Tuesday, February 28, 2012

IAATE 2012 Part II: Zoo Day

The next morning after another breakfast buffet at the hotel, I went to a workshop focusing on environmental education. I love exchanging ideas with other people in the field to see how they convey the complexities of flight, conservation, or bird anatomy to their audiences. Educators from the Minnesota Raptor Center provided the group with some props for teaching about owl casts and owl hearing that were particularly fun.

We also learned that a regular chicken egg, when put to the test, will hold anywhere from 40 to 100 pounds!

Afterwards in the mid-morning, we all piled into three buses and rode to the Minnesota Zoo. I couldn't have hoped for better weather in a Minnesota February. It was 35 degrees and cheerfully sunny. The air was crisp though and knowing I have no tolerance for cold, I wore as many layers of clothing as would fit under my borrowed down jacket, and tucked some toe-warmers in my boots.

The Minnesota Zoo has a lot to see, but isn't too large to visit with the whole family in an easy day trip. Their expansive Northern Trail exhibits feature moose, takin, musk ox, caribou, tigers and prairie dogs, but if you need to get out of the cold, head to the toasty Tropics Trail to see gibbons, tamanduas, tree kangaroos, hornbills, komodo monitors and so many more awesome animals! The exhibit designers for this area were geniuses. The animals have lush vegetation yet are visible to the public, the barriers are unobtrusive, and the variety of animals is amazing. Every individual animal looked healthy and comfortable and all the guests' eyes were glued to the exhibits.

Admittedly, I was too enthralled to get many photos, but I couldn't help snapping one of the snoozing red panda and a contemplative gibbon.

Here are some other highlights of the zoo day:

Very active grizzly bears!

Attendees of the IAATE conference had the privilege of receiving a behind the scenes tour to see how the program animals were housed and kept. Plus, the Minnesota Zoo's program department put on a special show just for us, so we were able to see their birds (and staff) in action. 

We did other things that day, such as hold an IAATE board meeting and attend another workshop (this time about the essentials of training, presented by the premiere bird trainer, Steve Martin!) 

But the zoo was the high point of my day. If you are ever in the area, don't miss an opportunity to see this great facility!

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