Behind what looks like a stump is actually a feeding station for birds in the Australasian Exhibit. Birds aren’t tidy eaters and Guests don’t need to see their mess.
This is what it looks like from the Public’s point of view:
I’ve learned a thing or two about Zoos since I’ve arrived. There is a front side and a back side. The front side is all shiny and pretty and suitable for “Public Consumption”. This is what the Zoo wants you to see and frankly it’s what you would prefer to see as well. This side is pretty and perfect and has nothing to do with the actual guts of the operation. The side you see doesn’t make it run. It doesn’t have anything to do with reality, and it certainly doesn’t feed you, flush the toilets or feed the animals. There is a back side to the Zoo. It has storage facilities, lawn maintenance equipment, gas pumps, shovels, wheelbarrows, garages, air conditioners, pipes and filters. A zoo is a huge machine that hums along day by day. The working, moving parts of it are unseen by the Public. This Zoo has a food commissary strictly for the animals that makes daily deliveries to the different animals Houses and they will also drop off an extra case of mealworms on short notice should you find yourself short. There is a Horticulture Department that does nothing but plan their own “exhibits”, plant, cut, prune, rake, sweep and maintain. If you saw how much vegetation and foliage is on this property, you would understand what an enormous job this is.
Sure, it’s beautiful, but it has to be maintained. The Horticulture team does an unbelievable job here. There are Koi fish in that pond and they have to be fed, the walk needs to be cleaned and swept, and the pond needs cleaning as well. The vegetation needs to be pruned and maintained, and somebody has to do this. This Japanese Garden is one very tiny area of the zoo but it is gorgeous. There are teams of people that go out each day and are constantly maintaining the front side of the Zoo; the side you see. The entire Zoo is a botanical garden with plants and labels of their names and origin everywhere. In the spring thousands of tulips come up from a massive planting they are getting ready for now. They will probably plant 4000 tulip bulbs. My back hurts just thinking about that enormous undertaking.
This is one of my favorite “Back side areas”. It’s right at the back access Keeper’s door to the Australasian Exhibit and something I see every day. The front side looks like a big tree stump and of course the back side is a feeding station. Who ever built it, scratched an interesting message into the material as it was drying. If you look close, it says, “Think Like a Bird” right over that hanging vine. Here is an enormous example of some of the cleanup:
See? Nice Elephant. They are magnificent:
(Here is an interesting Thai Elephant Orchestra: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5UMJ8qfw-4E
But have you thought about the cleanup? I have:
The Cincinnati Zoo is fun, beautiful, educational and provides plenty of up-to-date information regarding the animals’ status in the wild, and information about habitat, diet and other interesting facts. They are attempting to begin cutting-edge ecological “green” efforts such as solar panels, and natural planted roofs. They have an outreach program, an education department, provide Internships to College students, and have a myriad of events available to the Public.
But in the day-to-day, it still comes down to cleaning up a pile of elephant poop.
September 18, 2008 at 7:29 am
I like the post. The public rarely gets to see behind the scenes at the zoo.
The public isn’t always fond to see some animals eating. Messy birds are one thing but a Polar Bear with a live fish is another.
It takes a lot of work to maintain exhibits and the grounds, and few people really are aware of the work. The public gets to see it only when it is perfect. Most wouldn’t beleive how much animal poop is cleaned up daily.
– Sara, World Zoo Today
September 18, 2008 at 8:44 am
Thanks for your comment. And you are absolutely right. As you probably know, what I have shown is only the tip of the iceberg. I have a few photographs of some food plates for some Stellar Eagles and a couple of Andean Condors, but I didn’t want people getting upset, or getting nauseous on their keyboards. Nature, by its very nature isn’t always pretty.
I’ve seen the back side, I just chose not to show all of it. It isn’t necessary. What I think is necessary is to describe and illustrate the incredibly heavy workload Zoo Keepers and Zoo Workers in all departments have to shoulder. That was my objective and I hope I’ve accomplished it so far.