Saturday, February 2, 2008

Why is there a kayak in the lake?

by Kim Parrino, Marketing Manager and token kayaker
Ordinarily my job at the Sacramento Zoo involves a more behind-the-scenes approach. I’m responsible for generating most of the creative projects that involve, designing the “look” of banners, brochures, billboards, tv commercials you get the idea, I’m a bit of a desk jockey. I generally stay pretty clean and I don’t get my hands dirty.

Let’s face it when I say that I work at the Sacramento Zoo, the first thing that comes to mind is an animal care position where someone like a zookeeper has daily hands-on interaction with the animals. It’s obviously a bit of a let down when I sheepishly explain that no, “I’m in Marketing and they actually don’t let me near the animals.”

However, once a year I redeem myself and actually get some super cool interaction with our animals. Annually all of the birds and hoof stock at the Sacramento Zoo receive a vaccine to protect them against the West Nile Virus. West Nile is a virus that is spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on infected birds, and then transmit the virus to humans and animals through bites.

Why would a desk jockey like me be asked to participate you’re asking yourself? I moonlight part-time as a kayak guide. This comes in really handy when it comes to rounding-up flamingos.

Okay, so technically, the vet staff does all the work when it comes to vaccinating the flamingos. But I deliver the goods. As a defense mechanism, flamingos remain in a large group. We’ve all heard the phrase “there’s safety in numbers”. Apparently the flamingos have also. My kayaking skills are just the ticket that is needed to gently herd our flock of flamingos across the lake with as little stress as possible toward the 20 or so zoo keepers that are silently waiting against the shoreline.

After the flamingos reach the shore the keeper staff slowly creeps around the flock of flamingos with shade cloth that creates a make-shift corral. Once in the corral the vet staff steps in and captures each bird and gives them a routine check-up along with their annual vaccination. The entire process, from herding the birds, to releasing them back into the lake, is over in about 1 ½ hours.

Just another day at the office, until next year…….

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Kim. Gray is excited be using this information from his friend Kim in his "Science in the News" project in his third grade class.

    Sarah

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