by Sabrina Friedline, Zookeeper, Lead Carnivores
Staff members from animal care, maintenance and horticulture teamed up to complete the hyena exhibit renovation, which they worked on for several months. When keepers decided to change the hyena exhibit many ideas were discussed and number of brainstorming session were in order.
After many designs, we decided to build a series of 3 platforms at various heights (1, 2, & 3 feet). The posts supporting the platforms came from a cedar tree that had to be removed from the front of the Interpretive Center (Yah- recycle!). The edges of the platform were capped with split peeler poles so, when the hyena chews on them (which we are sure she will) they can easily be replaced and will protect the actual platform.
For the rest of the exhibit we had other plans that involved many wheelbarrows of topsoil and compost to build up a thicker layer of dirt. Hanging over the top wall is another new plant, a trumpet vine that we hope will grow and creep along the exhibit walls. Then add some plants, a bit of sod (w/o plastic mesh), new and changed tree limbs and we have a much improved exhibit and some very tired Zoo staff.
Then, the moment we all were waiting for.... letting the hyena out into her much changed exhibit! Keepers placed some meat juice popsicles(blood-pops) around the exhibit and on the platforms. We also placed a flake of straw on the top platform in order to know if she actually went up there at night when no one was there to see.
When she was let out on exhibit, the hyena was a bit hesitant about the changes to her exhibit and definitely took some double-takes, but she quickly started exploring and wanted those blood-pops! She started slowly with one foot on the lowest platform, then two- stretching as far as she could. She would leave, then come back and get a bit closer and a bit more comfortable. In less than 30 minutes she had been on the two lower platforms with all four feet and she jumped on the the 3rd and highest platform to sniff around! She promptly got down and went for the treats on the other platforms. We were sooo thrilled!
All the staff had a great time seeing her explore her new surroundings and it made all the hard work and many, many hours all worth it. A huge thank you to all of maintenance, grounds, and keepers who worked in the carnivore area for all their hard work over the past couple of months. It is a job well done!