Last weekend, my Farm Bureau district had our annual summer picnic at the Mesker Park Zoo in Evansville. This was the first time I have been do this zoo, even though we only live about 30 minutes away!
It was another crazy hot day (because those are so rare right now), and lots of the animals were hiding. I can’t blame them.
Part of the zoo is climate controlled. It is called Amazonia, and (you guessed it) it’s an Amazon rain forest. Well, sort of. Though it did actually rain on us while we were in there!
The first thing we saw in Amazonia was the black howler monkey. He was in a tizzy about something. I have no idea what he was trying to say, but he sure had something on his mind! (Sort of like Martin in the mornings. And the afternoons. And the evenings…)
Amazonia definitely had the most active animals for the day. We also saw some monkeys with cute faces, right around lunch time.We saw lots of animals, many that I had not seen before. And I don’t remember the names of most of them. Like that cute-faced monkey. I do remember that this was some sort of a spoon-bill bird. Because that was hard to remember. This is a capybara. I remember this one (although I had to look up how to spell it) because I think it looks like the ROUS’s from The Princess Bride. Anyone?These guys are pretty big. I would say he is about the size of a Great Dane, but a little more stocky.
Hanging out with the capybaras was a tapir. Tapirs have a common ancestor to horses. I think they look more like pigs than horses. Evolution, you are a strange thing!We also met some prehensile tailed porcupines. Again, a thing I had never seen before. And a hard name to remember. 😉 I must have stood here for 15 minutes, and never did get a picture of the little guy’s face. Must be camera shy. Or sleeping… in a tree…?The jaguar was sleeping. I walked by 2 hours later, and he was sleeping in the same position. I don’t know any other cats who do that…Then we ventured outside to find the animals who were not lucky enough to be in a climate controlled enclosure. And here is where the naming gets fuzzy again.
These are some cow-relatives from Africa with curly horns. Meet Mr. and Mrs. Curly.There were peacocks and peahens just running loose, willy-nilly around the grounds. Luckily, they mostly avoided the people. I have heard that peacocks can be pretty mean! The rhinoceros has the best idea. He was just hanging out in his swimming pool. Did you know rhinos have fuzzy ears? I had no idea! I must have skipped that day of vet school…And did I mention that we were actually there for a meeting? Dr. Bret Marsh, the Indiana state veterinarian came down to talk to our district about what the Board of Animal Health is working on. BOAH has four main branches. The original three things they monitor and plan for are animal health, food safety, and disaster preparedness. They do a lot of monitoring of animal disease and animal transport. They have recently been working on emergency planning for the unlikely event of an earthquake or other natural disaster. A new arm of BOAH is animal welfare.
Welfare has always been a part of the arenas of animal health and food safety, but it is taking more of a prominent spot now. BOAH was recently tasked with creating basic guidelines for animal welfare (specifically for livestock and poultry). Indiana is being very proactive by establishing guidelines for basic “standards of care” for our farm animals.
After lunch and Dr. Marsh’s talk, I had to get back to Princeton to get ready for that night’s performance of “The King and I.” On the way out, I checked on the jaguar again.