Jackson Zoo Welcomes MS Credit Unions for 2nd Annual CU At the Zoo

APRIL 12, 2016 Jackson MS

In keeping with the Jackson Zoo’s educational mission, families from the Jackson Metro are invited to experience the Jackson Zoo while learning about finance on Saturday April 16, from 9 am to 2 pm. The giraffes, zebras, and chimpanzees will be the backdrop to ten Mississippi credit unions as they promote and celebrate April as Youth Savings Month in a fun and interactive event.

The inaugural event was April 11, 2015, spearheaded by Sarah Dale Harmon. As Vice President of Member Experience at Statewide Federal Credit Union, the event’s mission is to introduce the idea of financial literacy in a relaxed atmosphere. “CU at the Zoo is a great way to teach Mississippi’s Youth about the importance of saving and money management at an early age, and what better place to teach these fundamental tools than at a place like the zoo,” Harmon said.

“Saving is a very important concept for every one of every age,” says Beth Poff, Jackson Zoo Director. “The lessons of financial responsibility can be applied to so many facets of our daily lives, and saving money, like saving animals, can only improve the world we live in.”

CU at the Zoo is also about community. The participating credit unions have not only purchased 2,500 daily admissions to the park for first arriving guests (up from 1,500 the previous year), but also gave away a number of 12-month memberships to Metro area families. Those annual passes afford each family 364 days of connection with each other, the community, and the globe.

There are ten participating financial institutions: The Jackson Area Federal Credit Union, Statewide Federal Credit Union, Members Exchange Credit Union, Mutual Credit Union, Magnolia Federal Credit Union, MS Postal Employees Federal Credit Union, Mississippi Federal Credit Union, Hope Credit Union, MS Telco Federal Credit Union, and Keesler Federal Credit Union. They will each have tables with financial information for all ages, with special guests Zoey the Zebra, the MS Federal Credit Union Penguin, and Y101.7, Jackson’s #1 Hit Music Station.

In addition to the live animal residents and educational activities, families will also be able to enjoy face-painting, inflatables, a basketball toss, and an obstacle course. Families can also purchase treats from the Elephant House Café, The Popcorn Place, Lost Pizza Co., 2 For & Kitchen, and Kona Ice. Rides on the Livingston Train and Endangered Species Carousel are $2 each.

After the first 2,500 free daily passes (courtesy of the Credit Unions of MS), normal admission rates will resume: $10.25 for 12 years and up, $7.25 for 12 years and under, under 2 years old are free. Members of the Jackson Zoo receive free admission every day during regular business hours, and there are discounts for seniors and military.

For more information about CU at the Zoo, please contact Special Events Manager Toni Francis at 601-352-2580, ext 227, or like “JacksonZoo” on Facebook to keep up with all events.

The Day Creativity Saved the Crane

Zoo animal care staff doesn’t only provide daily feedings and exhibit upkeep, and veterinary medical staff does a lot more than annual physicals. Taking care of exotic animals often means quick action and innovative solutions in emergencies, which can mean the difference between life or death. With so many endangered animals in the care of the Jackson Zoo, the death of a creature can also have grave consequences for a species.

The Jackson Zoo received two mated White Naped cranes in 2010, a seven-year-old male hatched in Cincinnati, OH, and a female hatched the Bronx, NY. These particular cranes are native to Asia, summering as far north as Mongolia and wintering as far south as Taiwan. Due to habitat loss, however, they are considered Vulnerable on the IUCD endangered status scale. (Although not “Critical,” steps are now being taken by conservationists to ensure their status does not degrade further.) Keepers discovered upon their arrival one morning that the male crane had broken his beak at some point during the night (how the injury occurred is still unclear). It was a severe break, with the upper portion of the bird’s bill (the maxillary rostrum) almost completely severed above the midpoint. The bird was obviously in a state of trauma, shaking it’s head back and forth. Mississippi State Senior vet student Megen Cummings said it was pretty gruesome. “When I first saw the crane’s beak, I thought it was impossible to fix.”

A bird’s beak is more than just keratin, the substance also in horses’ hooves, rhino horns, and the human hair and fingernail. The bill is also made of skin, thin capillaries, and nerve endings, and continuously grows and sheds throughout a bird’s life. The presence of those nerves makes the bill more sensitive than other keratinous features. A precise measure of the bird’s pain could not be established, but its level of agitation indicated it was definitely in some discomfort. Even if it hadn’t been an issue of pain, the injury was life threatening, as it was impossible for the bird to eat or drink.

However, long-time Jackson Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Michael Holifield (known to all staff simply as “Doc”) was on the case. Vet Technician Donna Todd was totally confident that he could save the animal, saying, “He is a genius. He is always coming up with innovative ways to help our animals.” The staff knew they had to act quickly, and had the bird in surgery within 24 hours.

“After Doc examined the beak, he knew exactly how to fix it,” vet student Cummings said. “He grabbed his orthopedic tools and went to work.” She assisted him as he reattached and reinforced the bill with a surgical grade metal plate and screws, plus some epoxy along the edges for stabilization. Cummings had seen metal plates used with regular fractures, but never a beak. “This proves that veterinary medicine is universal,” she said.

Only an hour after coming out of anesthesia, Mr. Crane was back in the yard with his mate, eating, drinking, and generally adjusting to the feel of his new “nose.” As the beak grows and heals, the plates should be able to be removed, leaving the bill stronger than before. Keepers are keeping an extra close eye on the bird, apprising Doc of any changes.

Thanks to the staff of the Jackson Zoo, in partnership with Mississippi State University, the now “bionic” crane will live and continue to represent his species at the Jackson Zoo.