I Say Hedgehog, You Say Groundhog, Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off!

By STEPHANIE HYLINSKI

One of the hardest parts of being a zookeeper is saying goodbye to the animals in your care. The Live Animals Department at the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery was saddened by the unexpected death of our groundhog, Rosie, in October of 2016. Rosie died due to complications from old age, as she was at least six years old. Groundhogs typically live 6-8 years under human care.

Rosie came to the Boonshoft Museum from the Wildlife Center of Minnesota in November of 2011. She had been found in the road running in circles and was taken to the Wildlife Center for rehabilitation. Rosie was not able to be released into the wild because of a head injury, so the Boonshoft Museum became her permanent home. Rosie was a wonderful ambassador for her species and an excellent weather forecaster. She predicted the weather at Groundhog Day for five years, and she was almost never wrong!

rosie_groundhogday2016

                 Rosie the Groundhog

After the passing of Rosie, we realized that we would need to find a replacement very soon, as Groundhog Day was only a few months away. Rosie, and groundhogs in general, can be very lazy in a zoo setting, especially during the wintertime when they normally hibernate. Because we only have so much space in the Discovery Zoo, the Live Animals Department staff decided that another animal would better engage and educate our visitors. Instead of doing Groundhog Day in 2017, we were going to do Hedgehog Day! A hedgehog would not need as much space as a groundhog, and a hedgehog could also be an ambassador animal. Our ambassador animals travel to schools, senior centers, and other places around the community to educate people about animals, and give them a chance to meet the animals up close.

quilliam-pix

                Quilliam the Hedgehog   

Now you may be thinking, “Hedgehog Day? Are you guys crazy?” Maybe! But Hedgehog Day has actually been around longer than Groundhog Day! Hedgehog Day began in the Roman Empire when folks considered the weather on Candlemas to predict future weather. Candlemas is a Christian holiday on February 2, and the saying goes:

“If Candlemas Day is clear and bright,
Winter will have another bite.
If Candlemas Day brings cloud and rain
Winter is gone and will not come again.”

Legend has it that the Romans believed that conditions during the first days of February were good predictors of future weather, and they looked to hedgehogs for their forecasts. These two traditions melded in Germany and were brought over to the United States by German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania. Lacking hedgehogs, the German settlers substituted with native groundhogs, and Groundhog Day was born. Unlike modern Groundhog Day, the Romans watched to see if the hedgehog saw its shadow at night. This makes sense since hedgehogs are nocturnal!

We’re very excited for visitors to meet our four-toed hedgehog, Quilliam, on Groundhog Hedgehog Day! Come to the Boonshoft Museum of Discovery at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 2, to see if Quilliam predicts an early spring!

Advertisements

We’re Getting Our Geek On, How About You?

We’re about a month away from the Museum’s first ever GeekFest, so we’re taking some time to explore our inner geeks.  Before we could do that we had to fully understand what makes a true “geek”. Unique hobbies, gaming until your thumbs fall off, knowing the dialogue of your favorite episode of Doctor Who by heart—are these things that make you a true geek?

Geekdom and nerdology purists will tell you there is a huge difference between geeks and nerds (see the infographic below) and we here at the Boonshoft Museum celebrate it all—which really is the point; being that the Boonshoft Museum is a Children’s Museums, Natural History Museum, Science Center, Planetarium, and Zoo we had to look no further than our 90,000 sq. ft. of space to find some of the coolest geeks and nerds in southwest Ohio.

Geeks vs Nerds

Click to enlarge

Geeking Out: Our Staff Tell-All

By default you may think that knowing the ins-and-outs of a Planetarium or cataloging 2,000 year-old artifacts (and loving it) is inherently geeky, but there are a myriad of things that make our staff awesomely nerdy. So, in the spirit of GeekFest and for nerds everywhere, our staff has shared some of the nerdiest, geekiest things about them:

Sarah

One of our Guest Bloggers and Registrar extraordinaire, Sarah, is a major history buff. Not only does her job revolve around history, she plans her free time (and vacation time) around it! Visiting as many Museums as possible, Sarah loves history so much her desk is home to Wilbear Wright, an aviation Teddy Bear. And beyond her desk? 1.4 million pieces from our collections. Sarah is all history, all the time.

Sarah shows off Wilbear Wright

Sarah shows off Wilbear Wright

Angela

Everyone has a friend that is a collector—of art, coins, wine, the list goes on. However, Angela, our Guest Services and Gift Shop guru, collects cult favorites. From a plush Batman doll whose arms and legs fall off to a dress up big foot doll who is presently wearing a Hawaiian shirt, Angela has a little bit of everything. Some of which can be found in the Museum’s Gift Shop and some, like her Sharknado promotional table tent, cannot.

Moon walking Bigfoot is too cool for school.

Moon walking Bigfoot is too cool for school.

Jeff

Jeff White, Manager of Guest Services and Team Leader at our Springfield facility, is the first to deny being a little nerdy, but his love of cartoons, like Fat Albert, says otherwise. Not only does Jeff’s Saturday morning routine include an hour and a half of Fat Albert and hand feeding his Venus Fly Trap, he’s also a horror movie buff and loves visiting archaeological sites.

101_0469

Jeff has his eye on you!

Dawn

Dawn, our Director of Education and Exhibit Initiatives, started off by expressing her love of cooking gadgets (she makes wedding cakes!), but later she revealed that she plans her vacations around Renaissance Fairs. Not only that, she was kicked out of one in Tennessee–not because she stole someone’s “helm”, but because she was wearing a shirt that showed her midriff…that she bought at a different Renaissance Fair.

Dawn would have been valedictorian at Hogwartz and now runs Harry Potter Camps at the Boonshoft Museum.

Dawn would have been valedictorian at Hogwarts, but she was so smart she got promoted to being a professor almost immediately. She now runs Harry Potter Camps at the Boonshoft Museum.

Mark

Reptiles, amphibians, mammals, you name it—Mark Mazzei, the Museum’s Curator of Live Animals, has probably worked with it. He’s fearless in the face of poison dart frogs (p.s. they are only poisonous in the wild) and can definitely out run the Museum’s sloth. By far Mark’s favorites are the Monkees — and no — that’s not spelled incorrectly. Mark is a HUGE Monkees fan (he admits he’s probably a bigger fan that any individual should be) in addition to being a walking encyclopedia when it comes to 80’s new wave and punk rock. So hipsters beware, Mark has totally heard that rare Ramones cut way before you did and he probably has it on vinyl.

MarkLivingDayton

Credit: Living Dayton, Mark hams it up with Sheldon on Living Dayton

Kristy

Kristy, Director of Public Relations and Marketing, geeks out about quite a bit, from politics to sci-fi classics like Doctor Who and the X-Files. Her biggest infatuation is from Area 51 and lies underneath the grounds of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base…supposedly. Kristy is a huge fan of conspiracy theories, no matter how ridiculous. Ancient Aliens? She watches it! Paul McCartney is really dead? Might be. You name the theory, Kristy has heard of it!

...because, Aliens!

…because, Aliens!

Mark

Mark Meister, President and CEO of the Dayton Society of Natural History (Boonshoft Museum Dayton and Springfield, SunWatch, and Fort Ancient) geeks out about something very specific, and very adorable: Hummingbirds! Mark loves these speedy birds so much that he arranged his hummingbird feeder to sit next to his dining room, so he and his little friends can enjoy a meal together. He also enjoys occasionally spotting hummingbird moth, deceptively similar to a hummingbird.

Mark Meister is unfazed by certain dino danger.

Mark Meister is unfazed by certain dino danger.

So what’s the moral of the story? Everyone has something about them that could be considered geeky, whether it’s a hobby or an occupation, so why not embrace the geekiness! If being a geek means you have a wide range of interests, a thirst for knowledge, and play games without cheat codes, we think that’s pretty awesome. So, tells us what makes you a geek by using the hashtag #getyourgeekon and tweet us or Instagram us @boonshoftmuseum—and while you’re at it, purchase your tickets for GeekFest 2015 at the Boonshoft Museum by clicking here.