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David Blaszkiewicz

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Before turning to zookeeping, most of David's background involved field research with birds.   As a zookeeper at John Ball Zoo, he spends most of his time in the Van Andel Living Shores and at the new zoo Commissary preparing animal diets.  His preferred group of animals to work with are birds, particularly gulls, penguins and songbirds.  

Outside of the Zoo and animal world, he enjoys cooking, gardening and music.  

Posts by David Blaszkiewicz


Piping Plovers are shorebirds similar to (but much smaller) than the more familiar Killdeer, and the Great Lakes population is highly endangered.  Only about sixty breeding pairs exist, and they are limited to the Lake Michigan and Huron beaches of Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ontario.  Much of their decline  is due to habitat loss. Since Plovers and humans are both attracted to the same beaches, suitable breeding sites are becoming increasingly rare.  Predation by both wild and domestic animals is also a big problem, and the population is so fragile that even accidents or weather events can cause significant damage.


Today I'm going to help you get acquainted with Cleopatra, JBZ's Black-crowned Night Heron.  She's one of our newest residents, having arrived over the winter from the St. Louis Zoo.  Like all new arrivals she had to spend a stint quarantined in our animal hospital to be sure she didn't have any parasites or diseases that might spread, but then it was off to the Living Shores for exhibit.  She was pretty skittish at first but is fitting in very nicely.  I was a bit worried beforehand that she might not behave herself but she's been a model citizen.



For my first blog I'm going to focus on some zoo residents (my favorites) who you've probably all seen but maybe haven't given much thought to.  Namely, the Kelp Gulls.  Kelp Gulls are widespread on islands and rocky coastlines of the Southern Hemisphere, but one was recently spotted as far north as Florida.  I know this because the researcher who found it contacted us to make sure it wasn't one of ours.  "Why us?" you ask.  Because John Ball Zoo houses the last three Kelp Gulls in North American zoos.  They're quite common in the wild, so the American Zoo and Aquarium Association is phasing them out and once ours are gone you'll have to catch a plane or boat to see one.