By Jillian Kirkham
Many get confused when they hear Malone has a zoo and wildlife department because it’s assumed there are no animals to accompany it. However, there are plenty of interesting animals housed in the Timken Science building just waiting for their moment to shine.
With COVID-19, the zoo had planned live animal shows for the residence halls to lift spirits and give insight into the zoo. Due to restricted visitation, the shows went online for the women’s dorms on Nov. 7 with the men’s show planned for Nov. 14. However, with the lack of interest and low attendance to the first round of animal shows, the final shows were regrettably canceled after much deliberation between the zoo education leaders and resident assistants.
“If people are going to see an animal show, they’d rather see them in person,” Alicia Dean, senior zoo and wildlife biology major and zoo education leader, said. “It’s just not the same virtually.”
Although the shows were canceled this year, it doesn’t mean they won’t be back in the future because they’re important to the zoo program.
“We wanted to give anyone who wanted to learn about the animals a chance to do that without having to go too far,” Dean said. “Not a lot of people know we even have a zoo here so doing the shows would’ve been a great opportunity to get everyone involved.”
There’s still a great opportunity for anyone to get to know the animals.
“The zoo houses four groups of animals: herps, mammals, fish, and birds,” Teresa Strub, sophomore zoo and wildlife biology major, said. “Among these groups of animals are leopard tortoises, Colombian black and white tegus, guinea pigs, opossums, two saltwater fish tanks and two freshwater fish tanks, 13 parakeets and so many more kinds of animals.”
Other fan favorites of the zoo include: “Otto, an umbrella cockatoo from Indonesia and rescued from an animal hoarder by a group called Bird Nerds, a woodland box turtle named Aldo who is native to Ohio and two guinea pigs named Dobby and Padfoot,” Katelyn Shrieve, sophomore zoo and wildlife biology major, said. “I think the most interesting thing is that Otto can live up to 40-60 years in human care and he still tries to test our patience with him every day. He can be a real brat.”
The zoo is known for a lot of animals, like fish, snakes and tarantulas, but the most well known are probably the birds. There is a pigeon named Martha who enjoys perching on people’s heads, two diamond doves named Pepsi and Coke, a lovebird named Apollo, a conure named Luna, 13 parakeets and two zebra finches. Most of the birds are rescues from less than healthy environments.
For the animals chosen for shows, there’s a lot of consideration that goes into their prep work.
“When an animal goes to show some training is required,” Bailee Ridenbaugh, senior zoo and wildlife biology major, said. “Training begins two weeks before the show itself. For example, Sonny the cockatiel began training to reinforce behaviors such as waving, flying, whistling and spinning in different group settings to help her overcome bashfulness. Some animals also need training to work with certain handlers they may be unfamiliar with.”
“When we plan a show we have to have enough animals to fill up a half an hour time slot,” Ridenbaugh said. “That is not including any of the animals we may just have to leave in their carriers because animal safety is of utmost importance and if an animal seems too stressed to be presented or looks like it’s having a hard time… or if a snake is shedding… we won’t present them.”
The zoo department has nothing but their animal’s best interests at heart and always does their best to showcase these animals and their personalities to the student body.