A lot can happen in a month and this September was no exception. We welcomed a new family member with ears that could give Dumbo a run for his money. I had my first dance with a sloth named Albert Einstein on "The Today Show". And for the last time, I single handedly moved Chompers, our 6 ft. alligator indoors for the winter. Here are some of my favorite highlights from the month of September!
I made a short trip to NYC to film a special Labor Day segment for The Today Show. It would mark my 25th appearance on the show and the first time I'd meet one very special guest...
There are some animal encounters that leave you completey speechless. Don't get me wrong, I've worked with sloths numerous times before...There was just something special about Albert Einstein. For one, at over 17 lbs, he was the largest sloth I've ever met in person. Also, unlike other sloths I've worked with, Albert preferred to be held instead of hanging from a branch. Here I am backstage meeting Albert for the first time.
It was a pleasure reuniting with international NBC News correspondent Keir Simmons, Al Roker, and my good friends from the Essex's County Turtle Back Zoo.
Some of the funniest moments happen right before the taping. Here we are trying to keep our composure as Albert Einstein reaches over to check out Al Roker.
Imagine a life living upside down! Did you know sloths eat, mate, and even give birth upside down? They spend so much time upside down, their hair grows backwards, allowing rain to easily flow off their backs.
Holding one of the most interesting creatures on the planet, the Lesser Tenrec. Although it may look like a hedgehog, it's not even remotely related to them. Believe it or not, the tenrec is more closely related to an elephant than a hedgehog!
Just like a hedgehog, tenrecs are covered with spines that serve as an excellent defense mechanism.
***For more information on this fascinating creature: http://animals.sandiegozoo.org/animals/tenrec
Aurora the African Penguin serving as an excellent ambassador for her species out in the wild. Sadly, there are less than 75,000 left due to pollution, habitat destruction, and overfishing. The Turtle Back Zoo along with other AZA accredited facilities participate in Species Survival Programs. They are specifically put in place to save the animals from extinction.
Here's a great close-up of one of the world's most devastating invasive species, the Cane Toad. Native to Central and South America, this toad has been introduced all over the world for pest control; most notably in Australia. A few thousand were released and it turned into a COMPLETE disaster. The poisonous toads lack natural predators, eat native animals, compete for food, and are prolific breeders.
Special thanks to the producers, The Turtle Back Zoo & crew, and everyone else behind-the-scenes who made this segment possible!
The end of September brought cool, fall-like weather to our area along the Snake River in Idaho. The dropping temperatures meant we had to prepare and move our animals indoors a few weeks earlier than usual. Some animals, like our large male alligator Soni (pictured above), are outdoors year-round. This is due to the natural, warm geothermal water flowing through his pond.
Other animals like our younger female alligator have to be moved indoors for the winter. Typically she's in her outdoor exhibit mid-May through the second week of October. Due to the night temperatures in the 30's, we had to move her indoors early this year.
"Working with exotic animals is like playing with a loaded gun. It can go off at any time." I am always aware that Chompers is still a wild animal with instincts. *** I've worked with crocodilians for over 15+ years and have experience handling them. Do not try this at home!
It's hard to believe Chompers was about the size of pencil when I rescued her in 2009. She came out of Twin Falls, Idaho when a man thought she'd make the perfect anniversary gift for his fiancé. I'm not sure if the man knew that she would soon grow up to be the largest North American reptile, or the complications of their husbandry. Either way, the couple broke off the engagement and I ended up with Chompers!
And here's what brought us the greatest change in September...A German Shepard Puppy! Full of energy and ears that have earned him the nickname 'batman'! Welcome to the family Wren!
Until next time...