Hi my name is Jessica Hamman. I love all living creatures, but Wolves are my favorite of all, hyenas and painted dogs are a close second. I have a B.A.in Environmental Studies at Northeastern Illinois University & Zoo and Aquarium Management at Western.
I enjoy training all types of animals. Training is a great way to establish relationship, build trust, have a sense of achievement and accomplishment for both the trainer and the animals.
Somethings I do for fun are dog sledding, but I love interacting with animal friends, hiking, camping, horse back riding, downhill skiing, flying, rafting, scuba, kayaking, reading, learning new things, target shooting - just about anything outside, and if its done with friends or family - even better!
Come see me and all my animal friends at North Georgia Zoo
Question from Cole, age 7: Where does a dolphin live?
Answer: Zookeeper James here! Thanks for your question. There are actually many different kinds of dolphins that all live in different places.
What exactly is or isn't a "dolphin" though is different depending on who you ask, because every living animal has two names--a common name that everybody knows, and a scientific name that usually only scientists know--and so there are disagreements between what an animal is called scientifically and what it should be called commonly.
For example, dolphins are all classified in a group that scientists call "toothed whales," meaning they have teeth, whereas other whales like humpback whales and blue whales instead have special comb-like structures in their mouths called baleens that they use to catch millions of tiny animals like krill and fish.
Most "toothed whales" are either called dolphins or porpoises, however there are a couple of toothed whale groups that are not considered either of those, and one of those groups are the sperm whales. The obvious question is why sperm whales are not considered dolphins or porpoises when they are more closely related to them than baleen whales ("actual" whales) like humpbacks and blue whales. The simple answer is that they look different, so they're called something different. It's important to not get too tied up over what something is called though, because what's more important is what something is.
That being said, dolphins as in what most people think of (the bottlenose dolphin and its closest relatives) live all around the world. Most live in the ocean, but some, such as the Amazon river dolphin, live in fresh water.
Thanks for your question Cole! Dolphins, porpoises, and whales are actually some of my favorite animals, and I'm guessing they're yours too!
Question: My daughter Rachel recently came home and told us that she was told an interesting fact about kangaroos. She explained that when kangaroos are threatened by a predator they actually throw their babies out of their pouches and if necessary throw it at the predator in order for the adult to survive. Is this true?
Answer: Zookeeper Rick here, thanks for your question! It is an excellent one. It may sound strange and counter-intuitive, but it is indeed true. The method behind the madness is likely that if a mother kangaroo gets killed and eaten it can no longer reproduce, so in a sense the mother is sacrificing one baby so that many more can live.
That is actually not the only reason a mother kangaroo will sacrifice its baby, though. When a mother kangaroo has multiple different babies in various stages of development (for example one still in the fetal stage, one in the pouch, and one being weaned from the pouch), during harsh periods when resources are low a busy mom may not be able to support all three babies, and so may sacrifice one to boost the others' chances of survival.
As humans this behavior may sound appalling to us, but we rely on much more than rudimentary instincts to survive. Sacrificing babies for one reason or another is actually relatively common throughout the animal kingdom, for example some spiders such as black widows will eat their offspring as they hatch, and some monkeys will drop their offspring from trees if they are deemed unfit to cope with their group's social structure. In this sin-infected world where death threatens every living creature every day, God gave humans much more than just instincts to preserve ourselves and our kin. He gave us his own breath (Genesis 2:7) and created us in his image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) so that we are all God's children and equally have a purpose to exist regardless of the circumstance. We are not expendable kangaroo joeys or one-in-a-million spider hatchlings, we are indispensable, one-in-one unique and loved human beings.
A great question from Isaiah, age 7, of North Carolina. After his mom read to him from his school book that humans were the only bipedal mammals, Isaiah proceeded to ask his mom, "What about kangaroos?" That is a very good question! So the question was submitted to North Georgia Zoo's Ask a Zookeeper. Let's see what Zookeeper Rick of North Georgia Zoo has to say about it.
Question: Are kangaroos quadrupeds or bipeds?
Answer: Hey Isaiah, Zookeeper Rick here! That's a great question. Kangaroos are known for their ability to hop on their two back legs, which definitely makes them bipedal. However, kangaroos only hop to go longer distances faster, kind of like why we humans run. Kangaroos don't "run" everywhere, they also walk, but unfortunately for them, even though their two back feet are great for hopping, they are terrible for walking because they are so big that on land a kangaroo cannot put one foot in front of the other to walk like we can. What they do instead is hunch down on all fours and shuffle forward, using their strong tail to help push them along. This of course also makes them quadrupedal, or "pentapedal" (meaning "five-footed") if you want to count the tail, because in fact their tail does act as a leg. Kangaroos, then, are not just bipedal or quadrupedal, but both.
That being said, you might be surprised to learn that humans and kangaroos are actually not the only bipedal mammals! There are a few others that come to mind off the top of my head.
One of them is the kangaroo rat, a type of rodent native to western North America. It is so-named because it hops around on its two back legs similar to a kangaroo, and believe it or not, it actually spends more time on two legs than an actual kangaroo does! Its front legs are tiny arms that it uses mostly to shuffle food into its mouth.
Another bipedal mammal is the pangolin, a strange armored creature native to Africa and Asia. At first glance it might remind you of an anteater or an armadillo, but it is actually most closely related to carnivorous mammals such as wolves, bears, and seals. It is covered in armor similarly to an armadillo, and has a long tongue that sticks out like an anteater's. It can also curl into a ball when in danger, using its armor to protect the more vulnerable parts of its body. And yes, it is bipedal. It has huge claws on its front legs to help it dig into ant hills and termite mounds, but because of those huge claws it cannot walk on its front legs, so instead it walks on its two back legs and has a long tail to help it stay balanced. It looks more like a dinosaur than it does a mammal!
Yet another bipedal mammal that comes to mind is the gibbon. The gibbon is a type of ape native to southeast Asia. Unlike most other apes such as gorillas and chimpanzees which walk on all fours most of the time, the gibbon has really long arms that help it swing through the trees, and whenever it comes down from the trees it walks upright on its two back legs like we do to keep those long arms from dragging through the dirt. The reason it doesn't walk on all fours like other apes do is because it is better designed to live in the trees than other apes are, so it has hands that are specialized for swinging, not walking. It's like if you tried to walk on all fours, your hands are not designed to do that and would get sore pretty quick.
God's creation is full of surprises! He has created a lot of strange and wonderful things for us to enjoy. Thank you Isaiah for your great question. School textbooks can be a good source of information, but the best way to learn new things is to ask questions!
Got a question about animals, habitats, zoo-keeping or more? Just ask a Zookeeper!
Submit you question to: Zookeeper@wildlifewonders.org.
Your question and answer will then be posted on this blog as well as our North Georgia Zoo Facebook Page!
*Please be sure to submit your name and age as well.*
Hi! My name is Ana and I wanted to tell you guys abut something really awesome I got to do today! I got to go out on what’s called a “program”! It’s only the second one I’ve ever been on and today we went all the way to a big city called Atlanta. First, my Mom loaded me up into a big carrier with a very comfy sheet and I nestled down into it and felt as cozy as if I was sleeping in my straw…maybe even more! It’s not as scratchy! And then she gave me lots of friends to keep me company in the car, except I didn’t really like the chicks she gave me. They were really loud with their chirps. But I enjoyed talking with Flynn the Goat and Audrey the Pig. And we sang too! Mom was singing really loudly with the music, and I baa’d along with the songs I knew. When we got to the house, I met the birthday twins! They gave me lots of pets and they had the greenest grass I have ever seen, so I may have eaten more than I played with them, but Mom said that was okay, that I was a “sheep” and that’s pretty much what we do. There was even the sweetest little girl who gave me sticks to play with! After all the attention and a full belly, I was starting to get a little tired and Mom must have known that because she started packing us all up. On the way home, Mom still sang but I slept the whole way. She unloaded all of us and gave me a big kiss goodnight. I had so much fun going out and meeting so many new people and getting lots of hugs and kisses. I hope we do it again soon! -A
Zoo Keepers at North Georgia Zoo & Farm
A mix of writings, pictures from those involved in taking care of the animals and educating guest!
Got a question about animals, habitats, zoo-keeping or more?
Just ask a Zookeeper!
Your question and answer will then be posted on our North Georgia Zoo Facebook Page!
*Please be sure to submit your name and age as well. *
Click below to submit your question: