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Behind the scenes at the Cincinnati Zoo
CINCINNATI (Perry Schaible) -- The Cincinnati Zoo is well known for its breeding program, but there is much more that goes on behind the scenes.
Today, the zoo features more than 500 animal species and three thousand plant species. "All the exhibits have to be cleaned, all the animals have to be fed, all the enrichment is put out for the day. And then animals are put out on display by nine and then by that point everyone is working on cleaning the inside and then getting the diets and everything ready for the following day."
Megan-Kate Ferguson is the curator of animal development and training. She oversees seven full-time employees.
Before the zoo opens, keepers try to get snow leopard, Renji, comfortable with raising her paws so trainers can trim her nails. They start with a command and a reward, chunk meat is given when she follows the keeper's request. "So, the first step with something like this is that Amanda will ask her to step up. She needs to be comfortable with doing that and eventually we are going to work that second person coming closer and closer and actually touching her feet."
The interaction creates a trust between the keepers and the animals. It means important medical procedures, like these, can be done without the use of anesthesia.
Just like the snow leopard, the red panda is an endangered species. The Cincinnati Zoo has six of them on display. Keepers are conducting monthly weigh-ins. Weight is especially important for the females. If they're over 18 pounds, they won't conceive.
"Good morning, are you sleepy? Are you a sleepy girl?" Keepers are walking Padme, an aardvark. It's her first time out since a pregnancy last year kept her inside. That pregnancy never developed.
Padme is part of the interpretive program. She makes public appearances around the park for educational purposes. Before she can go out, she has to be reconditioned to the environment. "She might be a little silly, she might be a little cheeky, and we'll see what we get."
All this, before the zoo opens to the public.