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Mondays are project days.
All of the Audubon Nature Institute facilities are closed on Mondays. It’s not a day that we sit with our feet up and have long zoological conversations over tall glasses of iced tea. It’s project day. The day the zoo keepers and groundskeepers can work on the projects that we can’t get to when we have our guests here.
There is, of course, the standard lawn mowing, power washing, trash hauling, tree trimming and moat cleaning. There are also many more projects that are not so common. Today I visited the Reptile House where everyone was working on special projects that are more than routine maintenance or animal care. Nick was painting the fake rocks they make out of Styrofoam, Mel was screwing a wooden box together to hold a mold for more fake rock work, Kim was photographing baby endangered Louisiana Pine Snakes. It was quiet and pleasant in the Reptile Building. (Of course there are people that would say it could NEVER be pleasant in that particular building.) There was no "tap tapping" on the dozens of glass fronted exhibits to wear on their (and the animal’s) nerves. No screaming from guests that spotted a particularly large snake, no gum to scrape off the carpeting. Just quiet and projects.
These project days are very important for the quality of the exhibits. A good exhibit is one that most closely resembles the natural habitat of the animal while also showing the outstanding physical features of the animal. A well done exhibit is not only beautiful and educational for the human visitor, but it helps the animal feel less stress. It also helps many animals feel comfortable enough to reproduce and that in turn helps the future of the species.
Check out the Reptile House and you can see the results of Monday project days. Look for the Panamanian Golden Frogs; they have a beautiful exhibit that shows the tropical wonderland of these tiny, critically endangered amphibians. Look at the snake exhibits and see which ones have been changed and which ones are “old school”. It’s easy to see. Mondays, peat moss, Styrofoam and wood glue can do great things.
Everyone should have project days. When you visit us throughout the week and marvel at the little exhibit details, the glistening ponds or the manicured lawns it’s because we are lucky enough to have a project day.