Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just another day at Camp Zoofari

Yesterday, was quite interesting for me. The heat index was supposed to be around 110 degrees. I don't know if it actually attained that but it sure did feel very hot. Due to the heat, weather, or some unforeseen cause, two of my campers ended up getting bloody noses. Talk about gross. The first happened in the classroom so I just called a principal. I felt bad for the poor kid. It took at least 10 minutes for it to stop bleeding. My second camper's bloody nose happened in the Tropical Bird House and boy this one was a gusher. This time around I had to call a ranger to come administer first aid. And then I got to call housekeeping so they could clean up the blood of the floor. However, I did get a free ride on a golf cart back to the classroom building from this one. On a side note: I don't know what it is about kids but all of my other campers had to come up and look at the other's campers bloody noses. Why?? Oh well, it was just another day at the zoo.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Target Arts & Wonder Free Family Event

In our morning meeting yesterday, we were told that Target is sponsoring a free day at the zoo this Friday. Target is actually sponsoring an Arts & Wonder Family Event this weekend across the US. Many museums and other venues will be free this weekend. Click on this link and you can see what is free in your area.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Just Can't Get Enough...

On Monday, one of my past students Dominique texted me and asked what I had been up to. I told her that I have been working at the zoo but this week was my week off. We texted for awhile and I told her that I have learned so much at the zoo that I could give her my own personalized tour of the zoo. She took me up on that offer and we decided to go yesterday. I ended up inviting my niece, Aurora, to come along. And one of my other students, Sam tagged along too. We had a blast!! I guess I must be a cool teacher to have my students want to go to the zoo with me when school is not in session. Here are some pictures of us at the zoo. I know I already have lots of pictures of the zoo already but hey a few more can't hurt. Guess I really need to start scrapbooking them all.
From L to R: Me, Dominique, Sam and Aurora in front
Aurora, Dominique and Sam in the tunnel under the piranhas

Dominique, Sam, and Aurora in front of the Coral Reef tank in Natural Encounters

Aurora, Sam, and Dominique in front of the giraffes

Monday, July 5, 2010

When it rains at the zoo...

During the summer at the Houston zoo, some of the animals especially the cats like to hide because of the heat. Last Thursday and Friday, Houston got some very heavy rains. During one of the lighter parts of the rain shower, we put ponchos on our campers and headed out into the zoo. And we were rewarded with a special treat. All of the cats were out and active either pacing in their cages or sitting up on top of the rocks. I was really excited to see one of the cougars. The cougars are pretty new to the zoo and I had yet to see them so far. They are pretty hard to find and are usually not down where you can see them. A funny story, I had walked over to the cougar exhibit to see if I could see a cougar. I looked but couldn't see one so I started to walk back to the jaguars when I had this feeling someone was following me. I turned around and there was the female cougar following me right by the glass. When I stopped, she stopped right in front of me. I think she thought I was her lunch. Good thing she was behnid the glass. Here are some pictures of the cats we saw during the rain. (PS: If you live in Houston and are planning a trip to the zoo, I would suggest going when it rains. You will probably need your rain boots and umbrella but you will definitely see a lot of animals and as a bonus there is hardly anyone there!!!)
Cocoy the female jaguar (Usually the jags are hanging out in their cave and they only come out during a keeper chat. Today they were up on top by their waterfall. Pretty amazing!!)
Female cougar (Kind of spooky how she was following me as I walked)

One of the ocelots

Ivy (black spotted leopard)

Our other spotted leopard

Animals at the Zoo

Being at the Houston zoo five days a week, I get to take pictures of lots of animals and learn their names. Here are a few of the many pictures I have taken so far at the zoo. Please pardon my spelling, I probably misspelled some of the animals names.

Smaug (our komodo dragon eating a goat)

Lou (female tenrec, related to a hedgehog; presentation only not on exhibit)

Kito (one of our male cheetahs) and Taji (our female Anatolian Shepherd)

Pandu our male tiger

Kam Balam (male jaguar)

Cocoy (female jaguar)

Mandi (one of our female mandrills)

Hannah (female binturong; she is only for presentations you will not see her on exhibit)

Baylor (our newest baby elephant; what a cutie I love to watch him play with one of the other elephants Tucker)

One of our Andean aka spectacled bears (Can't remember his name)

Boomer or Bailey (one of our Grizzly Bears; sorry I don't know how to tell them apart yet)

Hana (our female tiger)

Dinos at the zoo

On Memorial Day, the Houston Zoo opened a special exhibit Dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are animatronics. I don't know how long they will be at the zoo but the campers love to see them. They especially like the one at the end that squirts water at you. I have seen the dino's 3 times so far and I get to see them at least 3 more times. Kaylee wanted me to take pictures of them. So Kaylee here are some pictures of the Dinosaurs at the zoo.

My Job at the Zoo

Me and one of my camp groups
Well, I have officially completed three weeks of teaching at the zoo. I now have three weeks off and then I will work for another three weeks. Working at the zoo, is a blast. I love teaching different concepts about animals to my campers. And of course, getting to walk around the zoo everyday five times a week is a wonderful perk. I am learning lots of interesting things about the animals that live at the Houston zoo (including their names the keepers call them). So anytime you are in Houston, I would love to give you my personalized tour at the zoo. As a zoo employee, I can actually get a discount on their behind the scenes tours. So I am thinking of signing up my niece Aurora for one. However, it is hard to choose what animal we would like to get up close to the most. I think we are debating between the elephants and the giraffes. For those of you, who are wondering what my day entails here is an overview of what my day is like:

  • 5:30- wake up and get ready

  • 6:30- get in the car and drive to the zoo

  • 7ish- arrive at the zoo; start preparing for the day, and morning meeting

  • 8:45-9:15- check-in campers

  • 9:15-10- teach lesson

  • 10-11ish- Visit animals in the zoo

  • 11ish-Animal handling (T-F, they bring in a special animal for the campers to pet and learn about)

  • 12-1- Lunch time and my break from the campers

  • 1-2:30ish- Craft, Story, and Activity/Games

  • 2:30-3:30- Visit more animals in the zoo

  • 3:45-4:15- Check-out campers

  • 4:30- head home and take a much needed shower :o)

My schedule varies a little each day. Somedays we spend more time out in the zoo than others. And then somedays like last week (Th and F) we spend more time indoors because of the rain. It has been rather hot walking around the zoo. But knock on wood, I have been managing the heat better than I have (meaning no migraines yet!). I try to make sure I drink lots of water which has been helping tremendously. Overall I am having a blast. This ranks as one of my best summer jobs ever. I just wish I could work at the zoo all year long. :o)

Over the river, and through the woods... Grandmother's house we go. (And Pop-pop's too of course!!)

All plugged in and ready to go!
On the road!
When I was offered the job at the zoo this summer, one of the big questions was who was going to take care of the girls. At the time, David was still in the hospital and we did not know if he would be up to the challenge of taking care of the girls if he came home. After some serious pondering, I took my parents up on their offer for the girls to spend the summer with them. So on June 4th, the girls left with my parents to spend the summer with them up in Illinois. Then on June 7th, David left to spend the summer with his parents in Arizona. Talk about an empty nest for me. I really miss David and the girls. However, this time away from them is giving me some much needed time to heal. I talk to the girls and David every night on the phone. The girls are really enjoying their time with Grandma and Pop-pop. They love catching fireflies at night with them. Grandma takes them quite regularly to the library. I have lost count of how many chapter books Naomi has already finished this summer. She is getting to be quite a reader! Kaylee had a request for me to send her mermaids among other things to her but then couldn't understand why they didn't show up overnight. They are enjoying getting to know their cousins (my brother John's kids). And they think it is neat to meet people who knew their mommy when she was younger. Kaylee's Sunbeam teacher was actually in young women's with me. And of course lots of people in my parent's ward have told the girls that they look just like me!!