I just spent nearly 10 hours in the most freezing cold conference hall imaginable. I did have a 30 minute lunch, but was still cold when I got back. I would have like to have stayed for the 5:30-6:30 presentation, but was so miserable I decided to come back to the room to warm up before the 7-8:30pm presentation. I can look out my window and see countless restaurants, along with a huge shopping mall with a food court just across the parking lot, but I'm so cold I'm eating crackers and peanut butter because I can't stand the thought of going out into the cold hallway. I really need to ice my foot but that is just not going to happen. I think I have my Carhartt winter work coat in the trunk of my car and I may have to go get item. I wonder if JC Penney sells footie pajamas and big fuzzy slippers because that's what I want to wear under my coat. I think my bibs are in my work locker or I'd wear them too.
Okay, I'm done complaining about the cold. Otherwise, the conference is great! Today lots of the topics covered animal welfare issues. For those not in the profession, animal welfare is the scientific approach to animal care covering everything from proper diet to proper housing to emotional state. This is opposed to animal rights which is the philosophical viewpoint that animals deserve the same rights as humans. Anyway, I learned some great stuff I'd never considered, along with lots of differing ideas. I also attended the meeting for chapter leaders and I best be going over our chapter's constitution and bylaws ASAP. We also had speakers from Lewa, the International Rhino Foundation and the cheetah organization that Bowling for Rhinos helps fund. It's been a long day and I'd probably be exhausted if not for all the coffee I drank trying to keep warm.
Yesterday's trip to Duke Lemur Center and the Durham Science Center was fantastic! The lemur center had acres and acres of wooded areas where troops of lemurs roamed free. We got to go in 3 of them. One had a group of sifakas along with some other lemurs I can't even remember because being inches away from multiple "free-roaming" sifakas was so cool. The next yard was full of a large family of ring-tailed lemurs. There were many babies of different ages and all would run right over your feet. The dominant male went right up to everyone. We then saw several pairs of breeding lemurs who were in enclosures rather than huge free yards. Finally, we got to go into the nocturnal building which housed aye-ayes, pygmy lorises and gray mouse lemurs. Before I saw my first aye-aye at Omaha Zoo, I thought they were tiny. They are actually the largest nocturnal primate and one of the largest (maybe the largest, I can't remember) lemur. Anyway, they are crazy-looking and super, super cool. They have to have tons and tons of enrichment and can only have fleece cloth because they pull apart everything. They also can make a small hole in an orange or a nut and perfectly clean out the fruit, leaving the shell/skin intact. I don't think I've ever seen gray mouse lemurs before, or if I have, I didn't get a good look. There are adorable! They are probably the cutest primates I've ever seen.
The Durham Science Center was also way better than I thought it would be. They had a really nice butterfly and insect house. We got a behind the scenes tour of the black bears and a keeper did a demonstration with one of the bears in the squeeze cage. Meanwhile, two of the other bears came right up to the fence and we were an inch away from them. We also got to see the wolves and farm animals up close. Last night was the conference ice breaker at the Greensboro Science Center. The Greensboro Science Center is also an AZA accredited zoo and aquarium with a large ray touch tank. The food was a fat girl's dream with a mac and cheese bar (yes bar) and a huge selection of dips with home made chips. There was also a table with vegetables and cheeses. Delicious food followed by a ray tank with no children. Pretty awesome!
Ugh. I have 10 minutes to make it back to the meeting room and I'm still freezing. I guess I'll come back and take a hot shower.