Keeper's Diary - December 2008
One of the more unusual animals kept on Mammals South is the Ornate Nile Monitor lizard that lives in Gorilla Kingdom.
As I work on a section used to looking after various mammals, I saw it as an interesting challenge when my team leader recently asked me to take responsibility for the day to day care of the Nile monitor exhibit on Gorilla Kingdom.
The Nile monitor has been with us since Gorilla Kingdom opened last year, moving over from the Reptile house. He arrived here with no name, which came as a shock to us on Mammals South, but maybe having personal names for animals is a testament to the relationships you are able to build up by working with mammals. However the monitor wasn’t without a name for long as we called him Boris.
Boris is housed on Gorilla Kingdom as part of an exhibit on the diversity of species that share the same natural environment as the lowland gorilla. Thankfully though, Nile monitors don’t share the same endangered status as gorillas and their natural range is much larger, covering most of central Africa, reaching to the east and west coasts.
Caring for Boris presents a very different task compared to many of the animals I am used to looking after, and while it may not be as tough physical work as cleaning up after the bearded pigs, it presents a challenge in other ways.
Keeping the temperature and humidity high is important as Nile monitors are cold blooded and do not produce their own heat. Keeping the pool cleaned, filtered and at the right temperature is crucial as monitor lizards are highly aquatic, and Boris spends a lot of his time in the pool.
Looking after Boris is a good experience and it has also been a good opportunity to work with keepers from the Reptile house and Aquarium, who are all great help providing information on his care, and also the maintenance of his pool.
While working with reptiles doesn’t seem to be as rewarding as working with mammals as far as building a relationship goes, it is always nice to see Boris on his 2 feeding days a week, when he really seems to come to life, devouring foods such as flesh, rats and fish whole!
More next month