Wild About Elephants Day

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1 Wild About Elephants Day The Maryland Zoo is celebrating how wild we are about elephants on Saturday, August 19 th. We need your help, Interpreters! The interpretation team will participate in this awareness day by strategically dispersing interpreters throughout The Zoo at exhibits that relate to the theme of the day. Theme of the Day: Wild About Elephants day is an opportunity to celebrate the conservation successes in both captivity and in the wild. Goals: 1. To raise awareness of the how important elephants are to their ecosystem. 2. To share conservation success stories at The Zoo and in the wild. 3. To inspire visitors to learn more and participate in conservation action. The exhibits that are open for interpretation on August 19 th can either be connected to elephant adaptations and ecosystem roles, or have conservation success stories that can be related back to the elephant conservation. We do not expect you to be an elephant expert for the day, but do encourage you to direct visitors to the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about elephants and their conservation story. If you would like to participate in Wild About Elephants Day on Saturday, August 19 th, please sign up to interpret in a zone you have been trained and familiarize yourself with the talking points included below. The talking points and action steps provided should be the focus of your interpretation for the day a great universal hook to ask on a day like this is what do you think a has in common with an elephant? More details on the schedule of the day will be provided when available. Talking Point Table of Contents: 1. Maryland Wilderness: a. Trumpeter Swan b. Otter c. Aviary 2. Penguin Coast: a. Penguin 3. Polar Bear Watch: a. Bald eagle b. Grizzly bear c. Polar Bear 4. Elephant 5. African Boardwalk: a. Rhino (African watering hole) 6. GLOWDD: a. Giraffe 7. Teen: a. Prairie Dog b. Sifaka

2 1. The Maryland Wilderness A. Trumpeter Swan Talking point: Conservation at The Maryland Zoo Today is Wild About Elephants Day. The Maryland Zoo is involved in the conservation of trumpeter swans and elephants. The Zoo partners with the trumpeter swan SSP and the Iowa DNR s Trumpeter Swan Restoration Project. o The Trumpeter Swan Restoration project releases captive bred swans into the wild. Over 100 trumpeter swans have been bred at zoos and sent to Iowa since o This spring, several trumpeter swan cygnets hatched at The Zoo and will eventually be sent to Iowa to participate in the Trumpeter Swan Restoration Project. o The 2016 offspring of our trumpeter swans was sent to Iowa along with 14 others of the same age from other zoos, and were released into the wild in May In addition to the Zoo s work with trumpeter swans, we also participate in several elephant research studies. The information learned from studying elephants in zoos can be used to help elephants in the wild. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about what the Zoo is doing to conserve elephants. Thank visitors for visiting their visits and contributions to The Zoo help us to support the many conservation efforts the Zoo participates in. B. North American River Otter Talking point: Conservation efforts can be successful Today is Wild About Elephants Day. There have been small successes in elephant conservation, but there has been great success in the conservation of North American river otters. North American river otters live in a variety of aquatic habitats like rivers, streams, tidewater zones and estuaries, and rely on the water to find prey and escape from predators.

3 Runoff from storms can wash pollutants like trash, sediment, nutrients and chemicals into waterways, which can make animals like otters sick. It is important to keep our watershed clean and healthy so that wildlife, such as the otters living within it stays healthy. o Here in the northeast, N.A. river otter populations once declined greatly due to over hunting and pollution. The improvement of water quality in the northeast was a contributing factor to their population rebound and successful reintroduction. Elephants are facing great conservation challenges in the wild, but several organizations in the field and zoos are working together to save them. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about what the Zoo is doing to conserve elephants. Thank visitors for visiting their visits and contributions to The Zoo help us to support the many conservation efforts the Zoo participates in. C. Marsh Aviary Talking point: Ecological relationships Today is Wild About Elephants Day. Cattle egrets are native to Maryland, but also also inhabit areas within elephant range. Cattle egrets have a mutualistic relationship with elephants and other large mammals; meaning that both the egret and the elephant have a mutually beneficial relationship. o Cattle egrets are able to conserve by hitching rides on an elephant s back. o They are also able to feed on invertebrates, such as ticks or flies that are on the elephant s back, as well as invertebrates in the soil where the elephant is grazing. o The birds are also better protected from predators while perched on a larger animal s back. Cattle egrets are not the only animal that benefits from elephants in the wild. Elephants play several important roles in their ecosystem. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about elephants and their importance in their ecosystem. 2. Penguin Coast A. African Penguin Talking point: Conservation at The Zoo - SSP

4 Today is Wild About Elephants. The Maryland Zoo participates in the conservation of both African penguins and African elephants. One major way the Zoo supports the conservation of African penguins is by participating in the Species Survival Plan. The Species Survival Plan is a cooperative breeding program among AZA accredited zoos and aquariums that aim to sustain healthy and genetically diverse captive populations of select species. The Zoo has hatched more than 950 chicks since the 1960s. This past breeding season, we hatched 12 chicks! In addition to our African penguin breeding program, The Zoo participates in African elephant research which helps us learn how to better conserve elephants in the wild. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about what the Zoo is doing to conserve African elephants. Thank visitors for visiting their visits and contributions to The Zoo help us to support the many conservation efforts the Zoo participates in. 3. Polar Bear Watch A. Bald Eagle Talking point: Conservation efforts can be successful Today is Wild About Elephants Day. Elephants currently face several conservation challenges, but there is still hope to save them. Bald eagles are a great example of a conservation success story. Bald eagles were once listed as an endangered species on the Federal List of Threatened and Endangered Species. Hunting and habitat destruction contributed to the decline of eagle populations in the early 1900s, but the use of the insecticide DDT was the primary factor contributing to their decline. DDT is an insecticide that was once used in agriculture that caused a thinning of egg shells in many birds, increasing the likelihood of their eggs being crushed during incubation. Widespread use of DDT caused bald eagle reproduction rates to plummet. Bald eagle populations rebounded after the subsequent banning of DDT and habitat protection measures, and are a prime example of a conservation success story; the species was taken off of the endangered species list in Elephants are facing great conservation challenges in the wild, but several organizations in the field and zoos are working together to save them. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about what the Zoo is doing to conserve elephants. Thank visitors for visiting their visits and contributions to The Zoo help us to support the many conservation efforts the Zoo participates in.

5 B. Grizzly Talking point: The Zoo s role in saving species Today is Wild About Elephants Day. The Zoo is involved in the conservation of wildlife in a variety of ways; the grizzlies and African elephants are each an example of the Zoo s conservation efforts. As an AZA accredited facility, The Zoo participates in research studies for several of our species, including out African elephants, which helps scientists learn how to conserve them in the wild. Another way the Zoo contributes to conservation is by providing a home for rescued and rehabilitated animals. The grizzlies exhibited in Polar Bear Watch were born in Montana, where they were found as orphaned cubs. They were rescued, treated by a veterinarian, and taken to a wildlife center in Montana to recover. The cubs were deemed unreleasable due to being orphaned at such a young age and being raised in human care. The Zoo stepped in to provide a home for these bears, as the facility that treated them was not set up to care for adult bears long-term. Other species exhibited in PBW that were rescued are the bald eagle and ravens, who sustained injuries in the wild. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by Chimp Forest to learn more about what the Zoo is doing to conserve PGF. Thank visitors for visiting their visits and contributions to The Zoo help us to support the many conservation efforts the Zoo participates in. C. Polar Bear Talking point: Ecosystem roles Today is Wild About Elephants Day. Elephants and polar bears play important roles in their ecosystem. Polar bears are top predators in the Arctic and seals are their main food source. By hunting seals from sea ice, polar bears help to regulate seal populations, which keep the marine ecosystem in balance. Polar bears eat their prey on land or on the sea ice, and leave behind the prey s carcass after feeding. Scavengers like Arctic foxes, ravens and bald eagles often rely on these carcasses to survive the frigid Arctic winters.

6 Elephants also fulfill several important roles throughout their range, such as dispersing seeds and modifying habitat. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about the importance of elephants in Africa. 4. Elephant Talking point: Research at The Zoo Today is Wild Elephants Day. By exhibiting animals here at The Zoo, we are able to participate in research studies that help the scientific community learn about their wild counterparts. All of our elephants have participated in numerous studies over the past several years. This research helps us to better understand both wild and captive elephants, and how we can conserve them. For example, Felix and Anna are currently participating in a research study that will help determine appropriate dosages of commonly used anti-inflammatory drugs. These medications are key factors in used to treat common afflictions that occur in elephant populations. One factor that makes research participation possible is training the animals different behaviors that allow the keepers to collect samples from the elephants without causing the animal stress. For example, the elephants are trained to participate in voluntary blood draws. Call to action: Thank visitors for visiting their visits and contributions to The Zoo help us to support the many conservation efforts the Zoo participates in Other talking points: In addition to the talking point above, any of the talking points listed in the interpretive guide are also acceptable. 5. African Boardwalk A. Rhino (African watering hole) Talking point: Elephant watering holes Today is Wild About Elephants Day. African elephants are another animal you might see at a watering hole with rhinos, zebra and ostriches. Watering holes are a place where several species travel to in search of water in the hot, dry savannah. Sometimes watering holes are few and far between, or might even dry up in the heat. This can be detrimental to numerous species.

7 African elephants can help prevent themselves and other species from dehydration in these situations. They have an impeccable sense of smell and are able to smell water flowing underground. If an elephant locates a source of ground water, it can use its tusks to dig a hole and expose the water source. Call to action: In addition to exposing ground water, African elephants fulfill several important roles in their ecosystem. Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about elephants and their ecological role. 6. GLOWDD A. Giraffe Talking point: Prehensile adaptations Today is Wild About Elephants Day. Both elephants and giraffe have a unique adaptation that allows them to grasp or pull objects even though they lack hands prehensile appendages! Giraffes have a prehensile tongue. They use their 18 inch tongue to reach and grasp leaves from hard-to-reach places. Elephants have a prehensile trunk. Their strong trunk is used to lift and push a wide range of objects, such as a tree trunk or a blade of grass. Elephants often use their trunk to bring food to their mouth, to break branches from trees, or to interact with each other. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about unique elephant adaptations. 7. Chimp Forest A. Panamanian Golden Frog Talking point: PGF Conservation Story Today is Wild About Elephants Day. Elephants and Panamanian golden frogs are facing conservation challenges in the wild, and The Zoo is working to conserve each of these species through research, breeding and education. Panamanian golden frogs are listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, and may be extinct in the wild. The Maryland Zoo participates in the conservation of Panamanian golden frogs through Project Golden Frog and the Species Survival Plan.

8 The Species Survival Plan is a cooperative breeding program among AZA accredited zoos and aquariums that aim to sustain healthy and genetically diverse captive populations of select species. Through our partnership with Project Golden Frog, The Zoo was the first institution to breed PGFs in captivity and is in charge of all of the golden frogs in the nation. In addition to The Zoo s work with PGF, The Zoo helps to conserve African elephants through research and education as well. Call to action: Encourage guests to visit the Elephant exhibit to learn about what The Zoo is doing to conserve African elephants. Thank guests for visiting The Zoo they re admission and support helps to support conservation programs like our elephant program. 8. TEENs A. Prairie Dog Talking point: Keystone Species Today is Wild About Elephants Day; elephants and prairie dogs are keystone species. A keystone species is a species that many other species depend on for survival in a specific environment. Prairie dogs are a keystone species throughout their native range. o Abandoned prairie dog burrows provide habitat for other animals such as critically endangered black footed ferrets. o Prairie dogs serve as a plentiful food source for several predators. o Prairie dog activities, such as digging and foraging, help to aerate the soil and control grass overgrowth. Keystone species are vital to the survival of many species that share the same ecosystem. Protecting and conserving keystone species ultimately helps to conserve numerous other species that depend on them for survival. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about what makes elephants a keystone species. B. Sifaka (Lemur Lane) Talking point: Ecosystem roles Today is Wild About Elephants Day. Elephants and several lemur species play a similar role in their ecosystems as seed dispersers.

9 The 3 lemur species exhibited at The Zoo contribute to the health and diversity of Madagascar s vegetation through seed dispersal and pollination. o Ring-tailed lemurs primarily eat fruit and Coquerel s sifakas mostly eat leaves. Because their diet consists of fruits and other plant material, it s likely that they aid in seed dispersal through their foraging behavior and movement through their range. o Red ruffed lemurs primarily eat pollen, nectar and fruit, and in doing so, they disperse seeds, but also aid in the pollination of several plant species. Their noses become coated with pollen after they collect nectar from a flower. They transfer this pollen from plant to plant as they forage throughout the forest. Elephants also aid in the dispersal of seeds in their habitat. As large herbivores, they consume incredible amounts of plant matter each day. As they move throughout their range, they distribute seeds through their waste. Call to action: Encourage visitors to stop by the Elephant Exhibit to learn more about the important roles elephants fulfill in their ecosystem.

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