Lake Superior Zoo, Duluth, Minnesota

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

You want me to do WHAT!?!
Written by: Ashley Stalvig

When I first joined the zoo’s Green Team I thought to myself, “This will be easy – I recycle, turn the faucet off while I brush my teeth AND I have CFL light bulbs in my house. I’m already living green.” I was wrong; boy, was I wrong!

Living green takes much more of a conscious effort than I realized. While it is not painstakingly impossible, it is more difficult than just floating through life as an unconscious consumer! The Green Team has challenged me to drive less (is there a bus route near me?), use reusable containers for take-out foods at restaurants (you mean I have to think ahead and bring them with me?), log my plastic use (its everywhere – ahh, writer’s cramp!), shop more responsibly by purchasing less packaging (using cloth bags isn’t all I should do?) and now they want me to live in the dark! Well, not exactly…

But, they do want me to be aware that turning lights off, even for an hour, can have a tremendous effect on my footprint. The community’s footprint. The state’s footprint. The world’s footprint?

Yes! This is precisely why Earth Hour was started and I am eager to take part in this worldwide event this year, not only at home, but also as part of the zoo staff. I can be part of the solution; I can make a difference! Earth Hour is a global sustainability movement with more than 50 million people across 35 countries participating in turning their lights off for just one hour. Global landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and Rome's Colosseum have stood in darkness as symbols of hope for a cause that grows more urgent by the hour.

Will you help too? Join me this Saturday, March 26th, at the Lake Superior Zoo to celebrate a global cause, in the dark. The zoo will turn out its lights and have a bonfire and s'mores, an educational presentation, lantern-lit walking tours and the Arrowhead Astronomical Society will be on hand with telescopes for viewing of the constellations. Click here for more information and to register!

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posted by Keely Johnson at

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Howling Harmony

Written by: Zookeeper Maicie

Now that we have our three gray wolves at the Lake Superior Zoo, it is a common occurrence for the Zookeepers to hear our visitors trying to get them to howl. Hearing the kids (and adults) give their best yowl makes us chuckle, but also reflect on why wolves howl? After a little reading, I learned howling helps a pack reassemble, attract a mate, stimulate a pack before a hunt and startle prey. They also may howl when they feel disturbed and cannot run away, upon waking, after playing, sometimes out of frustration, to announce an intruder, or even just for fun.

R. D. Lawrence, author of Trail of the Wolf, states, "Wolves probably howl for a variety of reasons, one of which, I am convinced, is that they enjoy doing so." Howls can last from half a second up to eleven seconds. Larger wolves tend to have deeper voices than smaller, younger wolves. In addition, when howling, wolves shift the pitch of their howl to have almost a harmonic effect.

When Capone, Cohen and Dillinger arrived, they were quiet for a period, but recently we have been hearing their vocalizations. When I heard them for the first time, I remember experiencing a strange, uplifting feeling in my chest. It made me very happy to hear something that comes so natural to them and know we are providing a comfortable, new home. We hope that you too get to hear our boys the next time you visit the Lake Superior Zoo.

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posted by Keely Johnson at

Thursday, March 10, 2011

"Future of Frogs"

The zoo's newest exhibit officially opens to the public tomorrow, Friday, March 11th! "What is this exhibit?" you ask. The Lake Superior Zoo is hosting “Future of Frogs,” an Animal Interaction Design Group (AIDG) exhibit. The display is housed in the Primate Conservation Center and will be open to the public through September 11th.

This exciting display highlights the delicate future of the world’s frog population and the impact frogs have on our ecosystems. The display exhibits several species of frogs from around the world, including White’s Tree Frogs, Poison Dart Frogs, Vietnamese Mossy Frogs, Fire-bellied Toads and American Bull Frogs.

The display also includes non-living interactive components:
-A frog vocalization kiosk featuring both audio and visual clips of eight frog species
-An interactive touch screen that explains the reasons for the global decline of frogs
-a giant replica of an American Bull Frog, suitable for climbing and taking pictures
-Jump Like a Frog- an educational activity about the challenges frogs face in order to survive
-Frogs, Nature’s Pest Control System- a puzzle about what frogs eat and how they help people

Hop on in to explore the wondrous world of frogs and learn about the challenges they face. From tiny dart frogs to giant bull frogs - there's something to see, something to learn and something to do for kids of all ages.

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posted by Keely Johnson at

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

By: Zookeeper Maicie Sykes

Well, it's been almost two months now since the gray wolves arrived and our boys are settling in! Recently, the carnivore Zookeepers were given the privilege of naming them. After one of the wolves was brought to the zoo with an injury on his face, he was referred to as "Scarface." Keeping with a gangster theme, the wolves were renamed Capone (Al Capone), and his brothers, Dillinger (John Dillinger) and Cohen (Mickey Cohen). The brothers are on their own for the first time, trying to figure out the dynamics of their pack. Currently, our two white wolves seem to be vying for the position of alpha male. Dillinger, our red-colored wolf is taking the position of the omega wolf, the lowest individual of a pack. Wolves show their social rank with a variety of behaviors, body positions, and movements. A dominant wolf will walk confidently, raise its hackles, growl, eat before others, and urinate with a raised leg. A subordinate wolf like Dillinger, will lower his tail and body position into a crouch, urinate in a squatting position, and make whining or squealing noises. While our wolves are displaying different social ranks within their pack, they may change positions at any point. Social ranking can change when wolves grow older, become wounded or ill, or as they alter their alliances with other pack members. You will be able to see these behaviors in action and study the fluid dynamics of a wolf pack the next time you visit the Lake Superior Zoo.

posted by Keely Johnson at

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