NEWS FROM THE ZOOS



AZA Condor SSP assists Andean condor release in Argentina

In 1996, the La Plata and Roque Saenz Pena (Chaco) Zoos donated condor eggs to the Condor In Situ Conservation program at the Buenos Aires Zoo. Under the direction of zoo biologist Luis Jacome and the consultation of AZA Condor Species Survival Plan Coordinator, Michael Wallace of the Los Angeles Zoo, biologists followed the two-month incubation period and hatching process. Condor-shaped puppets were then used to nurture the chicks, thus avoiding direct human contact. After a year, the birds were released into the wild with a visible number tag and transmitter in their wings. Their survival after release will depend on them joining wild flocks where the young condors learn localized food-finding techniques from adults.

National Aquarium in Baltimore wins prestigious award

The National Award for Museum Service was recently bestowed upon the National Aquarium in Baltimore for its contributions to community service. Presented by the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, this award recognizes NAIB's innovative programs that reach out to schools, libraries and community centers; career training and mentoring programs for at-risk and high-ability students; affordable access initiatives directed toward low-income local residents; special days and hours for physically and emotionally challenged groups and individuals; and partnerships with human service organizations which focus on youth/job training. Numerous internship and employment opportunities also create a vibrant and diverse work force, where sixty-percent of the Aquarium's three hundred employees are City residents. NAIB is the first aquarium to receive this award. Executive Director David Pittenger and Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke were honored at White House ceremonies by First Lady Hillary Clinton this fall.

North Carolina Zoo researchers break giraffe communication code

Researchers at the North Carolina Zoo have verified that giraffes communicate by using infrasonic sounds­frequencies below the range of human hearing. Dr. Randy Fulk, the N.C. Zoo's Curator of Research, and Liz von Muggenthaler, an independent animal researcher, released the findings of an eight-month study they believe verifies the infrasonic communication theory. The first study of its kind on giraffes, the zoo project is expected to help increase understanding of the social behavior of giraffes and could lead to similar studies of other animals.

With the exception of a couple of rare audible grunting sounds, giraffes have traditionally been thought of as relatively silent creatures. Fulk and von Muggenthaler, however, speculated that there had to be some kind of communication to allow males to find females, cows to identify calves, or for members of the herd to warn each other of predators. Infrasonic sound, or "infrasound," which can travel more easily through solid objects and over far greater distances than the sonic frequencies audible to humans, seemed a plausible answer. They used microphones and video cameras mounted in the zoo's giraffe holding barn to record the animals' sounds and movements. They also made behavioral observations, noting two distinct head movements that seem to be associated with the production of infrasonic sounds. They will continue to collect data and will soon publish a paper on the findings.



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