Living a Zoo Dream – Brazilian Rainbow Boa

It was an interesting week for me at the zoo, as it highlighted the diversity of my role. The week included talking to zoo volunteers, meeting with local attractions and learning about our guest services department.

I was lucky to meet a small group of the great volunteers and docents who support the Lake Superior Zoo. These dedicated individuals are critical to helping the zoo meet its mission. They perform a wide variety of tasks, including: hosting interpretive carts, handling animals for guests, working in our barnyard area, developing and caring for our great plants and gardens at the zoo and even doing a little painting when necessary.

Their energy, enthusiasm and passion for the zoo are unmatched, and I can’t express how much I appreciate their dedication. If you are interested in volunteering at the zoo, we have more information on our website and Facebook page.

On Wednesday evening, I attended a “Let’s Get Social” event at Glensheen Mansion. It was a great opportunity to learn what other Duluth attractions are doing to engage with visitors and provide different experiences. We are looking forward to learning from, and partnering with, Glensheen and other great local Duluth attractions to create new and unique visitor experiences. More information will be coming, but please send us any ideas you have by e-mailing us, posting a comment on our Facebook page or calling.

My other highlight of the week was experiencing the training we do in guest services. This department runs the gift shop, handles admissions, works the Safari Café and runs the train in the summer. It was great to see all of the different tasks they do on a daily basis and how critical they are to providing a great experience for our guests.

Our guest services representatives are often the first faces you see at the zoo, and they can set the tone for the whole visit. In addition, it was fun to learn about all of the unique items in our gift shop, especially the local crafts and the items we sell that help fund conservation efforts. One example is using Tagua nuts to replace the use of ivory. Click on this link to learn more about these amazing products.

My animal highlight of the week is Skittles, our Brazilian rainbow boa. Dave, our animal care director, just rebuilt an exhibit to make an attractive and appropriate home for Skittles in our Griggs Learning Center. This may seem simple, but a lot goes into the design and construction of a new exhibit. It includes ensuring appropriate temperature, humidity and exhibit elements for the boa to be healthy, as well as trying to create something that is interesting and appealing to visitors.

The Brazilian rainbow boa is considered one of the most beautiful snakes in the world because of its iridescence. These snakes are native to the Amazon basin in Brazil, but different subspecies of rainbow boas can be found throughout South and Central America. They feed on small mammals, rodents and birds. They can grow up to six feet long and have an average lifespan of 20 or more years. Skittles is currently 7 years old and her favorite food is mice.

This is just the beginning of several new and updated exhibits that are allowing the zoo to create exciting and engaging experiences for our visitors. Please continue to check in for updates. Also, we are starting to get feedback from our guests on an in-house survey. It is exciting to hear what visitors like about their visits, as well as their ideas for improvements.

In addition to this local feedback, we really want visitors to go and post on Top Advisor (tripadvisor.com) about their zoo experiences. It is a great way to share your experience with others looking for fun things to do in the Duluth area. Our goal at the Lake Superior Zoo is to become a top 10 “Thing to Do” on Trip Advisor, but we need your help. Please post a review to this website link if you have visited the zoo recently. If you haven’t visited the zoo recently, please do so and then post a review!

Thanks again to everyone who supports the zoo and follows this blog. It has been a new experience for me to write a blog, but I really enjoy sharing my story and my experiences. Please comment if there are things you’d like to see me write about in the future.

Corey Leet is CEO of the Lake Superior Zoo. You can contact him at cleet@lszoo.org or 218-730-4500, extension 203. Find his blog at lszooduluth.org and on the Lake Superior Zoo’s Facebook and Twitter profiles.


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