This past Sunday and Monday Turtle Bay hosted a newly created workshop for animal training professionals called the California Avian Training Workshop. The workshop was created with the collaboration of Chandelle Cotter of the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (AWCC) in Portage, AK. The workshop was more of a success than we ever could have imagined! We had 15 participants representing seven facilities including: the AWCC, Bird TLC of Anchorage, Happy Hollow Zoo, Folsom Zoo, Effie Nature Center, Discovery Kingdom, and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
We packed so much into two days it is almost unbelievable. I delivered a 90 minute interactive class on general training then, Lisa Clifton Bumpass, a Behavioral Analysis Consultant of San Jose, provided a workshop that was progressive and fascinating. The best thing about her talk? We have already adopted these philosophies and are doing most of the techniques she described. Looking at the animals needs throughout its whole life, rather than just what is needed it the moment. Setting your animals up to build on one training after another so they have an entire repertoire of behaviors that help them have a great life, from baby through geriatric life. We did sessions on raptor handling and looked at the history and future of our industry and Lisa, Chandelle, and I did an hour long Q & A session where we helped participants with training issues and challenges. We spent each afternoon doing demonstrations of the animal training we do here at Turtle Bay.
All I can say is that it was all fantastic (and a bit exhausting)! I have to give HUGE kudos to my team of trainers who just blew everyone away with their knowledge and successes with the animals. Let me tell you how wonderful our animals are too: we set up all the participants upstairs in the foyer area of the Museum and Timber walked from lap to lap on each person! Curie, our raven, showed off her intelligence by demonstrating her puzzle-solving behaviors and Kinta, the kookaburra, flew and landed on each and every participant! Even Whisper, who is a little more particular, let each person meet her! It wasn’t all just fun and games though: we demonstrated Loki voluntarily participating in getting an injection and Gidget willingly taking oral medicine from a syringe. Lisa told the participants to “pay attention, because what you are seeing here is cutting edge; you won’t see this kind of stuff at many facilities.” It is probably the highest compliment I have ever received by a peer and well-respected person in this industry!
We provided surveys and the comments were thoughtful and touching. One survey said, “I wish I was able to stay longer and learn more from you. I really like your methods for training, your mentality for animal welfare, and your priorities for your facility.”
It wasn’t just my team in Animal Care who made it a success, it is all of Turtle Bay. Our animals would not have the incredible lives they have without the buy-in and conscientiousness of all Turtle Bay staff–from Grounds and Maintenance to Guest Services. I have to thank Melissa in Guest Services for being there for us for any needs throughout the days. Finally, I want to thank my boss and CEO of Turtle Bay, Mike, because none of this could happen without his trust and freedom to do my job. It became very apparent that one main challenge that many facilities have is that their CEO and upper management team, including their board, put time constraints and expectations on training of animals. This puts stress on the trainers and leads to them using methods to get the animals trained “in time” that are less than ideal for the animals. I thank our CEO, Boards, and our entire Turtle Team for putting the animals’ welfare first, above and beyond our desires and needs.
Known for its spooky fog and subzero temperatures, dry ice is a mysterious and fascinating substance… but what is it?
Everything is made of matter. Matter can exist in many states: solid, liquid, or gas. For instance, water can be liquid, solid (ice), or a gas (vapor or steam). We can change the state of matter by changing the environment that matter is in. You may know we can change water’s state just by changing the temperature. To make water into ice, we freeze it! To make water into a gas, we boil it! However, temperature is not the only factor that determines a substance’s state. Pressure is just as important. Water can be in all three states in normal pressure (1 atmosphere or 14.7 psi); this is not the case with dry ice.
Dry Ice is not made with water, but carbon dioxide. You may know carbon dioxide as a gas, the gas we exhale when we breathe. It too can freeze and change into a solid, but our freezers at home can’t do the job. Special factories use extremely low temperatures and high pressure just to make it. The extremely cold and pressurized carbon dioxide is brought to normal pressures and will solidify into dry ice. This ice is -109 degrees F. But what makes dry ice so fascinating is its ability to sublimate (Sublimation is when matter changes from a solid to a gas). At normal pressure, dry ice cannot be a liquid. When it “melts” it turn directly into carbon dioxide gas! You may see the fog that comes from its icy surface, but carbon dioxide is a clear and colorless gas that we can’t see… The fog is actually the result of water vapor in the air condensing from the cold gas, similar to your warm breath meeting the icy cold air during the winter. When dry ice is added to water, the carbon dioxide gas bubbles up to the surface quickly making the water look like its boiling.
Matter comes in all shapes, sizes, colors, temperatures, and states! Dry ice is just one of the cooler substances.
Hope you learned something new, from your favorite educators at Turtle Bay!
In case you are looking for something to do with you little ones while the big kids head back to school, or are wanting to provide fun learning opportunities for your children… Turtle Bay is a good place to start! Turtle Bay is already a place for interactive, exploratory fun, but did you know about some of our regular programming that is available to you? As the New Year starts, we invite you to join us as we experience the following programs this year.
Every Thursday morning, little ones ranging from 2 to 5 years old come with their families for the Little Explorers Program. This program facilitates a play-based learning environment where young children can investigate, create, and discover. Because Little Explorers is in the Mill Building, you can join in rain or shine. A typical program usually includes a story, an activity, and a take home craft all led by one of our docents. January’s theme is Nighttime Wonders. Join us in February to learn all about what’s On the Farm!
Family Second Saturday
It’s in the name! Every second Saturday of the month, we invite everyone in the family to join us for an afternoon of interactive and educational fun. Although we offer new and exciting activities each month, we occasionally pull out some of our popular favorites! Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming Family Second Saturday topics and activities; we hope to see you and the whole family there!
This month’s Family Second Saturday: Dry Ice Investigations
Following our family Saturday program, each third Saturday of the month we feature Science Saturday. During this event, guests will have the opportunity to experiment, observe demonstrations, and hopefully will be able to answer the question, “What is going on?” as we explore and investigate.
The music starts as I finish his introduction with “Welcome our little misfit.” Running out from around the left side of the stage wing, Stilts appears. The audience reacts with an “aww” at his presence. He darts out enthusiastically, pauses to look out at the crowd with his large eyes and then takes off. His little legs moving fast under him, he approaches a hollowed out log at center stage. He stops, ducks his little fluffy head, and runs into the log. As he appears out the other end, he once again pauses, looks at the audience one last time and sprints as fast as his little legs can take him off the stage, around the corner and into a kennel waiting on the other side. The audience gives a huge round of applause! Although only 4 inches tall and the smallest animal in the show, he is clearly larger than life and an audience favorite.
It was 2007, an adorable little burrowing owl sat in the corner of his cage, huddled behind a small stump, peering out as people walked by him. His enclosure was like a cabinet on the wall, about 2’x 3’. I reached in and put a piece of food down for him, but he didn’t move. Sitting frozen in the corner he just continued staring at me. Throughout the day his food sat there, uneaten, as he hid in the corner. After hours all the guests were gone and the building fell quiet; I peered carefully into his cage. He was in his corner, but his food was gone. This went on every day for months.
Allowing him to continue to live his life full of fear was just not an option with me. His quality of life needed to improve and I had the tools to do it: training. I set up one of my new trainers to work with him. She was to sit in front of his enclosure everyday for about five to ten minutes, multiple times and place a small piece of his favorite food on the stump. After a few weeks, he started coming out and taking the food while she sat nearby. Then she started sitting closer. Next she moved with her hand near the stump and so on. Stilts would slowly come out, grab the food from the hand and run back away. As we continued the process, he would come out longer and longer until one day, he was waiting out in the open for her to arrive. No fear, no apprehension, just anticipation of getting his snack. It was so rewarding to watch him come out of his shell and his cute little personality started to show through to us.
As the weeks went on his comfort increased with his trainers, but he was still showing fear with the public. I realized that it was time to get him out of the small enclosure, time to give him some room so that he had a choice whether he wanted people close to him or not. We had an old indoor enclosure unit, about 4 feet wide, 8 feet long, and 6 feet tall. We put up the enclosure outside on the deck at the entrance to the public building. That was it, that was the last thing he needed. He thrived. Not only did he not try to stay away from us but he didn’t try to stay away from anyone. Whenever a guest would walk by, instead of trying to hide, he would run to the front and greet them. Children would stop and sit on the ground with him, smiles on their faces. He was so engaging and charismatic people couldn’t get enough of him. As we approached with his meal, he would run with those adorable legs to meet us at the door. It was time to take his training to the next level.
We started training him to go into a kennel for transport on his own. Then we would let him run around the building and come when we would tap as a cue. He learned to show off his penchant for small burrows by running through the hollowed out log. He would sit on our hand with comfort and ease. We would take him to educational programs in some of the most chaotic situations, like the mall at Christmas time and to news appearances.
One day, a co-worker from another department walked up to me and said, “When did we get that new burrowing owl?” It was music to my ears. “That’s Stilts, the same one we’ve always had,” I replied. “No way,” he said in astonishment. “That scared little bird from inside? I can’t believe it!” We had done it. We had allowed him to have a better life. A life where he was free to be himself and have choices. He was free of the constraints of a life in captivity but now lived a full life in human care.
Years later the same co-worker told me that was the defining moment for him in understanding what we were doing, in the power of training.
For me, there is nothing more upsetting than seeing a fearful animal. Constantly I see videos on the internet of scared animals and the comments and emoticons are all of laughter. Many of those videos that are so “cute” and “funny” are actually scared animals–a little understanding of animal behavior can go such a long way. Being able to see things from the animals’ point of view rather than our own can make a huge difference in the animals’ lives. Adding a little positive reinforcement training to this gives them back control of their own lives and a freedom to be themselves. This was never more clear to me than with Stilts.
Our Volunteers are WONDER-FULL and support operations throughout the Park! In 2015, with over 24,955 hours of volunteer service (the equivalent of 12 full-time positions), Volunteers are vital to Turtle Bay!
We had over 300 adult volunteers and 164 teen volunteers dedicate their time and efforts throughout the Park in 2015 through activities such as:
Weeding and planting in our McConnell Arboretum and Botanical Gardens that extends over 200 acres.
Providing enrichments and maintaining animal habitats in our Wildlife Woods, Mill Building, and River Tank Exhibit reaching over 150 animals here at Turtle Bay.
Leading museum tours and providing formal interpretive and education programs to 102,000 guests.
Preparing exhibitions and caring for our permanent collection of approximately 35,000 historic and art objects.
Assisting with preparing our monthly membership renewal letters to 5,800 member households.
Providing reception and supporting our administrative staff
Turtle Bay also provides one-time opportunities for community members to contribute their time and energy to benefit the Park, such as National Family Volunteer Day!
Family Volunteer Day is a day of service that celebrates the power of families who work together to support their communities and neighborhoods. Volunteering is a great way for kids and adults to make new friends, develop compassion for their neighbors, and even pick up a new skill or two! Each year, thousands of families use the day to teach children valuable, real-life lessons about compassion and caring.
National Family Volunteer Day is Saturday, November 19 this year and we have a variety of activities suitable for families of all ages! From Animal Care to Gardening, you and your family can support Turtle Bay and be a part of this national day of service! Arrive at 9am to volunteer for the event and enjoy the remainder of the day at Turtle Bay with free admission for all Volunteers! Other goodies will include a chance to win a Turtle Bay Family Membership and free kids meal coupons to Home Town Buffet for all participating children. Event check in will be in front of the Museum by Domke Plaza, located at 844 Sundial Bridge Drive, adjacent to Sundial Bridge.
Head to turtlebay.org for full details for this year’s National Family Volunteer Day and we hope to see you there!
“You look like a chimney sweep,” animal trainer Erin commented with a grin. It was true. I was coated from crown to sole with a titanium powder that looked remarkably similar to soot. Later that day, twigs and leaves, adhered by super sticky spider webbing, would dangle from my soaked shirt and shorts. Even under all this grime, I am ecstatically happy. Why? We’ll get there.
I am an Animal Care Volunteer at Turtle Bay Exploration Park. My main job consists of cleaning up after the animals and educating the public about them. Put that way, it sounds gross and maybe boring. Why do I love it at Turtle Bay? Because they are one of the only facilities that allows teens to regularly come into direct contact with the animals. Sure, I’m cleaning enclosures, but the animals are still inside. While cleaning, I have been less than three feet from an awe-inspiring golden eagle, a burrowing owl and a very friendly skunk. I have handled smooth snakes, flown a barn owl during a real animal show, stroked a badger, hugged a beaver and assisted in the creation of new enclosures.
On the other side of the scale, cleaning exhibits can be rather disgusting. Let’s just say you don’t want to get a whiff of skunk feces or vulture casts. I have prepared animal diets. This task includes the dissection of whole mice and chunks of beef heart. Also, when a fastidious raptor leaves rat skins and mice skulls overnight, guess who gets to pick them up? Often dishes will reek of warm blood and guts. Sometimes food (that must be removed by yours truly) gets overrun by ants, or worse, meat bees. Still, all these trials are minor inconveniences in comparison to the wonderful opportunity to interact with the animals at Turtle Bay. I work hard and get dirty, but the rewards are experiences of a lifetime.
Remember that day I described? The day I became a “chim-chiminey” sweep? One of my most cherished memories was formed that day. It began like any other Turtle Bay morning–no dark and stormy nights. My brother, Geoffrey, and I arrived at eight o’clock and, after putting away yesterday’s dishes, we walked down to Wildlife Woods to begin the daily cleansing of exhibits. I started on Buzz, a turkey vulture whom we laughingly dub “The Chicken Vulture,” for her inveterate habit of fright. “Oh gross,” I thought as I pulled down feathers, soaked with mouse guts from yesterday’s dinner, out of her mat. Slowly, but moving purposely, I sifted the sand covering her floor. When going over or under her perches I pantomimed scrubbing them so Buzz wouldn’t think I was observing her every move. Later I brought vinegar and a brush in and actually cleaned them, the brush spraying me with tainted chemical. Suddenly, Buzz jumped from her high branch to her platform. I held my breath because her mighty wings would stir up all the tiny feathers and minuscule debris remaining in the enclosure. Sure enough, a powerful breeze reached me, actually blowing my hair about. Finally finished, I backed out of the mew just as Buzz bounded back to her original spot. I dumped my full sifter into the waiting five gallon bucket and headed to the burrowing owl. Swivel is one of most wonderful creatures at Turtle Bay. He is a nine and a half inch fluff-ball with eyes as big as a child’s at Christmas. As I struggle to open the stiff, rattly doors leading to his exhibit he calmly observes me. Compared to Buzz he is a breeze to clean. Once everything is nearly completed he hops down on his stump, less than a foot away. He stares at me then bounces to the floor. As I stand up to leave, he stays. He stays while I attempt to open the door single-handed, a very noisy endeavor and one I failed. He stays while I bend down, even closer to him, to set my tools down. He stays while I eventually win my war with the door and exit. Thanks, Swivel. Next, and last on my list (because, with five volunteers cleaning goes quickly) is another owl. The barn owl screeches as I hike up to his mew. Before being allowed to clean an enclosure by ourselves, the animal trainers teach us about that animal’s peculiarities. Cricket’s is quite curious. He toe-dusts: a motion where he spreads his wings and sticks his head down, a sign of an upset barn owl. However, with this particular bird toe-dusting is a pretend. Our mixed up owl was raised among both humans and owls. He learned the behavior of toe-dusting but not when to use it. With me, he usually bluffs for a minute or two then goes back to sleep. The last thing I do for Cricket is scrub and sift underneath his shelter, and him. While I half-shuffle, half-crawl the last three paces, I hold one hand high above my head in a singularly awkward position. The barn owl is two feet above me. Swiftly finishing, I scoot backwards then stand up and exit from the enclosure. Cleaning complete, with feathers clinging everywhere, dirtied knees and vinegar spotting us, we volunteers respectively walk, skip and run back to the Animal Care kitchen.
The next duty is preparing for the twice-daily animal show. The sound system must be turned on, mics checked, stage swept, ice brought, props prepared, animals kenneled, and chant recited. With the audience filing in and “Trashin’ the Camp” blaring from our loud speakers, we joked around, joining the song on the “whoos.” The staff arrived also “whoo whoo-ing.” They took one look around and decided that an animal show didn’t require nine people to run smoothly. Geoffrey, Adrienne, and I were dispatched to work on the new exhibits. Comprised of four huge logs set into a cement square and panels of reinforced steel netting, they’re quite a job to construct. Adrienne, an experienced staff member, set up her ladder and went to work by herself, instructing Geoffrey and me to work together. I scurried up a tall ladder inside the evolving exhibit and Geoffrey did the same on the outside. My job was to stretch the surprisingly stiff mesh to the edge, where Geoffrey would then Zip-tie it to a cable, thereby securing the ceiling until it could be wired to the cable. Throwing all my weight on the herculean mesh, I drew it across the gap. My fingers, intertwined in the holes, were already losing circulation. “Hurry,” I gasped to Geoffrey who was pulling on his side and also attempting to thread a belligerent Zip-tie through the cable and the mesh. “I’m trying,” he muttered, all his attention on the infuriating Zip-tie. By the end of an hour, our hands were striped with black titanium powder from the wire and our arms feel ready to drop out of their sockets. Erin joined us and commented in surprise, “Wow Gloria, you look like a… chimney sweep!” She was entirely correct. My arms were covered in a diamond pattern derived from the mesh weave. My face was smudged all over, additional dust added where I’d brushed hair out of my eyes, or where the extra mesh had tumbled down on top of me. My new khaki shorts were khaki no more. I was filthy. I couldn’t wait to build exhibits again.
Adrienne sent Geoffrey and me into the kitchen to clean up as best we could, requesting us to join her at the museum when presentable. After I blackened several paper towels and a washcloth, Geoffrey and I speed-walked along the sweltering trail to the museum. Taking the steep stairs two at a time in an effort to mimic my brother’s stride, I slipped through the gate into the beaver’s exhibit. Timber’s home is built on a hill with a giant swimming hole that looks into the museum. He shares with fish. Lots of fish. As soon as Adrienne realizes we’re there, she starts Geoffrey demolishing Orb Weaver webs, and sends me inside for a cloth. When I finally locate a yellow micro-fiber rag in the lab, I hurry back out. Adrienne explains why it’s needed, “The glass inside Timber’s den is difficult to see through.” She continues, “Would you mind going in and wiping it clean?” Of course, I agreed. Carefully, lest I slip and swim with the fishes, I navigated the stepping stones. Reaching the entrance to the den I crouched down and peered into its depths. Various sized sticks completely covered the floor. On top of the branches lay a generous amount of straw. On the two foot high ceiling hung twenty to thirty daddy long legs spiders. Now balancing on a small bridge, I eased my upper body inside. Crawling on my elbows and toes and grasping my dust cloth, I reached the glass. For a moment, I paused enjoying the topsy turvy view of the museum. Several guests waved. Lying on my stomach I scrubbed at the dusty glass. Finally, I felt it was as good as it was going to get and I awkwardly backed out, glancing into the aquarium below. I emerged dusty, disheveled, daubed with dirt but triumphant. Straw clung to my front and spider webs dangled off my back. Geoffrey laughed. I laughed. Timber laughed. Okay, maybe not, but still… Suddenly Adrienne handed me some of Timber’s diet. “If you hold it to one side, he will climb in your lap.” Guess what I immediately did? Clumsily, the beaver climbed onto me. He was soaking wet, but I didn’t care. “You can touch him,” Adrienne told me. I stroked his unbelievably soft, nut brown fur. A grin spread across my face as Timber stayed with me without food. I felt his flat tail, marveling at the weird sensation my fingers encountered. Once he climbed down again, Adrienne gave us the remainder of his food. I called him onto me again. I neglected to make sure I was stable and Timber almost toppled me over. While Geoffrey kept Timber’s attention, I clambered to my feet. I was now as wet as Timber himself. Eager for more food, Mr. Beaver stood on his hind feet, supporting himself on us. He scrabbled with gentle paws on our legs to remind us that we held the food. His feet were smooth, like wet earth. Unfortunately, we eventually delivered all his diet to him, saving only one piece to place in his den while we left. I beamed all the way back to the Animal Care kitchen.
Clearly, this day deserves its spot in my memories. That day I hung out with a beaver, I discovered my unlimited capacity for grime, and I helped create new homes for the animals. This wild experience of volunteering at Turtle Bay will remain treasured far beyond my Teen Volunteer years.
This experiment may be aimed for children, but if you release your inner mad scientist… we won’t tell!
Red cabbage juice may sound like the newest health fad, but really this liquid has been used in chemistry labs for years… That’s right, chemistry! Chemistry scientists, or chemists, study things that are so incredibly small we can’t see them. They study atoms and molecules. Because these particles are so small, the best way for chemists to study them is testing and observing how they act in certain environments and how they interact with other chemicals, like cabbage juice!
So, why cabbage juice? Red cabbage juice can be used as a pH indicator. When mixed with any liquid, the cabbage juice will change color depending on that liquid’s pH. The pH determines whether a chemical is an acid or a base. Acids have low pH values (1-6) and the molecules donate what we call a hydrogen ion (H+); bases have high pH values (8-14) and the molecules donate a hydroxyl ion (OH-). These ions interact with the cabbage juice and make it change color! When a substance does not have these ions, we call it neutral. For instance, pure water is neutral and has a pH of 7.
Some chemicals are safer than others; we will give you some ideas on safe chemicals to use during this experiment. If you want to explore more we recommend sticking to your kitchen supply; any food grade substance is safe to handle.
Red cabbage stains very easily, make sure you’re wearing clothes that are dark colored or that can be stained.
ALWAYS have an adult present when doing science experiments; not only do adults help you stay safe, they like to learn too!
If you don’t have a set of test tubes and a test tube rack like this one, you can use clear glasses to hold your liquids.
Eyedropper – if you don’t have one you can easily use a straw! To use, submerge the straw into the liquid so that the level inside the straw is how much you’d like to transfer (for this experiment you want to measure 1-2 inches from the bottom of the straw). Then place your finger on top of the straw so that it is airtight. Then place you straw over where you would like to transfer it to and move your finger off the straw.
Red Cabbage – you don’t need a whole head, one cup of shredded cabbage will be plenty
Assorted Liquids –We recommend vinegar, baking soda (mixed with a little bit of water), lemon or lime juice, milk, aspirin (dissolved in some water), dish soap, and whatever else you’d like to test (remember our safety guidelines!).
If your cabbage is not already shredded, have an adult chop it up into smaller pieces.
Put cabbage into a non-aluminum saucepan and add just enough water to cover it.
Bring to boil and boil for 10-15 min.
Pour cabbage juice into a container while straining out the cabbage leaves. Place in fridge until you are ready to test!
Collect the liquids and dissolve any solids you’d like to test. You should use enough of each so that the amount of liquid is about ¾ inch from the bottom and you can see it from the side.
Once you have placed each liquid in their glass or tube, add enough cabbage juice until you can see the color.
What’s going on?
As we talked about earlier, cabbage juice uses color to indicate the pH level of liquids. Blue/Green color appears in substances that have a high pH value. Light/Bright Pink appears in substances with a low pH value. Remember which one is which? Arrange your tubes/glasses so that you make a pH rainbow! What liquids turned the juice pink? Which turned the juice blue or green? Did any leave the juice purple?
Remember: you’re a chemist! Record your data, ask questions, make predictions, and do some research if you’d like.
Make sure to take pictures and share with your friends too!
We are taking registrations for both of our single day camps. November 22nd is Up, Up, and Away Camp and December 20th is DIY Science Camp. More information and how to sign up can be found here.