A Global Mission to Protect, Care for and Share the Wild.
Our mission starts in our own community – but extends far beyond. We seek to conserve and protect wildlife and natural habitats around world. We work to develop and provide the best possible animal care. And we strive to educate the next generation of humans who love the wild. Here are just a few of these stories.
Ensuring Leading-edge Care for Our New Calves.Help Us Care for our Creatures
Dr. Sarah Woodhouse, the Zoo’s Director of Animal Health, oversees an animal care team that includes four clinical veterinarians, five veterinary technicians, a hospital coordinator and a hospital keeper.
“It’s a large team,” acknowledged Dr. Woodhouse, “but it takes a large team to care for so many animals.”
That is an understatement. Conservatively, the Zoo cares for more than 10,000 animals. Because of these numbers, the Zoo’s animal health team focuses on preventive medicine and proactively keeping animals healthy and happy — but being ready to provide the best care possible for sick animals when necessary.
To that end, the animal health team strives to stay on top of the latest research and knowledge in the field, so the Zoo can continue to be a national leader in veterinary medicine, technology and training.
Two new arrivals to the Zoo family will certainly be the beneficiaries of this world-class, veterinary expertise. Eugenia and Sonny, the Zoo’s new elephant calves, represent an exciting time and challenge for the animal care team.
Commented Dr. Woodhouse, “This is a truly unique event for us. Seeing these calves develop along with each other will be amazing. After preparing for their arrival over the 21-month gestation period, everyone is thrilled.”
One key aspect to the calves’ healthy development will be training them to undergo a basic physical exam, from letting the vets look into their mouths, check their vitals and collect blood when necessary. Young elephants can be susceptible to a particular strain of herpes virus, so early detection and treatment is critical. And that’s where donations from our members and supporters play such an important role.
Said Dr. Woodhouse, “If treatment is ever necessary for these young calves, it can become very expensive very fast. We want to create our version of an elephant HSA so the funds are available when we need them.”
Securing the Future of Rhinos.Help Us Preserve Wildlife
In Africa and Asia, a rhino is poached every 10 to 12 hours. This sad fact, among many other environmental threats, is why the work of Dr. Monica Stoops and her team at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium is so vitally important.
“Currently, our rhino populations are not sustainable,” explained Dr. Stoops, the Zoo’s Director of Reproductive Sciences. “We are working to change that, so future generations can see rhinos 100 years from now.”
Dr. Stoops oversees the Zoo’s managed breeding programs, which are critical for the survival of threatened and endangered species, including several species of rhinos. The Zoo is working to transform how certain animal populations can become more genetically and demographically viable.
For rhinos, a major complicating factor in strengthening their populations is that rhinos have lengthy pregnancies of about 16 months. Also, a female can only reproduce every three years. Because of this, there is a need to bolster the female rhino population. To that end, Dr. Stoops and her team have developed a sex-sorted artificial insemination program that is biased to produce more female calves.
“This does not replace natural breeding,” said Dr. Stoops, “but is a way to help support the overall population.” Marshall, the Zoo’s first Indian rhino calf, was a result of natural breeding. However, through the sex-sorted artificial insemination program,
Marshall’s mom Hilary should have a female calf next time. When that happens, it will be another success story in the ongoing conservation efforts of the dedicated teams at the Omaha Zoo.
Bringing the Love of Wildlife to Underserved Communities.Help Build the Next Generation
For Dr. Elizabeth Mulkerrin, Vice President of Education at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium, there is nothing more important than the Zoo’s responsibility to the next generation. In her words, “We aim to inspire and engage students to become stewards of the natural world, throughout their lives.”
The eXplore Your Zoo (XYZ) program plays a critical role in achieving this vision. Part of the overall youth volunteer program, XYZ serves students from the 4th to 6th grade. These youth act as mini-docents, educating visitors to the Zoo. To prepare, they get to learn about the animals themselves, get hands-on experiences, and interact firsthand with keepers and research staff.
Although there is small fee required to be part of the program, the Zoo does not want that to be a barrier for anyone who wants to participate. In fact, the Zoo just received a grant from U.S. Bank help make the program accessible to a more diverse group of volunteers, youth who may lack access to transportation or with financial needs that make it hard to be part of the program. Through the grant, the Zoo hopes to add 40 to 50 students from underserved communities. Overall, the program serves about 150 students.
Said Dr. Mulkerrin, “We are trying to establish that everyone from any community can see themselves as a scientist and a conservationist.”
Beyond the grant, the Zoo continues its commitment to make its education programs more diverse and inclusive, with ongoing financial support needed for transportation, scholarship funding and more.
Commented Jocelyn Harrison, the Lead Manager of Visitor and Volunteer Engagement, “We are building those future conservationists, so maybe in 20 years they may be changing the world.”
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