Posts Tagged ‘scovill zoo’

Prehensile lips and cameras

March 25, 2010

Every once and a while I get on here and rave about how cool my job is, or about how much I love animals. I guess I pretty much did both in my last post about the snake. Sorry to be one-note, but I’m doing it again.

This week, Scovill Zoo director Ken Frye took reporter Ashley Rueff, photographer Stephen Haas, and myself around the place to see some new faces, as well as a few animals that they suspect are preggers.

While we were there, we learned about the prehensile lips that camels use to maneuver their food. We learned they can also use them to grasp would-be food, such as a camera. Although Ashley and I got to pet Seymore the camel, Stephen Haas earned the title “Camel Whisperer” here at the Herald & Review. See for yourself:

After that episode, I couldn’t help but pay very close attention to the llama in the petting zoo, since it belongs to the same weird-lipped family of the camels. Enjoy this close look at the way those smackers work:

Check back April 1 for a link to the full story and video on!


Hickory the screech owl

September 14, 2009

In August, I went to the Illinois State Fair to shoot a video for the Herald & Review. While I was there I got a nice shot of Scovill Zoo’s screech owl, Hickory.

I only ended up using a very small clip in the final video, but I really don’t think it does him justice. You really have to see him in action to appreciate the giant eyes and nervous tongue wagging. Enjoy.

More animals!

August 15, 2009

I really can’t help myself when it comes to filming animals. If the opportunity is there, I take it.

At the Illinois State Fair, they have “Decatur Day” where the community can show off what it has to offer. Among the different groups and businesses that show up is the Scovill Zoo. Every time I cover Decatur Day, I shoot some footage of the animals. Usually it’s the little gator that draws a pretty nice crowd. Here is the story that the video goes with, along with a photo of the gator I am talking about.

Yesterday, I was introduced to a member of Scovill Zoo that I’ve never seen before: Hickory the Screech Owl.

Hickory the Screech Owl

Hickory the Screech Owl

This little guy was awesome. He was about the size of a Furby, and looked almost fake enough to be one. His huge eyes, blinking one after the other at me, looked big and plastic. But he was real, and he got kind of nervous as I brought the camera closer to get a shot of him. As a result, his neck feathers started to ruffle, and his beak opened up for me to see his tongue wiggling around. It was pretty hilarious, but I didn’t want to give him a little heart attack, so I backed off after I got my shot. After he calmed back down I went back and seized the chance to pet him.

After filming Hickory, I went over to shoot some more displays. Before I could start recording, Ken Lowe, the reporter for this story, nearly karate chopped me in the back to get my attention. Frantically pointing back at the zoo display he says, “Snake! Shedding! Go!” So I dart over to the zoo area and sure enough there is a snake slipping out of his skin. A large group of children had already gathered around the cage, so I couldn’t get the camera in for an overhead view. Instead I filmed past their heads and through the glass and got what I needed.

Snake! Shedding! Go!

Snake! Shedding! Go!

As usual, I can’t post the video here because it belongs on the Herald & Review site. And, since the video was about Decatur Day, and not just the zoo, I didn’t get to use as much of the animal footage as I would have liked. However, if you want to see the snake slipping into something more comfortable, and an owl’s tongue wagging, all set to some cool drum-line music, check it out here!

Working with Animals

June 15, 2009

My dad works for the Chicago Park District, and when I was younger he was able to get my family behind the cages at the Lincoln Park Zoo. I got to feed the elephants, pet the rhinos, and see how things worked behind the scenes. I remember being jealous of the access his job gave him, and grateful that we were able to take advantage of it. I hoped that some day I’d have a job that gave me the same opportunities.

As luck would have it, I ended up working in the news industry. I’ve been working for the Herald & Review newspaper for 3 years, producing video for the website, My current job not only offers me the chance to be out of the office interacting with people for a good chunk of my time, but it also puts me in contact with animals quite often.

I’ve worked with the Macon County Animal Shelter and the Scovill Zoo on many occasions, and have also been able to meet some people and their pets, and share some really great stories.

If you are an animal lover, here are some videos I’ve produced for the H&R. Unfortunately I can’t embed them here, but feel free to follow the links!

That’s all that I can think of for now. This is just a tiny part of my job, but it’s something that I always wanted to be able to do. Hopefully someday I’ll be able to share that with my kids and have them jealous of my job.

And now I leave you with some funny bears that I filmed at the Macon County Fair a couple years ago: