Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Introducing Pepper Jack!

When our beloved corn snake Zea passed away in April, she not only left behind a hole in our hearts, but also an empty exhibit space. While we could never replace her, we have filled the exhibit with a new corn snake who has already become a member of our Life Sciences Family. Say “Hello” to Pepper Jack, our newest corn snake!

Before we considered a new snake, we needed to know if there were any environmental factors or contagions involved in Zea’s passing or something that could be harmful to a new snake. We needed a necropsy - the animal version of an autopsy. Since living animals are veterinarians’ priorities, it took a while for the lab results to get back to us. By mid-June, we learned that the exhibit space was safe for a new snake.

Enter April Wedman, Science and Education Specialist at Pacific Science Center, who also volunteers at the Seattle Animal Shelter. When she learned of Zea’s passing, she put us in contact with someone who could help us meet a couple of corn snakes at the shelter. Lead Animal Caretaker, Lauren Bloomenthal and a volunteer at the shelter discussed the details we needed to know about our potential snakes, and addressed any concerns about us as a home for a snake. Shelters prefer to adopt out animals to residential homes rather than large institutions, but we were able to demonstrate that our dedicated staff would treat an animal as well as a private home.

We set up a time for a meet and greet.

We decided to forgo our weekly Life Sciences meeting in favor of a group adventure to the shelter. We brought plenty of gloves for handling, and optimistically, a snake transportation device just in case we could bring a snake home. At the shelter, we met a beautiful corn snake who had clearly been well taken care of by his foster mom. We chatted with the foster mom about the snake’s behavior and history, as well as habitat and feeding situations we were working with.

Rather than wait, we agreed that the snake could return with us that day. After a short time filling out the proper paperwork, we were on our way back to the Science Center.

Pepper Jack’s name was the inspiration of Animal Care Intern Zari, who loves the cheese theme of our other two snakes. Put that together with the peppery red color and we’ve got a solidly awesome name. While Pepper Jack is a corn snake, like Nacho, Tillamook and Zea, he is a stripe variety. He has a gene that causes a stripey pattern to his skin instead of spots on his back or belly. Since he was a shelter animal, we don’t know that much about where he came from. From his size, we estimate that Pepper Jack is about 3 years old.

Pepper Jack, or PJ as he has already become known, has shown himself to be a great addition to the Science Center. His curious nature led us to quickly re-outfit the cage divider. Like Zea before him, PJ found a way into Nacho’s adjoining cage.

Best of all, PJ has a great temperament for being handled and has shown to be a very good eater as well. We’re all looking forward to the many happy years with our new snake!

1 comment:

  1. You Go Animal Care Team and Lauren! And welcome Pepper Jack.