Monday, October 11, 2010

Action Plans and Excitement

Hello All!

It was another interesting and productive day on the tundra. We began the day with a teleconference to Herrera Elementary School in El Paso Texas. The kiddos were so curious about all things polar bear, as the polar bear is their school mascot! We then had an intereactive presentaion with Robert Buchanan, president and CEO of Polar Bears International. He inspired and impassioned us to go beyond our roles as educators to become mentors in order to inspire the greatest generation of conservationists yet!

Next we took another afternoon tour on the Tundra Buggy, where we saw our first arctic hare of the trip, and in addition to that we saw 2 color phases of snow geese the blue phase, and the white phase, and a polar bear that roamed very close to ourAct Buggy! Very, very importantly we created an action plan for our Communicator Leadership Camp. We committed ourselves to work in a support capacity with the people who formulated the Acres for the Atmosphere action plan, by annually reducing 25,000 metric tons of carbon emissions (as a group collective amount), in whatever ways we can creatively accomplish this. We feel good about this, because it is all about partnerships, positive action, and saving precious ecosystems, such as the tundra, and all its inhabitants.

In addition to all of that excitement, we learned from other experts who spoke about polar bear/zoo connections, field research, and PBI resources that can be accessed for educators. There is so much to reflect upon and do, and new friends and colleagues to keep in touch with. Tomorrow we head back to town to tour Churchill, then a flight back to Winnipeg in the evening. Endless thanks to all of our hosts, facilitators, presenters and guest speakers who have created this forever memorable experience for us!! Good night friends and bears.

See you soon!

Friday, October 8, 2010

More news from the Tundra

Good morning, everyboby!

Lots going on here in Churchill. Yesterday morning we did a live videoconference with a school in North Carolina--it was lots of fun. We also saw a bear roaming around our Buggy that one of our biologist experts estimated was upward of 1000 pounds. He was massive!

We took off in the Tunda Buggy and got a chance to rove up to a smalll area of boreal forest, where 2 of our botanical experts gave us some wonderful information. For example, in order to offset our average indiviual carbon emissions we would each have to plant 8,000 trees- and that would hold us for 80 years before we would have to plant 8,000 more. There are two species of trees we saw: black spruce and tamarack. They exhibit an appearance called "flagging" where the needles only grow on one side of the tree due to the brutal winds blowing in certain directions. There is a type of lichen called caribou moss, which is very soft to the touch, spongy and absorbent, and the Native Americans used it for baby diapers.

We saw lots of ptarmigans in various stages of mottled and white coloration, transitioning to their winter camouflage. They have very feathery legs and feet and they look so funny when they walk! On our way back to the lodge we saw 2 rainbows and I took those as a sign of good fortune.

We have had guest speakers and we are learing so much. One of the coolest things was that I got a chance to drive the Tundra Buggy for a few minutes!!

Last night I awoke in the middle of the night to a clear sky filled with more stars than I have ever seen, and I sat and watched the Northern Lights. It was such a calm and peaceful time. This morning we saw another bear outside our lodge, right underneath us looking up at us-- WOW !!! Today we have another busy day ahead of us and I must go. My best to all!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Greetings from Churchill Canada!

Dear friends,

Hello from Churchill Canada!

Lots of exciting happenings here in the land of the polar bears. Have I seen any? YES!! Yesterday on our journey out to the Tundra Buggy Lodge, we saw, get this--polar bears, and arctic fox, a snowy owl, ptarmigans, an immature bald eagle and a short-eared owl! We were so stunned and thrilled when we saw our first few polar bears that we all ran to the windows calling to each other and laughing and snapping away with our cameras that we looked like the polar bear paparazzi, and I know we probably spooked some a bit. We were much more calm today. There is actually a polar bear outside our lodge right now, just a short distance away, taking a snooze. The arctic foxes we have seen have lovely bushy tails, and their white winter coloration, and it is fun to watch them bound lightly through the grasses and kelp trying to flush out birds and things.

The landscape is so unlike the forest surrounding us in Kentucky. There is a good view of the Hudson bay, along with lots of rocks covered with some wild looking orange lichen as well as other colors of lichen, such as black and green. We have been told that the lichen is actually a healthy snack if you scrape it off the rocks and boil it for a couple hours. We have not had to resort to that yet, as we are graciously being fed very well.

To look out in any direction and see no people, buildings, or vehicles is such a novel and strange sensation. I am small to begin with, but believe me I now feel very, very small indeed and it is humbling. At the moment the wind is blowing fiercely, and it is cold and cloudy. I can feel the lodge buggy swaying in the gusts. There may be a bit of snow tonight. At the moment the landscape is not snow or ice covered, but there was some skim ice on pools of water this morning.

It is surprising how well camouflaged the polar bears are in this setting that is not really a stark white. One bear was directly below us in the open air space between the buggy cars yesterday evening, and she or he was beautiful and majestic. Its paws are HUGE! It may be the same one that was back this morning and is lounging out there now.

There is so much to learn about this ecosystem, the animals, plants, people and all the interactions. I am making new friends and colleagues, which is fulfilling on many different levels. Thanks to all who are supporting me in this experience, and thanks to PBI (Polar Bears International) for giving me this wonderful opportunity! I will try to get some pictures sent eventually. See you soon!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Cleaning The Pool

Louisville Zoo Glacier Run staff enter the 108,000-gallon Seal and Seal Lion pool for the first time on June 7, 2010, to vacuum and clean it to prepare it for the seals and sea lions. The exhibit is set to have a public Grand Opening on June 30, 2010, at 10:30 a.m.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lightening Strikes

High atop the Glacier Run exhibit stands a tall metallic rod with a unique design. This is the new wave in lighting protection. Because of the risk of a lightning strike and the large amount of water held in the pools, the rod system is actually protection for the exhibit and the animals it will house.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Amphitheater Seating

Once the seal and sea lion portion of Glacier Run is complete, there will be shaded seating for 200 plus room for 100 standing to watch seal and sea lion training. Currently, workers are welding amphitheater structure beams that will eventually be painted and decorated with fabric from above.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


If you go past the Glacier Run construction, you will notice large big, blue tanks.

Just in case you were curious, these will be tanks filled with sand that will filter all the salt water that will be used in Glacier Run.