Penny the cat discovers Gorillas

Hello all. Penny the Swap Shop cat here. There is something new going on at the zoo.

I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I kept hearing about these new animals at the

Penny contemplating gorillas
Penny contemplating gorillas

zoo…..gorillas. So, I did some research.

It seems the Houston Zoo has added 7 new gorillas. A bachelor group and a family group. I didn’t think they would be so impressive until I saw pictures of them.   They are actually amazing!

There are three males in the bachelor group – Ajari (14 yrs. old), Chaka (30 yrs. old) and Mike (23 yrs. old). The family group consists of one male, Zuri (31 yrs. old), with Holli (25 yrs. old), Sufi (13 yrs. old) and Benti (40 yrs. old).   Their exhibit is beautiful and took a long time

The gorilla family in their new exhibit

to build.   They have a much bigger house than I have in the Swap Shop.   But then, they are a lot bigger than me so I suppose that is fair – even if they aren’t cats.  I guess that also explains why they get to be outside without a leash when I don’t.

I learned that gorillas are disappearing in the wild. It is due to habitat loss and illegal hunting. That made me pretty sad. But, the Houston Zoo is working with organizations in the field to help save the gorillas. They work with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education Center (GRACE) to help the wild gorillas. Every time you come to the zoo to see our gorillas, you are helping wild gorillas.

Come and see me at the Naturally Wild Swap Shop.  I will be here carefully contemplating gorillas.

Don’t know about the Swap Shop?  Click here for more information.

Eat Pizza. Save Gorillas!

We have another fun (and tasty) way for you to help save gorillas!papa-johns-pizza-1

This Thursday, May 21, order Papa John’s online, use promo code GORILLA, and $1 of your purchase will be donated to the Houston Zoo’s gorilla conservation program. This offer is valid only on May 21. Order online at www.papajohns.com, and don’t forget to use the promo code GORILLA.

And be sure to visit the gorillas at the Zoo this summer! The new habitat opens this Friday, May 22, and you can experience what makes these animals so wonderful. Up close and incredible.Gorillas Explore Their Habitat

Want to learn how the Houston Zoo helps gorillas in the wild, and how you can, too? Visit houstonzoo.org/gorillas.

And remember, every time you visit the Houston Zoo, you help save animals in the wild!

A Day in the Life of a Houston Zoo Gorilla

Written by William Weeks, Ashley Kramer & Meredith Ross

I am Ajari, a 14 year old male.  I am the youngest member of the Houston Zoo bachelor group.   I live with 30 year old Chaka, and 23 year old Mike.

Ajari sitting

Yawn……Is it time to wake up already? I want to sleep in more. Oh NO, the lights are on….Well, that’s fine, I can lie in bed a little bit longer. . That means I have a few minutes until breakfast comes. My keepers always say something to me in the morning.   What does “Good morning, sunshine!” even mean?

Oh, finally breakfast is here!  The juice is actually pretty tasty today. My favorite color is the red juice (fruit punch),   and it’s not my favorite when they give me the blue juice (blue crush). Of course I still drink it!  They always ask me to finish my juice before I get the rest of my breakfast. It has stuff in the juice that is good for me, apparently. Things like supplements and vitamins, y’ know, the good stuff.

Ajari lying on rock

After the juice we always play this fun game. They ask me to show them some part of my body, like my shoulder or hand, and then they give me some amazing fruit. This is called training, which my keepers do to keep up on their husbandry. They do this so that if my friends and I ever get cuts or scrapes, we know how to show our keepers where it hurts. So, I just take my favorite fruit:  strawberries, and if I had to choose my least favorite fruit, because let’s be honest what fruit is bad fruit, I would say cantaloupe. But it’s always fun because I am so smart I can show them almost any part of my body they ask for. I will do anything for some fruit. Once all of the fruit is gone they give me some lettuce, and primate biscuits to chow down on while they clean my yard. My yard can be kind of gross, because, well, even though I try and keep it clean for them I somehow always get it messy when I am with my two friends.

IMG_2701

We, my friends and I, always can tell when our keepers are ready to let us outside because they start to unlock all of our tunnel doors and start getting ready to open our outside doors. They always send me out first, then after me it’s the big boss man Chaka, followed by my best friend Mike. While were all outside we all get to eat and have fun with these extra goodies that they scatter around for us to forage for.

Oh look, why do those people that feed us always think they are going to go unnoticed when they are with the guests?  We can see them from a mile away; I know their faces like the back of my hand. But, oh well, this yard is so much fun! We get items that will take us all day to work on, these tubes that have gotten extra frozen stuff inside of it. And, there are tasty plants to eat, as well as red river hogs to look at! We always spend the rest of our day eating, napping and playing.

Ajari at meadow window

When it starts to get really hot outside, they start to bring us inside. When we come inside Chaka goes first, then Mike, and then finally it is my turn.

When we get to come inside we get to have some more fruit, and play that fun body training game again. They always have our bedrooms full of fresh bedding, and new browse, and some small food items that are just so delicious but it takes a while to find all of them with our nesting material hiding it everywhere.  After another nap, we get even more food, which is awesome and then its bed time again, which is the best part of the day for me, because I love to sleep.

King of the Hill (Ajari)

Being a gorilla at the Houston Zoo is pretty wonderful. Who could beat this life?

Gorillas Explore Their Habitat

Four of the seven western lowland gorillas making their home at the Houston Zoo had access to explore the main habitat yard for the first time today, April 8. The family group spent time closely examining the entire area, from climbing a specially-designed felled cement tree to collecting all the treats the keepers spread throughout. Favorite treats included carrots, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce.


The intricately designed space holds both groups of western lowland gorillas who will spend their days alternating between an outdoor habitat filled with lush landscape that mimics an African forest and a multi-tiered night house that includes private bedrooms, an artistic 23-foot-tall climbing tree, and a behind-the-scenes outdoor yard.

These magnificent animal ambassadors offer the opportunity to increase awareness and inspire conservation action to protect their wild counterparts. The Houston Zoo’s conservation efforts for these species will also be communicated through interpretive messages and interactive experiences that reinforce compelling education programs.

Once open to the public on Memorial Day weekend, guests will be able to see the gorillas through many different areas of the habitat. From an arrival building with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the dry river bed, to an open boardwalk alongside the gorilla’s naturalistic forest, guests will also see the gorillas inside their state-of-the-art night house.

The gorillas calling Houston home are two distinct troops of western lowland gorillas: a troop of male gorillas from Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC. Chaka (30), Mike (23) and Ajari (14). This bachelor troop has been busy getting to know the day room and the outside backyard. They will begin to have access to the main habitat in the coming weeks. The bachelor trio will alternate spaces at the Houston Zoo with the family group.

Zuri (31), Holli (25) and their daughter Sufi (13) arrived in Houston from the Bronx Zoo after a nine month stay at the Louisville Zoo. Binti (40) from Audubon Zoo was chosen to join the family troop as a part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperation between Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited zoos and aquariums to properly manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population.

The endangered western lowland gorilla faces many threats.  Their native habitat in central and west Africa is shrinking largely due to the expansion of mining and agriculture in the area. The already dwindling population faces the added threat from illegal hunting. As one of man’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom, their highly social nature and intelligence make them prime ambassadors to educate our community about the threats faced by all gorillas and the conservation work currently undertaken by the Houston Zoo. Staff works in tandem with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) to improve the health of remaining gorilla populations through improved human health for veterinarians and conservation workers as well as rural communities. Active health programs and education are fostering a better understanding of an appreciation for the natural world for those living near these endangered apes. The zoo staff also works with the Art of Conservation project, and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education(GRACE) Center.

Gorillas Explore Their Habitat

Four of the seven western lowland gorillas making their home at the Houston Zoo had access to explore the main habitat yard for the first time today, April 8. The family group spent time closely examining the entire area, from climbing a specially-designed felled cement tree to collecting all the treats the keepers spread throughout. Favorite treats included carrots, tomatoes, and romaine lettuce.


The intricately designed space holds both groups of western lowland gorillas who will spend their days alternating between an outdoor habitat filled with lush landscape that mimics an African forest and a multi-tiered night house that includes private bedrooms, an artistic 23-foot-tall climbing tree, and a behind-the-scenes outdoor yard.

These magnificent animal ambassadors offer the opportunity to increase awareness and inspire conservation action to protect their wild counterparts. The Houston Zoo’s conservation efforts for these species will also be communicated through interpretive messages and interactive experiences that reinforce compelling education programs.

Once open to the public on Memorial Day weekend, guests will be able to see the gorillas through many different areas of the habitat. From an arrival building with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the dry river bed, to an open boardwalk alongside the gorilla’s naturalistic forest, guests will also see the gorillas inside their state-of-the-art night house.

The gorillas calling Houston home are two distinct troops of western lowland gorillas: a troop of male gorillas from Riverbanks Zoo and Garden in Columbia, SC. Chaka (30), Mike (23) and Ajari (14). This bachelor troop has been busy getting to know the day room and the outside backyard. They will begin to have access to the main habitat in the coming weeks. The bachelor trio will alternate spaces at the Houston Zoo with the family group.

Zuri (31), Holli (25) and their daughter Sufi (13) arrived in Houston from the Bronx Zoo after a nine month stay at the Louisville Zoo. Binti (40) from Audubon Zoo was chosen to join the family troop as a part of the Species Survival Plan, a cooperation between Association of Zoos and Aquarium (AZA) accredited zoos and aquariums to properly manage specific, and typically threatened or endangered, species population.

The endangered western lowland gorilla faces many threats.  Their native habitat in central and west Africa is shrinking largely due to the expansion of mining and agriculture in the area. The already dwindling population faces the added threat from illegal hunting. As one of man’s closest relatives in the animal kingdom, their highly social nature and intelligence make them prime ambassadors to educate our community about the threats faced by all gorillas and the conservation work currently undertaken by the Houston Zoo. Staff works in tandem with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project (MGVP) to improve the health of remaining gorilla populations through improved human health for veterinarians and conservation workers as well as rural communities. Active health programs and education are fostering a better understanding of an appreciation for the natural world for those living near these endangered apes. The zoo staff also works with the Art of Conservation project, and the Gorilla Rehabilitation and Conservation Education(GRACE) Center.

From the Wild: A Close Partnership All the Way From Rwanda

Written by: Valerie Akuredusenge

Hi! My name is Valerie Akuredusenge, the Program Director of Conservation Heritage – Turambe, (CHT). I grew up in Gakenke District in the Northern Province of Rwanda. I began my journey in wildlife conservation as a tour guide, leading others through the dense rainforests of central Africa. I facilitated influential conservation experiences for tourists by bringing them up close and personal with some of the world’s most amazing wildlife.

As my love and appreciation of this wildlife grew through those experiences, I knew I needed to share this excitement with the local communities living alongside animals like mountain gorillas.  I joined Art of Conservation in 2006 and became a leader in conservation education. I have taught over 2,800 children in communities bordering Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park about how to maintain healthy lives for the continued prosperity of the local communities and gorilla populations as well. Additionally, I am creating the next generation of Rwanda’s wildlife conservationists by inspiring local students to care about their natural resources, and act on behalf of wildlife and habitats.

CHT Staff, Left to Right: Innocent, Eric, Oliver and Valerie. Photo credit of CHT.
CHT Staff, Left to Right: Innocent, Eric, Oliver and Valerie. Photo credit of CHT.

In 2013, I became the Program Director of Conservation Heritage – Turambe, an off – shoot of the very successful international non–profit organization called Art of Conservation that worked in Rwanda for over 6 years conducting conservation and health awareness programs in Musanze District, Rwanda.

Conservation Heritage – Turambe is local non-profit organization based in Musanze District in the Northern Province of Rwanda. CHT works with local communities bordering Volcanoes Natinal Park home to the critically endangered mountain gorillas.

Since 2013, CHT has worked as a local non-profit organization in Rwanda. In Kinyarwanda, Turambe translates to “let us be sustainable”.   All 7 of the CHT staff members are Rwandan and committed to continuing the important and inspiring work that was done by AoC previously.

The goal of CHT is to educate local communities near Volcanoes National Park to ensure they live in harmony with mountain gorillas and their habitat. CHT believes that disease transmission between mountain gorilla populations and human populations is a major threat to gorillas. To make sure the lives of mountain gorillas and that of human populations next to the park is in balance, CHT conducts year – long after school conservation and health awareness classes in communities near the Volcanoes National Park, home to mountain gorillas.

Students living close to mountain gorillas learn about this critically endangered species. Photo credit of CHT.
Students living close to mountain gorillas learn about this critically endangered species. Photo credit of CHT.

To be able to do it, the CHT team and I utilize different methods to deliver conservation and health messages to local communities.  Art is a great tool we use to help spread our messages and also make our program more unique.

CHT Artist Eusebe teaches local kids about mountain gorillas using artistic methods. Photo credit of CHT.
CHT Artist Eusebe teaches local kids about mountain gorillas using artistic methods. Photo credit of CHT.

Through our classroom programming, CHT teaches over 200 local schoolchildren about conservation and health. These conservation lessons instill in students an understanding and compassion of nature and wildlife. Local community members are also encouraged to stay healthy because the health of wildlife is linked to that of people.

CHT students learn staying healthy messages like how to wash their hands and how to brush their teeth. Photo credit of CHT.
CHT students learn staying healthy messages like how to wash their hands and how to brush their teeth. Photo credit of CHT.

CHT’s work also improves local livelihoods through different initiatives. We conduct tree-planting activities to prevent soil erosion, provide animal habitat and create beautiful green space. We also donate water tanks to schools to ensure water availability.

Additionally we do community outreach through our local schools by conducting conservation and health awareness classes to remote schools.  We host annual events including the 3k Gorilla Fun Run to increase gorilla awareness with communities and partners and we host annual tennis tournaments to raise awareness of CHT and mountain gorillas, and how to stay healthy.

At the very end of our year long after school programming, we host a very big event – Parents As Partners’ Open House – to share with our partners, local authorities, parents of kids and participants of our program what we have achieved during the year and celebrate!

To achieve our goal, we also partners with different conservation organizations including the Houston Zoo. One of the Houston Zoo missions in the protection of mountain gorillas is to make sure they are safe in wild and partner with conservation organizations.  In this context, CHT is really honored to be have Houston Zoo staff here for a one-month visit.  Houston Zoo staff is incredibly helping my staff and me in capacity building where she has been assisting, coaching, teaching and training and inspiring us on how best we can improve our way of planning and improving our documents.

Together with her expertise, the CHT team including me have gained a lot of experience in strategic planning, evaluation, writing documents, and many more.  In addition to capacity building, Houston Zoo has been a very close partner of CHT. They have been sponsoring CHT’s staff salaries, project development, raising funds for CHT and marketing the project. We are very fortunate to be with their staff member, Martha, who is really making us strong readers in conservation to be able to reach our goal.  My staff and I cannot wait to use what we learnt from the Houston Zoo.

From the Wild: Visiting Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda

With the arrival of our gorillas and a brand new exhibit opening in May 2015, we are committed to ensuring gorillas are protected in the wild. Houston Zoo staff is currently visiting our gorilla conservation partners in Rwanda to see how we can continue to grow our partnerships to ensure mountain gorillas are protected. The Houston Zoo partners with Gorilla Doctors, GRACE, and Conservation Heritage-Turambe, all of which are based in Central Africa near gorilla habitat.

The Houston Zoo is in Rwanda for 3 weeks working with our conservation partners, Gorilla Doctors and Conservation Heritage-Turambe (CHT). In between workdays at CHT’s office, I had the opportunity to visit mountain gorillas in the wild. We gathered at Volcanoes National Park headquarters early in the morning to get our assignment of which habituated gorilla troop we would visit. We soon found out we would see Agashya group, made up of 23 individuals including 1 silverback and 2 babies! Depending on what group you visit and where they’ve moved since the morning, your trek could be 1 hour, 2 hours, 4 hours or maybe even 7 hours! I would have never imagined the length of our trek until…after 15 minutes of walking through agricultural fields, we found Agashya group…and we never even set foot in Volcanoes National Park.

1

There, just past the potato fields, we saw 23 mountain gorillas, feasting on eucalyptus trees, which are non-native trees often planted here because they provide good timber for making furniture and charcoal. The only trouble is, gorillas seem to love eucalyptus and will come out of the park to eat it, which was exactly what happened that day.

2

Seeing gorillas in the wild is something indescribable. Their grace, strength, calm nature and beauty are unparalleled. What made the experience even more eye-opening was the proximity in which these wild animals live to humans, and I experienced it firsthand. Because humans are so closely related to apes we can share respiratory illnesses, a cough, the flu, a runny nose-you name it! If we hope to conserve these amazing animals, it is imperative the people living and working alongside gorilla habitat have the resources and knowledge necessary to care for themselves and their families.

3This opportunity reinforced the critical work the Zoo’s partners, Gorilla Doctors and Conservation Heritage-Turambe do to keep both humans and gorillas healthy, so that we can both continue to live peacefully alongside one another.

Next up we will hear from one of our partners, Valerie, the Program Director of Conservation Heritage-Turambe. Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

Science Made Simple: How Recycling Phones Helps Animals

My name is Ryan and I love science. Join me as I try to make tough science a little less confusing.

Follow along as I research the issues, untangle the mess, and figure out what you really need to know to help animals and the environment.

 


Today’s Topic: How Recycling Cell Phones Helps Animals

Short Version: “Ingredients” used to make your cell phone are destructively mined from sensitive wildlife areas. Recycling your old cell phone and other electronics like cameras and laptops can help reduce the harmful mining, allowing the materials to be reused in newer devices. You can drop your old cell phone off at the zoo!

This week, I’m taking a look at what’s inside your cell phone. Don’t worry, I’ll be focusing on the hardware, not all the selfies. I’ve found a few great articles on our topic that have been published in scientific journals that should help us get a better look at what is going on. Let’s make science simple! 

ResizeConfusing Science: “At the core of eastern Congo’s regional violence are the country’s rich mineral resources. Specifically, DRC contains substantial deposits of what are commonly known as the “3 Ts”: tungsten, tantalum, and tin, as well as gold (Enough Project, 2009).” (Veale, 2013)

What That Really Means: You might have heard the term “Congo”, which is often the used to talk about The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC),  a country in Central Africa. These beautiful rainforests are  home to animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, okapis and mandrills. This area also holds lots of minerals underground which are very valuable all over the world.

Confusing Science: “More than 60% of tantalum is consumed by the electronics industry for use in electrical capacitors (Bauchman, 2010) and tin replaced lead for use in the circuitry of most electronics (Montgomery, 2011).” (Veale, 2013)

What That Really Means: Tantalum is an element that is used in all sorts of electronics, including your cell phone! Because cell phones and electronics are so popular, there is a high demand for tantalum in order to make new phones and electronics. Unfortunately, getting tantalum out of the ground isn’t easy or environmentally-friendly. Huge amounts of rainforest are cut down to make room for mining operations that are destructive to wildlife. The animals near the mines are forced out because their habitat has been destroyed and the area is stripped of nearly all wildlife.

SMS-Gorilla

Confusing Science: “Further, as roads cut into previously inaccessible forests, they will pave the way for an influx of commercial bushmeat hunting to supply major urban centers and foreign labor (Wilkie & Carpenter 1999; Cowlishaw et al. 2005; van Vliet et al. 2012), and wildlife traders, who supply the international trade in pets, ivory, or medicinal products (Stiles 2011; Luiselli et al. 2012; Maisels et al. 2013). These are major extinction threats to many large bodied mammals and traded species (Barnes 2002; Fa et al. 2005).” (Edwards et al., 2014)

cell phone recycle boxWhat That Really Means: To get deep into the rainforest where the materials like tantalum are, new roads have to be made. More trees have to be cut down, and less habitat is available for the animals. The sudden growth of people in these areas causes a rise in bushmeat hunting. Bushmeat hunting is when animals like chimpanzees, gorillas, and other rare or endangered animals are hunted for food. Even more troubling is that animals near the mining are trapped or killed so that they can be sold illegally around the world.

What Can YOU Do?: It’s simple! Recycling your old cell phone and other electronics like cameras and laptops can help protect the animals in these sensitive areas, because the materials from old electronics can be reused in newer devices, reducing the amount of mining needed. You can even drop your phone in our special cell phone recycling box at the zoo!


That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more as I try to make science easier to understand. Never stop learning,

-Ryan 

 Have a topic you’d like me to explore? Post it in the comments!


References:

A Comprehensive Approach to Congo’s Conflict Minerals – Strategy Paper | Enough Project. (2009). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.enoughproject.org/publications/comprehensive-approach-conflict-minerals-strategy-paper

Barnes, R.F.W. (2002) The bushmeat boom and bust in West and Central Africa. Oryx 36, 236-242.

Bauchman, M. (2010, December 1). Tantalum Capacitor Market Update. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.ttiinc.com/object/me-tti-20101201.html

Cowlishaw, G., Mendelson, S. & Rowcliffe, J.M. (2005). Structure and operation of a bushmeat commodity chain in southwestern Ghana. Conserv. Biol. 19, 139-149.

Edwards, D. P., Sloan, S., Weng, L., Dirks, P., Sayer, J., & Laurance, W. F. (2014). Mining and the African Environment. Conservation Letters7(3), 302-311. doi:10.1111/conl.12076

Fa, J.E., Ryan, S.F. & Bell, D.J. (2005). Hunting vulnerability, ecological characteristics and harvest rates of bushmeat species in afrotropical forests. Biol. Conserv. 121, 167-176.

Montgomery, M. (2011, January 25). Tantalum. Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://tantaluminvestingnews.com/1146/rising-tantalum-prices-wodgina-mine-back-into-production/

Roots of the Crisis – Congo. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.enoughproject.org/conflict_areas/eastern_congo/roots-crisis

van Vliet, N., Nebesse, C., Gambalemoke, S., Akaibe, D. & Nasi, R. (2012). The bushmeat market in Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo: implications for  conservation and food security. Oryx 46, 196-203.

Veale, E. (2013). Is There Blood on Your Hands-Free Device?: Examining Legislative Approaches to the Conflict Minerals Problem in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Cardozo Journal Of International & Comparative Law21(2), 503-544.

Wilkie, D.S. & Carpenter, J.F. (1999). Bushmeat hunting in the Congo Basin: an assessment of impacts and options for mitigation. Biodiv. Conserv. 8, 927-955.

From the Wild: Working with Like-Minded Organizations to Protect Gorillas

With the arrival of our gorillas and a brand new exhibit opening in May 2015, we are committed to ensuring gorillas are protected in the wild. Houston Zoo staff is currently visiting our gorilla conservation partners in Rwanda to see how we can continue to grow our partnerships to ensure mountain gorillas are protected. The Houston Zoo partners with Gorilla Doctors, GRACE, and Conservation Heritage-Turambe, all of which are based in Central Africa near mountain gorilla habitat.


After a quick 22-hour trip from Houston, I arrived in Musanze District, in the North Province of Rwanda. Rwanda is a very small country in Africa (about the size of Maryland), with a population of nearly 11 million people! The small land mass and high population causes humans to live very close to mountain gorillas located in Volcanoes National Park. Because humans and gorillas are so closely related, we can share diseases with one another. To alleviate this problem and ensure mountain gorillas are safe in the wild, the Houston Zoo partners with Gorilla Doctors and Conservation Heritage-Turambe, both Rwandan-based organizations dedicated to ensuring both humans and gorillas are healthy and thriving.

1
Photo credit: Conservation Heritage-Turambe

I am in Rwanda to assist Conservation Heritage-Turambe (CHT) through capacity building. This is a local NGO, run entirely by Rwandan staff. Their goal is to ensure mountain gorillas, their habitat, and the communities nearby live peacefully together. This is done through a variety of educational programs they conduct.

Photo credit: Conservation Heritage-Turambe

The first 3 days of my time with CHT involved going with them to their classroom programs. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday CHT staff visit classes at schools bordering Volcanoes National Park. Each week, a new lesson is taught. These programs span the school year from January-October and children learn for the first half of the year the importance of leading healthy lives, and the second half of the year is spent learning about wildlife and conservation. Through all their lessons, kids utilize art, song and dance to make learning fun! The CHT team even let me teach a portion of their lessons, helping to translate my English into their local language, Kinyarwanda. The lesson I participated in focused on washing your hands to stay healthy and prevent the spread of germs to others, including gorillas.

2
Photo credit: Conservation Heritage-Turambe

After classes concluded for the week, I attended a staff meeting and we planned what the CHT team would like to accomplish while I am here. We assigned a task to each day, and by the end of March we will have completed a lot! Some of the projects we are working on include:

  • Strategic planning
  • Outlining goals and objectives for the future of the program
  • Planning evaluations of their classroom programs to measure success
  • Creating codes of conduct and employee expectations for anyone affiliated with CHT, including interns and volunteers
  • Creating a brochure to market the program locally and abroad
  • Practice writing grants

And I am sure there will be more! We will check back in soon (when the electricity is working!) to give you more updates from the field.

 

Sneak Peak at Gorillas – We Just Launched A New Gorilla Microsite

Web surfers are getting a first look inside the new gorilla habitat at the Houston Zoo with a just-launched microsite on the zoo’s homepage, HoustonZoo.org.  The site opens with a countdown clock marking time until the official grand opening on Memorial Day Weekend and then leads visitors on an area-by-area tour of the exhibit, and an introduction to the seven western lowland gorillas. The site is designed to give guests a sense of what’s to come.
Gorilla-screen-shot

Powerful gorilla eyes welcome visitors to the vibrant microsite, imaginatively designed by the Zoo’s in-house graphics team and web developers from New Orleans-based Apptitude. Created to introduce Houstonians to the mystery and wonder of the powerful apes, the website takes visitors on a journey from western Africa to the Houston Zoo.

On the site, visitors can also get a pictorial walk-through of the intricately designed space. From the outdoor habitat filled with lush landscape that mimics an African forest to a multi-tiered night house that includes private bedrooms, an artistic 23-foot-tall climbing tree, and a private event space. Guests can even learn about the seven western lowland gorillas who call the new space home.

Additionally, visitors will have the opportunity to sign up for email notifications, become zoo members and learn about the partnerships the zoo has in Africa with gorilla conservation organizations. Zoo members will have the chance to get one of the first looks at the gorillas in their new habitat during private preview days in May.

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