July 2022 Edition
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Aspen plant the first red mangroves in new Trunk Island exhibit
Welcome to the Bermuda Zoological Society Sarah Holmes!
Student Feature: Jayden Parker
Pets and their impact on Bermuda
New small clawed otters - feature by BHS
On Friday 3rd June, employees from Aspen were excited to plant the first young red mangrove trees in their sponsored Coastal Red Mangrove Forest on Trunk Island – the Bermuda Zoological Society’s (BZS) ‘Living Classroom’.

In July 2021, Aspen pledged to donate $25K per year, for the next five years, to support the creation of the coastal exhibit. As a part of their company’s 20th Anniversary celebration, 17 employees from Aspen participated in a very special corporate day of giving on Trunk Island, where they were able to plant the first of the young red mangrove trees in the newly developed coastal exhibit.

“Partnering with the BZS’s mangrove forestation project is a great way for Aspen to give back to our community,” said Adam Barboza, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Aspen. “By helping create the coastal exhibit, we are encouraging growth in the biodiversity habitat that will provide experiential learning opportunities for current and future generations. It was a fantastic opportunity for the Aspen team to be a part of this impactful work and we thank Trevor and his colleagues for their vision and all the hard work they put in to getting the site ready for planting.”
BZS Captain Trevor Rawson, Trunk Island Project Coordinator, started their day with a boat tour of the surrounding coastline of Trunk Island’s neighbor, Rabbit Island. During their tour they were able to see quite a few White-tailed Tropic bird, “Longtail”, chicks nestled in their rocky nests. Captain Rawson then gave the team a view of the coastal exhibit from the ocean, indicating how protected the mangroves would be from the open ocean waves.

Once on Trunk Island, Captain Rawson led the team on a day filled with preparing the mangrove habitat with recycled, biodegradable burlap bags. These bags were stuffed with rich soil sourced on Trunk. The weighted bags line the edges of the bay to act as an erosion-resistant barrier, and double as a growing medium for the young mangroves. The Aspen team then planted the starter population of the first 14 Red Mangroves planted on Trunk Island. These were raised by the staff at BAMZ who were happy to see them go to a new home in this wonderful project.
“We were very proud to participate in the BZS mangrove forestation project by successfully preparing the grounds and planting the mangroves to promote marine life”, said Mark Pickering, CEO of Aspen. “Trevor and the team were instrumental in having the materials readily available and providing guidance throughout the day as our colleagues experienced an excellent team-building event on Trunk Island.”

Red Mangroves (Rhizophora mangle) provide essential ecosystem services: a nursery habitat for many juvenile reef fish, feeding areas for diverse fish at high tide, and their tangled prop roots protect the coastline against erosion. However, mangroves in Bermuda have suffered extensive losses due to coastal infrastructure and property development. Rising sea levels threaten the remaining mangroves, as the waters have become too deep for seedlings to establish and thus regeneration after storm damage is significantly diminished.
By supporting the mangrove forestation project at Trunk Island, the aim of Aspen is to raise awareness of climate change, habitat restoration and to provide opportunities for student experiential learning. Their partnership with the BZS will help provide the basis for a better understanding of how we all can make a difference in the world in which we live.

“It was an amazing experience to be out here on Trunk Island with my co-workers and to be a part of such an important project for Trunk Island’s habitat restoration”, said Chris Coleman, Global CFO of Aspen. “I can’t wait to see what all of our hard work will look like in 10 years.”

“Thanks to the generous donation from Aspen, the BZS are happy to begin the creation of the new Red Mangrove habitat on Trunk Island,” said Colin Brown, BZS President. “Their recent corporate day of giving is the starting point for this walkthrough exhibit, which will allow visitors to experience the Red Mangroves and will give our education team the ability to provide new substantive and sustained educational experiences for thousands of students as they move through the Bermuda school systems.”
The Bermuda Zoological Society would like to introduce our newest Educator – Sarah Holmes!
Sarah grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and always knew she wanted to have an occupation that involved the ocean. She obtained her undergraduate degree from University of Miami with a double major in Biology/Marine Science and a minor in Chemistry. During her degree Sarah spent much of her time researching in the lab and the library and it was in the lab that she found her joy in mentoring the younger students!
After graduating, and before starting her graduate degree, Sarah moved to Santa Catalina Island, which is a rocky island off the coast of Southern California. While there, she taught outdoor education to the small community in which she resided – including day and night snorkelling, kayaking, hikes, squid dissections and fish labs…to name a few! Thinking that living on an island couldn’t possibly be “real life” (little did she know what her future would hold), she decided it was time to start applying for graduate programme placements.
Sarah selected a programme at Stony Brook University in New York, where she studied climate based and genetic research and gained a master’s degree in Marine Conservation and Policy. While studying for her master’s degree, she took journalism courses, as she had a passion for communicating the science she would research. During the interview for this story, Sarah remarked, “science is great, but if you don’t talk about the science and nobody knows what you’re doing in your lab, how can you get people to care?”
Combining her passion for communication and science, Sarah was able to secure a job at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as their Education Communication Stakeholder Engagement Specialist and worked there for 7 years.
What brought her to our little island in the sun, you may ask? On a holiday trip to Bermuda a few years ago, Sarah met her now husband! As luck would have it, soon after saying “I do”, Sarah applied, interviewed, and secured the job as the BZS new Educator!
Since starting with the BZS, Sarah has assisted Dr Alex Amat with the Kids on the Reef programme and is preparing to teach during our Aqua Camps this summer. In September, she will be working along side our other educators to teach the new STEM-based Government Signature Schools programme.
Welcome to the team Sarah!
Meet Jayden Parker. He is a 19 year old student currently studying Biomedical Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada. Jayden started his summer at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo (BAMZ) as a Stempel Intern and is now working at BAMZ through the Government summer employment programme. However, his journey at BAMZ started many years ago.

In 2017, Jayden was selected to be a Junior Volunteer (JV) with the Bermuda Zoological Society. At the time, Jayden was 14 years old and attended Warwick Academy. He decided to become a JV because he “loved animals and [his] goal was to be involved in the veterinary industry in the future”.
Jayden was able to join seventeen other JVs on a “trip of a lifetime” to the islands of the Galapagos. Whilst there the JVs traveled across nature reserves – both terrestrial and marine – and had the opportunity to work with Galapagos tortoises, plant trees, and snorkel with sealions, turtles, and sharks. They interacted with school children and observed marine iguanas, birds as well as the amazing geology of the island.

After he completed his time in the JV programme, Jayden was selected to stay on as a junior staff member and worked closely with Senior Aquarist Choy Aming for the next 4 years. During his time as a junior staff member, Jayden provided enrichment activities to the sea turtles and seals, was responsible for assisting with the feeding of many of the marine species on facility, cleaned and maintained many of the aquarium tank exhibits and even assisted with tasks in and around the North Rock exhibit. When asked about working with Jayden, Choy mentioned that he was “one of the best junior staff members he has ever had working with him”. 
At the start of this summer, Jayden was selected as one of the BZS Stempel internship awardees, and was placed with the BAMZ Animal Care and Quarantine Officer, Roma Hayward. The Stempel Internship is for students interested in pursuing careers in the life sciences (biology, zoology, veterinary medicine, wildlife management, etc.). Students are given the opportunity to learn all aspects of the daily care of exotic animals through practical involvement and leave with a better understanding of the important role of aquariums, museums and zoos in promoting conservation and education.

Having now completed his 6-week internship, Jayden is now into his 3rd week of working through the Bermuda Government Summer Employment programme. During his time at BAMZ Jayden has been assisting with rehabilitating wild animals that have been brought to the facility, caring for resident animals at BAMZ that are placed in quarantine, assisting with veterinary checks on the animals – including their annual check-ups. 
When asked if he has enjoyed his experience thus far, he said “yes, I have very much enjoyed my time working in this department, as it is very close to field in which I would like to work in future – veterinary science.”

In addition to working with Roma Hayward, Jayden has had an opportunity to work with the Curator of the Aquarium and Zoo, Patrick Talbot, assisting with his on-going research on the White-tailed tropic bird – “Long tail”. Jayden would accompany Patrick to visit Long tail nests he has been observing this season and he would hold the birds while Patrick would take necessary measurements for his research. More information on Patrick’s research in our next newsletter! 
By Sarrah Hamza, BZS Educator
Prospect Preschool reached out to me as the Preschool and Lower Primary Educator with the Bermuda Zoological Society to engage in an online class. Prospect Preschool students were exploring the topic of “Pets” so I offered a ZOOM class that would help the children to consider the impact of having pets on the local environment.

Very often we see that control measures are put in place after a problem is developing or when the damage is already done. Education is key to awareness so that we can aim to be proactive, more sensitive, and responsive to the world around us and prevent disasters such as the extinction of a species and habitat destruction.
It was not long after people started inhabiting the islands of Bermuda that their impact on the local environment was known. In fact, this awareness triggered the implementation of legislation to ban the killing of Green Sea Turtles for food supply. Early settlers brought cats and dogs to these islands and famously released wild hogs (for their own food supply) and rats unintentionally...that was just the start!

The students were able to relate to many of the pets that can be found abandoned in our parks, nature reserves and ponds as they are quite common pet choices. I described how rabbits, guinea pigs, cats and guppies from residential aquariums are found impacting other animals and plants that are native and endemic to Bermuda’s islands.

There have been many examples of students and their families releasing Red Eared Slider terrapins into Spittal Pond, thinking they were doing their terrapin a favour. However, the consequences to the local environment can be tremendous, including the decimation of the mosquito fish populations which in turn leads to an increase in mosquitoes.
Rabbits and guinea pigs will graze in our parks and nature reserves, and this can not only destroy native and endemic seedlings, but it also adds to the competition for food sources for the native and endemic creatures that rightfully belong in these protected habitats. There is a large feral cat population that continues to threaten our birds in Bermuda. The feral chicken population has helped to damage seedlings of our native and endemic plants as they scratch around looking for food and can have a devastating effect on our local farms by destroying crops.

Earlier this year there was a claim that a snake had been spotted in a Somerset location. Although it turned out to be a hoax in the end, a response team was prepared very quickly from the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum & Zoo to find and safely collect the snake in question. Snakes are not permitted as pets in Bermuda because of the destructive impact this could have on our wildlife - especially our bird populations. Bernews has even included a piece from Dr David Wingate on the impact of snakes in Bermuda: http://bernews.com/2013/05/wingate-snake-population-could-be-disastrous/

The clear message shared is that we need to protect our natural environment and if we are blessed to have a pet, we must make sure that it stays in our care unless it is rehomed and is never to be released into our parks, nature reserves and ponds please!
Three students from the Bermuda High School spent two days working shadowing in the Marketing Department, and one of their tasks was develop an article about our new Asian Small Clawed Otter.

The task involved the students interviewing the zookeeper responsible for the otters, Chris Davis, determining the best questions to ask to gather the information needed for the article and doing independent research about the animal to fill in their gaps of knowledge. Below is the article they wrote as a group:
“The Bermuda Aquarium and Zoo has recently welcomed a new [Asian small-clawed] otter into their collection. The otter’s name is Raakshas, and he is a 6-year-old small-clawed otter born in 2016. He arrived in March 2022, from Disney World, Florida, and has since found a great friendship with a female otter by the name of Zucchini. They have an incredible bond that is thought to be very rare. They spend most of their time swimming in their enclosure, along with playing and grooming each other.
Asian small-clawed otters are endangered and live in Southern India, Southern China, South-east Asia, Indonesia and the Philippines. These otters can grow to just about 96 inches long and can weigh between 6 and 12lbs. Males tend to be larger than females. Their tail makes up about 3 quarters of their full length and they live between 11 and 16 years. Otters are communal animals and live in families for about 12 years.”
Thank you to Annika Henderson, Charlie Yates and Isla Curtis for your investigative work!

To provide further detail on Raakshas - he was born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, in Orlando Florida, on 8th October 2016 and came to BAMZ on the 12th of March this year. He is the recommended mate for our female otter Zucchini and it is hoped they will one day have pups.

Raakshas had quite the adventure getting here! His keepers from Animal Kingdom drove him to Atlanta so that he could come by direct flight. He was checked in to depart and then at the last minute an issue arose with the flight, so he ended up being looked after at Georgia Aquarium for a couple of days until he could be rebooked on a flight to Bermuda. His journey was a great testament to the cooperation amongst the zoo and aquarium community to ensure animals are well looked after! 
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