Catch up with the latest news at LRZ with articles, press releases, and other fun updates
written and created by Zoo Staff.
The Lee Richardson Zoo is currently open daily from 8AM to 7PM with the drive through closing at 6PM.
The Finnup Center for Conservation Education will be open Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM.
Guests may notice a few changes during their next visit. The zoo will have two entry gates open at the archway main entrance to allow separate paths of entry and exit.
Beginning at the entrance, and throughout the zoo’s pathways, guests will find yellow paw prints on the sidewalk spaced six feet apart as a reminder to practice social distancing from other zoo guests.
Guests are encouraged to avoid large groups, wear masks, and to wash their hands after using high touch areas such as pop machines, water fountains, playground equipment, and interactive displays.
The Marie Osterbuhr Aviary will remain temporarily closed.
Thank you for your support of Lee Richardson Zoo, we look forward to having you back safely.
LRZ is Open!
The Changing World of Birds
By Kristi Newland, Zoo Director
If you have been to the zoo when we introduce an animal to a new area where there is viewing via a glass window, you have possibly seen that window at least partially covered with paper. We do this because animals do not understand what glass is. Birds are included in that group of animals that do not perceive clear glass as a barrier. At the zoo, over time, we slowly remove the paper as the animal becomes familiar with their new surroundings. Ever hear the ‘thunk’ of a bird hitting your office or home window? Sometimes the bird is just stunned, but that is not always the case. Every year millions of birds in the United States are killed by hitting glass.
Glass is not the only challenge birds face. There are also outdoor cats, climate change, collisions (vehicles, power lines, etc..), habitat loss, and more. One in four birds have disappeared in the past 50 years (3 billion birds), according to a 2019 study. If you have a window that seems to be a problem for birds, there are ways to change that. A visual barrier every 2 inches horizontally and every 4 inches vertically helps a bird perceive the glass as something they cannot fly through. Taking action during migration months or year-round could make a difference for our feathered friends.
Do you want to do a fun project with the kids? Grab some chalk markers or Tempera paint and create your own temporary scene on your window. There are more permanent solutions if that’s what you’re looking for. There are long-lasting bird-safe films you can apply to your window. They can be purchased in full sheets, cut out into custom designs, or in simple shapes, or display custom images. CollidEscape, Feather Friendly commercial, Solyx, ABC BirdTape, Acopian BirdSavers are a few you may want to check out if you’re interested.
If you happen to be building or changing out the glass in your windows, you can incorporate bird-safe glass. This is produced with an ultraviolet striping inside a three-panel glass or made with an acid etching to make the glass a barrier the birds can see. For such products, you’ll want to check into Ornilux, GuardianBird1st, Viracon bird-friendly glass, and Walker Glass Aviprotek.
Another thing to consider while you have birds on the brain are lights at night. Many birds, including the majority of songbirds, are flying around at night during their migration. Fewer predators are out and about at that time, and the winds are calmer, so the flying is easier. The downside is that bird collisions with buildings increase with greater amounts of artificial light at night. The birds may be drawn to or disoriented by the lights at night. Artificial light at night is also driving down insects which many birds feed on. The effects of artificial light may also be shifting the timing of bird migrations which could result in birds returning before their food sources are available.
What can you do to help? Close curtains or blinds so the light from inside buildings does not shine through the window. Reduce outdoor light usage or make sure the light is cast downward. These steps can help a great deal, especially during migration. We are getting closer to the end of the spring migration, but if you are interested in who might be flying overhead on a particular night, check out BirdCast.info. For more information on bird conservation, glass collisions, and more, check out American Bird Conservancy at abcbirds.org.
Story Time Returns
By Julianne Werts, Education Coordinator
The nursery rhyme “Sally the Camel” counts down how many humps Sally has, usually starting from five humps and ending with zero humps. When Sally no longer has any humps, she is no longer a camel, but a horse of course! While camels and horses may have a few things in common, they are two very distinct types of animals. Mona and KJ, two Bactrian camel at the Lee Richardson Zoo can attest to that. Because Mona and KJ are Bactrian camels, they have two humps, and they both happen to be celebrating their birthdays this week! Mona has turned 25 and her son KJ is turning five on the 19th.
These humps are part of why camels have been domesticated. That is, why people sought out to breed and raise camels for their own use. Like horses, camels are used for transport and mobility. Their humps give camels an advantage that horses do not have, a built-in energy supply. A camel’s hump is made up of of excess fat (not water) which they can use for nourishment when food and water supplies are scarce. In addition to their humps, camels can carry up to 600 pounds on their backs. This means travelers can not only ride the camel, but also pack their luggage on the animal as well. Camels can travel 100 miles without stopping for water, but when they do find a water source, they can drink up to 30 gallons in only 13 minutes.
These unique adaptations have given camels the nickname “ships of the desert”. Bactrian camels like Mona and KJ are believed to have been domesticated up to 6,000 years ago in their native habitat of Central Asia. This species can not only go a long time without water but can also survive some of the most extreme weather conditions. Bactrian camels can withstand temperatures as cold as negative 20 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and over 100 degrees in the summer. Their feet are padded and very broad, their hooves are not fully formed and are more like nails since they do not fully cover their toes. Thanks to their specialized hooves they can navigate the shifting sands and rocky desserts of their native habitat easily.
Other desert adaptations that Bactrian camels have include the ability to grow a thick fur coat during the winter, which sheds every spring when temperatures rise. They also have two rows of thick eyelashes that shade their eyes from the harsh sun as well as prevent sand and dirt from getting in. Mona and KJ and have all these same features, allowing them to thrive here in the Great American Desert when temperatures raise and drop, or wind speeds pick up. The pair also represent the critically endangered wild Bactrian camel. While domesticated Bactrian camel populations are doing well, their wild counterparts are threatened.
There are fewer than 1,000 individual Bactrian camels in the wild. Their populations are decreasing due to the biggest threat to all wildlife, habitat loss. Bactrian camels are losing their habitat due to residential and commercial development, agriculture, energy production, and mining. While human encroachment is wildlife’s biggest threat, we are also their best chance for a future. We can help Bactrian camels, and all wildlife, threatened by habitat loss, by committing to sustainable actions and purchases. An easy way to do this right here in Garden City is to recycle. By recycling your waste, manufacturers can utilize the material they need for their products again, instead of mining in wild places or developing more.
Help us celebrate Mona and KJ’s birthdays this week by visiting them in Wild Asia. You can see their amazing adaptations in person and learn more about this species. Take it a step further and visit the City of Garden City’s recycling center at 125 JC Street, or learn more about how and what you can recycle at www.garden-city.org/services/recycling. Happy birthday Mona and KJ!
Story Time Returns
By Julianne Werts, Education Coordinator
When we think of winter, we often picture a cold day with snow on the ground. And often in this picture, there aren’t many animals around. As the season gets colder, we may see a few birds flying around or a rabbit hopping through the snow, but generally, the wildlife we see decreases. So where do all the animals go?
The Lee Richardson Zoo is happy to announce that Story Time is returning in April! If you have young children and are looking for a fun activity and to get out of the house on Monday mornings, the Zoo is the place for you!
Starting in April, each Monday we will host Story Time at 10:30 a.m. on the back patio area of the Finnup Center for Conservation Education. Due to this activity being outside, it may be cancelled if there is rain or other inclement weather. Any cancellations will be posted on the Lee Richardson Zoo Facebook page, so be sure to check there for the most up-to-date information!
This program includes an interactive storybook reading from some of the Zoo’s wonderful Docents, a chance to see animal artifacts or meet a live animal guest, and a craft kit for you to take home! Every week we read a different story, and it’s always a surprise! Sometimes we learn about a certain animal, and other weeks we may hear a funny tale, or learn how we can help wildlife. Many of these books focus on animals that you can find right here at the Zoo! Whatever the theme may be, we hope to promote exploration of nature and a love of reading in young children.
After reading the story, you will get a craft kit to take home that complements the story you just heard. These kits include a photo and instructions of how to complete the craft, and most of the supplies needed to do so. Common household items, such as glue or crayons, will need to be supplied at home. We aim to make the crafts age-appropriate, easy to complete with minimal help from an adult, and small enough to be easy to carry.
Story Time is a great addition to your family’s trip to the Zoo. After the program, you can explore and try to find some of the animals from the story you just heard. This is also a great chance to see if you remember any of the fun facts you learned, or simply say hello to some new animal friends!
Interested in adding Story Time into your next visit? Simply come to the back patio of the Finnup Center for Conservation Education at 10:30 a.m. on Monday mornings. We hope to see you there for all the fun! For more information, you can visit www.leerichardsonzoo.org or check the Lee Richardson Zoo Facebook page for updates.
By Alyssa Mechler, Education Specialist
World Wildlife Day was celebrated on March 3rd this year with a focus on Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet. World Wildlife Day was proclaimed in 2013 to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. March 3rd was chosen as a day of celebration, as that was the day of the signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1973. Forests play a central role in a lot of people’s lives as well as many of the earth’s plants and animals. World Wildlife Day works to promote practices that accommodate both humans, the long-term conservation of forests, and the forest-dwelling species.
Many animals here at the Lee Richardson Zoo are ambassadors to forests around the world. Forests are home to 80% of all terrestrial wildlife, from the lemurs of Madagascar to the bantengs of Asia. Each species has different adaptations to help them thrive in the forests. When visiting the lemurs, you may notice they use their hands to grip onto the branches and climb around. They can use their hands and feet to support themselves when feeding on leaves from the branches below. Lemur diets consist of plants, some fruits, and a lot of nectar. They play a big role in pollinating the plants of the forests and dispersing their seeds.
How can we help the forests of Madagascar and Asia all the way from Kansas? By shopping for sustainable products like those that have the Rainforest Alliance Certified sticker on the back. The image is of a green frog; it lets consumers know that the product’s ingredients meet the three pillars of sustainability: social, economic, and environmental. The Rainforest Alliance Certification program evaluates farmers in all three areas before awarding or renewing their certification. The certification has benefits to both the farmers and the environment. Next time you are at the store, make sure to look for that symbol!
If you missed our World Wildlife Day celebration on our social media, you can still learn all about forest-dwelling creatures by joining us for our Spring Break Online Edventure. This will consist of lots of posts on our social media as well as three videoconferences directed at different ages. Meet some forest natives by attending a videoconference on March 18,19, or 20th. Thursday the 18th, the program will be geared towards littles, 4th grade and under. Friday the 19th, the program will feature information for 5th-high school, and Saturday the 20th, the program will be available to all ages! Grab your family and head on over to learn more about forest animals and how we can help conserve their homes!
Look for this logo on your next shopping trip!