2011 and Other Cubs

Happy new year!

I took the kids to the National Zoo today. We hoped to see the lion cubs, and all seven of them did indeed venture outside (although only three of them, plus the two mothers, are in this photo). They are 3+ months old now, and immensely cute and playful.

I hope that 2011, young as it is, has already started to be a good year for you.

Hippo Thoughts From a Couch

This sunny morning, I took the kids to Franklin Park Zoo. For the first time, we saw the hippo walking along the bottom of the pool. We then saw said hippo heaving out of the pool, and now so can you.

Many of the animals were livelier than usual. The lemurs were particularly playful (video). The rat snake moved (video). The ocelot climbed, jumped, sharpened claws, and generally did things other than sleep (no video, though).

To return to the hippo theme, and at the risk of repeating or reposting myself, Hippos Go Berserk! is a fine book: fun story, cute hippos, helpful with counting, fun for Max (3), still fun for his big sister Maddie (6) and for their father (a little older).

Zoo New England in Media Old and New

Lion in WinterZoo New England is the private, non-profit organization that operates Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham, Massachusetts. We have a family membership: a good deal, since we probably average a visit a month to the FPZ, which is only about 20 minutes drive from our house.

I’ve intended for a while to do a series on the use of social media by some of the Boston museums and similar. As well as ZNE, this might include MFA, NEAQ, Childrens Museum, etc. Zoos in particular seem to be good candidates for blogging, with posts about animals, events, staff, etc. But I never saw a link to a blog, or other form of social media, from the ZNE web site.

ZNE has been in media old and new of late, following a remark that state funding cuts might mean that end for the zoos and for some of the animals. The Globe article might count as both old and new media, since its online and is followed by reader comments. Universal Adam documented some of the Gorilla marketing backlash from Boston area bloggers.

Then, in today’s snail mail, we received ZNE’s membership newsletter. In the middle of this old media, there’s a little panel: Join us online! It details four new media destinations:

  • The ZNE blog, which is hosted by WordPress. It stated in January of this year. The content is along the lines I’d expect, although I’d like to see more of it. I’d also like to see more systematic use of categories, and use of tags.
  • Twitter.
  • Facebook, where the FPZ and the Stone Zoo have separate accounts.
  • A ZNE Flickr group. I’ve just become the 9th member, and have added some photos, including the lion in winter shot included in this post.

My reactions to ZNE’s social media efforts so far include:

  • Better late than never.
  • Zoo New England doesn’t have name recognition, and is unlikely to develop it. I approve of having a separate Facebook identity for each zoo, since people are far more likely to recognize, search for, and feel affiliated with FPZ (or the Stone Zoo) than with ZNE.
  • That said, I’m not against the idea of a single blog for ZNE. But I’d have a separate category for each zoo, so that someone looking for stuff on FPZ can more easily find it.
  • ZNE’s main web sites should have prominent links to its social media sites.
  • ZNE should get word out to bloggers (and other social media content creators) about its social media activities. Then it will get more links, more prominence in search results, etc. Of course, this post is in part an attempt to help with this effort of getting the link out.