Posts Tagged 'Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes'



Animal Update – October 11

More than 17,000 animals representing 750 species call the National Aquarium home. There are constant changes, additions and more going on behind the scenes that our guests may not notice during their visit. We want to share these fun updates with our community, so we’re bringing them to you in our weekly Animal Update posts!

Check our blog every Friday to find out what’s going on… here’s what’s new this week!

Juvenile Australian Water Dragons! 

We have seven new water dragons in our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit!

national aquarium water dragon

Australian water dragons are semi-aquatic animals. They possess long, powerful limbs and claws for climbing and a laterally compressed tail for swimming.

Water dragons are primarily found in eastern Australia (from Cooktown down to the coast of New South Wales). They spend a lot of their time in areas with flowing water, ample tree cover and basking sites.

Be sure to check back every Friday to find out what’s happening!

National Zookeeper Appreciation Week: Crista Melchiorre

In celebration of National Zookeeper Appreciation Week, meet Crista Melchiorre, an Aviculturist in our Australia exhibit!

crista melchiorre

How long have you been at the Aquarium?
2 years

What interested you to pursue your current career path?
I have always loved animals. Growing up we always had a variety of pets and I enjoyed finding animals in the woods and my yard. I was that kid who would be brought the sick or orphaned animals in the neighborhood, but usually would have to have my mom take me to a wildlife rehabber to save it.

Briefly describe for us your day-to-day
My day starts with a lot of cleaning and diets and ends with a lot of cleaning and diets. But there is a lot of animal interaction in between, whether its medicating one of the bats, training one of our parrots or getting a brief hello from a green winged dove.

Favorite Aquarium memory?
When we moved our two grey headed flying foxes, Darwin and Victor together. Darwin had very little social interaction with other bats due to a medical condition and he was moved with Victor to give him the opportunity to socialize. We were all nervous about what was going to happen but Darwin is happier than he ever has been!

Next big project you’re working on?
I’ll be focusing on getting our Crested Pigeons to breed.

Favorite animal?
That’s a hard question! I love all the animals I work with obviously but I think there is a tie between Darwin, one of our grey headed flying foxes, he just pulls at everyone’s heart strings. And Hobart, one of our Sulfur Crested Cockatoos, he has a very big personality and loves our attention.

Thanks for celebration Zookeeper Appreciation Week with us! Got a question for our staff? Ask them in the comments section!

Animal Health Update: Diagnostic MRI and CT Scans for Snake-Necked Turtle

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Recently, the National Aquarium’s Animal Health team worked with Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake to perform a diagnostic MRI on our 17-year-old female snake-necked turtle.

Our snake-necked turtle undergoing a CT scan. Photo courtesy of Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake.

Our snake-necked turtle undergoing a CT scan. Photo courtesy of Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake.

The Animal Health team was initially alerted after exhibit staff observed the turtle basking more frequently. Increased basking, also known as environmental hyperthermia, is a potential indicator of either illness or egg laying. After radiographs confirmed that the turtle had no eggs, we decided to do a CT and MRI to diagnose what was causing the turtle to exhibit this abnormal behavior.

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X-rays taken of the snake-necked turtle, courtesy of Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake.

Partnerships with organizations like Veterinary Imaging of the Chesapeake grant our team much-need access to the kinds of medical scanners that the Aquarium doesn’t have on-site.

We’re happy to report that both scans came back normal and the turtle did later develop eggs. She was moved behind-the-scenes for close observation, has laid two eggs so far and continues to do very well.

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Jeremy Wade from Animal Planet’s “River Monsters” Visits the Aquarium!

Jeremy Wade was the featured speaker at Monday’s Marjorie Lynn Bank lecture at the Aquarium!

Jeremy Wade at NA

During his hour-long talk, Wade gave guests insight into his lifelong passion for freshwater fish and some of his most exciting moments both on and off-camera filming his popular Animal Planet TV series, “River Monsters.”

Jeremy Wade satellite media tour

Yesterday, Wade participated in a satellite media tour, which was broadcasted from our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit.

Jeremy Wade in Australia

Wade told the journalists he felt a sense of nostalgia sitting in front of our large barramundi and rays – they reminded him of his recent trip to Australia for an episode of the show that highlighted the same animals!

The world’s most fearless fisherman, Jeremy Wade is a biologist, teacher, writer and television host who has been traveling (mostly solo) to the world’s most remote rivers for over 25 years. During that time, Wade has encountered some of the strangest and most terrifying fish out there and has risked his life more than once to document the stories of hundreds of fish and the cultures where they live. Wade holds a degree in zoology from Bristol University and a postgrad teaching certificate in biological sciences from the University of Kent.

Don’t miss out on the next exciting lecture featuring our marine mammal staff! 

Q&A With Aquarium Curator John Seyjagat!

marjorie lynn banks lecture series

Tomorrow night (March 5) kicks off our annual Marjorie Lynn Bank Lecture Series! The first lecture features John Seyjagat, curator of our Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit! To give you a sneak preview of tomorrow night’s talk, we sat down with John to get an inside look at his day-to-day work at the Aquarium:

  1. How long have you been at the Aquarium? About 10 years.
  2. How did you get your current position? I started as a consultant to the Exhibit and Design team back in 2002, and when the curator position became available in 2003, I applied and got the position.
  3. Describe a typical day at work for you… I like getting in to enjoy a period of undisturbed work, so I get in at 6 am. I do prep work and get ready to meet my staff at 7:30 am. By 8 am, it is time to work with staff and assist with any animal matters. By 9 am, the exhibit is open and ready to receive the public. At 10 am, our volunteer staff arrives. I give them their daily update and the tools necessary to wow our visitors. In the early afternoon, I again meet with staff for updates and firm up the afternoon routine. Most of my afternoons are dedicated to Biological Programs staff meetings or bigger projects related to the Australia exhibit. By 3 pm, I’ve met with my late shift staff for updates and briefings and planned their night. Even when I leave the Aquarium for the night, I am on my pager 24/7 just in case. That’s a non-hectic, good day!
  4. What’s your favorite spot within the Australia exhibit? The area in front of the Barramundi.

    The barramundis in the exhibit are all in the range of 9–10 years of age. When they arrived at the Aquarium, they were less than 12 inches long!

    The barramundi in our Australia exhibit!

  5. If you could trade places professionally with anyone in the world, who would it be and why? Sir David Attenborough. I worked with him on two films and was able to talk extensively with him during both projects. I learned so much about zoo-geography. The guy is as brilliant as he sounds!
  6. What is your favorite animal and why? Edentates (mammals that have little to no teeth, such as the sloth) and the silky anteater. This is the animal that dragged me into the zoo world. I was one of two people in the world who kept silky anteaters and wanted to learn more about them.

    Sloths are part of the edante mammal order!

    Sloths are part of the edentate mammal order.

  7. What’s one thing very few people know about the Australia exhibit? Its state of the art mechanics can be controlled from a computer or cell phone from anywhere in the world!
  8. Any exciting upcoming projects or research you can tell us about? The mouth almighty is the only freshwater cardinalfish in the world and is found in northern Australia and New Guinea. This fish may be the origin of all cardinalfish species, including the endangered Banggai cardinalfish. We are currently partnering with the New Jersey Academy of Aquatic Sciences to research the evolutionary biology of this species group to hopefully make a linkage to the origin of all cardinalfish.

Want to know more about our Australia exhibit and John’s exciting work? Join us tomorrow for his lecture in Baltimore!

All lectures are free for Aquarium donors; $5 for members; and $10 for non-members. Reservations required: 410-659-4230. A light reception will be held at 6:45 pm, followed by the curator’s talk in the Lyn P. Meyerhoff Auditorium.


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