Source: D4K: “Zoology"
Visit the D4K companion Web site to learn more about Zoology: D4K: “Zoology"
This video segment from IdahoPTV's D4K discusses the role of the zoos and zookeepers in conservation of endangered species. Zoo animal nutrition is also discussed emphasizing the importance of a good diet and why visitors should not feed the animals.
[JOAN CARTAN-HANSEN] Steve Burns is the director of Zoo Boise. Different parts of the zoo are dedicated to animals from different parts of the Earth. We started our tour in the section devoted to the rain forest.
[STEVE BURNS] Spider monkeys are found in Central and South America are excellent tree climbers and vine climbers and everything else. One of the things that enables them to move so well is called a prehensile tail and if you look at their tail it's very long, it helps give them balance. But there's a digit at the end which they can move independently of their other tail so it's having like a finger at the end of his tail so he can just grab onto a branch or grab onto a vine and it gives him extra stability. So he can keep his hands free and yet still balance himself by holding onto something with the tail.
Well, it's breakfast time here at the zoo so it's time to feed all the animals and this is what Mr. Mack and Mrs. Mack are going to eat here, the Aldabra tortoises are going to eat this morning. As you can see it's a nice looking salad. They've got some nice greens, they've got an egg. Each of the animals here has a very regulated diet. We want to make sure that we don't just give them anything. That's one of the reasons why we discourage visitors from feeding because we don't know what they eat if that's the case, if visitors are feeding them. There are very specific portions that each animal gets on a daily basis so that we can regulate what their weight is and make sure that they're getting a nice healthy diet.
[JOAN] Eating is an important part of an animal's life and what it eats makes a difference too.[ZOO KEEPER] Cockroaches are amazing creatures. You can see they're just all over each other and they really gross people out, but they're really important. They eat all the stuff that nobody wants to eat. They're called detritivores. They eat detritus which is just the stuff. All the poop and all the decaying stuff and that stuff would just pile up if it wasn't for things like cockroaches down there eating away.
[JOAN] Cockroaches aren't the only thing tidying up in the zoo. Zoo keepers make sure all the animal's areas are kept clean and that keeps the animals healthy. Zoo keepers build a real relationship with the animals they care for. Some zoologists and zoos make a special effort to protect those animals that are endangered. At zoo boise one of the most popular animals is the endangered tiger. These beautiful creatures are one of nature's greatest hunters. _____ says it's very sad that there are only about 5,000 of these creatures left in the world.
[ZOO KEEPER] There are so many elements of our culture that are based on tigers and not just here in the united states but in many other parts of the world. And we have sports teams named - the detroit tigers. They have company logos that are tigers and this is an animals that could very well be gone within the next 50 to 100 years.
[JOAN] Another new addition to Zoo Boise's collection is the red panda.
[ZOO KEEPER] Red pandas are highly endangered. There are only about 5,000 to 6,000 left in the wild. Zoos play a role in conservation by helping to breed these animals so that. It's in essence it's like a savings account. If the animal ever did go extinct in the wild or if it got to a point where the wild population was so small you can take animals out of zoos and put them back into the wild.
[JOAN] Zoos are an important place for people too. It's a place where you can find out all about animals. Which ones are the fastest or the strongest.
[ZOO KEEPER] As human beings we have 2 things going for us. We have a big brain and we have an opposable thumb which allows us to do a lot of things. but we're not very fast in relation to other animals. We're not very strong, we can't jump very high. We can't climb trees very well so we're kind of limited as to what we can do physically And when you work at a zoo and you see these animals on a daily basis and you see how amazing they are in terms of what they can do it's really humbling.
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