch the animals (and not just Mike the otter showing off!).  Research them before, during, and after your trip.  And of course, share your experience with your friends because everyone should visit the Zoo!  After all, a lion may behave like your house cat, but you’ll never see a 400 pound cat in your house.