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, October 31, 2014

Winston's First Halloween

It's Winston's first Halloween!  While we will be lights out so the doorbell won't ring tonight - it's impossible to open and close the door a gazillion times with this many critters without the risk of an escaper....I did dress the little piglet up.

Little Mr. was fairly cooperative about having a shirt on - he didn't love getting into it but once it was on he was okay with it.  He absolutely hated the hat and I didn't push it.  I did get one shot with it sitting on his head while he was sleeping....

The pics aren't perfect - I didn't want to torture him - but there are a couple of cute ones - so - Ahoy and Happy Halloween!!!

Emma Halloween pics can be seen here and all the critters (including Clooney and Nigel) here and here. The ferrets and the kitties HATE getting dressed up so I will leverage past photos rather than make them do things they don't like.

Emma did get a new skeleton sweatshirt which she loves:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Zoo360 - Philadelphia Zoo

Have you seen this amazing concept in place at the Philadelphia Zoo?  What a great idea - and for you zoo haters - maybe this will make you feel a tiny bit more warm and fuzzy.  Philadelphia Zoo has been on my wishlist for some time - its our nations first zoo and it has some pretty amazing stuff.  Take a look at this video:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

My Lovely Miss Violet

I do adore my sweet Violet - she is ever elusive and fiercely independent.  I will say that here lately she has been much more social and willing to cuddle and have some love from her humans.  We are enjoying that for sure.  Here are some snaps of my sweet girl:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Winston's Stocking

Each critter has a Christmas stocking.  Last year I looked all over and could not find anything I liked for the baby ferrets - I ended up making theirs.  You can see them here.

I have been looking for Winston's stocking for the last few weeks.  There are not many cute pig stockings on the market for some reason.  I was contemplating making him one when I found this today and I knew it was meant to be.

This stocking is masculine and for some reason totally reminds me of him.  I have my eye out for a fun Christmas Pig pin that I can embellish with.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Traveling When You Have a Zoo

We took a quick trip to the beach this weekend.  It was nice to get away but prep for 10 critters is really tough.

Winston had his first trip to the boarder (vet).  I dropped him off on Saturday morning....we did a weigh in and holy heck - he weighs 21 pounds.  Not sure what that means for how big he will get - doesn't really matter (within reason).  He had his own pen that had access to the outdoors so he could get some air and some sun while he was there.  We picked him up this afternoon... so happy to see him.

Emma went to grandma's house.  She loves my parent's dog Quincy.  My brother and sister in law are in town as well - they have two dogs as well so they are having a big dog party.  She also got picked up this afternoon.

Kitties and ferrets stayed home.  We are up to nine cameras - 6 still cams that grab the image when you access.  3 are live cams that are amazing - they pan, they zoom, they have night vision - they are super. We had one in the living room which allowed visibility to most of the lower level.  One in the bedroom which gave us good views of the kitties and ferrets sleeping and playing on our bed and one pointed at the closet in our room - the ferret's favorite sleeping spot.  I had pretty good luck finding them on camera!

Preparation is an endurance event for sure....  packing for Winston and Emma - so much stuff. Prepping the house for kitties and ferrets includes setting cameras, setting up food and water stations, making sure doors are open or closed appropriately and for those that should be open that they are propped open so Phoebe the door slammer doesn't lock anyone in.  We usually get a pet sitter - the kitties need their meds 2x a day.  This time since we went for such a short time we administered meds before we left mid day on Saturday.  On Sunday they went without and on Monday they got their dose again mid day and they will get another late tonight.  I rarely skip a dose but it seemed to be okay when it happens infrequently.  As always we had a neighbor on stand by with a key ready to enter should there be any kind of an emergency or any critter being MIA on camera roll call.  Thankfully no need to call on them....

All in all - we have fun when we are away but I desperately miss my furries.  I am glad we are all back together again....

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bonding With Your Pig - An Interesting Article

I found this interesting article about pig training - much of what this says I have found to be true.  It's titled Bonding with a Young Pot Bellied Pig:

Pot bellied pigs have individual personalities, but many piglets do not like to be touched much, or held. Usually, they grow to enjoy being near the people they bond with, and like to be touching them or sitting in their laps. However, piglets can be quite aloof or fearful at first, especially if they have not been well socialized by their breeder. Even well socialized pigs may take a while to learn to transfer trust to a new owner. When you bring a young pig home, you first need to gain the piglets trust in order to have it accept handling readily, then work on training basic behaviors (such as leash walking, house training) and being able to restrain the pig so necessary grooming and medical care can be done as needed. Although most pigs quickly outgrow being picked up, it is worthwhile to get them used to being picked up as they will be more willing to be handled and restrained if you are able to gain their trust enough to be able to pick them up.

When you bring your new pig home, he (or she) will probably be very nervous and scared, since he has left everything familiar behind and has to adjust to all new people and surroundings. Be patient at first. You will want to keep him or her in a small confined area until he is more comfortable. Let the pig explore a bit and get comfortable with his new surroundings, and once he doesn't seem apprehensive, try to get him to approach you by tempting him with food. Sit on the floor with the pig, and offer a bit of food (for piglets, it is probably best to just use their regular food for most of the training - small bits of vegetable or fruit could be used for special treats). You may just need to put the food on the floor in front of you at first, and gradually work up to the piglet taking the food from you. Do this repeatedly over the course of the first few days at home and have everyone in the family have a turn so that the piglet can bond with all the family members.
A note about any sort of training with a pig: positive reinforcement is the key to success. They won't respond to force or punishment very well at all. To a pig, the most obvious kind of positive reinforcement is food, remembering that most pigs will be happy to work for small tidbits such as raisins, small pieces of apple or other fruit, or even pieces of their regular ration. When you are trying to tame a stubborn piglet, you may even want to hand feed all their food, since the quickest way to a pig's heart is through his stomach. However, obesity is a common problem, so keep treat foods to a minimum and make sure you are not overfeeding your pig by feeding full meals and supplementing with extra food for training.
Bonding With a New Piglet
There is a fairly fine line between spending enough time with your piglet and spending too much time, though. While you want to take the time to get to know your pig and have him or her trust you, you also want to make sure you do not lavish too much attention on your baby, or he will come to expect attention all the time. This is also true of using food as a training tool - spend time with your pig without giving treats as well, or he will think of you as a food dispenser and may start to expect or demand food contstantly. Keep the bonding and training sessions short and regular, with breaks to give the pig time to rest and develop the ability to entertain himself a bit too.Once your piglet is comfortable with being near you and taking food from your hand, you can reach out and try to scratch your piglet gently under the chin or along the sides. Move slowly, and speak calmly and gently to your pig. Remember to give treats as you do this, and the piglet will eventually realize this is a pleasant experience. Move at a pace that your piglet is comfortable with, though. If he resists being scratched or petted, back off a bit until he is more accepting.
Picking up a Piglet
Generally, pigs do not like to be held or picked up. When a pig feels threatened, it will squeal, loudly. Usually very loudly. Obviously, when you are trying to pick up a baby pig you want to cuddle you are not a threat, but you have to remember that squealing is a natural response to something the piglet doesn't like. As the piglet bonds with you, it will trust that you are not going to hurt him or her, and you will likely be able to teach him or her not to struggle and squeal when handled. While pigs usually outgrow being picked up quite quickly, being able to pick up your piglet will make it easier to move your piglet around, which is especially handy during the house training process.
Once your pig is used to being handled and scratched, try to entice him or her to sit in your lap. If your piglet has a favorite blanket, put it in your lap to encourage the piglet to lay in your lap. Once your pig will climb into your lap, gradually work from petting his body to gently wrapping your arms around him. Then start to apply gentle pressure with your arms. You'll want to cradle your piglet gently, but firmly, under his neck/chest just ahead of his front legs and under his rump, wrapping your arms around the side of his body that is away from yours. Hold him against your body, so he feels secure. Continue to pet him and talk gently to him, and give him treats (having a helper to feed treats while you try to cradle him works well). Once he is okay with being cradled, try and lift him a bit. If he squeals or screams for more than a few seconds, back off and work on just holding him more and work back toward picking him up. This is where things get a bit tricky and it helps to really know your pig. You do not want to let him keep screaming as it is a signal that he is very stressed. On the other hand, you do not want to put him down the second he starts to squeal, since you then reward him for squealing when picked up and therefore inadvertently teach him that if he squeals he gets put down. As you get to know your pig, you can judge better when your pig is just protesting a bit compared to when he or she is truly stressed. Teaching a piglet to be picked up can be difficult, since it requires teaching something they do not like to do. Be patient and make it a gradual process, and you and your piglet will be happier as a result.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Realistically Speaking

Having ten animals share your world is not all rainbows and unicorns...it's like 95% rainbows and unicorns and then there is the other 5%.

Some days all goes well and some days - well - not so much.  There might be errant peeing from the pig, the dog, some of the kitties - all of the above.  There might be ornery ferrets who make holes in garbage bags resulting in giant messes.  There might be a kitty or two who have the need to be on me at all times.  There might be pigs and dogs who chew out cardboard and paper into zillions of little bits. There could be fighting between kitties.  Pushy piglets trying to get into places they shouldn't be. Each day is a bit of a behavioral crap shoot!  :)

Most days I am pretty lucky - everyone for the most part is pretty good.  Some days one or two of them get a wild hair.  Some days I am outnumbered by naughty critters.  Thankfully those are few and far between.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

New Zoo Logo

I am so excited that the new zoo logo is done and delivered.  I found a new website called Fiverr where you can get logos, tshirt design, apps, editing, etc for $5.  I figured for $5 it was a low risk investment. I poked around and found a lovely artist who worked up this logo from a sketch I sent her.  It turned out even better than I had envisioned!!  I have a whole list of projects I hope to collaborate with her on!

If you will remember - this was the old logo:

I toyed with trying to keep Nigel (the hedgehog) as a part of the new logo but decided against it.  So - here we have the newest version of the logo - it evolves as we do:

I am thrilled with how it turned out!  How about you???

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Playing Catch Up

Yesterday was a rough day for the human here in the household.  I as feeling so under the weather yesterday with the mother of all headaches that lasted all day.  UGH!

The critters were great yesterday - I think they know when I feel bad.  Everyone was on best behavior for the entire day.  I got cuddles from the piglet who laid on the couch with me.  The kitties were close by, the ferrets were also quite sweet and cuddly and Miss Emma was very well behaved.  I am thankful for them being so good.

Unfortunately - when one doesn't feel so great, one doesn't get much done so today we are playing catch up. Lots of chores, work, etc to catch up on today.  Not very motivated sadly...so I need to get it in gear!

General updates - Winston is a much better behaved piglet now that he has been neutered.  So now we are very focused on potty training since his need to mark things is gone with the neuter.  It's hit or miss but we are getting there.

Emma loves having the pig - she and Winston are best buds.  She has become a much better pup since he joined the family - she has someone to play with and hang out with and some of her neurotic behaviors have gone away.  Scratching on the carpet - almost non existent!!  Whoopie!!

Kitties are all doing well - they seem happy and engaged.  Same with the ferrets - they are all doing just great!  Finn is getting much better about the pig - Theo not so much...

All in all things here are good - I am feeling better and the critters are all fine....Happy Tuesday

Saturday, October 18, 2014

This Week in Pictures

A few snaps from this past week:

Miss Zoey laying on the island

Winston right after he got home from the vet after having surgery



Ollie and WInston

WInston letting me check his incision






My big, beautiful spider's big, beautiful web

Phoebe and Ollie

A crazy giant bipalium worm on my driveway - a new outdoor critter!  :)

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Super Thursday...

Today was a good critter day -

First - my sweet piglet is almost 100% back.  We have a tiny bit of stinkiness left in the system and there were a few humping episodes and maybe a crabby pig a time or two today - but all in all - today was the best pig day we have had in awhile - maybe even since early September before humping started.  So happy he is feeling good.  The challenge today has been keeping him calm - he is frisky and desperate to play - I have had to check his incision 43 times because he insists on chasing Emma or jumping up on things - all the things the vet said he shouldn't do.  So far so good - he looks great and its obvious he is feeling great.

Emma is so happy to have her friend back - a friend who wants to play with her and not hump her. They have enjoyed each other's company all day.  She has been a pretty good girl today.

Kitties are all doing well - Oliver has been in on playtime with Emma and Winston.  Aggie, Zoey and Phoebe have been avoiding play time by sleeping in spots out of reach.  I think everyone is feeling good in the feline department.

The ferrets are great - I spent the morning with them doing cuddles and wrestles.  They are all happy and healthy and I am pleased with how they are doing.  In fact - as I type - I need to do the nightly switch where little Mr goes upstairs and the ferrets get freed for the evening.

Quite happy to have my sweet pig back - quite happy my other babies are doing well - all is great at the zoo!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

It's been an interesting day today.  Have you ever spent a day confined with a 15 week old piglet? Winston is feeling fine and not understanding why we are stuck in the bedroom.

His incision site looks great - he loves taking his pain medication - its liquid and grape flavored and he sits for it as if it was a cookie....  The hormones are causing a dual personality at the moment.  He swings wildly from angry piglet who is nippy and moderately humpy to a complete love bug who wants to lay in your lap and have cuddles.

There was a box of toys in the guest room that I gathered when I reorganized that room.  These are toys that little Mr. has not seen before so I brought them in for his amusement. It worked - he spent the afternoon exploring the toy box and playing.  Not sure what we will do for tomorrow....

I am concerned about letting him downstairs - first - the stairs could pose a problem and second - I am worried he will try to jump on the couch.  I think both of these could pop his stitches.  So - in the bedroom we will stay.

Tonight he put himself to bed - I just spent some time in his pen with him - luckily it was the lovey pig and not the angry pig that was present.  :)

Kitties, ferrets and pup are all doing well and trying to figure out if they want in or out the bedroom - I swear I opened and closed the door 176 times today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Winston Is Home!!

I picked him up around 4 pm and he was just full of piss and vinegar.  His post op instructions were to be confined in a small space for the rest of today and then in  place where he is prevented from running, jumping or playing for 7 days.....its going to be a long week.

I had him in his pen - the one he uses for sleeping when I brought him home.  He was not content with that at all and was getting in all sorts of trouble so I booted everyone out and let him out into the bedroom.  He seemed more content with that.

His appetite is good and he doesn't appear to be in much pain.  His incision site looks good.  All in all he seems to be doing well.  As for behavior - he is much less humpy - not sure if that is because of the neuter or because it would hurt if he tried - either way I will take it.  He is still a bit stinky but that should clear up in the next few days as the hormones exit his system.

Emma was quite happy to see him and he was happy to find her in the car when we loaded up from the vet's office.  He is much calmer in the car when she is along for the ride.  Interestingly enough - Phoebe has decided that she can tolerate hanging out with the piglet now and spent the afternoon with us.  Not sure what caused that change or how long it will last.

I finally got him settled down in his bed after some lovies and some raisins.  I think he is happy to be home.  I am certainly happy he is home even if he is a bit cantankerous....

Monday, October 13, 2014

Midish Month Snaps - October

So let me start this post by warning you - I got a new camera - prepare for many pictures.  Secondly - I MISS MY PIG - he is definitely an integral part of our household now and we miss him.  I am looking forward to picking him up tomorrow and am busy trying not to worry about him...

So - on to the pictures.  First - today - Winston got a new bed - his old one was too small and the one he sleeps in at night is too big to lug to the vets office so I bought him a new one.  It took him all of about six seconds to try it out - I think he likes it.

I caught Mr Finn and Miss Madison sleeping in the dresser drawer.  Finn makes me laugh - he always sleeps with at least one toy - today it was the yellow ball:

Here are some cute Theo shots:

Some kitty shots:

A Violet shot:

An Emma shot:

And last but not least - a bed time shot of Winston - I miss him so much - I hope he is sleeping okay and isn't a scared little pig: