A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper

A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper
Ever wonder what its like to share your world with a bunch of crazy critters? Tune in to find out!

Friday, January 31, 2014

January - Month in Review

It's been a whirlwind this month.  We wrapped up the holidays, said goodbye to my brother, sister-in-law and their pups and settled back into the work routine.  The critters have had a pretty good month:

Health - We confirmed that Zoey is in great health.  We were never able to confirm that Oliver is over his UTI since he never would give up a urine sample at home or any of the 3 times I took him to the vet.  I am guessing yes since he has stopped throwing up for the most part.  I still get a lovely hairball every now and then but nothing like it was.  Emma is still on her Denamarin - I have relocated cat food to places out of her reach and I am hopeful her numbers will come back down.  Ferrets are doing pretty darn well - an occasional need for probiotics or Vetasyl now and then but otherwise they are healthy and active.  Phoebe and Aggie head to the vet in February.  Hoping for great results for them as well.

Happenings -   The giant styrofoam adventure for the ferrets is the gift that still keeps giving - weeks later I am still finding bits of styrofoam all over the house.  The worms for the composter arrived - seemed happy - then stressed and sad and now happy once more.  The baby ferrets turned 1 year old on the 6th!

All in all - a great month!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Winter Weather

It's been crappy cruddy and just plain icky in the weather department the last few days.  We don't get much snow around these parts but a couple of days ago we ended up with about 3 inches.

Most of the critters - 60% - do not care for the cold weather.  That would be the ferrets and the dog. Emma is a cold weather weenie and literally runs outside to do her business and heads back indoors.  The ferrets don't care for it much either.  When its overcast they tend to sleep even more than usual.  Clooney doesn't seem to like the cold the older he gets.  Violet and Theo both had a chance to dip their toes in some snow - neither one was all that taken with the experience and both shivered like crazy.

The kitties seem to be fairly unaffected by the weather.  They are lazy, snoozing all day regardless of the conditions outside.  They have been spending quite a bit of time on our bed or on the heated dog bed - not sure if its weather related or just because they can.

50%  of the humans hate the cold -- yes -- that would be me.  Hurry up spring is all I have to say about the matter....

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Funny Things You Do When You Have Ferrets

Having ferrets has resulted in me having all sorts of quirky behaviors to accommodate those little weasels and to make sure they are safe.  For instance:

1.  Theo is a tall ferret and he can get to things the others can't.  Places like tables and cabinets and other areas where there might be breakables.  As a result I have started using museum gel to stick things down so he doesn't have the ability to push them off the edge which he LOVES to do.  I have all the items on top of my new china cabinet stuck down.  I also like to keep my dining room table set - we will talk about my addiction to dishes another day.  So I use the gel to stick the coffee cups to the saucers, etc.  It works great and is easy to take off and even better - reusable!

2.  The dishwasher -- oh how the ferrets love the dishwasher.  After years of fighting the battle of not letting them get in there while I load and unload I gave up.  They play in there while I clean the kitchen.  Then I check and recheck to make sure no one is in there when I shut the door.  Then when I start it - I check again.  Some days I am paranoid enough to check again after the dishwasher is already going.  So far I have never had any issues - I am really, really careful....

3.  The dryer -- the weasels are desperate to play in the dryer.  It is an absolute NO with absolutely NO EXCEPTIONS.  I had a traumatic dryer happening 30+ years ago - so traumatic that after all this time I still can't even type about it.  Needless to say I am totally dryer paranoid.  They are not allowed in the area where the washer and dryer are - much to their disappointment.  Often I just wait to do the laundry until they are all sleeping.  Even though I know in my brain they are all sleeping I still check and recheck.  If I had a nickel for every time I pulled a wet load of clothes out of the dryer to check to make sure no one was in there - I would be rich.  Yes, I know its illogical and crazy and all of that but I do it anyway.

4.  The door -- its always a  worry that one of them will get out.  Clooney is probably the least likely as he stops at the door.  I guess 6 years of being told no has some effect.  The babies are wild and some days its a total challenge to get out the door when you need to go somewhere.  There are days - when I am looking for someone and can't find them that I work myself into a panic - convinced one of they escaped.  They never have though.

I adore them and would do anything to keep them safe - even if it is irrational and quirky...  :)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Worms are Hard

Worm composting has been more challenging than I anticipated...

There was something wrong with the environment in the worm composter - causing several issues:

  1. Many of the worms were all wound up together in a giant worm stressball
  2. The worms who were not a part of said stressball were finding ways out of the environment they did not like - this resulted in worms in the stand of the composter and worms who were out of the composter on the floor.  They don't last for long on the floor and dry up which makes me sad.
  3. They were stressed so they were not eating - this also makes me sad.
So - after tweaking, adding, taking out, etc - in desperation I set up a second tray which I stacked on the unhappy tray.  Whatever the second tray has the first does not because all of the worms have moved up one level and they seem happy and healthy and less stressed.  I have no idea what the issue was in the lower tray. I will give it a few more days for the worm migration to end and then remove the bottom tray completely.

I think we are on the right track - at least I hope.  The thought of unhappy worms is more than I can take... :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Finn and Theo Playing in the Shower

One of the things I was so thankful to have was a few hours of video of the sweet little hedgehog.  As a result I am going to try to do a couple of videos a month of all the critters so I will have them for posterity's sake.  As a part of the Creative Cloud I have access to some cool video editing tools.  There are tons of features that I need to learn about but this first video of Finn and Theo playing in the shower was a test.  The tools are pretty cool as I was able to edit and string together fairly well without reading any instructions! Love that!  So - enjoy watching my two little boys play:

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New Technology

One of the main reasons I blog is to capture the happenings of the day which will ultimately end up in the blog books I produce each quarter.  I love having a printed book of the photos and information about the critters that I can put my hands on and look at.  So far I have only done the small square books from Blurb which I love.  But - given its a new year and one of my resolutions is to learn new things I have decided to branch out and try something different.

I am joining the Adobe Creative Cloud and will be learning the suite of Adobe products - upleveling the photos and layout of the books and actually moving to more of a magazine style with glossy paper.  I am quite excited about the creative freedom I will have in laying out the pages from each of my posts rather than the confines of the templates provided in the Blurb software.  Don't worry - I am not abandoning Blurb - they are too awesome.  I will be using the plugin provided by them into Adobe InDesign and will still use them as my source to print my book and make my electronic version.

I have been pouring over webcasts and playing around with the tools.  I have 26 days of content to play with so it should keep me busy and out of trouble for a while.  Can't wait to share with you some of the layouts I come up with - stay tuned....

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Miscellaneous January Snaps

Here is all the randomness that didn't make a post or the Facebook news feed for whatever reason:

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Stories of the Day

Here it is - 9 pm on Friday night and I haven't done my daily documentation of life with the critters.  Here are the stories of the day from the zoo:

Zoey is still cranky from her vet visit - it takes awhile for her to get over her bad moods so she has been snarly and growly with the kitties and the ferrets.  She did, however, enjoy the bite of french fry that I gave her...

Clooney is laying here with me while I type this.  He has been out and about today but not a lot - I don't think his old bones like this cold, cold weather!

Emma has been barking at all things real or imagined and scratching on the carpet - but she seems fine from her episode earlier this week.  She is tucked into bed under our bed and is sacked out.

Violet and I had some one on one play time today.  She does love to wrestle and play!

Theo was his usual sweet to me and mean to the hubs today.  He is very soft and gentle with me, rarely biting these days - with the hubs - not so much.  He wants to play rough and tumble.  Hubs does not find this to be entertaining.

It was not all that exciting here in critter land today.  The humans had too much work to do and now the whole household is pooped.  As a part of my nightly ritual - I like to put hands on each critter before I turn in to make sure they are accounted for and healthy.  I couldn't find the baby ferrets - Theo, Vi and Finn.  After looking in a few of their favorite spots I hit the ferret jackpot.  They are staying warm on this winter evening:

This is behind the TV cabinet - on the left - the stash of toys they have hidden back there.  The dark body with his head under the teddy bear is Finn, Violet is on the top and Theo is the one on his back.  They are too sweet.

Madison has come up for a visit - she is bummed there is no one to play with...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Zoey's Test Results

Miss Zoey may not be all that charming for the vet - but I am happy to report that her blood panel came back and she is healthy as a horse.  Why is that a saying I wonder?  Are horses really more healthy than other critters?  One sec - I must Google....I'm back - well - who knew?  The saying comes from a time when health was equated with strength.  Horses are strong so there you go.  Anyway - back to Zoey....

All of Zoey's test results were perfect - every number fell within the reference ranges - I am thrilled!  This from the kitty we thought we might lose just a few years ago.  The major driver for the testing was to reissue her prescription for thyroid medication.  Her thyroid levels were fantastic.  All in all she is doing amazingly well!

Fingers and toes are crossed that we get the same results for Aggie and Phoebe during their February vet visits.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Zoey and Oliver's Trip to the Vet

Zoey and Oliver went to the vet yesterday.  Zoey was due for a bunch of things and before we renewed her prescription for her thyroid meds she needed to be seen.  I took Oliver along as well because he is totally uncooperative and would not let me get a urine sample at home.

Talk about a crazy appointment.  First of all - Oliver had no urine in his bladder so that was a bust - for the third time.  One day next week I will take him in early in the morning and leave his uncooperative kitty butt there all day long til they get a sample - geez.

Then there is Zoey.  She was in rare form yesterday.  Screeching, growling, hissing, attempted biting, drooling and when all of those things failed - peeing.  How charming is she?  So - they got the necessary blood draw.  Given how upset she was we opted not to do her physical.  I brought her home and decided that since she was stinky from using pee as a weapon of mass destruction and she was already mad she was going to get a bath.  Believe it or not - she had no issues with getting in the tub and getting wiped down.

For the rest of the evening she was quite snarly to the humans, the other cats and the ferrets.  Hopefully she will get over it soon....sigh.

Don't let the photos fool you - she was polite til they came in:

Then she turned into this:

And then there is the one sad pic I managed to get of Ollie - the non peeing cat.  He doesn't love the vet's office and would not get out of his carrier:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014


I guess, like people, my critters are starting to get old age ailments.  Aggie is a little slower to get up, Emma has the incessant need to nest by scratching on the carpet, Clooney sleeps a bit more than he did when he was younger....even the zookeeper has some unexplained aches and pains some days...

Emma had a strange episode yesterday morning - a little potty accident in the bedroom which NEVER happens.  Don't get me wrong - she is not above peeing in the house but never ever in our room.  That little accident was following by throwing up.  She almost never does this either - only when we go on long walks and she insists on eating grass.  She was very shaky after these happenings,  not sure if she was freaked out about the accident in our room or if that was part of the whole deal.  She got under the bed.  I left her there for a few minutes and then brought her a drink of water in a cup - she loves to drink from a cup.  She drank it right up - every drop.  When I went downstairs she followed me like normal.  We went outside and everything was normal there.  I have kept her with me all day and she has had no issues - a perfectly normal day.  Eating, drinking, playing, ate a bone, barked at whatever she could find to bark at.

So - perhaps because she does tend to have a fairly delicate stomach - her eating the Hepatic dog food like it was her last meal ever was too much of a change for her system.  That is the only thing I can think of...I will keep a close eye on her for the next few days and ask the vet what he thinks when I take Zoey in this week.

Ailments....gotta love em

Monday, January 20, 2014

One Month

It's been a month since we lost our sweet Nigel.  My how I miss that little pokey critter.  Life at the zoo is cranking along.  It feels wrong that we just keep on going - somehow disloyal to the impact that Nigel had on our world.  But, alas - I think that is the way we feel whenever we have a loss - human, furry or otherwise.

The critters seem to be okay after his passing.  I have put all of his blanket and toys out for the ferrets and cats to snuggle in and play with.  For the first couple of weeks they avoided, but now I am finding ferrets curled up and sleeping in his old stuff and I saw Finn playing with one of his old toys yesterday.  I would like to think that would make Nigel happy.

So - one month later there are still a few tears, lots of great memories captured in photos, blog posts and videos, and a bit of healing.

Miss you my sweet boy - I hope you and Isabel are having much fun at the rainbow bridge....

Here is a sweet video that was posted back in 2011 shortly after we got our little guy...enjoy:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Hunch in the Case of Emma's Liver Numbers

Around Thanksgiving we discovered that Emma had an inflated liver enzyme number on her latest blood panel.  We put her on Denamarin which brought the number down but not enough to get back to normal. We are currently on another round of the Denamarin and I have been doing some research....

I have a hunch - that perhaps what is causing the liver issues is the fact that sneaky little Miss eats the cat food.  I researched and found some interesting facts - like - if you fed your dog a diet that consisted of only cat food s/he could die of liver failure!  Hmmmm  So - needless to say - all cat food has been relocated to non dog friendly spots.  Her neurotic tendencies have come in handy as she does not like the hard wood floors so she won't go in the downstairs bathroom - voila - a new home for the cat food dish.  The kitties and the ferrets don't seem to care.  Upstairs I tucked the kitty food into Nigel's old room  - another place that Emma never goes.

In addition, I purchased a bag of Hepatic dog food.  I thought it couldn't hurt to supplement her diet with dog food specifically geared towards liver health.  Luckily she seems to like it so I have been offering it a couple of times a day in addition to her regular food.

I am hopeful that between the removal of the cat food from the mix, the Denamarin and he Hepatic dog food that when we go for a recheck her numbers will be back in line.  Fingers crossed....

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Vetasyl - Pet Product Review

Awhile back I purchased a bottle of Vetasyl to have on hand in case we should need it.  I came across it in some research I was doing for the probiotics for the ferrets.  I had yet to have a need until yesterday when Theo was having some digestive issues.

He had some not so pretty outputs - and - when I would give him the probiotics it would fix it for one metabolic cycle but then the next would be icky again.  I decided to give Vetasyl a try.

I mixed up 1/3 of a capsule in his Ferretone and he licked it right up.  This stuff worked like a charm!  Since then everything has been back to normal.  I am not sure how the same thing can work for both ends of the digestive issue spectrum - going too much or not going at all but I am not going to question because now I have proof.  Not sure how often I will use this but I do think having it on hand is a good idea.  Very pleased that my Theo is back to normal and feeling great!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Turtle vs Tortoise

I have been researching tortoises here lately.  Not sure if the zoo is ready to go into the scary realm of reptiles but in the course of investigation I have found some interesting stuff.  For instance - did you know the difference between a Turtle and a Tortoise?  I did not until now.  Check out this cool grid I found:

  Tortoise   Turtle  
Definition A Tortoise is a reptile from the Chelonian family and dwells well on land. A Turtle is a reptile from the Chelonian family and dwells well in the water.
Distribution Found mostly in Asia and Africa but some species exist in Americas too. Africa, America.
Shape of the shell Mostly large dome shaped shells (with bumps on the top in some species). Mostly flat, streamlined shells.
Weight of the shell The shells are heavier. Generally light-weight shell.
Limbs Feet are short and sturdy with bent legs. Webbed feet with long claws.
Diet Most are herbivores, but some species prefer live food. Eats fruits, veggies, leafy vegetation and meat, hence they are omnivores.
Birth Tortoise hatchlings move from their nest to the mothers burrow soon after birth. Turtle hatchlings stay in their nest on their own for 90-120 days.
Family Chelonians Chelonians
Class Reptilia Reptilia
Kingdom Animalia Animalia
Crown Group Chelonia Chelonia
Lifespan 80-150 years. The longest living Tortoise is 326 years. 20-40 years. The oldest was 86 years.
source:  http://www.diffen.com/difference/Tortoise_vs_Turtle

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Challenges of Photographing Finn

Critters for the most part are hard to photograph - let's be honest.  They don't know how to stand still and pose for that perfect shot.  I have reasonable luck with most of my brood - I have to take a lot of photos to find stuff that I can put online but for the most part they are cooperative.  And then there's Finn....

Finnegan has criteria for his favorite things - it should make noise, it should be shiny, it should have a string. Yes folks, the camera does all of those things.  He loves the noise it makes when you open the lens cover, he likes that it makes noise when you click the button, he loves that it flashes and he loves the string that you are supposed to put around your wrist.  This results in some entertaining pictures of the little dude.  I thought I would share with you some of my challenges.  Most every photo session has a ton of shots like these and one or two I can use:

This is him jumping for the string:

See ya -  am outta here:

Jumping for the flash:

Is this too close???

How about now???  You said you wanted a close up...

Sign - but then - its all worth it because I get a shot like this:

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kitty Update

My little pride of felines seems to be doing pretty darn well if I do say so myself.  They all seem pretty healthy and happy and social.

Phoebe is enjoying all the new toys that came into the house for Christmas

Ollie seems to be doing well healthwise although I never have been able to get him to use the litterbox kit provided to get a urine sample.  I will be making appointments for Aggie and Phoebe soon so he will have to come along for the ride and get the techs to get a sample I guess.  ....and did I mention - ornery?

Zoey seems to be doing well - periods of snarly behavior and a zero tolerance policy for the ferrets.  She is a head wonker.

And Miss Aggie - she is great - just a go with the flow kitty.  She seems happy and healthy and good to go and she is really becoming more and more social as she gets older which I am loving.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Together or Apart

My little furry ferrets are funny.  They spend endless amounts of time together - napping, playing, chasing and wrestling.  They are all becoming friends - even Clooney and they pair up in different combinations all the time which I love!  Everyone loves everyone (okay - maybe love is a strong word for how Clooney feels about the babies - but its so much better than it used to be)

I also love that they are totally content to be independent as well - perfectly happy to be the only ferret up and about, happily playing by themselves and allowing me to spend some one on one time with them each day.  Maddie is my early riser - she visits us in bed around 6:30 to get cuddles and give us tons of kisses. Theo visits around 11 am, Finn in the late afternoon, Clooney between 7 and 8 am and Violet around 2 pm.  Its funny that they have their own schedules.

I look forward to their visits each day - I have said it before but its so true - you simply cannot be unhappy with a ferret around...

Monday, January 13, 2014

Styrofoam - Oh My!!

I built a new cabinet for my dining room and the box and the packing materials - especially the Styrofoam - are quite popular with the ferrets.  They have been in and out of the box at least 1000 times and they have had a fantastic time scratching the Styrofoam to bits inside the giant box.  They come out covered in it and create quite a mess but they are having so much fun its worth whatever cleanup is required.  Now - let me just state that my ferrets are not often chewers/eaters of things that would cause them to become ill (Clooney does love red licorice but we hide it now that we know) but I have read that some ferrets like to chew up all sorts of things and I would guess Styrofoam might be in that mix.  My little ones scratch it but they don't eat it so its safe for them to play.

Here are a few photos of Theo and Clooney - Vi, Finn and Maddie played as well but weren't there when the camera was out: