Houston Zoo Staff Saving Wildlife in the Mariana Islands (part II)!

This blog was written by Steve Howard, a member of the Zoo’s Bird Department. Steve Howard received a Staff Conservation Fund grant from his coworkers at the Houston Zoo to carry out a wildlife-saving project for birds in the Mariana Islands (a chain of islands in the western North Pacific Ocean). We will be posting a series of blogs as Steve documents his work overseas. 

Tinian, Thursday April 21st.

This was the first day of field work. Today we cleared underbrush in the forest to make trails, along which we will set up our mist nets. So why are we here trapping birds? The short answer is the brown tree snake. This is an aggressive predatory snake that loves birds. After its accidental introduction to Guam, it wiped out nearly all native birds on the island. There are no snakes on the island of Tinian at this time, but it could happen in the future that the brown tree snake makes it here, and that would be disastrous for the local avifauna (birds). So birds are trapped, and then moved to another island that doesn’t have a population of brown tree snakes. Then, should the snake make it to Tinian in the future, at least some birds will be safe on another island.

Brown tree snake. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian.com, Isaac Chellman
Brown tree snake. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian.com, Isaac Chellman

To do this though, we have to get the birds! So that brings us back to today’s job – clearing a path and space in the forest to put up nets. The nets are 36 feet long, and are stretched between polls (telescoping plastic poles). When open they are about 10 feet from top to bottom. So space must be cleared to stretch them out, with enough clear vertical space to raise the nets up. This picture shows us clearing a net lane prior to putting up the poles and net.

Clearing space to setup mist nets
Clearing space to setup mist nets

Tomorrow – more work in the forest! Then we’ll open the nets and see what we catch!

To find out more about our Houston Zoo staff saving wildlife, click here.



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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.

 

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Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

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

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

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

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 😂

Mike DePope

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Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?

 

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Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

I fell for the mouse thing too..

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Johnnie R. Summerlin, cool, see the "stalagm ice"?

Wow,that is so neat!

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!

Cortez

Pauline Ervin

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Brrrr. It’s cold out there! We have made the decision to close the Houston Zoo tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 17. Don’t worry, the animals are safe and warm in their night houses!

A limited number of staff from departments like Animal Programs, Safety and Security and Operations/Facilities will be onsite to perform essential services and have the Zoo ready for us to reopen Thursday morning.

A big ol' high-five to our awesome team members who braved this icy cold to come in and care for our animals and zoo facilities.
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Safety and welfare of the animals first! Thanks guys for all you do.

Yes thank you for everything yall do to keep the animals safe .. y'all keep safe and warm

Thank you for taking good care of our animals!

Thank u for keeping those Babies safe and warm!❤️

Thank you for all you do!

Thank you for ZOO LIGHTS. it was amazing this year!

Thank you, zoo team. Stay safe!

Mandy Rinker— really? Too cold? You’re from the Midwest girl

💙

thank you for all you do and keep the furry babies warm

Ty

Thank you for taking care of our precious animals that we love to come see!

Thank you for keeping those beautiful animals safe. 💕

Thank you for making sure the animals are safe and warm.

Thank you for all you do for these amazing animals!!

Go, Erika!!!

Thank you 💕

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