NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – At the Nashville Zoo, you will always see the animals in an exhibit that resembles their natural habitat. Nashville Zoo’s “African Field” resembles the Savanna in Africa.
Jenna Wolczyk, a Nashville Zoo Hoofstock Keeper, says she cares for all the interesting animals you’ll find at the African Field.
“We have our Eland, Bontebok, Zebras, and Ostriches,” Wolczyk said. “Today we’re talking about Murray, our nine-month-old Eland.”
“I happened to be there the evening that we delivered him, so we have to do some hand-rearing, some bottle feeding,” said Wolczyk about Eland. “At nine months he’s now three hundred pounds. He’s grown very quickly. His horns are coming in great. Even when they’re further away, it’s kind of hard to tell which one’s which if you don’t know what you are looking for.”
Wolczyk says Eland is not a stranger to human interaction and has never tried a snack that he doesn’t like!
“We ended up doing some bottle feeding with him, so we have a closer relationship with him. He does know, he identifies us with snacks. He has not found a snack he doesn’t like!” said Wolczyk.
Also at the African Field are the bontebok which was nearly extinct at one time due to hunting. However, an African farmer created a sanctuary for them and brought their numbers back.
“We have two female bonteboks out here,” Wolczyk explained. “And our male is off-exhibit at the moment. We are hoping to have some babies this spring, but we don’t have any confirmations with ultra-sounds at this point.”
And there’s everyone’s favorite, the zebras.
“Our two zebra females get along great, Dottie and Stripette. You can usually see them rolling around in a dust bath or just snacking. And if it’s a nice warm day, you might just see them taking a nap out there,” said Wolczyk.
And then, there are the largest birds you’ll ever see, the ostriches.
“Big Bird, Betty-Lou, and Camilla are our three ostriches. They do lay their eggs and we do have an example of a nest.
“These eggs were laid here,” Wolczyk pointed out. “We do empty them out so they are not going to disintegrate or anything like that. Yes, these are real ostrich shells. In the wild, you could have a clutch of up to about 50 eggs. And the male will sit and incubate the eggs.”
That’s right. She said the male will sit on the nest and the eggs!
“The ladies get the easy job!” Wolczyk exclaimed. “They get to lay the egg and leave the area. The male is going to take care of the eggs and he will be the more defensive of the group.”
If you are heading to the Nashville Zoo, there is a special time of day to visit the African Field.
“If you are visiting the Nashville Zoo and you happen to be here around 9:15 am to 9:30 am, that’s usually when we shift our animals from their evening holding to out on exhibit, that’s when you are going to see the most excitement,” said Wolczyk.
“The ostriches, especially on a cooler morning, say a nice spring morning, they get really excited and they start running around in circles and do a ballerina move if you will. The zebras get pretty excited about it. You can see them jumping and kicking. But it’s just one of those feel-good mornings that you can catch usually around that early morning time frame.”
So, see what it’s like on the African Savanna at the Nashville Zoo.