smithsonian conservation biology institute

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smithsonianzoo 🐣Our kiwi chick at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute is 2 weeks old! She is eating a mixture of meat, fruit and vegetables. Kiwi chick look like adults when they hatch, but are not fully grown until they are about 18 months old. 

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Endangered Kiwi Chick Hatched at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute   

May 31, 2016—For the first time, an egg laid by a female brown kiwi at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., hatched May 10. The chick is the first for parents Ngati Hine Rua (female) and Ngati Hine Tahi (male). SCBI has previously hatched eggs originally laid at other zoos. Keepers will not know the sex of the chick for several weeks…

(read more: Smithsonian National Zoo)

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Seven tussling puppies could bring a smile to anyone’s face. But one litter has a team of scientists beaming more than usual.

The puppies — five beagles and two “bockers,” or beagle-cocker spaniel mixes — are the first ever born through in vitro fertilization.

IVF has been used successfully in other animals — including, notably, humans — for decades. But despite numerous attempts, scientists had never succeeded in using IVF in dogs.

But this year, researchers at Cornell transferred 19 embryos into a female host dog. In July, after a scheduled cesarean section, they welcomed seven new puppies into the world.

7 Bundles Of Scientific Joy: ‘Test Tube Puppies’ Prove IVF Can Work In Dogs

Photos: Mike Carroll/Cornell University and Jeffrey MacMillan/Cornell University

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Saturday December 21, 2013

11:34

It’s hard to look back through my SMSC photographs and think about how quickly the last 4 months have passed by. 4 months is nothing at all - simply a semester’s time, and yet during those few months it felt like I was part of a different world. I don’t know if it’s a sudden upwelling of premature nostalgia, or a need for final words - closure. But I’d like to quickly recount the last weeks of my time with my SMSC family as well as where my life has taken me since. 

Our finals were comprised of 3 hour long situational questions. However, SMSC isn’t your average semester program and surprised us with situations were we had to go through camera trap photos and create species abundance graphs as well as species present at a carcass data analysis. There was a moment when we needed to pack our things and move to our computer lab and update a GIS map of our campus with new roads. The hands on, out-of-the-box method of teaching SMSC provided is something that made the 4 short months spent there worth years of lab and field experience - and I am forever grateful for that. Our finals week was, however, a bittersweet experience. Not because of the exams themselves but because of their implications. We were quickly and unavoidably getting closer to the end of our semester. As a result every moment of those last two weeks of class were not spent studying or reviewing but were spent together. We played Magic: The Gathering, we watched movies, we made friendship bracelets, we played in the snow, we hiked, we had pizza parties and we snuggled erratically. It was as if  we were’t just holding onto the last moments we had together as a family, but were holding onto to the last moments we had as carefree college students. Before a number of us lay a long and difficult road of job searching, grad school applications and internship hunting. Before all of us lay the selfless, underfunded road of conservation. Through the echoing of the hallways I could hear the voices of the 11 people that had become my family. I thought about our futures and how drastically we all have changed since the first day. I believe it was a coincidence that 12 extremely sentimental people were thrown into the same semester (it’s a fact that other semesters were not nearly as close or awesome as us) and hold it true to myself that it was a miracle (it literally was, ACS’ class was only 5 people which was under the minimum amount of enrollment needed - it was almost cancelled) that we all got to meet each other. 

When our last week finally arrived we were once again thrown into a flurry of activity - it was final presentations and closing week. Having already delivered our group monitoring plan presentation a few weeks ago, we were left with presenting our individual visual essays describing our practicum experiences. It was the first time we were all able to see what our classmates did for their mini-internship. We got to see how much poop scooping, bush-wacking, camera trapping, tree finding, park educating, turtle finding and food prepping we all did. We truly were a class of comedians and made short work of making our practicum advisors, teachers and supervisors cry with laughter. Then came our closing ceremonies. Gathered in the dining hall we had all come to love, we watched as our beloved teachers called us up one by one and explained to us exactly how much they loved us and how much they will miss us. They recounted to us our quirks and sayings, they brought up memories and jokes and did it all in front of us, our families, researchers and visiting conservationists - for each and every one of us. I don’t think I’ve ever smiled, laughed and nearly man-teared so much. These teachers were our friends. They went above and beyond every day to teach us, drive us, feed us and even secret santa with us. Throughout this semester I talked to them as well as several of the researchers as humans. I tried to learn more about their likes and dislikes. Their families and their goals. I saw them all as good, honest, hard working people and not just teachers or supervisors - and it all paid off. I came away from the semester with a group of fantastic people I can call my friends. This came in quite handy when nearly all of them jumped to tell me that they would gladly say good words about me while I was applying for internships. Speaking of which, the last two weeks for me were a flurry of stressful internship applications, emails, contacting and reference hunting. What emerged from all of it was a shiny, new 5 month long internship at SCBI with Dr. McShea! I had done it! I came into this semester with 2 main goals: Learn everything I can possible learn and get a job/internship. Landing that internship was the product of nearly a years worth of hard work and determination. As this blog can attest, I needed this lifeline desperately. As I walked away from Dr. McShea’s office through the campus towards the Residence Hall I thought about the place I would soon be calling home for another 5 months. I thought about how empty the halls were already - my friends leaving in their cars one tearful round of hugs after another. I thought about how we were like god damn dragon balls shooting away all across the world never to be reunited again for a long long time. I thought about how it isn’t the buildings that truly make a place special to you - it’s the people in them. As I walked away from that office my feelings of excitement poured out of my brain and churned with the overwhelming tide of sentiment pouring out of my heart. By the time I found Becca, Jeff and Laurie sitting on the floor of our desolated hallway I was a mess. After helping Becca finish up her packing, Laurie and I exchanged last hugs in our parking lot and watched our two RAs walk back into the now completely empty Residence Hall. It would be only a short time before I would be coming back here - but not for a long time would I be seeing any of them again. 

I had the amazing fortune of meeting Laurie Stubenrauch this semester. She’s a strong-headed, strong-willed, rough and tumble girl from Long Island studying biology in Michigan and I absolutely adore her. What started off as casual late-night study sessions and conversations turned into a wonderful friendship. Fast forward 4 months and I just got back from meeting her parents and friends in her hometown of Huntington, NY. She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met. To put it plainly and in a nutshell, I’ve never met a girl that so perfectly blends a love of the outdoors, art, music, fashion and sports without the streak of utter bullshittery so many girls nowadays have in them (I mean no offense, unless you are the type of girl I am alluding to, in that case you are absolutely awful). Again and again I find myself realizing how lucky I am to have met a woman like her. We spent the week after our departure from SCBI having a tour de meet-the-parents. She spent 3 days in Virginia meeting my friends and family prior to my visit up north and I must say it was a collision of many of my worlds. Seeing her there in my house eating with my family, seeing her in my room helping sew my worn out jeans, seeing her interacting with my friends and walking with me in Fairfax Corner past my REI - it was all surreal and special. For so long I have discounted my chances of romance. So worn out has my heart and mind been from the terrible relationships that have made up my past. My mind was so set on getting to where I wanted to be professionally I felt I wouldn’t meet anyone, let alone actually pursue a relationship until after I was independent and living on my own. She blindsided me. In our short time together she has inspired in me a new type of hope I haven’t had before. She has encouraged me to believe in myself as well as my dreams. She has shown me that not all is as dark as it seems and that hard work and a little luck is all one ever needs. She has shown me the value of being wild and spontaneous as well as the value of just sitting back and listening to each other exist. But most of all, she has shown me that despite the distance, despite the timing and despite the many many variables of our chaotic futures - there are things worth holding on to. In the words of The Oh Hellos, In Memoriam, “If you leave from the start then there was never love at all”.

It’s been a crazy 4 months of my life. As it all comes to a close I look back at it with a final reflection and think to myself, “it has only begun”.

Here’s to the next step, the next adventure.

Chris