Zoo Blog - Blank Park Zoo

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Zoo Blog

Find out about the animals, events, behind the scenes information and more from the staff of Blank Park Zoo.

International Snow Leopard Trust - ISLT Website

Posted on 04/30/2015 at 2:41 PM

Have you taken the opportunity to explore International Snow Leopard Trust’s (ISLT) website?  It’s everything snow leopard - packed full of information about their mission, projects, animals in the wild and in captivity – it’s all there.  You can even send a free e-card to a friend!

The site shares information about what’s happening out in the field.  Want to see first-ever photos of cubs in the wild?  Or understand the purpose of the tracking collars on wild cats (and follow them via satellite)?  Or about what the researchers are currently focusing on?  It’s all there.   
You can help snow leopards by becoming a Citizen Scientist for ISLT!  Every year, ISLT cameras take thousands of images, and they are seeking individuals to help review the images – either labeling the various species or indentifying specific snow leopards.  This will help the researchers know what animals were where when.  If you are interested in more information, please contact ISLT today!

Also on the website is something else that’s very important – Snow Leopard Enterprises.  There is an amazing story behind SLE, but we’ll dive into that on the next blog.  Until then!

--- Kathy Krogmeier, BPZ Volunteer

International Snow Leopard Trust - Beginning of Our Relationship

Posted on 04/24/2015 at 12:06 PM

Looking into those deep, beautiful eyes, how can you help but fall in love with the majestic snow leopard.   Watching them in motion leaves absolutely no doubt of why they are called the ghost of the mountains.  They are so graceful, and in the wild, they blend in perfectly with their surroundings.  They just seem to disappear.

In 1999, Blank Park Zoo’s Conservation Committee was very intrigued by an article in “Wildlife Conservation” magazine about a researcher studying snow leopards.  He had little to no equipment, and what he did have was inadequate for high-altitude research.  This was also the year our Tom and Jo Ghrist Great Cats Complex was opening, and the idea was formed to sponsor a snow leopard project to celebrate the return of the snow leopards to BPZ.

The Committee connected with the International Snow Leopard Trust, the premier snow leopard research organization.  They are dedicated to finding real-life conflict resolutions and solutions – working in tandem with local people to improve their lives and protect snow leopards.  

Back then, we chose a specific project to help support.  Our first project was a conflict resolution workshop held in a remote area in the very northern tip of India, high in the Himalayan Mountains.  The purpose of the workshop was to begin a dialogue between local herdsmen and the conservation teams. 

In addition, funds were also available to purchase three GPS units for the park rangers and staff.  This allowed for more accurate reporting of locations.  And, best of all, it circled back to our initial thought from the magazine article – let’s help the snow leopard researchers!   

We have continued our support to ISLT every year since 1999, and, I’m happy to report, it will continue into the future.  ISLT is one of our “heritage” programs within our conservation efforts.  That means, each year, conservation funds will be set aside for the International Snow Leopard Trust.

I’m excited to be blogging about ISLT!  For more information, visit their website at ww.snowleopard.org.  More later!

---- Kathy Krogmeier, BPZ Volunteer


BPZ Conservation Blog: Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

Posted on 04/13/2015 at 9:42 AM

Founded in Kenya by the late Anna Merz and Ian and David Craig in the 1980s, the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy has been a constant leader in African wildlife conservation. Rhino conservation, specifically focusing on the critically endangered black rhino (Diceros bicornis), is at the core of Lewa’s mission, and their rhino population grows 6% annually. This is especially important since rhino poaching is at an all-time high and has been growing rapidly since 2008. In 2014, 1,215 rhinos were ruthlessly killed for their horns in South Africa alone, averaging more than 3 rhinos per day (or 1 every 8 hours). In stark contrast to this statistic, there were no rhinos killed within the Lewa reserve in 2014. 

In addition to conserving rhinos, Lewa is also home to the largest herd of endangered Grevy’s zebra (Equus grevyi) in the world. Less than 3,000 of this large zebra species exist in the wild. Other large megafauna are found within the conservancy, including elephant, giraffe, antelope, buffalo, lion, cheetah and leopard. The presence of these species has drawn thousands of ecotourists throughout the years, helping Lewa support community development such as funding schools, water projects, and other community advancements. 

With the 2012 addition of black rhinos, Blank Park Zoo has made significant contributions to rhino conservation, supporting Lewa as well as the International Rhino Foundation. Even though we live thousands of miles away in Iowa, zoo visitors are helping save iconic species simply by visiting the zoo. To learn more about contributing toward rhino conservation, please visit these websites:



2015 Speaker Series: On the Front Lines

Posted on 01/05/2015 at 10:40 AM

Has winter got you down? Are you longing to see green leaves on the trees and hear the birds sing once again? We’ve got the perfect event for you!

On the first Thursday of February, March and April, join us for our 2015 Speaker Series at Blank Park Zoo. Each night, we will feature a speaker who is out on the front lines of wildlife conservation, fighting to save some of our world’s most iconic species – before it’s too late.

Each evening starts at 6 PM with a cocktail hour and appetizers. You will have the opportunity to meet and chat with our speakers - true conservation heroes. Then, stroll through our rainforest exhibit and feel immersed in a tropical habitat, surrounded by exotic birds, reptiles, mammals and fish.
The presentation starts at 7 PM. Our speakers will take you on a journey to the corners of the Earth, through the fascinating stories of our endangered species, both big and small.  You will learn what challenges these stunning and unique creatures are facing and what WE can do to help them survive.
We have a fantastic line-up this year:

Thursday, February 5 - Jeffrey Flocken, North American Regional Director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, advocates for U.S. and Canadian policy initiatives, for species such as whales, elephants and lions. He is currently working to get lions listed as endangered to increase their protection.  

Thursday, March 5 - John Calvelli is the director of the 96 Elephants campaign and the Executive Vice President of Public Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). 96 Elephants is an aggressive campaign working to stop elephant poaching for ivory.  

Thursday, April 2 - Dr. Karen Oberhauser, professor in the Dept. of Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Biology at the University of Minnesota, conducts research on several aspects of monarch ecology. She is one of the nation's leading experts on the monarch butterfly. 

Click here to reserve your tickets and don’t wait as these events often sell out! Each attendee will also have the opportunity to win a Behind the Scenes tour at Blank Park Zoo!

Your support of Blank Park Zoo directly helps endangered animals, as a portion of each admission price to the Speaker Series is sent directly to save animals in the wild.

Santa at the Zoo!

Posted on 12/02/2014 at 10:29 AM

10:00 AM Two of Santa’s reindeer arrive at the zoo 
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Picture opportunity with Santa himself 
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Holiday crafts in the Discovery Center Room 
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Spot the bird seed ornaments in the Discovery Center Exhibit 
10:30 AM Macaques enjoy a special snack 
11:30 AM Seal/Sea Lion Demonstration 
12:00 PM Lions, tigers & snow leopards open presents 
12:30 PM Tortoises enjoy a romaine lettuce Christmas tree 
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Explore the wonders of the zoo! 


Come out to Blank Park Zoo to visit the animals and enjoy this special holiday event! 

Keep your eyes and ears peeled – Santa and two of his reindeer will be heading to Blank Park Zoo on Saturday, December 6 & 13. When coming up to the entrance, be sure to check out what two reindeer Santa brought with him on his journey from the North Pole. Head inside to create a holiday craft to help decorate your home. Be sure to write Santa a note with your list so he knows what to bring you this holiday season. Follow the path through the Discovery Center to see what treats Santa and his elves left the birds and to see Santa himself!     

Grab your scarves and mittens and head outside to visit your favorite animal friends! Visit the Japanese Macaques and see what special ornaments are hidden on their tree. Depending on the weather, head over to Hub Harbor to see what cool tricks the Seal and Sea Lions have in store for you. Watch the tiger and snow leopard open their gifts and see what they wished for this year. Warm up in the penguin & tortoise building and see what kind of tree Barnaby and his tortoise friends are snacking on! 

Don’t forget to write Santa a letter and drop it in the mailbox! He loves getting notes and reminders of what good boys and girls want for the holidays. There will be the opportunity to write it while at the Zoo or bring one already written. Be sure to write your address on the note so he knows which house to stop at! 

Thanks to our sponsors!


Santa at the Zoo is free with regular zoo admission and free for zoo members. 

The animals like gifts, too! Check out the tree in the lobby with what they are wishing for this year. The animal’s wish lists can also be found on the website at www.blankparkzoo.com/wishlist.

For more information about the event call 515-285-4722 or email events@blankparkzoo.org.

Blank Park Zoo staff and animals wish you happy holidays!


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