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SCB visits Gulf Coast Zoo, Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge, and Splinter Hill Bog - DBS

Published: 11/04/2014

Nine SCB members and faculty advisor Dr. Bob Boyd traveled to southern Alabama from Friday October 31, 2014 to Sunday, November 2, 2014. After traveling down to Splinter Hill Bog on Friday night to get us close to the coast for the next day, our first stop Saturday morning was at the Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores. We began with a short formal animal show put on by a zoo education specialist, and then AU alum and former SCB member Jessica Larson (who has worked at the zoo for the past 2 years) met us and gave us a guided tour of the zoo and its inhabitants (including a chance to meet up-close some young lemurs and young Eurasian lynx). She also told us about internships at the zoo and how interested students can obtain these to get experience in the field. Jessica spent a couple hours with us answering questions and giving us insights into the various exhibits and the challenges and rewards of working with both animals and the general public. After the zoo, we traveled to Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge to observe the habitat of the endangered Alabama Beach Mouse. As background for this trip, Dr. Mike Wooten had given us a guest lecture summarizing his 20+years of research on this species and its habitat so we were well prepared to explore the beaches and dunes that host the last few populations of this endemic Alabama subspecies of beach mouse. Finally, we headed back to Splinter Hill to rest for the night (and support our football team’s precarious victory over Old Miss). On Sunday morning, we toured the Nature Conservancy’s Splinter Hill Bog Reserve (and the George Folkerts Bog Trail, named for a former BioSci Professor who was a world-renowned expert) to see carnivorous plants and discuss the challenges of maintaining and restoring this special type of habitat. Altogether, this was an excellent trip with great learning opportunities and life experiences for all!

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