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Zoo News: Spring changes come in many forms

Spring is certainly a time for change. The changes may be a bit different for everyone, but for most, it is something we look forward to. The ground is thawed, the grass is greening, and the trees are beginning to leaf-out. It may still be muddy, but calves are dropping and other than the unexpected winter storms, everything is looking bright, at least on the outside.

The same is true for the zoo, its staff, and the animals. The animals are returning to their enclosures after a long winter and are being greeted by a community eager to get outside and enjoy the change in weather. For the staff, shorts have come back out and fresh ideas for what they want to accomplish during the warmer months. For some staff it is a time for changes for various reasons whether personal, professional, or financial. It is always tough to see them go, but also rewarding to see them grow in the zoo profession. It is never an easy decision to make, speaking from experience, but growth seldom is. So as familiar faces move on, the new faces soon fill those roles and while they will never replace those individuals, they will bring new skills, experiences and a fresh set of eyes creating their own significance to the team.

Today’s world is full of challenges. The change in seasons seems to make everyone a bit more hopeful and optimistic. It is a time of endings and beginnings. As school nears its end some will be graduating and looking toward that next stage of their life or the thawing ground and snow melt allowing for fields to be worked and planted, and the opening for construction projects to really take off. The days are longer, warmer, and just plain more enjoyable for being outside.

Construction within the zoo has been a challenge over the winter, but with the change in season we are looking forward to changes both large and small — all important to the zoo and its mission. The largest, of course, is the Amur leopard exhibit project which is a re-use of the building and space that once held all the zoo’s big cats. Lions, tigers, and leopards all shared the building and divied up the exhibit space between four separate enclosures. Over the past several years, with the support of the community, the lions and tigers have both enjoyed spacious new habitats and, weather permitting, we will be adding leopards to that list. The zoo has already heard from the Leopard SSP and plans to receive a breeding pair once construction is completed.

Yes, spring is a time for change and for optimism. Even though we theoretically missed Earth Day due to a blizzard, it did not diminish the passion of those groups planning to work throughout the community. They knew it was just a bump in the road and that better days were just around the corner. It is easy to let the negatives get you down, but don’t let them overshadow all the positives in front of you and those still to come.

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