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Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Discussion in 'United States' started by vogelcommando, 20 Mar 2015.

  1. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  2. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

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    Has anybody been to this facility? It is 3200 acres and serves as a campus with a lot of a room for research and breeding. It is open to the public two days a year (the first weekend of October). I'll be visiting on October 2nd.

    Some of the species kept here (according to various sources, may not be accurate):
    Sichuan takin, Persian onager, Hartmann's mountain zebra, scimitar horned oryx (they may have all been released to the wild), black-footed ferret, American bison, maned wolves, cheetahs, clouded leopards, red pandas, tufted deer, Siberian polecats (used to study behavior of a species similar to black footed ferrets, for reintroduction purposes), white-naped cranes, hooded cranes, North Island brown kiwis, Mariana crows, Guam rail, red crowned cranes, and Guam kingfishers.

    I'm not quite sure what to expect, but I'll report back when I visit :).
     
  3. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

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    Well, I visited today and was rather frustrated. Instead of displaying all the work that SCBI does, and the animals, instead several stands were set up from various conservation initiatives. There were a few specifically about SCBI or the zoo's animals, but nothing too special. Here are a few I remember:
    -Invasive species in Hawaii (focusing on red-billed leiothrix and Japanese white-eye vs. the native amakihi and I'iwi).
    -perhaps 4 or 5 on elephants. Monitoring them in the wild, the zoo's elephants, etc.
    -some interesting things on the NA population of fishing cats
    -a large display on canids near one of the maned wolf enclosures (more on that later)
    -various native species conservation and research
    -information on kiwis
    -information on cranes
    -a booth from the Cheetah Conservation Fund
    -GIS mapping
    -Red Siskin Initiative
    -information on bird house renovation (will post in the zoo's thread)
    -camera trapping
    -something on medicine

    I also attended two of the lectures, as well as the end of the another. When I first went to the auditorium, I caught the tail end of a lecture entitled Return of Black Bears to Virginia, talking about camera trapping. The next lecture was by Kathy Brader, the international studbook keeper and SSP manager for North Island brown kiwis. She is absolutely hilarious. I could listen to her talks all day, and although this one was quite similar to that given at the Bird House (which is also given by her) I still enjoyed it immensely. She was accompanied by Pops the kiwi, who almost managed to convince the audience he was asleep, but then he was given food and tempted to poke around a bit. The third and last lecture I listened to was by Nucharin Songsasen, the SSP coordinator for maned wolves. She was extremely knowledgeable about canids, and gave a quite thorough presentation, perhaps too much so (she even went into things such as sperm count, and we weren't the best audience for that). Regardless, I enjoyed the lecture and learned a bit that I didn't know before. Maned wolves and cheetahs are actually quite similar, if you think about it, and I never had before.

    The Institute itself is part research/conservation center, and part college campus. The latter was the part the festival was hosted in. Disappointingly few animals are viewable. I saw only perhaps 15: two maned wolves, 1 kiwi, two box turtles, and a variety of unidentified amphibians. The amphibians were set up in a work shop type room in quite temporary enclosures, as were the box turtles. The kiwi was only brough out for the lecture. As such, the only really notable part of the facility that I saw was the maned wolf compounds, split into two parts. The first part, near Race Track Hill, held 0.1 (1.0 will soon arrive from the John Ball Zoo for breeding). Only one enclosure was there. A very nice presentation on the differing canid species was set up, as was some more local info. The second part was viewable near the exit of the facility. I saw two maned wolves in one enclosure each, the only large animals I saw today. While the quality of these two habitats (and an adjoining larger habitat that I saw nothing in) was great and similar to the grasslands that maned wolves live in, the size was not quite what I expected. Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, which has a similarly large behind-the-scenes breeding area for many species, has a much better maned wolf complex. The enclosures there are larger by a significant margin. However, it seems that SCBI does better with breeding, so I guess the size isn't that much of a factor.

    That pretty wraps up what visitors were allowed to see. There was also a horse cemetery and unused horse barn, from what the campus was before Smithsonian took over. Sorry that I can't provide a list of species.

    Also, to anyone who knows the answer: should I post photos of the facility into the National Zoo gallery or into the United States- Other gallery? Thanks.
     
  4. jbnbsn99

    jbnbsn99 Well-Known Member

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    Post the pics in the National Zoo Gallery. New galleries right now are as rare as hen's teeth.
     
  5. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

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    Alright, thanks.
     
  6. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the report on what you did see. Did you find out any of the other species that are there that you did not see? Do they still have cheetah and black-footed ferrets?
     
  7. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

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    On the map there is a road called Ferret Circle, though it was not accessible to the public. I saw many aviaries but a staff member confirmed they were empty. On a laminated version of the map which a staff member had, the red pandas and clouded leopards were grouped together in the same general area, but the public couldn't access the area.

    I can confirm these species through asking staff about them:
    Red crowned crane
    Hooded crane
    White naped crane
    Mariana crow
    Red panda
    Clouded leopard
    Maned wolf
    North Island Brown Kiwi
    Cheetah

    Through social media and blog posts, they have these species also unless something has changed:
    Hartmann's mountain zebra
    Guam rail
    Guam kingfisher
    Tufted deer
    Eld's deer
    Black footed ferret
    Various herps (most notably hellbender)
    Persian onager
    Dama gazelle
    Scimitar horned oryx
    Przewalski's wild horse

    As noted in this thread by Arizona Docent, SCBI is part of the Cheetah Breeding Center Coalition so I imagine they have a substantial number of cheetahs in there somewhere.

    Furthermore, I learned of a planned expansion today. Eventually the area down the road, past the (currently alone) maned wolf will become a sort of canid conservation center. Research and captive breeding facilities will be built for Asian wild dog, African wild dog, and red wolves, as well as more facilities for maned wolves. I do not know of a timeline for this. However, it's great to hear that there are plans in multiple facilities for Asian wild dogs at the moment.

    Sorry if I went on a bit there :p. Any other questions, feel free to ask.
     
    Last edited: 3 Oct 2016
  8. Andrew_NZP

    Andrew_NZP Well-Known Member

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    Do you know what happened to the onagers?
     
  9. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    they still had them earlier in the year ... where did they go?
     
  10. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

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    After reading an more recent blog post, it appears that either I read a former post wrong or the former post itself was wrong (probably the former). My apologies for the confusion, I'll edit that now. I'm not sure why but I thought the post when the zebras came to the facility mentioned that they were the only odd-toed ungulates in a number of years, but I think it read they were the only mountain zebras at the facility in a number of years. Again, my apologies for the confusion.
     
  11. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  12. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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  13. vogelcommando

    vogelcommando Well-Known Member

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