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As we have been hit by the first winter storm of the year, the zoo closed today because of the snowy and potentially dangerous conditions.  We are still here, though, since the animals still need to eat!  The days when the paths are filled with guests watching and enjoying the animals are always wonderful, but days like today are also a treat. 

At 7:30am, Ann (another keeper) and I took a walk through the falling snow to check out all the animals.  The fresh snow was beautiful on the trees and the animals!  I snapped a few pictures with my phone to share here, sorry the quality isn’t as great. 

The deer and the bison were perfectly content in the snow, standing and watching us with snow covered fur.  The male snowy owl (Hoover) was hard to find at first since he perfectly matched the ground.  We watched as he and the female began to run along the ground.  We don’t often see many interactions between the two snowy owls, so we had to stop and watch for awhile!  There was some head bobbing and raising of their wings toward each other before Hoover ran away from her.  (We are crossing our fingers for baby snowy owls in the future!)

The peregrine falcon was shaking the snow from her feathers and the wolves were jumping around.  All of the animals are so well equipped for this weather– they’re lucky they don’t have to spend 15 minutes getting bundled up before heading out to play!

As our walk was ending and we headed our separate ways to go begin feeding the animals, we saw the bison galloping together.  Now it’s time to turn the Christmas music up and start taking care of the animals on this snowy, yet beautiful day!

When I walked into the lizard community exhibit in the Great Southwest building on Nov. 22, I noticed movements everywhere!  Our adult female blue spiny lizard had 12 babies overnight.  Blue spiny lizards are one type of lizard that has live young.  As they are born, they come out in a little ball and then quickly uncurl and begin to run!

I had the difficult task of trying to catch these quick, tiny lizards.  Now, in the lizard community, we have two spiny lizards, a chuckwalla, and 5 gila monsters (venomous)–lots of things to look out for!  Not to mention all the trees and branches in the way as I’m trying to catch a lizard that is less than 2 inches long and incredibly quick.  They need to be quick because if they were out in the wild there would be many animals that would love a baby spiny lizard as a snack. 

As the hunt continued to catch all the babies, many of them would jump on the back of a gila monster.  One was even sitting on top of a gila’s head!  I had to keep myself from picking them up when they’re that close to a mouth full of venomous drool.    I ended up catching 9 that morning, and then two other staff members caught the remaining 3 in the afternoon. 

There are a few different reasons we must catch all the babies:  first, sometimes other lizards can get hungry and may think the small spinies look tasty.  Also because the exhibit is very big and it would be hard to keep a close eye on them to make sure they are all eating and growing up the way they should.  It’s also helpful because we have to get into their exhibit at least once or twice a day, and 12 little babies running around are easy to step on!  Right now they are in an aquarium together in the back of the Great Southwest building under a special light that will help them to grow strong bones.  Take a look!

No, this baby does not have an extra tail–they just like to sit on top of each other!
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