Year of the Goat – Featuring Juniper

In honor of the Chinese animal zodiac, we’re celebrating the Year of the Goat! We have over 20 different goats representing 5 different breeds. In addition to their different colors, shapes, and sizes, all of our goats also express individual preferences and personalities!

To highlight our goats individual ‘flair’, we’ve decided to feature a different goat each month and share what makes each one so unique and lovable!


When October begins, most people tend to start thinking of pumpkins, apple cider and Halloween! Juniper isn’t a traditional ingredient used in pumpkin pie spice, but Juniper the goat IS orange like a pumpkin! As a Nigerian dwarf goat, Juniper has a fairly round belly, so her middle even resembles a little Jack-o-lantern! As you may have learned from last month’s goat blog, Juniper’s round stature is caused by gas from the plant material fermenting in her four chambered stomach.

juniper1

Aside from impersonating seasonal squash, Juniper enjoys more mentally stimulating activities as well. She has begun participating in bi-weekly learning sessions with her trainer, Brian. She has already mastered several different behaviors, such as climbing onto a bench, standing on her hind legs, and even shaking hands/hooves with Brian!

Come to the zoo to congratulate Juniper on her training progress and her ‘Goat of the Month’ status, and stay to celebrate our annual Zoo Boo festivities!  Beginning on October 16th, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday are Zoo Boo days!  There will be a pumpkin patch, a candy cave and many other fun activities for children and adults alike!

juniper

Juniper was so excited about Zoo Boo that she dressed up early! Be sure to follow Juniper’s lead and come in costume! At 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM every day there will be a Costume Parade. You never know, you might even find some of the animals visiting to join in the parade!

 

What is Enrichment?

Have you ever visited the zoo on a hot summer day and thought, ‘None of the animals ever DO anything!’ When it’s 95 degrees (or more!) and the humidity is high, any exhibit you go to is likely to have a lot of animals just laying low. They might be sleeping, hiding in the shade or just lying there resting. Unlike some humans, animals are not wasteful! So when the sun is high and the temperatures soar, all of the animals know that it’s better to relax and conserve their energy! By remaining inactive during peak daytime temperatures, the animals use less energy to cool themselves and have more energy at their disposal when temperatures drop and it’s time to forage.

mongoose baby enrichment

As zookeepers, we respect the animals’ natural behaviors and try our best to encourage them to exhibit the same behaviors here at the Houston Zoo that they would in the wild. However, we also understand that acres and acres of sleeping animals aren’t exactly the most exciting thing in the world for guests to see! By offering enrichment to our animals on a daily basis, zookeepers both facilitate the exhibition of natural behaviors by our animals and provide an opportunity for guests to see them demonstrating those behaviors!

enrichment watermelon1Enrichment makes something more meaningful, fuller or rewarding. By enriching our animals every day, we keepers try to make their day more rewarding and full of new experiences. Consequently, this can have a meaningful impact on our guests if they are lucky enough to see our animals enjoying their enrichment. That’s why Enrichment Day is hands-down the best day to see pretty much all of the animals doing exciting things! While keepers enrich the animals every day, on Enrichment Day, all of the sections in the zoo take extra time to put together the most exciting enrichment activities possible and engage guests by having extra Keeper Chats to explain what behaviors we are encouraging our animals to display.

chickens enrichment

While there are many ways to categorize enrichment, 3 of the most common categories are ‘naturalistic,’ ‘novel/different’ and ‘food-based.’ If we wanted to highlight ‘naturalistic’ behaviors we keepers might put out fresh branches from a tree to encourage a porcupine to nibble on them or spray perfume in an exhibit to entice a fox or mongoose to scent mark the area. When we want the animals to experience ‘novel/different’ enrichment we may put a plastic pool filled with balls in with our chickens or give a giant ball to an eland or giraffe to kick around. Food-based enrichment is by far the animals’ favorites and are almost always guaranteed to get a response. Sometimes keepers make it easy and put the animals’ favorite food right out where they can see it, but sometimes we make it more challenging! Putting their food under some hay so that they have to forage to find it or freezing it into an ice pop so they have to work to get it out are ways we can challenge our animals to ‘work’ for their food, just like they would in the wild! When we keepers are feeling really crazy we might even combine these categories into a multi-faceted enrichment and that is the sort of thing you guests can expect to see a lot of on Enrichment Day!

So join us, on September 19th 2015, and make sure to check the ‘Plan Your Day’ kiosk at the front of the zoo or take a look at our special Enrichment Day map so that you know which animals are getting enriched at what time! The only bad thing about Enrichment Day is that there are so many chats going on that you won’t be able to see them all. Make sure you plan to visit your favorite animals and enjoy seeing more animals doing things this summer than you ever thought possible!

Year of the Goat – Featuring Jack

In honor of the Chinese animal zodiac, we’re celebrating the Year of the Goat! We have over 20 different goats representing 5 different breeds. In addition to their different colors, shapes, and sizes, all of our goats also express individual preferences and personalities!

To highlight our goats individual ‘flair’, we’ve decided to feature a different goat each month and share what makes each one so unique and lovable!


JackAs zookeepers in the Contact Area in the Children’s Zoo, we receive a lot of questions about our goats. Most people want to know their names or how old they are. When it comes to Pygmy goat twins, Jingle and Belle, most guests want to know if they’re babies. (In case you were wondering, they were born in December of 2013 so they are just a little over a year and a half old at the moment. So they are not technically ‘babies’ any longer; they’re just really small goats!) But the goat that keepers get the most questions about is probably Jack. ‘Is she pregnant?’ is the most-asked question in the yard, and we keepers smile and shake our heads as we reply, ‘No, HE is not pregnant.’

Just like humans, goats come in all shapes and sizes. Some goats are tall and skinny, and some goats are short and round. As a Nigerian dwarf goat, Jack was bred to be short in stature. In addition to his short legs, Jack just happens to have a barrel belly which has some guests convinced that his belly is full of baby goats! In fact, Jack’s belly is just full of gas!

Jack naps in the goat yard
Jack naps in the goat yard

As ruminants, goats have a four-chambered stomach. Each chamber has a different job to help break down plant material, which is very difficult to digest. The rumen is the largest chamber of their stomachs and is where most of the fermentation of the plant material occurs. This fermentation produces gas, and gas can expand when it’s hot; often giving our goats a slightly balloon-like appearance.

Jack doesn’t seem to be bothered by the cases of mistaken identity and is one of the friendliest goats in the yard. He can often be seen hanging out with the twins Bono and Trent, who are Jack’s younger brothers. In fact, Jack is currently the oldest goat in the Contact Area! Come visit Jack on September 12th as he celebrates his 12th birthday!

 

Year of the Goat- Featuring Raisin Bran and Bailey

In honor of the Chinese animal zodiac, we’re celebrating the Year of the Goat! We have over 20 different goats representing 5 different breeds. In addition to their different colors, shapes, and sizes, all of our goats also express individual preferences and personalities!

To highlight our goats individual ‘flair’, we’ve decided to feature a different goat each month and share what makes each one so unique and lovable!


 

goats1Did you know that the astrological sign of Gemini presides over the majority of the month of June? The symbol for Gemini is a pair of twins, so we welcome the month of June with our first ever DOUBLE goat of the month! In past blogs it has been mentioned that goats very frequently give birth to twins so it was easy for keepers to find a pair of twins in the Contact Area; the challenge was choosing WHICH set of twins to highlight!  Keepers finally decided that the twins Raisin Bran and Bailey deserved some time in the spotlight.

goats2The first thing many guests may wonder is why is there a goat named Raisin Bran? Both Raisin Bran and Bailey were born on a farm and their former owner named them for us. Raisin Bran was originally named ‘Coffee’ because their owner used to enjoy her morning coffee while playing with the goat kids and he liked to jump in her lap. Coffee just didn’t seem to fit so she changed his name to Raisin Bran because his color reminded her of bran flakes. Bailey was given her name in honor of the owner’s sister’s horse.

goats3As kids, both Raisin Bran and Bailey had very different personalities. Raisin Bran was the cuddly one and Bailey was a bit more shy and standoffish. When they first came to the Houston Zoo, the twins continued this trend. As time went on, Bailey began to hang out with our adult female Saanen goat Elsa. Elsa is a confident goat and some of her confidence seems to have rubbed off on Bailey. Bailey will now come up to be brushed and petted by children just like her brother Raisin Bran does. If you would like to see more photos of the twins as kids you can visit their former owner’s blog at: http://farmfreshforensics.com/farm_blog/?y=2013&m=4.


Year of the Goat – Featuring Han Solo

With so many animals here at the Houston Zoo, it can be difficult to come up with unique names. Those of you who read the blog last month learned that we named April’s goat after Easter candy.  May’s goat of the month is named not for food but for a famous character in a movie. Star Wars fans will immediately recognize Han Solo as one of the most charming adventurers to ever pilot a spacecraft.  Here in the Children’s Zoo Han Solo is one of the most charming goats to ever jump onto a bench.

Han-Goat-Resize

Han Solo is a tall, sleek, Alpine goat with bright eyes and black points on his coat. Like many of the other goats in the Children’s Zoo, Han Solo is a twin. His twin brother is also named after a Star Wars character. Han Solo’s twin has longer hair, making him the shaggier version of the two.  It seemed only fitting that he be dubbed ‘Chewbacca’ in honor of Han Solo’s shaggy, wookiee co-pilot in the movie.

photo8

Much like their namesakes in the movie, Han and Chewie can be a bit mischievous. Last winter the zookeepers in the Children’s Zoo just couldn’t figure out why the lights in the barn were on every morning.  Keepers would remind each other to turn them off and double check the switches before leaving each night. Even so, the barn would still be lit up brightly every morning. It wasn’t until a crafty keeper snuck up quietly and discovered the culprits were the goats themselves! Some of the goats were having fun playing with the cover over the light switches!

twins

Han and Chewie were even captured on film helping each other lift up the cover to play with the light switches! You can see the video of these naughty goats in the video below. Come visit these troublemakers in the Contact Area and see if you can tell them apart!


In honor of the Chinese animal zodiac, we’re celebrating the Year of the Goat! We have over 20 different goats representing 5 different breeds. In addition to their different colors, shapes, and sizes, all of our goats also express individual preferences and personalities!

To highlight our goats individual ‘flair’, we’ve decided to feature a different goat each month and share what makes each one so unique and lovable!

Year of the Goat – Featuring Peep

Peep, the Goat

Peep's birthday celebration!
Peep’s birthday celebration!

We hope that you had a happy Easter! It just so happens that April’s Goat of the Month is Peep! She and her twin brother, Cadbury, were born on 3/27/2005, which just happened to be Easter Sunday! Peep the goat is not named after the sound that a fluffy, yellow baby chicken makes. She is actually named after a sticky, yellow, chick-shaped Easter confection! In keeping with the Easter theme, Cadbury was named after the company that makes everyone’s favorite creme-filled chocolate egg!

The twins celebrated their 10th birthday here in the Children’s Zoo last week where they each received an animal approved ‘cake.’ These ‘cakes’ were made of bread, peanut butter, strawberries and a little bit of jelly. Peep enjoyed her cake so much that she got peanut butter all over her nose! Maybe she was too excited to eat it neatly or maybe she was just trying to save some of it for later!

You may not be able to tell just by looking at her, but Peep is actually an accomplished artist! That’s right, Peep can paint! Peep’s former trainer, Andrea, spent months teaching Peep to hold a paintbrush in her mouth. Peep mastered the technique and can now make paintings with a little help from her keepers. Peep’s paintings, and those of other painting animals around the zoo, are often requested for conservation fundraisers or other events hosted by the zoo where they raise money to help support the animals here in the Houston Zoo and help conserve animals in the wild!

peeppainting
Peep is a better artist than most of her keepers!

 


In honor of the Chinese animal zodiac, we’re celebrating the Year of the Goat! We have over 20 different goats representing 5 different breeds. In addition to their different colors, shapes, and sizes, all of our goats also express individual preferences and personalities!

To highlight our goats individual ‘flair’, we’ve decided to feature a different goat each month and share what makes each one so unique and lovable!

Year of the Goat – Featuring Bono

Trent-&-Bono-R
Bono (right) stands with his twin Trent (left)

March’s Goat of the Month is…(drumroll please)… Bono! (Musical pun intended). Unlike his famous namesake, Bono the goat is not much of a singer, though he can get pretty vocal around feeding time! Like the majority of our goat herd here in the Children’s Zoo Bono is a Nigerian dwarf goat. This breed originated in West Africa but has become very popular in America as a companion goat for hobbyists.

Bono-&-Michelle-R
Bono and keeper, Michelle

Bono is one of the most affectionate goats in the Contact Area and when he wants attention he will ask for it! He frequently comes up to keepers (and guests) and gently leans his head up against their leg to encourage them to give him a nice scratch on the head.  Bono also enjoys training sessions with his trainer Michelle and can often be found lounging around the yard with his twin brother Trent. Bono and Trent were born right here at the Houston Zoo on 3/12/2005 so they will be celebrating their TENTH birthday this month!

Fun fact: Goats frequently give birth to multiple kids so twins and even triplets are a common sight in the yard. Because they are highly social herd animals, goats tend to form strong familial bonds. If you watch the goats you can often figure out which goats are related by watching which other goats they spend the most time with. You can often find siblings sleeping side by side in the yard or sharing a pile of hay. Not only does Bono spend a lot of time with his twin Trent, they both like to hang around with their older brother Jack as well! Jack and Bono look a lot alike but if you look closely Jack has yellow eyes while Bono’s eyes are baby blue. Come say ‘hello’ to Bono and his siblings in the Contact Area this month!


In honor of the Chinese animal zodiac, we’re celebrating the Year of the Goat! We have over 20 different goats representing 5 different breeds. In addition to their different colors, shapes, and sizes, all of our goats also express individual preferences and personalities!

To highlight our goats individual ‘flair’, we’ve decided to feature a different goat each month and share what makes each one so unique and lovable!

Year of the Goat – Featuring Elsa

In honor of the Chinese animal zodiac, we’re celebrating the Year of the Goat! We have over 20 different goats representing 5 different breeds. In addition to their different colors, shapes, and sizes, all of our goats also express individual preferences and personalities!

To highlight our goats individual ‘flair’, we’ve decided to feature a different goat each month and share what makes each one so unique and lovable!


Else-resizeElsa the Goat

Our very first ‘Goat of the Month’ for 2015 is Elsa! Elsa is a purebred Saanen goat. Saanen goats originated in Switzerland and are a very popular breed of dairy goat. Elsa is a fairly new edition to our herd here in the Children’s Zoo and she’s becoming very popular with ‘Frozen’ fans!

When Elsa first arrived in the Children’s Zoo she had a fancy name to match her purebred status. Her original name was ‘Standing Ovation.’ Even though Elsa’s proud personality works well with her fancy title, the name is quite a mouthful! Elsa’s pure, white coloring reminded the keepers of snow and we all know that everyone’s favorite Snow Queen is Elsa. A vote was held and Elsa won by a landslide!
Elsa-resize-2

Much like the Disney Queen that is her namesake, Elsa is shy around large crowds of people. With some gentle encouragement from her keepers, Elsa is beginning to realize that people can provide a nice pampering brushing session or a good scratch on the head. One of Elsa’s favorite activities is walking on a leash and exploring new areas with her trainer Lyndsey, so you might encounter her in some surprising places around the Children’s Zoo.

Stay tuned for next month’s featured goat!


Get Swap Shop Points for Learning the Goat of the Month!

For those of you that are involved in the Swap Shop here at the Houston Zoo, we are offering an opportunity to earn some extra points this year.  Any child who learns the ‘Goat of the Month’ (either by visiting the blog OR going out to the Contact Area and asking the keepers there) can tell the Swap Shop keeper the name of the ‘Goat of the Month’ and get 5 points placed into their Swap Shop account!  The points are available to first time traders OR frequent fliers but each child can only earn the ‘Goat of the Month points’ ONCE during each month.  For those of you who have never been to the Swap Shop, check it out here!

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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

Is this the one that had the limp?

I saw him limping about 2 weekends ago. The first time we walked by he was fine. When we walked by on the way out he was limping and moaning pretty loudly. I wondered what happened but I figured his keeper already knew or would find out shortly. Super Sad. He was always a lively one.

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

Jaguar habitat is in the Zoo or Jungle's? ??or is only entertainments for person's? ??$$$$$$$!.Sorry animals the person's don't love you ..

Dunno if the Zoo staff considered him a pet but he was certainly a family member, and because of that i offer this: RainbowBridge Author Unknown Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.

Sorry to hear about your loss. We also lost a jaguar(melanistic variety) at Reid Park Zoo about a year ago. Nikita was 21 years old and was euthanized due to health-related issues. Sad, but they have a GOOD life at the zoo! No predators, a steady food supply, medical attention, loving kindness from her keeper(s) and admiration by the public. Geriatric animals have unique problems and we are blessed to get to know them as long as we do.

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

Beautiful jaguar ....so grateful for the Houston Zoo keepers and veterinary team that gave their time and efforts to share this awesome jaguar with us for so many years.

He was well-cared for and most of all well-loved. My heartfelt condolences to those missing Kan B as well as me. What an amazing ambassador for his kind. What a beautiful old gentleman. Thank you for loving him into old age and giving him peace.

What a great long life he lived because of his excellent care at the zoo Thoughts go out to his keepers and the entire Houston Zoo staff

Thank you for doing what was right and kind for Kan Balam even though it was hard and painful for you. That’s true love for an animal. ❤️

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

Jaguars are one of my favorite and he seems like a sweet boy. I'm so sad but I'm happy he can be painless and be free now. RIP❤️

The Houston Zoo staff has lost several animals this year and I am sure each one is so hard to go through.

Aww I’m so sorry for the loss, I’ve seen him many times, he was absolutely gorgeous! I’m glad that you guys were able to make him comfortable, sometimes the best thing we can do is let them be at peace. Will miss this handsome guy; play hard at the Rainbow Bridge friend, day hi to my cat, Junior for me!! Much love to the HZI staff!!

I am soo sorry for the loss of this handsome fella Kan Balam. May he rest in peace and run free or any pain over the rainbow bridge.. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of the staff at the Zoo.

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

So sorry to the keeping staff for your loss i cant imagine how youre feeling :( his old age is a testimony to the amazing care he received

I will miss him. The last time I saw him he looked tired, and it appeared his foot was bothering him.

Sad to hear of this. Thanks for taking such good and compassionate care for him and the other animals.

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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Lauren Gonzales

Mike DePope

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