Visiting Werribee Zoo & How you can fight Animal Extinction

At the end of last moth, my parents took me out to Werribee Zoo for the first time as a (very belated) birthday present. I have wanted to visit Werribee Zoo for as long as I can remember, being an African styled, open range zoo. Plus, since they announced the birth of new lion cubs, one of my favourite animals, I just had to go! I have had a love for lions and Africa since I watched The Lion King as a young kid, so I today was a very exciting day for me.

I was so excited seeing the lion family! The little cubs were so cute, the lioness’ were beautiful, and the male was just gorgeous! It was around the afternoon that we saw them, and they were all having a sleep in the sun. So unfortunately they weren’t bounding around being cute, but I was amazed none the less at seeing such beautiful creatures (we sat there for so long just watching them)

I was also very lucky to have the opportunity to do an animal encounter, and feed the giraffes! And what an experience that was! They are magnificent creatures (and even bigger than I would have imagined!) First we got to feed them acacia branches, and they were so strong! I really loved feeding them vegetables out of my hand, because you had more of a connection with them, and they were quite gentle.
The keepers also took us on a tour of other areas of the giraffe enclosure, and told us all about how they are looked after, which was really interesting.
The encounter was $50 and ran for 90 minutes – I can definitely say you get your money worth!

 

I took a lot of photos of all the beautiful animals at the zoo, so I hope you enjoy them 🙂
*The first 2, and the meerkat on the rock were taken by my dad

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I had a really lovely day out at the zoo with my family. The animals I was most excited to see were the lions and the wild dogs, as well as the new baby zebra and baby meerkats, but I loved seeing them all! I also really enjoyed going on a safari ride around the zoo, it had a nice African vibe. And of course, being so close to the giraffes was a truly amazing experience.

I also really want to mention about being a Zoo Member. I became one at the start of this year, and it costs around $7 a month (or you can pay yearly), which gives you unlimited entry to Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Zoo and Healsville Sanctuary in Victoria. I’m always happy to visit the zoo, so this definitely saves money. A well as that, money goes towards conservation and helping endangered animals. I love knowing that I am assisting such a great cause, and being a part of something I am so passionate about – all while being able to visit magnificent creatures.

Another great way to show your support is through ‘Beads for Wildlife’. By purchasing these beautiful, handmade bead products, you can support families and endangered wildlife in Northern Kenya. Such a great cause – I bought a little giraffe and my mum bought an elephant.

The least I can do is speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves 

– Jane Goodall

Jess xx


Related Links:

 

 

Guinea-Pig Update!

The last post I made about my little guinea pigs was finding out that Hazel was pregnant, and had just given birth to 3 babies – I was waiting to see what gender they were and if I was able to keep them. I just realised I never made an update on that situation!

As all the babies were girls I was able to keep them, and I now own 5! Let me introduce you to the newest addition to Newt and Hazel’s family – Kova, Cappy, and Totoro.

 

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This little grey is Totoro! She has the most loveliest coloured coat of grey and white, which is scruffy like Newt’s, and often sits very styled! She was originally going to be named Oreo, but I thought Totoro was such a cute name, as she matches the colouring of the Japanese character. She’s a bit of a quiet one, just like Hazel, but soon settles, and then enjoys a cuddle. A very gorgeous little piggy!

This here is DA6JyeSUMAAth0MCappy! She was named after a character from Hamtaro – I thought it was a really cute name, and matched her because she looked a bit like a cappybara. She was the only one who received her mothers short hair (a dream to keep clean!). Cappy is very inquisitive, and once you’re holding her, she will climb all over you to see what’s going on! If you pat under her chin she will also put her paws on you, which is so cute!

And finally, the gorgeous little bear Kova – a sligDA6JyeWUMAA2HPCht twist on the name Kovu from the Lion King. It took me a while to find the perfect name for her, but I really think it suits her. Kova is a little sweetheart, she cries a bit when you pick her up, and gets very upset when I have to trim her coat, but loves her cuddles. She takes a while to come out of her shell, but once she does she is very happy. She got the same fluffy coat as Newt and Totoro, but her mum’s colouring.

 

I am glad they are all girls, it would have been hard enough to give them up if they were all boys, but even worse if I had to give away one or two and separate them.

While I didn’t originally plan on looking after 5 guinea pigs, I am so grateful for each of them. Getting to see newborn pups and see how they all interact is great. They all have such individual personalities, and always make me laugh! I love them all.

It definitely takes more time to ensure they all get the equal amount of cuddles, and time out of the cage can be hard with 5 small pigs! However, I’m not complaining, and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Even though they are small animals, all 5 of them have had such a huge impact on my life. Not only do they make me happy, but they give more purpose to my day, and have helped me discover what I want to do in life.

 

In other guinea pig news – in my first post about them, I wrote about how I have set up their cage. I recently made a change to this and have found it much more efficient. Instead of using hay and wood chips as bedding, I have replaced it with a fleece lining. The fleece keeps the cage much cleaner as urine soaks through it, so it doesn’t became wet, and makes it much easier to spot clean daily. I simply wash it with a safe soap powder once a week (and it is very easy to dry!)
I of course still provide them with hay where there is no fleece, one half of the bottom of the cage, which they use to burrow in and as a food source.

I picked up a few meters of fleece for (I believe) under $15 from Spotlight, which I will link here. I got a pink owl patterned one for the box, and some green coloured ones for the open parts of their cage. I also place a few sheets newspaper underneath to add extra warmth.

In addition to that, as there is now 5 I wanted to provide them with more beds, and they’re actually super easy to make at home! I cut in half an old pillow case, and sewed any excess fleece all around this inside to create two homemade cavy sacks. I placed them inside their box, and they love cuddling inside them! Then pillow cases are great because they can definitely fit more than one piggy – but sometimes they get a bit cranky and want to have them to themselves..!

 

I hope you enjoyed the update! All the pigs are doing very well 🙂 Although, they probably wish the weather was a bit warmer, so they can sit out on the grass!
I am also currently in the process of putting together a little time lapse video of them, so keep and eye out for that 🙂

You can also see photos of the five piggies and Bella on my additional Instagram account.

Jess xx

Should we close our Zoos – A Response to a Conflicting Issue

The other night, I watched (majority) of a documentary called ‘Should We Close Our Zoos?’. The topic of whether or not animals should be kept in a zoo is a heavily debated issue.
I love having the opportunity to see animals up close, and I am also extremely passionate about their welfare, so this issue has always been a conflicting one for myself. Yet, this documentary really helped clarify where I stand.

Host, Liz Bonnin, wonderfully and professionally explored both the pros and cons of zoos and aquariums, and spoke to a range of experts in the field including zoo keepers, conservationists, and primateologist Jane Goodall.
Conservation and care, versus freedom and behaviour were the contrasted ideas featured, and I can definitely understand both.

Sadly there are of course horrible sides to zoos. Footage of a giraffe being culled and fed to lions was shown in a Copenhagen zoo, and is said to be shamelessly carried out there. Yes, this is something that occurs regularly in nature, however in my opinion, not only is this a cruel practice, but is not how a zoo should be run.

They also spoke about the controversy surrounding Tilikim, the Orca famous from the documentary ‘Blackfish’. Unfortunately as I am typing this post, we have only heard a few days ago that Tilikim has sadly passed away. He died in captivity at 36 years old, half the life expectancy of a Killer Whale, apparently suffering from serious health issues. The whale was brought to seaworld after being taken off his mother as just a calf, meaning he spent his whole life away from a natural habitat and being used as a form of entertainment.

Tilikim become known after being involved in the deaths of 3 people, which is of course a terrible tragedy, but were these behavioural issues natural instinct, or a result from spending a life in captivity?

However, Zoos can be a way of protecting animals from dangers such as poachers or environmental changes, or even using science and breeding programs to save a species from becoming extinct.
Obviously comparing to the state of zoos many years ago, these places today are much kinder, and people have much more knowledge about providing sufficient living areas. Not the small, concrete cages animals were viewed in years ago.

One part of the show that really spoke to me was the critical case of the Northern White Rhino. Bonnin went and saw one of the 5 remaining Rhinos left in the world, and it absolutely broke my heart. The amazing part was that they were trying many methods such as breeding and stem cell research to try and re-populate these beautiful animals. This could not be done simply in the wild or without zoo programs.
According to other sources, there are sadly on 3 Northern Rhino’s left. We have to come to face the horrible truth that we may loose another incredible species. Action needs to be taken early, not before it’s too late!

Essentially, as started as an argument in the documentary, I am saying that zoos should be focusing on the animals best interest. Through continuing to have appropriate living areas, proper care, and being respectful to the animals, not treating them as simply a form of entertainment or viewing tool. We should be preserving all the incredible creatures that we share a planet with, and as long as animal welfare and conservation are the main priority of zoos, then I support them

If you are interested in viewing the full documentary, it is a BBC made program, and you can watch a preview of it here

Remember, we need to use our voices to help make a difference to those who cannot speak – make our zoos conservation programs, not a collection of animals to speculate.

Jess xx

*All images courtesy of Google Images*

Meeting Dinosaurs at Jurassic World: The Exhibition

My inner child (and 22 year old self) was very happy and exited seeing the Jurassic World Exhibition a few days ago! As a kid, I was an absolute dinosaur geek; I had a bag full of plastic dinosaurs which I use to play with outside and build houses for. So when I saw the Melbourne Museum was holding a Jurassic World Exhibition complete with giant animatronic dinosaurs, I knew I would regret not going!

Mum and I got there around lunch time, later than we would have hoped, and sessions were already selling out (it was the last few days, plus grand final weekend). We were lucky that we got tickets to the 4:30 session, and this gave us time to look around the museum. We use to come here all the time when I was younger, and I forgot how much I loved it!

We made our way to line up around 4:20, and didn’t get into the exhibition until around 5:30! The line was insane! But that did not stop my excitement..

After getting a photo looking scared on a green screen, we begin the exhibition! We all walked in a room that was set up as a simulation to appear as though we were travelling on a boat to the island. A lady on a screen was broadcasting ‘live’ and explaining to us what we can expect from the park.

The doors then opened and we were lead through the entrance of the park, and to the first dinosaur encounter; a Brachiosaurus! It was gigantic, and only showed from the neck up. The excitement definitely picked up here, and even though they were animatronics they looked so real and it made me so happy to really see them.
As you walked on, there was another dinosaur hiding in amongst the trees (I didn’t see the name of the species, but I think it might have been a Parasaurolophus)

You then walked into another room which had a Triceratops with her baby behind a fence. This is one of my favourite dinosaurs, so I was so excited to see one! It was really amazing how not only did their heads move, but their eyes blinked and they moved their legs! They were just stunning!

Next, you walked into a lab that contained eggs, baby dinosaurs, and experiments and discoveries. It looked so cool!
To exit this room, there was a door saying there was a show starting every few minutes. As you went through, you were led into a small theatre like room where the lady on the screen was talking more about the park and giving information about the t-rex species. Suddenly, a red alert went off saying that a dinosaur had escaped. The lights behind us started flashing and the door suddenly opened. Mum and I were expecting a dinosaur to break in during the suspense, but then a man poked his head around the corner and said to follow him. Definitely anti-climatic!

In this room there was a truck, and the sound of a goat. Lights started flashing and a Tyrannosaurus Rex appeared and made it’s way towards the truck. It started pushing at it, trying to get something to eat. This was a really exciting aspect of the exhibition. Mum said, even though you know it’s not real, you do feel a little scared, considering how small and vulnerable we are compared to them, and I completely agree.

The next part contained my other favourite dinosaur, a Stegosaurus. It was beautiful, and so huge! Plus, the plates on it’s back were amazing.
Then there was a light and the sound of a helicopter, followed by an appearance of the lady on the screen, saying there was another situation and everyone had to evacuate. Another carnivorous dinosaur appeared, which had been genetically created, and was acting angrily and scaring the Stegosaurus.

You then made your way between both the dinosaurs in a dark tunnel, and exited into the final room. It contained a model of a dinosaur femur, information about discoveries around Australia, and a recent bone they discovered in Victoria, which was very cool!

I was a little disappointed that we had already reached the end 😦 (mum and I even went back so we could see them one more time..)
I wanted to buy something little from the gift shop to remember this, so I got a little triceratops to go on my keys.

I am so happy I got to see this amazing exhibition, although I do wish it had gone on for a bit longer.. Plus I was so excited seeing the dinosaurs that I didn’t really read any of the information which I was a little annoyed at myself about. Also, because everything was happening you wanted to keep making your way through, so I kind of wish I had more time to enjoy it. However, I still think it was definitely worth the money, and I loved every second of it!

Because it was such an inclusive exhibition, you really felt as though you were apart of it!
I could not stop smiling through out the whole thing. I felt like a little kid in complete awe!

The environment of it was amazing, the dinosaurs were beautiful and the animatronics were incredible, and I was completely immersed the whole time. I had such a wonderful day, and loved getting to share it with my mum.

I find learning about Dinosaurs so interesting! They were truly such amazing and stunning creatures, and maybe one day I may even get to study them even more.

I also filmed the experience to edit into a little vlog, which you can watch below 🙂

Jess xx

*Photography/Footage taken by me, however all rights go to Melbourne Museum and the Jurassic World Franchise*

Guinea Pig Surprise!



A while back I made a post about my guinea pigs, Newt and Gus (which you can view here if you haven’t already). 
A few weeks ago I noticed that Gus’ stomach had become bloated. This got me worried, as bloating is very dangerous to guinea pigs. He was eating fine and passing his food, so I decided to keep a close eye on him, and if he had no improvements I would take him to the vet and find out what was going on.

I thought it could be one of two things; bloating, or Gus was actually a girl and he was pregnant! I often had a look at him, and could swear that I could feel babies. Plus his was only large in the tummy area..

So on Saturday the 3rd, I booked an appointment at the vet, and took him down to get checked out.
It didn’t take the vet long to diagnose Gus as being a girl!! And she was in fact pregnant! Of course it was a surprise, and not exactly what I wanted, as I bought Gus as a boy, but I would much rather that then him (I mean her!) being unwell. So I’m just glad she’s healthy!

I would also like to thank the wonderful vet, Candice, at Best Friends Pet Centre. It can be difficult to determine the gender of a guinea pig at a young age, and Candice was so helpful and good to us!

As I named Gus after the Fault in Our Stars, it only seemed perfect to rename her Hazel (and it matches her fur colour!)

So after that, I was anxiously checking each day to see if there were any babies. Newt was being so good, giving her space and sitting outside protecting her. Plus, it now made sense why our dog Bella got use to Newt, but never Hazel! Animals have an amazing intuition, she obviously knew!

Finally, on Thursday night, the 8th of September, when checking the guinea pigs before going to bed, I lifted up the top of their bed to see three newborn baby guinea pigs!
They were so precious! Obviously as newborn babies, they were squinting and working out how to walk, it was such a beautiful scene!
Hazel gave birth to two brown babies, with different white markings, and a grey and white one. They are so cute and tiny, and I love watching them hop around the cage and following mum! They’re currently still feeding of Hazel, but have just started eating pallets and vegetables as well, which I didn’t expect so soon.

Sadly, I now have to separate Newt and put him in the downstairs level of the cage, because he can get Hazel pregnant again. But I am planning on getting him de-sexed, so they will be back together soon. They definitely miss each other, and Newt can get a bit stressed from time to time, especially with wanting to see the babies. So I make sure to give him lots of cuddles!
I am also unsure if I will be able to keep the babies.. the pet shop I bought Newt and Hazel from (which was also the vet I took her to), have kindly offered to take them off me when they are old enough. But now I’m starting to become attached to them, and I couldn’t bare to separate them from each other, and Newt and Hazel.. However, the only way I will be able to keep them is if they are all girls, to prevent anymore surprise pregnancies! So fingers crossed.. I may have already made the mistake of thinking of some names..

So it’s definitely been an exciting two weeks in my household, and I’m enjoying this exciting and cute time with my piggies!
And I’m finally used to referring to her as Hazel, and as a girl!

I’m so proud of Hazel for giving birth to three beautiful pups, and for being a new mummy! And to Newt for being a new dad!

I love my Newty Boy, Hazel Nut, and new three gorgeous babies!

Jess xx

 

Gorgeous Guinea Pigs: Meet Newt and Gus

Can we just talk about how cute guinea pigs are? Their little mouths and paws, their sweet little faces, their little fluff ball bodies, their noises, and the way they like to cuddle up into you. I love them!

I have had quite a few pet piggies over the years growing up, but after a few years break, I’ve recently fallen back in love with them, and now have two cute little boys at home; Newt and Gus!

I brought Newt home first (obviously I had to buy him a good size cage, bedding, food, ect, so I couldn’t afford two. Plus, he was the only one left.). He was about 8 weeks old when I got him, and is now a gorgeous boy of about 23 weeks/almost 6 months.
Even though I was looking after him very well, and gave him lots of daily cuddles, guinea pigs are very social animals, and I hated seeing him all alone in his cage. I wanted to get him a friend as soon as possible.
I have very recently just brought home Gus (short for Augustus), at 9 weeks, who is now 12 weeks old.

The two boys seem to get on quite well! Newt is very interested in Gus, and Gus always follows Newt around. Newt has already taken to being the dominant one, and I’m hoping he will be like a big brother to Gus. They also communicate with each other a lot.
Our dog Bella is also very interested in them, and Newt often pokes his nose out of his cage to her!

Newt

Newt looks to be a cross breed between a long-haired and Abyssinian guinea pig with a tri colour patterning, I love how unique he is. Obviously at times he gets cranky or jitterish, but overall he has a very sweet personality.

Sometimes he doesn’t like to come out of his cage, but once he has he loves being held and snuggling up! His often calm temperament means that I can sit on the grass with him (still being careful to keep a close eye on him) and he’ll just eat the grass or climb up on my lap. Newt also loves licking and nibbling fingers and faces (it may be because he thinks it’s food, but I’ll stick with that he’s giving kisses!) He will nibble anything he can, and makes loud squeaks when he knows I’m making his breakfast or dinner.

Newt is such a sweet little boy, with such a gorgeous personality! I love him very much.

Gus

Gus is more of a short haired breed. He is brown with a white patch, and has a cute little Abyssinian style crest on the top of his head. And his fur is so soft!

As he is still a baby and in a new environment, he is quite shy, so his personality is still coming out. He tends to run when I try to pick him up from his cage, and he can get scared quite easily. Although, similar to Newt, once he is being cuddled he seems quite happy. Gus also loves climbing around people’s necks! If I put him on the ground, he will often climb up onto my lap (if he doesn’t want to go exploring!)

Gus is such a cute boy! I can’t wait to see what type of piggy he becomes as he gets bigger. I love him.

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If you too would like to own these gorgeous animals, please do your research to make sure they are the right pet for you. Not all animals suit every family, which is completely fine! Every pet deserves the best care that they can.
Here are my top tips for buying and owning guinea pigs.


Research on everything from buying to owning

There’s so much information online, and pet shops/breeders/vets will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.

Please also be aware of what you’re supporting. I got my guinea pigs from my local Best Friends Pet Supplies, where they get litters from breeders and other guinea pig owners. Sadly, some pet shops support puppy factories and cruel pet practices, and if we continue to purchase from them they will continue this cruelty 😦

Guinea pigs are big breeders! 

So if you don’t want baby piggies, keep to one gender if you have more than one in the same cage.


Reasonable size cage 

Guinea pigs need space, so make sure that you get a cage sufficient enough for your piggies to play, exercise, and places to snuggle and hide.

Also ensure that you allow time for them outside their cage (under supervision!)


Food

Like any animal, there are things piggies can and can’t eat, and with some many different sites telling you different things, make sure you understand what you shouldn’t feed them.

Light leafy vegetables have a tenancy to make them sick, and fruit should only be given in moderation due to the highness in sugar.

Always be sure that they have access to clean, cool water.

I most commonly feed my guinea pigs carrots and spinach (remove the ends/stalks) twice a day, pellets, and have fresh hay (which is great for their teeth) always accessible in the cage. I also give them a bit of fruit occasionally as a treat.


Cleaning and bedding 

Cages should be properly cleaned at least once a week, in addition to tidying up scraps and droppings often.

Spray a solution of vinegar diluted with water, and wipe with a damp cloth. Let it soak in, and dry with paper towel.

I line my cage with newspaper, followed by a layer of wood shaving bedding outside, and hay in their sleeping box.

I have also included some especially made fleece bedding from Milo and Woody to keep them warm. As well as that, I put in some old half pillowcases for them to hide and snuggle in.

I wash this at least once a week in the laundry trough, with a small amount of soap powder (this doesn’t irritate my pig’s skin, but some washing solutions do, so be careful).


Socialisation

Guinea pigs need other piggy friends to play with, so it’s much better to not have one on their own as they can get very lonely.

They also love spending time with their owners, which can really help them if they are often nervous, so make you spend time with your guinea pig and give them lots of cuddles!

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I hope you enjoyed reading about the cute new editions to my family! If you have any further questions about owning guinea pigs, please don’t hesitate to ask and I will do my best to answer them.
Let me know in the comments if you own any guinea-pigs yourself, and any pets you have. I would love to hear about them!
Jess xx










Fleece bedding;
Milo & Woody on Etsy
        -Guinea Pig Cuddle Cups/Cavy Cup – $20
-Guinea Pig Snuggle/Cuddle sack (in Fruit Salad) – $10
Where I purchased my Cage, Wood shaving bedding, Hay, Pellets, Bowls, Water bottle, and Litter tray;

(Hay, Pellets and some of the other supplies can also be found at supermarkets)

Stop the Suffering

 

Protesters at Dr. Walter Palmer’s Dental Clinic on July 29, 2015

If there is one thing I have always been passionate about, it’s putting an end to animal cruelty.

I am absolutely disgusted by all the reports on the news lately of the suffering that some so called human beings put animals through.

Some recent well-known cases include

The killing of Cecil the Lion by dentist, Dr Walter Palmer, for trophy hunting 

A group of malnourished and deceased horses being kept on Olympic wrestler, Bruce Akers’ Victorian property, 

Harambe the Gorilla’s death at Dallas Zoo after a boy falls into the enclosure – Not as much cruelty, but sad that a parents irresponsibility has cost the life of one of our endangered species

Beach goers capturing a shark and taking photos with it until it suffocates

And that’s only just to name a few that have been mentioned on the news, which is not even the beginning of how many cases of animal cruelty are still occurring.

The latest outrage for the poor treatment of animals is what occurs in the live export trade between Australia and Korea.

I could not bring myself to watch the original clip, the censored video below is heartbreaking enough for me.. It is absolutely disgusting that these heartless people can cause such fear and pain to an innocent animal.

Animals Australia have created a page to help end this cruelty, where you can share to spread awareness, as well as address a plea to your local MP. So please, just spare a few minutes of your day and help stop this suffering. Stop Animals Being Sledgehammered to Death in the Live Export Trade

It’s sickening and heartbreaking to see these beautiful animals suffer. The fear in their eyes brings tears to my own. When will animal cruelty end?!

There are so many things you can do to help promote Animal Welfare-

-Spread awesomeness on social media
-Contact your local MP about what you think needs attention
-Donate what you can/Raise money for non-profit charities
-Volunteer your time to local shelters
-Report sick or injured wildlife to Wildlife Victoria or your local vet clinic
-Research organisations and keep up to date with how you can support their work

Please. We have the ability to make the world a better place for the ones we share it with. Let’s put a stop to the suffering!

The least I can do I speak out for those who cannot speak for themselves – Jane Goodall
Jess xx
 
 
Related Links and Further Information 
Wildlife Victoria – 1300 094 535
*All images courtesy of Google Images*
Video retrieved from Vemo via Animals Australia