Enjoying the sunshine!

Uncategorized

Spring has definitely arrived at Wildlife Safari. All our animals have been enjoying the beautiful weather this week, sun baking and taking naps in the shade!

Our brown bears have been loving the warm weather!

While the rain might be back for now, here are some happy faces to brighten your day and give you a sneak peak of Safari in Summer!

Laying back and relaxing – Grizzly bears Mak and Oso sun baking

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Little Ones Springing into Summer

Uncategorized, Ungulates

As summer approaches, so does one of the best seasons at the park: baby season! Pretty soon babies will start dropping at Wildlife Safari, and our drive through will be full of small Bison, Rhea, and more! It’s a wonderful season, full of new life, but it does get the keepers on their toes a little more than usual. Here at Safari we count and check on every single one of our animals every day, so when little ones start appearing, making sure they have the correct count gets interesting!

A mother wildebeest with her baby

A mother wildebeest with her baby

 

Erica Sherrow, Lead Ungulate Keeper, tells us a little about it. “Baby season is crazy!” She says. “But its a good crazy. It’s a surprise every morning!”

Little blackbuck

Little blackbuck

The Ungulates department looks after 253 animals, and around 20 species. “It’s very hard to find the babies,” says Sherrow. “The Bison are a little easier to see, they look like little cheeto puffs, they are bright orange.” The Fallow deer fawns, however, pose more of a challenge. “The moms do a really good job of hiding them – same with the Blackbuck.”

Fallow fawn

Fallow Fawn

We hope to have babies born from Fallow deer, Blackbuck, Wildebeest, Scimitar horned Oryx, and Bison, however, you can never tell how successful a breeding season has been until the count at the end, or how many young will survive to maturity.

Baby Zebra

Baby Zebra

It is definitely a good time to visit the park, as you never know when babies will arrive. “We’ve had guests come through the park and observe a lot of bison births, and people who have seen the wildebeests,” says Sherrow. “People just get super excited about it. I mean, how often do you get to see a wildebeest give birth?”

Baby wildebeest

Baby wildebeest

For the rhea and emus, however, it’s still breeding season. Alison Trout, who is also a keeper in the Ungulate Department, says the birds are still actively seeking out mates. “They’re still a little flirty,” she says, which can make for some comical behaviors. “The rheas will have their wings out displaying, the emus walk around with their necks super puffed out.”

Rhea and chicks

Rhea and chicks

Of course, our visiting Canadian Geese who migrate in and out of the park with the seasons, are also a part of baby season, with dozens of little goslings running around!

Whether you love baby puff-ball birds or prancing fawns, this spring and summer is definitely the time for a Safari!

Rise and Shine!

Behind the Scenes, Carnivores, Uncategorized

Spring is here and the bears at Wildlife Safari have started venturing out and stretching their legs after a long four months of hibernation. Although still a little sleepy, the bears are looking happy and healthy, having lost a substantial amount of weight during their time of rest.

One of the black bears surrounded by snacks and enrichment

One of the black bears, Chochmo surrounded by snacks and enrichment – photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

When the bears first get up, they ease into eating again, starting on small amounts of simple foods and slowly increasing as summer approaches.

The black bears typically hibernate for longer than the brown bears, but are also starting to emerge for the spring.

Grizzly brothers, Mak and Oso, enjoying the spring sunshine - photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Grizzly brothers, Mak and Oso, enjoying the spring sunshine – photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Sunshine adventures

Little Boy on sunshine adventures – photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

In the wild, spring is the time when cubs are around, emerging from their dens with their mothers for the first time. Bears will give birth while hibernating, with cubs nursing on their snoozing mother through the winter. By the time spring rolls around, cubs are big enough to explore and play while their mothers find food.

This may seem like a good way to raise small young, and it is not just good timing that allows them to give birth during hibernation. Bears can actually delay implantation of fertilized eggs to make sure their pregnancy goes through these resting months. “Delayed implantation is a really cool feature of the bear reproductive cycle,” says Melissa Fox, primary bear trainer at Wildlife Safari. “Bears will typically mate in late spring, but the fertilized egg won’t attach to the uterine wall until fall, and only if the female has gained enough weight to sustain her – typically around 150lbs.” If the female does not gain that weight, the pregnancy will be terminated. This pregnancy will only last 2 months, giving the little cubs time to grow before the end of the hibernation period. Cubs are born tiny and hairless, though they are much bigger and stronger when they leave the den. “They are born early so they can switch to mammary nourishment (milk) sooner,” explains Fox. “It’s more energy efficient.”

Takoda the black bear saying hello to his keepers

Little Girl, the black bear saying hello to her keepers – photo courtesy of Melissa Fox

As their primary, Fox spends a lot of time with both the brown and black bears. “I love how intelligent and playful they are,” she says. “It makes them so much fun to work with.”

Once they are awake and ready to eat, bears are mostly foragers – eating whatever is around. While they do eat meat, they won’t generally hunt, preferring to eat prey that another animal has caught, although they will also fish.

The black bears love their ponds

The black bears love their ponds – photo courtesy of Taylor Sherrow

Bears 2

Photo courtesy of Melissa Fox

Big Bear encounters have started, so if you haven’t met our brown bears, now is the perfect time to come and see them!