Let’s go on a road trip!

I want you to imagine that you and I are driving to Mexico to spend the winter.

After a few hours on the road, we need to fill up the gas tank and we pull into a rest station for gas and a snack. Upon arrival we discover no gas at that station. Thinking we can make it a little further we continue on, only to find the next few gas stations do not have gas or have very little. The further south we go, the harder our trip gets as our tank gets closer to empty. The big question is, will we make it?

This is a question that we are asking about the monarch butterfly: Will they make it to Mexico to overwinter? Back in mid-September, we wrapped up our Daisy Marquis Jones Butterfly Beltway Project for the year with a series of monarch butterfly releases at gardens statewide, as well as here on Zoo grounds. The monarchs we released were just starting their impressive journey all the way to Mexico. Lasting more than two months, this journey requires a lot of energy, gained by drinking the nectar from flowers. Every garden along their migration route is like a gas station, where they rest and refuel on their journey. Essential butterfly habitat has been disappearing all over the country, including here in western New York, making it harder for the monarchs to migrate. This is one of the main reasons the Butterfly Beltway Project is so important. We restore habitat through the planting of butterfly gardens, or rest stops, for monarchs.

How can you help? You can reestablish butterfly habitat by planting a butterfly garden, or have the Zoo do it for you, every little bit helps! This program will plant gardens at a private residences, places of worship, businesses, senior centers and schools. Our area is a prime migratory route of the monarchs and even as recently as this week, Zoo staff have seen monarchs migrating through this area.

By making sure your garden has plenty of flowers that still blossom in October (such as aster, golden rod, joe pye weed, sedum and zinnias), you can easily help monarchs on the move.

Questions about butterflies or how to make a garden? Please feel free to contact me at tfowler@senecazoo.org.

- Tim Fowler, Outreach Coordinator

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Learn all about penguins on Columbus Day

Photo by Walter Brooks

Photo by Walter Brooks

This Monday (October 13) is Penguin Awareness Day at the Zoo.

This event is a great opportunity to learn all about our African penguins, why their wild counterparts are in trouble and what your Zoo is doing to help. Learn ways you can help, too!

Come see a Penguin Feeding Demonstration, ask educators and keepers questions, and enter our silent auction to bid for your chance to win a behind-the-scenes tour of our Penguin Building, a penguin painting or a Household Basic Zoo membership. All funds raised during this event will go to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), an organization working to protect African penguins in their natural range. It is sure to be a fun-filled day, and we hope to see you there.

Event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free with Zoo admission.

- Kenny Nelson, Interpretation Coordinator

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Scout programs at the Zoo!

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photos by Kelli O’Brien

With the change in the season, we also see a change at the Zoo. At least for me that is! Instead of running our summer interpretive programs, I am in full Scout mode.

October through May is the time when we offer many programs for Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Daisy Scouts and Brownie Scouts. We offer both daytime and overnight workshops. Daytime workshops are prescheduled and so are many of our overnights. At every workshop, participants experience an animal presentation, a Zoo tour, and get engaged in hands-on educational projects. Some of these Big Nights have specific badge work and others are just for the fun of learning.

DSC_1226Scheduled overnights, or Big Nights, are for troops or packs that do not have enough people on their own to book an overnight, so you share with scouts from other troops. All of our Big Nights take place in the Rocky Coast Gallery, where our polar bears and sea lions reside.

You can have an overnight for your troop or pack by booking a Group Overnight. All our daytime workshops run two and a half hours, either in the morning or afternoon on Saturdays or Sundays, and fulfill a specific badge requirement.

There are minimum and maximum participant numbers for both daytime workshops and overnight programs, so be sure to check out the links above for details, or feel free to give me a call at (585) 295-7398.

The Zoo loves to help the scouting community, and I hope to see you here over the next few months.

- Kenny Nelson, Interpretation Coordinator

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Opportunities abound for ZooTeens

The ZooTeen program, which began in 1993, gives young adults the opportunity to explore their interests in ecology and conservation. ZooTeens spend the summer educating our visitors about Zoo animals and important environmental concepts.

This summer ZooTeens returning to the program had many additional opportunities including presenting ZooTeen stations at a Red Wings game, participating in our traveling ZooMobile program and shadowing our interpretive staff.

They also participated in a citizen science project as part of the Water Assessments by Volunteer Evaluators (WAVE) program. The ZooTeen Leaders attended a training held by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) where they learned how to assess the quality of a stream including macro invertebrate collection. ZooTeen Leaders used this information to create a training session for summer ZooTeens. After training other teens, they joined forces and went to Shipbuilder’s Creek at Vosburg Hollow Park in Webster to assess the stream’s health.

Their data will be used by the DEC to decide how the health of the stream should be categorized and if they should send professionals out for further data collection. We are helping the DEC in their efforts to assess every stream in New York State!

- Anneke Nordmark, Youth and School Groups Program Coordinator

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Sept. 20 is going to be elephantastic

Photo by Christine Quinn

Photo by Christine Quinn

This Saturday is an exciting day! It is Elephant Awareness Day at the Zoo. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn why elephants are important, what the Zoo is doing to help elephants and what you can to help elephants. Check out a short video to see what’s in store.

There are a number of different programs and activities happening all day long. ZooTeens will offer face painting, watch a variety of demonstrations with our elephants, bid in a Silent Auction for an original elephant painting created that day, an Elephant Painting Experience at a date to be determined or a morning spent with an elephant keeper.

Some lucky young visitors may even get a chance to participate in a watermelon eating contest with our elephants.

So what is the Seneca Park Zoo doing to help? The first is supporting the International Elephant Foundation, an organization that works to protect elephants in their natural ranges. The Zoo is also a member of the Elephant Managers Association. This organization works to champion the care of elephants in zoos and move forward the conservation of elephants in their natural ranges.

Come out on this Saturday. Hope to see you here!

- Kenny Nelson, Interpretation Coordinator

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Back-to-School time at the Zoo

It is starting to get cooler and leaves and starting to fall! Many are often surprised that the Zoo is open year round and that even when summer camps, our stage show, and summer demonstrations are over for the season, the Education Department still stays busy.

Photo by Kelli O'Brien

Photo by Kelli O’Brien

It is back-to-school time and we are working closely with teachers to develop programs uniquely designed for their classes needs. We have been working on some really exciting programs this week! From a Zoo Careers program for an AP biology class to a Frog Expedition for third graders, we can help build programs for any age group and focus on a wide range of topics. Our programs meet learning standards and many support Common Core modules. You can come to the Zoo to go on an Expedition and learn more about the animals and conservation issues in Africa and the Rocky Coast exhibits. Or you could bring your class for an Animal Presentation to meet some animals up close and personal to help focus your field trip. If you can’t bring your class to the Zoo, consider a ZooMobile program that can brings animals to you! If you are feeling extra adventurous, consider an Overnight event for your class. It is a wildly good time!

Cover for WebIf you are a teacher, administrator or a parent, and are interested in learning more about how the Zoo can fit into your classroom, please check out our 2014 Teachers Guide and give us a call! We are always ready and willing to meet with you to talk about your curriculum and how the Zoo can be a good fit! We hope everyone has a great start to their school year and we look forward to talk with you!

- Emily Coon-Frisch, Manager of Program Development

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An up-close-and-personal experience with bees

The ZooTeen program, which began in 1993, gives young adults the opportunity to explore their interests in ecology and conservation. ZooTeens spend the summer educating our visitors about Zoo animals and important environmental concepts.

This summer they were invited to get up close and personal with our honey bees during an experience with Sweet Beez, a nonprofit that cares for the Zoo’s hive. Watch the video below!

- Anneke Nordmark, Youth and School Programs Coordinator

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