- Key Cover Story: Growing Up At The Zoo
- Key Dining: El Coyote, Boswell’s, Pompilio’s, Greyhound Tavern
- Beer of the Month: Christian Moerlein Hefeweizen
- Key Entertainment: Let it Rain
- Key Nightlife: Rick’s Tavern & Grille
- Editor’s Pick: Sister Act
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Growing up at the Zoo!
By Michele Roth
Many of us have the opinion that baby “anythings” are cute; but you can form your own opinion at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens the entire month of May with the 27th Annual Zoo Babies celebration. In addition to all the sights there are to see at the second oldest Zoo in the United States; guests can follow the six foot tall pink and blue stork signs guiding you to the sights of this event that is free with your regular Zoo admission.
The successful breeding efforts, including those of many endangered species, have earned the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden the nickname of “The Sexiest Zoo in America”. It has also given visitors the chance to see some of the cutest little ones on the planet including baby flamingos, a Bonobo monkey and aardvark just to name a few. There have been two other babies that have been in the spotlight as well over the past few months, Lulu and Gladys.
The baby giraffe Lulu and the baby gorilla Gladys have already developed a fan base. Lulu was born on October 12th to Tessa and Kimba. Lulu and her parents can be seen at the new African expansion which is due to fully open June 29th and will be the home to new lions and a new cheetah.
Gladys, the baby Gorilla was born on January 29th to a first time mom who’s maternal instincts didn’t kick in. So Gladys was sent to the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden where she is being cared for by her human surrogate mothers until it is determined which of the female gorillas will bond to Gladys the most then take over that role.
Gladys also brings one career experience full circle for Curator of Mammals, Mike Dulaney. Mike has been a full time employee with the Zoo for 40 years but his career with the Zoo started when he was only nine years old. Chad Yelton, Marketing Director for the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden jokes, “ I always say that Mikes’ parents dropped him off when he was a little boy and never came back to get him. Don’t worry. He’s very happy.” Although Chad is joking some elements of his statement are quite accurate.
A nine year old Mike Dulaney got a 3rd degree sunburn which required a trip to the doctor. That doctor was a Zoo member so he gave Mike a couple of passes to the Zoo so he and a friend could go when he was better. Catching a bus with his friend from Fairfax, Mikes’ career was now on route.
Becoming enamored with a squirrel monkey, Mike was convinced he would be able to train it so he came back every weekend making friends with the keepers, employees and one squirrel monkey. Eventually he trained that monkey to walk around on his shoulder. The keeper couldn’t give him the squirrel monkey but could give him a squirrel that had been nursed back to health. What did Mike do? He trained it, which landed him an appearance on the Skipper Ryle Show.
At 14, Mike was a member of the Junior Zoologist Club. He had the opportunity to watch a gorilla named Penelope give birth to Samantha who at 43 years of age is now the oldest gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. Samantha also happens to be the great grandmother of Gladys; bringing that particular (and sentimental) experience full circle.
Mike’s first paying job at the Zoo was as a parking lot attendant, he then moved his way up to the Children’s Zoo until his senior year of high school when a keeper position opened up. For 22 years he was a keeper at the Zoo and for almost 18 year s he’s been the Curator of Mammals. His love for the animals inspires him to get to work an hour and a half early just so he can go around and visit the animals. Mike smiles and says, “I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.”
There’s no rush Mike, but there is a rush to get to the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens for Zoo Babies because they won’t stay babies forever.