Habitat Replication

One challenge zoo’s often face is replicating the natural habitats of their animals from around the world. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York is using different innovative technologies to help their animals feel at home.

TRANSCRIPT

ONE CHALLENGE ZOOS OFTEN FACE IS REPLICATING THE NATURAL HABITATS OF THEIR ANIMALS FROM AROUND THE WORLD.

THE ROSAMOND GIFFORD ZOO IN SYRACUSE, NEW YORK IS USING DIFFERENT INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES TO HELP THEIR ANIMALS FEEL AT HOME.

TAKE A LOOK.

Ted Fox: The Rosamond Gifford zoo is an amazing resource for our community.

It's got a high level of animal care being one of 231 accredited zoos around the country and that means any visitor that comes through the door is going to see animals that are housed and are being cared for in to the highest possible level.

In so many zoos around the country you'll know you're going into the African section or the Asian section of the tropical site.

And we've gotten away from that a little bit and are kind of going back to it now.

(Good Rodney.

Come here.

Good Girl) Ashley Sheppard: Zoo's around the country are changing all the time to help better in themselves.

This Yard behind me is 4 acres and it really helps us to be able to display our whole herd and kind of mimic a wild setting for them.

Ted Fox: The exhibits tend to speak to each other so they you when you feel you're in an area it's more of an immersion not only for you but for the animals as well.

(Kids speaking to the animals) Simon Perez: You have elephants here you have penguins here.

They're not from the same part of the world but they are now.

How do you how do you pull that off?

Ted Fox: So every exhibit that we think about recreating we have to consider where the animals came from what they've evolved to enjoy in a daily in the daily life of an elephant what do they do?

Do they like to tear a tree down?

Do they like to dig dig up grass?

Do they like to play in the water?

So all those basic elements we like to think of first and see how we're going to accomplish that you know with in case the elephants we knew we needed a water system.

How how are we going to do that and have clean water for the elephants in a beautiful space for them which is this also aesthetically pleasing for the visitors.

So this is the state of the art bio filtration for the self-employed.

So this is the first one in the country from mega vertebrate that is actually a standalone bio filtration.

There's so much waste in the water.

Elephants love to play in the water.

They love to take anything they're playing with into the water so it's really difficult to keep that water clean.

And we want it to be different.

We wanted to be more responsible for our site and would that possibly work.

Simon Perez: And so what happens here?

What the water comes from up there down into here?

Ted Fox: Yeah it's a gravity fed from the 50, 000 gallon pool that's in the exhibit and the water comes down into this and it's called a settling back.

It looks just like a concrete bath but it's actually hollow in the center where the grinder pump at the bottom.

So when the water comes in the elephants like to play like roll in the sand and dirt.

So when they go in the pool all that stuff settles to the bottom comes down into here settles in this settling that and then is ground up and it comes out a different area and we can get rid of it that way.

If by any chance any of the any filter or are particles are remained in the water when they got to this point there are these things that look like garbage cans that are actually physical filters so we can take a strainer basket out just like you would at your pool at home.

So from the pumps then we're going to go to the final section which is the sand filters and I'll show you those.

So this is the final phase before the water goes back into the pool for the elephants to enjoy.

These are sand filters what happens in here is that the water comes in they agitated airy oxygenated and then they the other two pumps that we just saw down below take them to the water goes from here into the final two pumps.

And pumps back uphill to the elephant pool.

Simon Perez: Compare this system with the old?

Ted Fox: One the footprint for life support system with the filtration for the old pool was nothing.

There was no filtration for that whole pool.

It was a big concrete pool when and when we got dirty where was at least once a week we would open the drain.

All that twenty thousand twenty to thirty thousand gallons would go into the sewer system and we clean the pool and fill it back up until the next week and do it again.

This maybe once or twice a year we clean and when we do that again none of that enters the system it goes into the infiltration system.

Simon Perez: From the animal's point of view.

What difference is all this stuff makes?

How do they benefit?

Ted Fox: This new pool is much more like it would be in the wild.

They can access it from any site.

There are no stairs.

It's all gradually getting deeper and deeper.

There's a waterfall.

There's a special nozzle that comes out.

It's clean water that hasn't been through the filtration at all so that's the drinking water.

If they want to and not drink out of the pool that the water is agitated.

There's skimmer baskets so the constant movement in the water it makes it much more interesting for the animals and healthier because it's cleaner all the way around.

Deborah Delorenzo: When the elephants go in there the pool actually overflows over the sides and it can form mud wallows around the pool and Batu in particular loves to play in the mud.

But they all use the mud for all different kinds of things.

They come out here in the winter they get to experience snow.

They do all different kinds of things all throughout our seasonal changes here and there's always different types of enrichment and things that we put out for the elephants to help stimulate them as well.

Simon Perez: Animals here come from all over the world.

You can't just make them be central New York animals.

What about the science and technology part of that?

Because It's one thing to bring a tree or bring some rocks in But we've got temperature we've got water filtration.

There's there's more to it than just the trees.

Ted Fox: We've got to make sure the water quality is as much as closer to the wild condition as possible.

So in the case of the Penguins we know they would only be extremely clean water.

The Humboldt Current which is where they got their name where they came from is not only cold but it's very very clean.

Deborah Delorenzo: We replicated our exhibit to mimic where they're from if you ever did travel that part of the world.

It's very rocky, very barren, very little plant life.

So that's what we kind of incorporated here.

We also mimics their pool temperature to keep that of what they would naturally swim in very cold water.

So cool temperatures mimic to keep it around 50 to 60 degrees year around.

Simon Perez: Is it hard to keep it cold?

Ted Fox: It's so hard to keep it cold.

The tiller system that keeps the cold, not so much heated in the winter.

There's a lot of insulation up there but we have to heat it to 60.. 50 degrees in the winter and keep it cool to 60 degrees in the summer.

And so the whole entire 50, 000 gallons of water volume in the pool circulates through the system three times every hour and that goes through it's in the summertime it goes through a solar system and in the winter time it goes through our heating system.

If the penguins are in too hot or too cold the temperature of their health would be compromised and that's of course what we don't want to see happen.

Deborah Delorenzo: For the bacterial control we do produce our own ozone here which for your commercial pools it's chlorine that helps with bacterial control and keeps the water clear.

Penguins you can't use chlorine so ozone is the more designed way to keep your bacterial levels at bay.

And so we inject a small amount of ozone Interpol for that clarity and keep the water clear.

A lot of people, we get a lot of questions, well ok penguins go out and swim in the ocean and the ocean is salt water so how are you able to have a freshwater pool?

Well through our research and discovering and learning about the species.

We found that Penguins have a gland called the super orbital gland which excretes excess salts out of the bodies.

So generally when they are in taking fish.

They're excreting a lot excess salt out so almost 90 to 95 percent of the water that they would intake with that becomes freshwater.

Ted Fox: Every animal at Zoo, the well-being is our priority.

And what we can improve and how we can improve.

With new designs of systems and so forth.

That's what we're focusing on and what we want to teach and explain to the public comes in and invest in coming here for the day and we want to make sure that they understand that we take this very seriously and we'll put everything we can into it.

AND THAT WRAPS IT UP FOR THIS TIME.

FOR MORE ON SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION, VISIT OUR WEBSITE, CHECK US OUT ON FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM, AND JOIN THE CONVERSATION ON TWITTER.

YOU CAN ALSO SUBSCRIBE TO OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

UNTIL NEXT TIME I'M HARI SREENIVASAN.

THANKS FOR WATCHING.

FUNDING FOR THIS PROGRAM IS MADE POSSIBLE BY SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THIS STATION.