The first sleepover.

Things are moving right along at the zoo.  I scheduled some Zoo Adventure Programs in August and now it is almost September!  I had my first Behind the Scenes Tour, Roar and Snore Sleepover and Career Day for 60 high school kids. 

The sleepover night was filled with animal encounters, enrichment making, nocturnal tour, radio telemetry, camera trapping and so much more!  The evening ended with a campfire in which all the sleepover guests were able to roast marshmallows!  I used fuel briquettes made at the zoo for the campfire.  Fuel briquettes are easily made and used as a low cost, locally made fuel for cooking or heating. Organic waste such as leaves, sticks, paper and weeds can be made into fuel briquettes.  The basic recipe is mix the waste up with water and a binding agent, use a briquette press to get as much water out as possible and then let the rest dry.  The fuel briquettes burned just as they are supposed to, like a coal briquette.  Although, for a campfire where you want light and flame they were not quite adequate.  Luckily I had plenty of small sticks and twigs to supplement the fire.  Fuel briquette technology is used in third world countries to offer a sustainable, local and cheap way to create fuel.  To read more on fuel briquettes, check out this file! Next step for the campfire is starting it with the bow drill or flint and steel instead of a lame lighter!

 Participants of the sleepover roasting marshmallows at the campfire!

My favorite part was the nocturnal room in the Asia pavilion.  The Slow Loris was so curious at night he came out of his home right up to the window to check out the humans.  Their big eyes are adapted for nocturnal living but really just make them incredibly cute!  Slow Loris’ are primates in the same sub order as lemurs. 

Slow Loris; A picture taken by Paul Dumond of the El Paso Zoo.

Slow Loris’ are also declining in the wild due to habitat destruction and wildlife trade.  Slow Loris’ are often caught and their teeth clipped for the pet trade and medicinal uses.  When these animals are sold as pets their mortality rate is extremely high.  It is recommended to not have any exotic animal as a pet.  Exotics require more attention, care, nutrition, knowledge and a vet that specializes in exotics.  Most people can not provide this for an animal so it is best to stick to a dog or cat that will cuddle with you as well. 

Slow Loris’ are protected from commercial trade but can still be found in markets in China and are often smuggled to Japan.  It is thought that they posses strange powers and can cure many diseases in traditional Asian cultures.  They are still sought after for these reasons.  Although Slow Loris’ are hard to study due to their secretive nocturnal behavior, poachers are easily harvesting them using flashlights and looking for their eye shine. 

To protect the Slow Loris’ out in the wild, don’t buy exotic pets or support stores that offer them.  Also they live in the tropical rain forests of Asia.  In a previous post I wrote about huge areas of the rain forest being destroyed to plant palm plantations.  If you look at the products you buy, make sure they do not have palm oil in them.  Also known as palmitate, palmatine etc.  An easy way to help!

The sleepover participants woke up early for an amazing experience of a behind the scenes tour of the Asian Elephants.  A jam packed night and morning and all for half price at $20!  Next sleepover is scheduled for October 1, 2011!

The Behind the Scenes Tour and Career Day presentations were also a lot of fun.  I truly love trying to inspire kids to figure out their passion and have the motivation and desire to go out and achieve it.  I hope that I and the volunteers opened up their eyes to many possibilities that they had not even thought about. At the end of one presentation a girl reached into her bag to find out her deodorant had palm oil in it.  She shared it with the class and I bet she won’t buy that brand again!  Do a little, change a lot.


This entry was posted in campfire, el paso zoo, exotic, fuel briquette, nocturnal, palm oil, slow loris, sustainability. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The first sleepover.

  1. desert_APE says:

    Very awesome! Great to see that the zoo is getting so engaged with even the older kids of the community!

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