Some Tourist Time

By Kim Lengel, Vice President of Conservation and Education

Sunday morning we reserved for a little tourist time. We took a long bus ride to Quatre Bonnes for the weekly market where we had a chance to pick up some souvenirs for family, friends, and coworkers.  I got to practice my bargaining skills and had a fun time doing it. With our booty in hand, we boarded the bus for the ride back to Black River. For some reason, this bus seemed unable to get out of 3rd gear and we literally crawled back our hotel.  We dropped off our stuff and got back onto another bus to go to GDEWS. Tim and I both must have still been zoned out from our previous bus ride because we completely missed our stop and had to walk back, giving us a significantly late start on our tasks for the day. 
 
We spend the rest of the afternoon attaching all the relevant labels to the bat crates and spider boxes – this end up arrow shipping labels, Centers for Disease Control labels, address labels, emergency feeding instructions, “live animals – please do not annoy or expose to extremes of heat and cold” labels, and shipping crate contents labels. By the time Tim was done attaching all the labels, there wasn’t much free space left on the crates.  None of the labels are gratuitous – they are all mandated by one or another of the agencies governing shipment of these animals. 
 
While Tim was engaged with that, I went about collecting our first batch of spiders.  We weren’t departing until very early Tuesday morning but I was concerned that we would run out of time on Monday to do everything we needed to so want to begin collecting now.  The spider I had caught the day before looked good leading me to feel comfortable that spiders we collected on Sunday afternoon would be fine in their containers until we arrived back in the US on Wednesday morning.  With the help of Danella to steady the ladder while I was perched on it reaching for spiders, I was able to collect 24 in an hour and to get them settled for the night. 
 
We took one spider and a spider shipment box with us when we left GDEWS for the day. We were headed into Reduit on Monday morning to visit government offices and we weren’t sure if the official at National Parks and Conservation Service would want to review how we were housing the spiders for the flight back to the US.  Tim got to wrestle the spider box with all its dire labeling onto the packed bus and while we got some odd stares, no one asked about it.  

Tim affixing some of the necessary shipment labels to the bat crates.
Tim affixing some of the necessary shipment labels to the bat crates.
Tim on the bus with the spider box.
Tim on the bus with the spider box.

10/02/2013 : Back in the States

It’s 6:30 a.m. New York time and we’re here. Our job now is to get back to the Zoo as quickly as possible.

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10/01/2013 : Heading back

We checked the bats and they all looked alert. They had eaten well during the night – a good sign that they were settled in.

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09/30/2013 : Catching spiders

Tim, an avid kayaker, was determined not to leave Mauritius without kayaking in the Indian Ocean.  So he was up very early on Monday for a sunrise kayak on the bay.  He and his guide had a great hour, kayaking with a group of spinner dolphins! 

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09/29/2013 : Tourist Time

We took a long bus ride to Quatre Bonnes for the weekly market where we had a chance to pick up some souvenirs for family, friends, and coworkers. 

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09/28/2013 : Getting ready for the move

Back in our rooms after dinner, I heard the distinctive sound of fruit bats breeding.  I pinpointed the noise to a nearby mango tree and using a flashlight, I picked up the eyeshine of two Mauritius fruit bats – Pteropus niger – in the tree.

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09/28/2013 : Rare birds in Mauritius

The aviary is only a short ride away from our hotel and houses some of the rarest avian species in the world. The aviary used to be a big center for captive propagation and reintroduction but now currently houses mostly injured or non-releasable specimens, with the exception of the bats. 

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09/27/2013 : Seeing an old friend

On Friday morning, I was finally able to see Mary Jane Raboude. During her ten years as the first REEP, MJ and I had spent a lot of time together. She had visited the US 4 times for continuing education, to spend time at the Zoo, and to present at conferences.  She always stayed at our home so our family had become close to MJ. 

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09/26/2013 : Anse Quitor and Francois Leguat Tortoise Park

This site is more challenging, in some ways, than Grand Montagne.  While it’s generally easier to access – no cliff faces to deal with –because it’s so dry and because wandering domestic animals are more of a problem, reforestation is slower going here.

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09/26/2013 : Touring Rodrigues

Very proud to be a part of an organization that has played such a major role in saving a species.

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09/25/2013 : Off to Rodrigues

Some more background on how the Philly Zoo became a champion for endangered bats half way around the world. 

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09/24/2013 : Some background on Mauritius

The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation located about 1200 miles off the southeast coast of the African continent in the Indian Ocean, which includes the principal island of Mauritius, Rodrigues (the only home of the Rodrigues fruit bat), and several smaller outlying islands and archipelagos.

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09/24/2013 : Arriving in Mauritius

I'm so excited to return the island where I did my graduate work almost 20 years ago.  It's hard to believe I've been working to conserve Rodrigues fruit bats for that long.

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09/23/2013 : Traveling to Mauritius

Veterinarian Dr. Tim Georoff and I left Monday morning from JFK airport in NYC for our flight to Mauritius by way of Johannesburg, South Africa.  We're travelling all this way for the primary purpose of accompanying 30 Rodrigues fruit bats back to the Zoo from the long-time captive colony of bats at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Center in Mauritius.

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