Hello All,

Here is the first animal update of 2018!!!!! We are starting the year out with a bang!!!

Coral Reef

Water quality finally seems to have stabilized with monthly water changes. Our sarcophytons appear to have been munched on by nudibranchs. Many of our corals continue to grow and our Diadema (long spine urchin) has completely regrown their spine and has gained lots of confidence. You can seem them all over the tank throughout the day.

Most exciting however, this week we will be having some new friends join us in the tank!! We are getting our mandarin gobies back, 2 spot tail blennies, some algae, nudibranchs that wont eat our sarcos, caspitularia (coral), a bubble tipped anemone (wish us luck!!!) and an abalone!!!!! Welcome them as you walk by the tank.


William makes a much anticipated return to the floor!!! She has made great progress since her surgery in September. Leigha, her handler, has been feeding her weekly and her weight is almost back to normal!!!! As of her surgery she only weighed 494g. As of this week she now weighs 520g and you can no longer see the dorsal spines of her vertebrae. Yay!!!! Since being put on the floor she has been very active. Every time I see her she is slithering about or in her water bowl. She is really enjoying being back at work. Mocha is now also on the floor. He, on the other hand, has been hiding by his bowl and does not seem to have acclimated to the hustle and bustle of the gallery yet. AC staff will be working with him to get him settled. This is always a stressful time for the snakes but once they get settled they return to normal.


Harley has been a little under the weather. He went to the vet on Tuesday 12/19 because he had diarrhea for almost 2 weeks and had inflammation of his lips. This made me think that was mouth rot, a bacterial infection caused when changes in the temperature gradient is not correct or if humidity is off. This weakens the immune system and then the animal is not able to fight off normal bacteria that are found in their mouth. Upon taking him to the vet, they said they cannot definitively say that it is mouth rot. To be cautious, we put him on injections of antibiotics and daily mouth swabs. He has finished his antibiotics but we continue to do mouth swabs until our next vet visit. His bowel movement shave returned to normal however he still has the scab looking inflammation around the mouth. The vet has been contacted we just await a return.

It is always a sad day when we have to do a cull to our hisser population. To limit the amount of needless death, we have established a small (only 5 roaches) colony in a local high school. We also will begin harvesting the juveniles to feed to the bearded dragons. I spoke with a herpetologist colleague of mine at a zoo and he said the hissers are very nutritious. We will do our first harvesting this week some time. This will keep population down while still using the insects in a productive manner.

Our bees will be here in late April or early May. We have ordered a Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) queen from Ridgetop Apiaries in Tennessee. What this means, is this queen has been bred to be resistant to varroa mites, which if you remember is a nasty little parasite that we had trouble with in our last hive. These bees have been selected for a behavior they exhibit. When they sense that brood has been infested with mites, they terminate just the brood that has been infested. According to recent studies, this strain affords 44% greater protection from varroa mites. (I am not 100% sure on what mechanism actually allows them to know which brood have mites. My inference is that before they cap their brood, they inspect for these mites and terminate the ones they find with mites. I will do more research and let you know).
As some of you may recall, I have spoken about Lucky being assimilated into the demo program. He has made progress with some handlers and has been reluctant with others. We have decided to start over at square one since he had a 3 week break form his regimen. There has been some worry that he should not be a demo animal because of his history. I totally understand this concern. It is one I had myself. But I assure you this, he will NOT be a hands-on demo animal at all. If we see he is not liking this we will stop the project immediately. This program was initiated as a way to entertain Lucky as he has been monitored by his handler for months now. He is getting restless, climbing the walls, racing back and forth. If this idea does not assuage his restlessness, we will look into ways to enhance his tank so that he is still engaged but doesnt have to be handled.
That is all I have for now. If you have any questions please dont hesitate to ask.
Thank you
Sam Couch
Animal Care Manager