A new scientific study authored by Saint Louis Zoo researchers concludes that immersive, naturalistic exhibits in zoos can elicit positive changes in physiological and psychological measures of health and well-being of visitors. In other words – a visit to the zoo is good for your health!
The study titled “Changes in human health parameters associated with an immersive exhibit experience at a zoological institution” was published on Friday, April 17, 2020, in PLOS ONE.
“At a time when the number of people living in urban areas is on the rise, and humans and the natural world are more disconnected, we are now fully realizing why we need the human-animal-nature bond to ensure public health,” said Sharon Deem, DVM, Ph.D., Director of Saint Louis Zoo Institute for Conservation Medicine and senior author of the study. “The evidence from this study supports the role of zoos and other green spaces in providing health benefits to zoo visitors,” said Deem.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) is excited to announce the launch of its new podcast, Nature Boost, with a focus on the positive impact the outdoors has on each of us.
Research has shown that spending time outdoors is linked to an increase in overall physical health. Being outside has also proven to help decrease stress and anxiety, and help lower depression. For example, spending time in nature, conservation areas, backyards, and urban parks may ease stress levels, including increasing attention spans and creative problem-solving skills by as much as 50 percent.
“We’re very excited to share this Nature Boost experience with both our seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and those brand new to discovering nature,” said MDC Director Sara Parker Pauley. “It’s a chance to learn about the incredible natural resources we have right here in Missouri, including how those nature experiences are changing lives every day.”
Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.
By Don Corrigan
People are sheltering in place during the 2020 pandemic for good reason, but on May 23 it might be nice to come out of your shell to celebrate World Turtle Day. It’s the 20th anniversary of this annual event that was founded by American Tortoise Rescue.
The purpose of World Turtle Day is to educate people about what they can do to protect the habitats of turtle and tortoises. It’s also a celebration of the great joy that these reptiles bring to so many people on a daily basis. Humans love turtles.
Photo by MDC Staff, courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.
As the weather warms up and more people head outside, they may encounter a variety of newborn animals. Though young wildlife oftentimes appears to be abandoned, that’s usually not the case. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reminds residents that interfering with wildlife can do more harm than good.
“Young animals are rarely orphaned,” said MDC State Wildlife Veterinarian Sherri Russell. “If the young is left alone, the parent will usually return. Parents are normally out searching for food and cannot constantly attend to their offspring.”
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) says Peanut the Turtle is back at Powder Valley Nature Center in Kirkwood after undergoing a recent surgery at the Saint Louis Zoo.
The procedure was performed by the Zoo’s assistant director of animal health, Dr. Chris Hanley, and veterinary resident, Dr. Kari Musgrave. Due to a condition known as follicular stasis, Peanut had to have both of her ovaries surgically removed. Peanut is in the process of recovering and doing well.
Peanut the Turtle has attracted attention all over Missouri, along with national and worldwide fame, as an anti-littering mascot. At a young age, the red-eared slider wandered into a plastic six-pack ring and it stuck around her shell.
Photo of Peanut the Turtle courtesy MDC.
As her shell grew, it was constricted by the plastic ring and developed an unusual, figure-eight shape. In 1993, when she was about nine years old, someone found her and brought her to the Saint Louis Zoo where the ring was removed.
They named her Peanut because of her shell’s shape and gave her to staff at MDC. Peanut has been under the care of MDC since then, where she has served as a popular ambassador for litter awareness.
Earlier this year, staff at MDC’s Powder Valley Nature Center, where Peanut lives, began noticing that something was “off” about her behavior.
Missouri State Parks, a division of the Department of Natural Resources, announced phase one of a phased approach to resuming normal operations.
While the vast majority of Missouri state parks and historic sites have remained open for day use, Missouri State Parks has implemented a number of measures designed to maintain required social distancing and protect visitors and team members.
Based on current conditions, Missouri State Parks is implementing the following measures in phase one of the return to normal operations:
On May 4, concession-operated lodging, dining, marina and retail operations will begin reopening at the discretion of the individual concessionaires and following Governor Parson’s recommended guidelines.
On May 11, Castlewood State Park, Elephant Rocks State Park, Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site and State Park and Weston Bend State Park will reopen for day use only.
Spring and summer months bring both the buzz of lawnmowers and bees. These fuzzy flyers are important pollinators, playing a crucial role in the production of many favorite fruits and vegetables. The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) encourages the public to “bee-friend” these valuable native pollinators.
“Missouri is home to around 450 species of native bees, but it’s not uncommon for more to be identified each year,” said MDC Urban Wildlife Biologist Erin Shank. “There are several common bees Missourians will encounter, including the bumblebee, carpenter bees, sweat bees, and the leafcutter bee.”
Most native bees only live about one year. They emerge in the spring as adults, visiting flowers and buildings nests. Many species, such as bumblebees, make their nests underground, while others, such as leafcutter and mason bees, will set up shop in small cavities found in wood or in the pith of plant stems.
Effective immediately, Ozark National Scenic Riverways is suspending all commercial services operations within the park and expanding the restriction on camping to include all gravel bar camping and camping along trails in support of federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
The suspension of commercial services includes operations by all authorized outfitters within the park boundaries, such as the park’s contracted float and shuttle concessions and guide services. This suspension remains in effect through at least May 10 and will be evaluated prior to that time to determine if there is a need for extension.
Camping closures have also been expanded to encompass all camping, including gravel bar camping and dispersed camping along the Ozark Trail within the park boundary. These closures will remian in effect until at least May 10 and may be extended beyond that date if necessary. All camping or pavilion reservations between April 15 and May 10 have been canceled through the recreation.gov website and visitors should expect refunds processed for those cancellations.
For more detailed information and specific camping and other destinations in the ONSR area impacted by the changes can be FOUND HERE.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) has confirmed the presence of emerald ash borer (EAB) in Chariton, Lafayette, and Moniteau counties, bringing the statewide total to 78 counties known to have the pest. EAB is a small, metallic green beetle native to Asia that attacks all species of ash trees, killing more than 99 percent of the trees it attacks.
According to MDC Forest Entomologist Robbie Doerhoff, one of the best ways to keep track of EAB and its march across Missouri is to look for bark blonding, a term that refers to woodpecker damage on ash trees.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) announces public fishing in Forest Park’s Jefferson Lake, located in St. Louis City, will be suspended starting April 1 for approximately one year. The suspension is to accommodate an extensive $10.5 million renovation of the park’s eastern waterways by Forest Park Forever and the City of St. Louis which will also impact the lake.
The project is tentatively expected to be completed and public fishing at Jefferson Lake anticipated to reopen by June 2021.