Keeper's diary - May 2009
This month I have swapped bearded pigs for kune kune piglets and Bactrian camels for llamas and alpacas as I have moved sections to work on the new exhibit ‘Animal Adventure’.
When the time came to move the llama and alpaca herd from their temporary home in the camel’s paddock back over to their original home, I was given the news that I would be going with them to the Animal Activities section to help work on the new exhibit ‘Animal Adventure’ which is the redeveloped children’s zoo.
I was initially sad about leaving behind all the amazing animals I have worked with and been lucky enough to get to know really well over the last 3 years on Mammals South. However I’m sure I will still be able to visit them all, and working on Animal Activities will allow me to get more experience looking after a range of different animals I have never worked with before.
Aardvarks, porcupines, meerkats and red pandas are some of the unusual creatures housed in Animal Adventure, which is split into different zones to reflect the habitats of the animals on view.
I have initially been given responsibility for the ‘Touch Zone’ which houses the section's domestic animals, including the kunekune pigs and llamas and alpacas. There is also a group of sheep and goats who live in the ‘touch paddock’ - an enclosure which is open to zoo visitors.
As well as the Animal Adventure exhibit, the Animal Activities section also looks after the animals which are used in the daily animal demonstrations, as well as a few others such as the giant anteaters.
As well as getting to know my new job, this month I have also helped with the shearing of the alpacas and the sheep. Alpacas, like sheep, have been domesticated and are farmed for their thick fleeces which are made of high quality fibre, similar to sheep wool.
As a result of this, neither of these species is able to naturally shed their fleece, which means that we have to cut them off for them.
I’m not sure how much the alpacas and the sheep like the shearing process. It can take a little while and is quite a skill to master, but I’m sure that they are happy with the end result. It cannot be too pleasant wearing a winter coat on a hot sunny day!
More next month.