Lions, Tigers and InkHousers - Oh My!

Sep 05, 2017 admin

Members of the InkHouse West team had the opportunity to spend the past two Friday afternoons teaming-up with the San Francisco Zoo’s Horticulture Supervisor, Greg McCoy. We enjoyed a wonderful two days -- and though getting quite dirty, we more importantly learned a great deal from Greg, becoming educated on the zoo’s larger environmental focus: habitat conservation and vegetation management.

With only five gardeners on staff, the SF Zoo greatly depends on volunteers to help an assortment of gardens across the hundred-acre property. Each year, an unbelievable 1,800+ Bay Area residents volunteer, donating their time to keep the landscape flourishing -- enhancing not only the guests’ viewing pleasure, but the animals’ health. How you ask?

On a daily basis, the SF Zoo harvests “browse materials” to feed all of their animals. By naturally providing the koalas, giraffes, and rhinos with vegetation in the form of branches and leaves from the property, their staff is both helping to enrich the animals’ diets and replicating how they would eat in the wild. This scenario stimulates the animals’ senses and helps to keep them active. Additionally, Greg and his team focus a lot of energy on sourcing vegetation from other communities, allowing the animals to enjoy plants like eucalyptus, coprosma, acacia and bamboo.  

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The purpose of our particular visit was the rejuvenation of one of the newest exhibits to the zoo’s gardens: The Prehistoric Garden. This themed area focuses on ancient plant varieties that have survived for millions of years, including mosses, gunnera, horsetails and ferns – to name a few. These plant varieties are extremely adaptable having survived since the time of dinosaurs. To enhance the feel of prehistoric time, the California Academy of Science graciously donated several of its largest dinosaur statues to the zoo.

After all our hard work and efforts to ‘spruce up’ the area, Greg was gracious enough to give us a walking tour of the zoo. He explained that at least 25% of the animals were rescues -- sharing stories that involved a very friendly blind seal, the rescued bald eagle that could no longer fly, in addition to the bear cubs who had been struggling to survive after their mother was hunted and killed in Alaska. On a lighter note, we learned a ton and had a blast. Here are some of the other InkHousers’ favorite moments:

  • Elizabeth Dickerson: "Tigers are my favorite animals, so I absolutely loved seeing them when we volunteered at the zoo. We learned that the Amur tiger is one of the biggest breeds, and after seeing how big its head was, I concur with that statement!"
  • Taylor Jones: "I really enjoyed the tarantula exhibit the zoo was hosting this season! The spiders there looked incredibly ferocious and it was really impressive to see how massive they can grow to be."
  • Kelsey Miller: I loved that when we arrived, we saw lots of groups of kids grouped together for the zoo's summer camp program, where they get to learn about animals and spend time outdoors in the fresh air and among beautiful native plants. It definitely put in perspective for me that even though we were just weeding, we were also contributing to our local community. Those kids could've just been at home watching TV, but because the zoo is in great shape thanks to volunteers, parents jump at the opportunity to help their kids learn and spend time outside.”
  • Anne Baker: “Omg the bears!!! The cute little black ones and the GRIZZLY omg that thing was so cool. Also the tiger. Basically everything :)”

Would we be known as the PR and social media team without taking a ton of pictures? Hope you enjoy some of the top highlights of our day. We can’t wait to go back!

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