Keeper Stories – Tuesday, March 28
Move over, Marvin the muntjac, there are some new kids in the Hoofstock Barn! They go by the names of Perkins and Blue. They are our kori bustard chicks that hatched last spring. You can see their parents, Snake and Tuza, between the savanna and duiker habitats.
Why would the Hoofstock Barn become a home to birds you might ask? Well, sometimes, we have a little bit of room in the barn and we can house some friends from other areas. A few years ago, we housed a couple of Aldabra tortoises in the barn. So this isn’t new or unusual for us!
Something you may not know about hoofstock keepers is that some of us have worked with birds before! We aren’t including the ostrich in this, because most of the time hoofstock keepers work with ostrich. We’re talking about other kinds of birds, such as cranes, ducks, geese and other kinds of birds that may be housed in the same habitats as our hoofstock animals. So a few of us already have some bird experience under our belt!
Since none of us have worked with kori bustards before, we bug the bird keepers with questions about behavior, eating habits and anything else that we may not know. Bird behaviors are slightly different than the behaviors of our hoofstock animals, so we have to adjust what we usually look for. When they puff up and spread their wings, are they mad? Happy to see us? Hungry? So, those are things we must ask the bird keepers and do some research of our own!
Another change from our hoofstock animals is what they eat! The duikers, giraffe and zebra are all herbivores! This means they eat plants! Kori bustards are omnivores, so they eat meat and plants! They get a diet of meat mixed with crane grain, mice, mealworms and crickets! When we get their diet ready, we usually wear gloves. Also, the smell is a lot different than what we are used to!
Not only do we get to feed them and clean up after them but we also get to do training! Currently, we are training them to step on a scale so we can monitor their weights. We are going to start target training and work our way up to crate training! It’s very exciting to get to work with a species of animal that we don’t normally work with! We are happy to have Perkins and Blue in our barn!
Keeper III, Mammals