At the beginning of each new year we anticipate many guests during spring break, school groups trying to complete their field trips prior to the end of the school year, and summer visitors to the DWA. It becomes a challenge to provide experiences that are of interest to all ages. This spring, we have added or modified several areas.
In Mundo Maya, we have a small Touch Tank as part of the exhibit at the end of the shark tunnel. These animals will be rotated in and out during the summer, offering a variety of species to touch. Across from this, we are displaying various species of Butterflies. They start in this exhibit at the chrysalis stage and emerge as butterflies, to be released into the rainforest. We planted host plants during spring planting so we are hoping you see butterflies in the rainforest.
It is sometimes easy to overlook some of the smaller animals, but the bizarre colors and patterns of amphibians and reptiles such as the many species native to Madagascar, intrigue and fascinate guests. This is noted when they express their disappointment if the animals are off exhibit due to extreme weather conditions. Future plans include the enclosing of South Africa and Madagascar, making it a year-round display!
Due to our repeated success with the reproduction of various species of birds, we have many national and international guests, as well as interns, interested in learning more about our avian collection. Part of our success is due to Fostering by our feathered friends.
My recent trip to Peru was one of extreme interest and importance to our conservation work in South America. The frequent trips are sometimes tiring, as going from Dallas to Iquitos involves about 18 hours of travel time. You fly over the Amazon to Lima to then return back to Iquitos. We are currently making the final preparations for the first release of manatees from the Manatee Rescue Center. After three years, it is certainly rewarding to be near this stage of our plan to liberate the animals back to the wild. My staff and I will be returning in April, when five of the rescued-rehabilitated manatees will be moved on Earth Day, April 22, to their release site at Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. Located 114 miles southwest of Iquitos, the reserve is reached by boat or float plane. The trip takes approximately two days by chartered boat so, with my limited travel time, we charter a small Cessna float plane. The lagoon area is situated on a horseshoe bend in the river where the manatees will find plenty of vegetation, be isolated from people, yet have officials at the reserve to observe them as they adjust to their new environment. The animals will be satellite-tagged so their locations can be tracked. The staff at the rescue center has constructed a holding pen to which the manatees will be moved on April 22, where they will be kept for several months in order to prepare for their Release. Wish our staff in Peru luck and we will be sure to share the images and press releases upon our return. Thanks for your support which allows us to continue conservation in action at the DWA and around the world!