Tapirs and Meerkats and River Otters, Oh My!
The LA Zoo is currently putting on an event that is running from Earth Day to Endangered Species Day, called Wild for the Planet. The goal is to celebrate the planet and its great biodiversity with an emphasis on celebrating Year of the Bird in honor of the 100th anniversary of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act! So, what a perfect event for an EFTA intern like myself to table at and do some community outreach!
I met up with the Friends of Seal Beach NWR, a community of volunteers that help the Seal Beach NWR staff with community outreach and education. If you remember all the back to my first post, Seal Beach is part of the SDNWRC and is located in Orange County on an active naval base.
We set up our booth with a Coyote skin, Green Sea Turtle mount, Least Tern, American Kestrel, and Red-tailed Hawk displays, plenty of informational brochures and, of course, our Year of the Bird poster!
Here are some conversations I had that stood out:
- a little girl who asked me questions about Least Terns for a solid 20 minutes (good thing I read the USFWS recovery plan so I knew the answer to most of her questions)
- a man who told me about his cat that had just gotten picked up by a Red-tailed Hawk
- a man who had a picture of a raptor on his phone and didn’t know what it was; it was a Cooper’s Hawk!
- a little boy no older than six saying, “That’s an American Kestrel, it’s a tiny baby falcon right?” and my jaw dropping to the floor at his knowledge; you’re going to be a great birder, kid!
- at least 10 people exclaiming, “OH WOW!” after learning that green sea turtles can be found in Seal Beach NWR and San Diego Bay NWR
- over 50 people learning about Seal Beach NWR and migratory birds and getting them to come on a public tour on the last Saturday of the month
And there were many more, but this blog post would be 200 pages long if I continued! I tried to to keep track of how many people our booth of four talked to, but after the first hour I lost track, which is a great problem to have in my book.
Along with tabling, I also ran around the zoo on my lunch break to see as many animals as I could. I was able to see Tapirs, Elephants, Giant River Otters, a Desert Tortoise, and Cassowaries. I think my favorite animal to see was the Yellow-billed Magpie, endemic to California, which I have been trying to see every time I drive through Central California…with no luck so far.
Oh! And let’s not forget our Weekly Snowy Plover Update (WSPU) : I found my first nest!!!!!!!!! (Sorry for all the exclamation marks, but that’s the only way I could convey my excitement to you all.) I finally got to do the honors and label the popsicle sticks to mark the presence of a nest that contained three eggs!