Saturday, March 30, 2013

Fresh Sheet – March 30, 2013

Almost 600 more butterfly chrysalides and moth cocoons are eclosing this week in our Emerging Window. Come see Lepidoptera from all over the world at our Tropical Butterfly House.

El Salvador

25 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
25 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
25 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
25 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
10 - Dryadula phaetusa (Banded Orange Heliconian)
10 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
10 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
25 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
10 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
50 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
25 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
20 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
10 - Papilio pilumnus (Three-tailed Swallowtail)
10 - Parides photinus (Queen of Hearts)
25 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
25 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
10 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 340


15 - Argema mimosa (African Moon Moth)
10 - Athyma perius (Common Sergeant)
10 - Catopsilia pyranthe (Mottled Emigrant)
10 - Charaxes castor (Giant Charaxes)
10 - Charaxes cithaeron (Blue-spotted Charaxes)
12 - Charaxes etesipe(Savannah Charaxes)
06 - Charaxes lasti (Silver Striped Charaxes)
10 - Charaxes protoclea (Flame-bordered Charexes)
10 - Charaxes varanes (Pearl Charexes)
10 - Charaxes violetta (Violet-spotted Emperor)
10 - Chilasa clytia (Common Mime)
10 - Doleschalia bisaltide (Autumn Leaf)
10 - Euphaedra neophron (Gold-banded Forester)
10 - Euploea core (Common Crow)
10 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
10 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon)
10 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
10 - Junonia almana (Peacock Pansy)
10 - Junonia atlites (Gray Pansy)
10 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
15 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
10 - Parthenos sylvia lilacinus (Blue Clipper)
10 - Parthenos sylvia philippensis (The Clipper)
10 - Parthenos sylvia violaceae (Violet Clipper)
05 - Troides rhadamantus plateni (Platen’s Birdwing)

Total = 253

Grand Total = 593

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Naked Mole Rat Enrichment

Viewers of our new naked mole rat cam may have noticed an occasional toy or treat in the exhibit chamber. Animal Caretakers call this “enrichment.” This is a term that frequently comes up in our blog posts and perhaps you’ve wondered, "What is enrichment and why is it important?"

Enrichment, as a whole, is something we give animals to bring out their natural behaviors and keep their brains active and the animals engaged. This can range from something on a small scale, such as hiding food for them to forage, or on a large scale, introducing naturalistic objects into their environment for them to manipulate and explore. In these ways, we cannot only enrich the lives of our animals, but also the experiences of our guests as they explore the world of animal life.

Our only mammals at Pacific Science Center, naked mole rats, are a huge focus for our enrichment activities. Their daily need for food and stimulation offer a fun challenge for Animal Care staff, who constantly find new ways to present a fairly simple diet. One way to enrich their lives in captivity is through food-based enrichment activities. These enrichments can range from blocking up tubes with solid tubers that they have to chew through, like they would in the wild, to small pieces hidden within their bedding to encourage foraging behaviors. We also like to make food-based enrichment fun for us too. Sometimes we create food sculptures, like a naked mole rat styled pizza or holiday shaped food that shows our love for them. While our mother told us to never play with our food, she never said that we couldn’t play with the food of others!

Another way that we keep these little guys challenged and active is through physical enrichment: Consistently changing their chamber and tube layout to keep them stimulated. We also provide them with dead ends. Instead of a tube leading into a chamber, it leads into a concrete block that allows them to keep their ever-growing teeth at a healthy shape and size. Physical enrichment also gives naked mole rats the feeling of working to expand the colony as they would in the wild.

The CareFRESH® bedding in their chambers also provides a great enrichment tool. With the bedding, naked mole rats rearrange their own habitat, filling certain chambers while emptying out others. They also keep their keepers enriched by kicking their bedding up into the exhibit through their volcano tube which Animal Care staff then have to vacuum up!

The mole rats are, surprisingly, also enrichment for themselves! Social enrichment is ever-present with our colony of 63 naked mole rats. Watching them interact, in person or via the web cam, reveals the unique eusocial dynamics and individual behaviors of our naked mole rat colony.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Fresh Sheet – March 23, 2013

The new naked mole rat cam has been getting all the attention this week at Pacific Science Center but don’t forget our beautiful garden of exotic butterflies. Can a Tropical Butterfly House web cam be next?

Costa Rica

29 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
25 - ≤em>Brassolis isthmia (Small-spotted Owl)
06 - Caligo atreus (Yellow-Edged Giant-Owl)
16 - Caligo eurilochus (Forest Giant Owl)
16 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
48 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
15 - Eryphanis polyxena (Purple Mort Bleu Owl)
28 - Greta oto (Glasswing)
24 - Heliconius doris (Doris Longwing)
59 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
09 - Heliconius ismenius (Ismenius Longwing)
07 - Heliconius sapho (Sapho Longwing)
40 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
75 - Myscelia cyaniris (Blue Wave Butterfly)
57 - Papilio thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)

Total = 454

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Naked Mole Rat Cam

We are thrilled to add a live camera to our naked mole rat colony on the web. We know that anyone who sees them for the first time will fall in love with this fascinating species. Some of us have been fans of the mole rat colony for years. To those of you who have seen them on visits, read about them, or studied them, you may be wondering what the camera will add to your appreciation?

Who’s top of the heap? If the chamber is full of animals, you may notice one or two sitting, even pushing their way to the top. The colony uses placement in the pile as a way to define status. The “top” animal in the pile is very likely to be highly ranked socially. When the queen is in the pile, she makes her way to the top. Being at the bottom of the heap can mean either an animal is of low rank, or is regulating its temperature. If the colony is cold, one animal may heat itself in a warm area then run into the pile and burrow down into it. Their warmth will radiate out and heat everyone.

Where is everyone? We wish we could anticipate the one chamber that always attracts the animals. We can’t. So sometimes the chamber will be empty.

What did I just see there? If you observe the mole rats doing something and you aren’t sure what’s going on, try to describe it for us. Mole rats have many forms of locomotion. They walk backward, role, somersault, walk over each other, and more. We would love to hear what they are doing when you look in on them. Please give us your observations in the comments section below.

Will I start recognizing them? The mole rats are tattooed Some of the tattoos are clearer than others. Some mole rats also have distinct markings. Two have facial scars. One has no incisors. Two are long and big. A couple are much heavier than average. If you notice anything unique, let us know. The camera gives us a different visual perspective than the naked eye.

Whatever your observations with our colony are, we hope that the camera can add a new dimension of interaction with these captivating animals.  Enjoy seeing them at Pacific Science Center and from the comfort of your own home!

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Fresh Sheet – March 16, 2013

It’s the week of the tigers at our Tropical Butterfly House. We've received Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing), Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing), and Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger). Can you tell them apart?


40 - Heraclides thoas (Thoas Swallowtail)
40 - Heraclides anchisiades (Ruby-spotted Swallowtail)
05 - Heliconius melpomene (Postman)
24 - Dryas iulia (Julia Longwing)
40 - Catonephele orites (Orange-banded Shoemaker)
24 - Anartia amathea (Scarlet Peacock)
05 - Archeoprepona demophoon (Hubner’s Prepona)
07 - Hypna clytemnestra (Silver-studded Leafwing)
40 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
40 - Mechanitis polymnia (Polymnia Tigerwing)
05 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 270

El Salvador

30 - Battus belus (Belus Swallowtail)
30 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
30 - Catonephele numilia (Halloween Butterfly)
20 - Consul fabius (Tiger Leafwing)
30 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
30 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
19 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
20 - Papilio cresphontes (Giant Swallowtail)
10 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
20 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)
05 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
06 - Tithorea harmonia (Harmonia Tigerwing)

Total = 294


“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Fresh Sheet – March 9, 2013

Four hundred, twenty-eight pupae from the Philippines have made the long journey to our Tropical Butterfly House for your enjoyment this week. Visit them soon!


80 - Papilio rumanzovia (Crimson Swallowtail)
20 - Papilio palinurus (Banded Peacock)
80 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
80 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
06 - Doleschalia bisaltide (Autumn Leaf)
80 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
03 - Pachliopta kotzeboea (Pink Rose)
19 - Parthenos sylvia philippensis (The Clipper)
20 - Cethosia biblis (Red Lacewing)
40 - Hypolimnas bolina (Blue moon)

Total = 428

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Volunteer

Hi! I’m Sahar, a Volunteer in the Life Sciences department. By day, I work in a biological research lab. By night, I tutor high school chemistry and biology. Every other Monday, however, I come to Pacific Science Center and have a blast. This is the story of one such Monday.

7:45am Wake up. OK, this might not seem like the most exciting start to a blog post, but let me tell you, for me, it’s a BIG DEAL to wake up at 7:45. To say I’m not a morning person is an understatement. I’m just saying this because I want to emphasize how much I love volunteering at the Science Center: It’s enough that I’m willing to drag myself out of bed at the crack of dawn – or as I like to call any time before 8am, the middle of the night – to be there.

8:20am Bus! I almost miss it (as usual) but I make it, and even manage to get a seat. Woohoo! Things are looking up.

9:10am I got to the Science Center about 10 minutes ago. I always love scanning my badge to get in. It’s so secret agent-y. The morning meeting is about to start. This is a brief, daily meeting where we discuss what’s going on at the Science Center, things to be aware of throughout the day, and (of course) a daily science fact!

9:45am After doing some before-everyone-gets-here cleaning, I prepare the naked mole-rat food. Because NMRs (yes, I know them so well I call them by their initials) live underground in the wild, they tend to eat a lot of tubers. So we give them a lot of tubers! They also get some “dough” every day. This dough is made of ground up rat chow and rice cereal that we mix with water to give it a doughy consistency.

Usually we provide some sort of enrichment with their food. This basically means we give them a toy or make them work to get their food in order to stimulate their brains and stave off boredom. Some examples are putting cut up tubers in toilet paper rolls, or hiding bits of food in egg cartons. In the picture you can see a fake bone chew toy filled with dough.

10am Feeding rounds! I feed the NMRs, axolotls, Ali the turtle, Lydia the leopard gecko and all the Tide Pool animals.

NMRs are hilarious to feed. Usually, they like to pile in one exhibit chamber in order to share body warmth. But when we put the food in, there’s a mad dash to get to it. As they scramble over each other trying desperately to get to their food, they end up bottlenecking in the tubes.

I love feeding the axolotls because, well, I love looking at them. They also get pretty excited for their food and swim up to grab it, swallowing big chunks of bloodworms in one big bite. Sometimes they get confused and try to chew up the red rubber tweezers we use to give them to the bloodworms. That’s pretty funny, too.

Lydia and Ali, our two resident non-snake reptiles, have tons of personality. Ali tends to stalk his food and then stretch out his neck and grab it, lightning fast, once he approaches it. Lydia is a princess and has to inspect all the mealworms we present to her, making sure that they meet her approval before deigning to eat them.

Next the tide pool - ahh, the tide pool. One of the coolest “wow that’s happening!” moments I’ve had at Pacific Science Center was watching a sea star eating its lunch. They actually bring their stomachs out of their bodies to digest the food. It looks really neat.

11:45am I catch myself up on the daily log and meeting notes that I missed while I was gone. It’s nice to be able to see what happened since the last time I was in. While this certainly isn’t as glamorous as feeding the Tide Pool or releasing butterflies, it’s important for an intermittent volunteer such as myself to keep up to date on what’s happened in the interim. Believe me, a lot can happen in Life Sciences in two weeks.

12pm LUNCH! This is a great part of the day, not because I need a break from my volunteer duties, but because I get to chat with some of the awesome people that work at Pacific Science Center. There are some truly epic (and truly nerdy) discussions that happen in the Staff Lounge.

12:30pm I join staff and other volunteers to talk about ongoing projects at the Science Center (a mini group meeting!). It’s always nice to sit down with various staff members and discuss long term goals and ongoing projects that I may not be aware of. Even if I’m not going to be a direct part of all the projects, there are a lot of really cool things going on and I enjoy hearing about them.

1pm Butterfly release! If you’ve been to the Tropical Butterfly House at the Science Center, you’ve probably seen the Emerging Window – where we keep the chrysalises and cocoons. On the other side of that window is a room where we gather all the newly emerged butterflies and moths to bring them out and release into the garden. This is both fun and frustrating. The basic idea is, grab the butterfly just right with the tweezers (because no touching!), and put them into a bin to take out into the Butterfly House. Well, the butterflies don’t always want to cooperate so we may end up chasing them all around the room and sometimes even have to capture them with the butterfly net.

2pm Wow, time to go home already. Another busy (and successful) day at the Science Center is complete!

Read more!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Fresh Sheet – March 2, 2013

Last week it was Owl butterflies, this week it’s Atlas moths. There are going to be a lot of big Lepidoptera flying around the Tropical Butterfly House pretty soon!

El Salvador

30 - Caligo memnon (Owl Butterfly)
30 - Catonephele numilia (Numilia)
10 - Hamadryas guatemalena (Guatemalan Calico)
10 - Heliconius charitonius (Zebra Longwing)
30 - Heliconius erato (Small Postman)
20 - Heliconius hecale (Tiger Longwing)
20 - Heliconius hortense (Mountain Longwing)
10 - Lycorea cleobaea (Large Tiger)
30 - Morpho peleides (Blue Morpho)
35 - Morpho polyphemus (White Morpho)
30 - Myscelia ethusa (Royal Blue Butterfly)
20 - Papilio androgeus (Queen Page)
20 - Papilio torquatus (Band-gapped Swallowtail)
20 - Prepona omphale (Blue Belly-Button)
15 - Archeoprepona demophon (One-spotted Prepona)

Total = 330


37 - Attacus atlas (Atlas Moth)
20 - Charaxes brutus (White-barred Charaxes)
05 - Charaxes candiope (Green-veined Charaxes)
05 - Charaxes cithaeron (Blue-spotted Charaxes)
10 - Charaxes varanes (Pearl Charexes)
10 - Euphaedra neophron (Gold-banded Forester)
07 - Euploea core (Common Crow)
09 - Graphium agamemnon (Tailed Jay)
33 - Idea leuconoe (Paper Kite)
20 - Papilio dardanus (Mocker Swallowtail)
30 - Papilio lowii (Sunset Swallowtail)
12 - Papilio ophidicephalus (Emperor Swallowtail)
07 - Papilio polytes (Polite Swallowtail)
10 - Parthenos sylvia lilacinus (Blue Clipper)
10 - Parthenos sylvia philippensis (The Clipper)
12 - Parthenos sylvia violaceae (Violet Clipper)
10 - Tirumala limniace (Blue Tiger)

Total = 247

Grand Total = 577

“Fresh Sheet” is our weekly shipment report of pupae on display in the emerging window. Visit Pacific Science Center’s Tropical Butterfly House and meet our newest residents.

Read more!