It may be a bit early in the year for some good snake herping, but not too early for a Conference! We were invited to be part of the education panel at the Box Turtle Conservation Workshop in Ashboro, North Carolina. It was hosted by the fantastic North Carolina Zoo. We met several wonderful scientists, naturalists, government workers, and zookeepers.
The highlight of the trip ended up being the zoo itself! We received an amazing behind the scenes tour with one of the river habitat zookeepers. Here is Mark and Caroline hanging out at the Sonoran desert exhibit.
Don’t they look like they are having fun?
I was impressed with how much the exhibit looked like the Sonora Desert. It reminded me of my southwest home.
This hill is loaded with yucca, cholla (pronounced choy- yah), prickly pear, and barrel cactus.
Just goes to show you the amazing things you can grow in a bubble.
The most impressive animal in the desert exhibit was the gorgeous and obviously very happy Gila Monster (pronounced Hee-lah.) Just look at the smile on this guys face. The Gila Monster is one of two venomous lizards in the world. They have venom glands in their jaw and grooved teeth for the venom to flow along. Gilas have been known to eat eggs, birds, rodents, and even snakes.
I just couldn’t get enough of all the amazing and healthy animals found in this exhibit.
Here is an old girl lifting her head up to say hi. She recognized our zookeeper guide, Mark and came out of the water to see what was going on.
Behind the riverside exhibit was a brightly colored coral snake. Check out the lovely colors on this guy. The keepers told us this guy was actually from the zoo property! Good thing he is safe in here now, there are elephants out there little guy!
If you are in the North Carolina area, you must check out the zoo. i would visit just for the impressive stream side exhibit. The display is amazingly executed. It looks just like someone took a saw and sliced a cross section of a stream and its banks and encased it in glass. The exhibit had fish and turtles swimming in the water, water moccasins, kingsnakes, birds, frogs, toads, copperheads, ratsnakes, and more! To service this impressive exhibit, you have to climb up and down these scary stairs.
Yikes those things are steep!
I was amazed to find they had a hellbender in the back. Sorry folks, no picture as they all came out blurry. The outdoor Carolina exhibits were very nice too. Check out the awesome picture I got of the puma. Caroline and I must have spent a good amount of time watching these big cats chase
The best part of the tour came when Mark took us in the forested area to look for salamanders and frogs. It was doubtful this time of year to find many snakes. The zoo sits on several acres of untouched woodland and it is filled with may awesome native animals.
Say Hello to Mr. Amphibian! We found many egg masses of salamanders and frogs in the scattered vernal pools back there.
It is a beautiful zoo. Thanks for the tour Mark!
Back at the hotel room, it wasn’t so beautiful. Check out what happened to one of our sodas in the fridge.
Looks like the hotel staff gets an extra tip.
This is the nice thing about being on vacation I suppose. I felt a bit guilty for leaving the mess, but the cleaning crew is going to be better equipped to deal with it. We left a nice note on the fridge informing them it was just soda, really!