The Animals of Grandfather Mountain

Overview

Meet Nola the Magician, an otter too curious for her own good who performs a Houdini-like disappearance; Carolina and Dakota, two bear pranksters who always steal the show; Wilma the bald eagle who fiercely guards her precious wooden egg; and Heidi the deer,who always makes a pest of herself at feeding time. Readers will love Kodiak and Yonahlossee, two feisty bear cubs who aren't near as cuddly as they seem; Squeak the cougar who loves his bungee rope and despises Milton the Bear; Milton the Bear, a costume ...
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Overview

Meet Nola the Magician, an otter too curious for her own good who performs a Houdini-like disappearance; Carolina and Dakota, two bear pranksters who always steal the show; Wilma the bald eagle who fiercely guards her precious wooden egg; and Heidi the deer,who always makes a pest of herself at feeding time. Readers will love Kodiak and Yonahlossee, two feisty bear cubs who aren't near as cuddly as they seem; Squeak the cougar who loves his bungee rope and despises Milton the Bear; Milton the Bear, a costume animal who dances throughout the habitat drawing children like the Pied Piper; and L.L. Cool J., a tiny fawn that grows up to run the Bear and Cougar Gauntlet.

Many more animals are waiting to be discovered in The Animals of Grandfather Mountain.

The habitats at Grandfather Mountain will always be named for Mildred the Bear, the nicest bear that has ever been. When Grandfather agreed to obtain two bears to be released in the wild to help rebuild the bear population in the mountains, by mistake, the Atlanta Zoo sold Grandfather a young bear that the office staff at the zoo had raised on a bottle. Consequently when that young bear was released she did not revert to the wild. She did not know that she was a bear. She had none of the hostility sometimes associated with bears. She just wanted to hang out with people, and she was given the name Mildred. - Hugh Morton

Laurie Mitchell Jakobsen always knew that she wanted to work with animals. She obtained a degree in wildlife biology from Auburn University and landed her first job at the City of Montgomery Zoo in Montgomery, Alabama. She served as animal habitat manager at Grandfather Mountain from 1996 to 2000. She now lives in Wyoming with her husband and is embarking on a writing career. As the manager of Mildred the Bear Animal Habitat at Grandfather Mountain, Jakobsen realized how visitors were enthralled with her job of caring for the animals. This book gives a glimpse of her daily life in the animals habitats. Read here an assortment of tales about the feisty bear cubs, wary eagles, comical otters, graceful deer and elusive cougars which call the North Carolina's top ecotourist destination home.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
A fun, informative book on the wonderful animal populace of Grandfather Mountain. The author takes us into the habitats of all the creatures, from the famous bears to the otters, eagles, snakes, and cougars.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781887905480
  • Publisher: Parkway Publishers, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/1/2000
  • Pages: 66
  • Product dimensions: 8.26 (w) x 10.98 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Laurie Mitchell came to Grandfather Mountain as a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in Wildlife Biology, and previous experience working with animals at the Montgomery Zoo in Alabama. She left Grandfather Mountain with a wide circle of new friends, and genuine love for bears, deer, cougars, eagles and otters. She also acquired a husband who changed her name to Laurie Jakobsen. Her story could be the basis for a television or Hollywood production, but if that happens it will have to be later; for now she has authored an engaging book that is our pleasure to read.

The environmental habitats for native animals at Grandfather that Laurie gave such tender love and care are a real challenge. They are larger than the habitats in some of the nation's best known zoos, and this happily gives Grandfather's animals plenty of space for their homes. On the down side, the particularly private animals like Cougars sometimes are out of view of the Grandfather Mountain visitors. Some may say that rocket science is more involved and difficult. We maintain that the skill and psychology shown by Laurie and her staff in caring for the animals, yet always remembering the pleasure of the visitors by working to assure that they see what they came to see, takes talent and dedication that compares with any profession.

The habitats at Grandfather Mountain will always be named for Mildred the Bear, the nicest bear that has ever been. When Grandfather agreed to obtain two bears to be released in the wild to help rebuild the bear population in the mountains, by mistake the Atlanta Zoo sold Grandfather a young bear that the office staff at the zoo had raised on a bottle. Consequently, when that young bear was released, she did not revert to the wild. She did not know she was a bear. She had none of the hostility sometimes associated with bears; she just wanted to hang out with people. She was given the name Mildred.

Faced with the problem of providing a home for a friendly bear that would not turn wild, Grandfather Mountain obtained the expert advice of Bill Hoff, then Director of the North Carolina Zoo at Asheboro, and J. Hyatt Hammond, the architect who had done much of the design work for the state zoo. Taking full advantage of the natural terrain, Hoff and Hammond designed the original habitat that nestles between giant boulders. We have been told time and again that what they designed is the best display for Black Bears in the world. Hammond's architectural firm later designed the building that houses the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum.

Habitats for White-Tailed Deer, Cougars (also known as Panthers and Mountain Lions), Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, and River Otters followed. A habitat for bear cubs was also needed, because the only animal friend a cub has in the world is its own mother. Laurie Mitchell Jakobsen was given a free hand to select her own staff for the habitats, and that she did her job well was obvious to anyone who viewed the habitats. The area was always neat. The animals were being fed the best known diets for their respective species. If any animal appeared under the weather, it received immediate attention from veterinarians who were always on call. Laurie's book, as well as the immaculately kept habitats, is proof that a remarkable lady loved her job. - Hugh Morton

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Table of Contents

The Cast of Characters
A Day in the Life of an Animal Caretaker
Nola the Magician
Mr. Trashcan
L.L. Cool J
Dakota's Wild Ride
Vet Call
Snowstorm!
A Cub Tale
The Day from Hades
Fishcicles, Fruitcicles, and Other Forms of Enrichment
Milton the Bear
Groundhogs Are Not Hedgehogs!
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First Chapter

Grandfather Mountain: A Day in the Life of an Animal Caretaker
The bald eagles see Tanya and me entering the habitat. Wilma stretches her neck like an ostrich, and her white head feathers stand on end as she peers around the rhododendron at our approach. She starts calling and Sam, her mate, joins in. They watch us warily as we pass, then settle down as we disappear down the path that leads to the bear habitats. Mumbles the bear is lying against the front wall of the bear habitat, the only one we see in the two-acre exhibit. The others are dozing out of view. We call to him and he flicks an ear. But it isn't time for him to wake up just yet. All of the bears are late risers, except for the cubs, that is. They are already running around their exhibit, climbing trees and playing chase. Walking back up to the otter habitat, we pass the bald eagles again. Once more, Wilma and Sam warn everyone of our approach. The Golden Eagles, Goldie and Morely, just stare at us from their perch as we enter the otter house. Manteo, Oconee, Nola and Chucky, curled up in a large four-otter ball, barely open their eyes as we peer in at them. It is probably going to be one of those water hose days to get them out onto display. But we give them the benefit of the doubt, and open the door to the exhibit to see if they will venture out on their own. Then we head to the cougar house. The cougars greet us with little meows and purrs as we enter the cat house. Cougars are the largest cats that can purr. We walk around in their habitat before we let them out to make sure that no trees have fallen on the fence and to pick up a pair of sunglasses that somebody dropped into the habitat the day before. It is unbelievable how many objects visitors accidentally drop into the habitats. Tanya lets the cougars out and begins cleaning dens while I feed the deer. Heidi is being a pest, as usual. I can't get around her because she has her head in the bucket, trying to eat the sweet feed and deer chow. Finally, I pull the bucket away and she follows me to the feed trough. The others hang back until I leave. I glance at The Count to check on the growth progress of his antlers. They are getting big and look like they are about to fork. While Tanya is still cleaning the cougar house, I walk back up to the otters to see if they're stirring. Already, visitors are looking around the display for them. I notice they are still in that otter ball "formation". "You'd better get out!" I say. "I'll get the hose!" Manteo opens his eyes and peers up at me. But it is too much effort for him to keep them open. Slowly, his eyes become slits again. Reluctantly, I hook the hose up and squirt water into their den. Immediately, they begin grunting and stirring. Again, I shoot a light stream of water at them. This time, I get a little more action and they slowly stretch and yawn and start up the steps, still grunting. River otters may like water, but they hate being squirted with a hose. It gets them out every time. I clean out the otter house, then head back to the office. Tanya is already there gathering the bear food. People are amazed to find out that we feed them apples, carrots, lettuce, and sweet potatoes, as well as dog food. After we get all of the food together, we set the buckets on the porch and walk inside the office. Five minutes later, I walk back out and notice that a little red squirrel has stolen one of the apples out of the bucket and is running down the road with it. "Hey! Come back!" I yell. The little squirrel drops the apple and hops into a tree, fussing. I pick the apple up and place it back into the bucket, shaking my head. That little boomer tries to steal the bears' apples all the time! Suddenly, two chipmunks burst from the underbrush near the tool shed, one in hot pursuit of the other. They race across the road and disappear amid the leaves and twigs on the other side. I can hear the frantic chase continue around the snow blower shed and into the ditch. Gerry the bear is waiting patiently at the gate for her apple. I slip the apple into her mouth and enter the bear habitat. We see Carolina and Dakota ambling our way and quickly lead Gerry to her feeding spot. We have to work fast so Gerry won't see the other bears. She has not been getting along with them lately. Our efforts prove futile. Even as we lay her food out, Gerry spots Carolina and chases her out of view. Both bears grumble and blow as they run. Dakota, not the object of the chase at the moment, continues to head our way. We direct her to the other side of the habitat to be out of Gerry's wrath. As we pass the bear pond, we notice that it needs to be cleaned - another project to add to the list. Just then, the museum calls over the radio. "Habitats? There's a school group here that needs a tour!" Quickly, we finish feeding the bears and I head up to the museum to find the school group. On the way, I notice those little chipmunks again, still chasing each other through the brush. They are panting noticeably and are exhausted. In the middle of the gravel road, they stop and face each other. One punches the other, and it falls down. The accosted chipmunk gets to its feet and knocks the other down. They run off in opposite directions. Still laughing at those chipmunks, I collect the school group at the museum and we enter the habitats. I am lining the children up in front of the deer habitat and telling the children deer facts, when another little chipmunk runs onto the path and attracts their attention. The children are amazed at the quick fragile looking little rodent. Sometimes, it seems as if visitors are more enthralled with chipmunks than cougars! The otters, unbelievably, are cooperating beautifully in the underwater viewing area. Usually, they are sleeping in the sun, and I have a hard time luring them into the water. Today they are swimming and playing and the children laugh at these animal comics. "What do otters eat?" I ask, trying to stimulate the children's little minds. "Fish!" "That's right! And they also eat crayfish, fresh water mussels and clams and insects…and even baby birds if they fall out of their nest," I add. One pint-sized child raises his hand. "They might eat a baby beaver." I frown and nod my head. "Yes. I guess they would eat a baby beaver if they came across one." When we reach the upper otter viewing area, the otters are still in a playful frenzy. Suddenly, I hear a child exclaim, "Hey! That otter has a chipmunk!" Sure enough, Oconee has a chipmunk in her mouth and is running crazily around while Nola chases her in a futile attempt to steal it away. Like a bullet, Oconee dives into the water, and when she comes out, the poor little drenched chipmunk, obviously dead, is still dangling precariously from her mouth. "Oh, no!" the children cry. Oconee stops, right in front of the horror- stricken children, and begins to eat it. The only thing I can think to say is, "And what is something else otters eat?" "Chipmunks!" They all yell in unison. After several more tours, Tanya and I can finally think about cleaning the bear pond. We drain the pond, then start hosing it out. Visitors watch in shock and disbelief as Mumbles, our large male bear, walks up to the pond and stares at us. "Aren't you scared of those bears?" a visitor asks. "No," I answer. "These bears were either hand raised or were born here. They are used to people going in with them. If we respect them, they'll respect us." Mumbles looks at the bucket of dog food that we have brought with us to detour bears from getting into the pond. Before I can get to it, he picks it up gently in his mouth, walks over to a grassy flat spot, and sits down with the bucket. Then, digging out a few pieces at a time, he eats all of the dog food - without knocking the bucket over! Mumbles usually isn't the problem; Carolina and Dakota are. Sure enough, hearing the water hose, they shuffle out of the rocks and enter the pond looking for salamanders and overlooked peanuts. Getting the two bear nuisances out proves no easy task. Unlike the otters, they like being squirted with the water hose - especially when it's hot. But somehow, we get the job done. Then there's weed trimming, mowing grass, more pond cleaning and painting. The habitat staff does most of its maintenance work and the chores seem endless. Depending on what we are doing at the moment, visitors are either wishing they were habitat employees or are happy that they are not. Pam offers to feed the eagles in the late afternoon. Wilma is sitting on an egg, and Pam knows to be careful. The female bald eagle has become aggressive since she laid that egg and she won't let anyone get close to it. Actually, it isn't even a real egg. It is a wooden one painted white. Wilma just thinks it's real. We stole the real one weeks before and put a dummy egg in its place as someone distracted Wilma with the otters' skimmer net. The real egg is in an incubator in our office where it is safe from ravens and the elements. But we know that it's probably not fertile. Male eagles have to be fully flighted to mate successfully because they have to be able to balance. Our eagles have full or partial wing amputations due to injuries sustained by gunshot. With only one wing, Sam has little chance of producing offspring. Neither pair of eagles has been successful at hatching eaglets at Grandfather. But it doesn't hurt for us to try. Wilma is not on the nest when Pam enters the habitat, and Pam warily approaches the platform to place her food, a dead quail (a type of bird) there. Suddenly, Pam hears a noise behind her and turns to see Wilma running at her from behind a rock. Pam hurries around the pond, and Wilma dashes after her. Then Pam uses her only defense. She throws a quail at the eagle and hits Wilma in the chest with it. She throws another quail, then another as she frantically runs for the fence. Once over the barrier, she bursts into laughter, finally seeing the comedy in the situation. Wilma does not think it's funny. She ruffles her feathers, then quickly eats her quail so she can get back to sitting on her wooden egg. Before I leave for the day, I take a new seasonal employee with me to introduce him to Yonahlossee and Kodiak. Yearling bears are different than their elders. They are not reserved at feeding time and seem to have a low blood sugar problem when hungry. I show the new employee how to give them a carrot through the fence to bide some time, then burst through the gate, trying to make it to the feeding rock. Yonahlossee has inhaled her carrot, though, and I can hear her one hundred pounds running toward me full bore, crying at every step. Before I can separate the food into two different piles, she tears the bucket from my grip. Dog food scatters in all directions. "You'd better hurry, Kodiak!" I yell. "She's going to eat everything if you don't!" The new employee stands wide-eyed at the gate. His expression reads, "I'm going to have to do that?" I smile, but before I can answer "Yes" Pam calls me on the radio. The otters have a hummingbird feeder. A hummingbird feeder? When I reach the otter habitat, Pam has already put the otters up and is in the habitat picking up broken glass from what is left of the hummingbird feeder. We don't find all of the glass so the otter pond will have to be drained. The woman who dropped the feeder into the habitat is long gone, fled in embarrassment. She had been dangling the feeder over the viewing glass to get the otters' attention, and the feeder slipped from her hand. She got the otters' attention, all right. They were having such a good time playing with the broken hummingbird feeder that Pam couldn't get them to come inside for almost ten minutes after she was informed of the incident. After cleaning up all the broken glass we can find and before anything else happens, I decide to make a break for it, leaving the habitats in charge of the closing shift. Tomorrow, I know, will come early. Even though I will see the same animals at morning check, I know that tomorrow will be totally different. It makes the job and life a lot more interesting. That's the animal caretaker's life.
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Introduction

From the time I can remember, I wanted to work with animals. My granddaddy instilled in me a love for animals and nature from the time I was a small girl. If it had not been for him, I would never have gotten the chance to walk among bears.I first saw Grandfather Mountain in early March 1991 when I was visiting the High Country for the first time. He was covered with snow and was a very magnificent fellow indeed! It was also the first time I glimpsed the animals in the natural habitats. The bears were asleep, of course, but the others were stirring. The deer were hunkered down chewing cud, and the eagles sat on their perches, fussing and chattering. One of the cougars must have been cold because he was pacing all around his snow filled exhibit. Looking at that cat that day, I never thought that I would actually know him on a personal basis. Wouldn't it be wonderful to work in a majestic place such as this? I thought. Never did I imagine, as I left the park that day, that Grandfather Mountain had a plan for me to do just that. Six years later, the Mountain came calling. I was a zookeeper at the City of Montgomery Zoo in Alabama at the time. But I didn't want to be in Alabama. I wanted to be in the mountains…the North Carolina Mountains. And in September 1996, I was offered the job as Animal Habitat Manager overlooking those animals that I had visited so long ago…. During the four years that I spent at Grandfather Mountain taking care of the animals, I also made many human friends as well. Kirsten and I began working in the habitats around the same time. The habitat staff had gone through a change that first September, and both of us were new. I was the habitat manager and she was the assistant manager. And as the seasons changed, we learned the different tasks that awaited us. When we began our employment in the fall, the leaves were doing their duty. And it became our duty to rake leaves and clean ponds of those leaves. That fall we were also introduced to the many school groups that visited Grandfather Mountain and learned rather quickly how to give tours. As winter approached, we learned to use the snow blower, and to salt and shovel walks when the snow began to fall. In the spring, with more school groups visiting, we hired new seasonal employees to help us. Throughout the summer, the staff cleaned ponds, painted rails and animal dens, and mowed and trimmed grass in addition to feeding and taking care of the animals. The habitat staff prided itself in keeping the grounds first rate. But the main reason we did these sometimes very physical and exhausting chores was because we loved our animals. We wanted them to have the best habitats and to be as healthy as possible. We wanted to share with people how special nature and its animals are. Talking with visitors in the habitats about the animals was a very important endeavor. The main stars in the habitats surely aren't the animal keepers. But I would like to thank all of the habitat employees who worked for me during my years at Grandfather Mountain. It is with pride that I thank you for a job well done. I must also thank each and every habitat employee who is part of the stories -? Kirsten Bartlow, Tanya Alley, Pam Scarborough, Rene' Loomis, Beth Garrison, Sherri Wesley, Dana Drenzek, and Mike Wagner. Thanks also go to the animals' veterinarian, Howard Johnson, Jr., a wonderful vet. Without these people (and the animals) no book could have been written. Other mountain employees who had a part in the stories are John Church, Richard Brown, Martha Oberhelman, Steve Miller, Harry and Kathleen Lowman, Hugh Morton, and Harris Prevost. A special thanks goes to Hugh Morton, owner and president of Grandfather Mountain, who took time out of his very busy schedule to write the foreword for The Animals of Grandfather Mountain and generously supplied many of the photographs to complement the following pages. Without Mr. Morton's vision, Grandfather Mountain would not be what it is today, a top ecotourist destination where visitors can see one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Another big thank you goes to Harris Prevost, vice-president, who saw the potential in this book and encouraged me to put it together. I greatly enjoyed working at Grandfather Mountain with its special people and animals, and I will never forget my experiences in the habitats. It is part of my life that I will treasure forever.—Laurie Mitchell Jakobsen
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Foreword

Laurie Mitchell came to Grandfather Mountain as a graduate of Auburn University with a degree in Wildlife Biology, and previous experience working with animals at the Montgomery Zoo in Alabama. She left Grandfather Mountain with a wide circle of new friends, and genuine love for bears, deer, cougars, eagles and otters. She also acquired a husband who changed her name to Laurie Jakobsen. Her story could be the basis for a television or Hollywood production, but if that happens it will have to be later; for now she has authored an engaging book that is our pleasure to read.

The environmental habitats for native animals at Grandfather that Laurie gave such tender love and care are a real challenge. They are larger than the habitats in some of the nation's best known zoos, and this happily gives Grandfather's animals plenty of space for their homes. On the down side, the particularly private animals like Cougars sometimes are out of view of the Grandfather Mountain visitors. Some may say that rocket science is more involved and difficult. We maintain that the skill and psychology shown by Laurie and her staff in caring for the animals, yet always remembering the pleasure of the visitors by working to assure that they see what they came to see, takes talent and dedication that compares with any profession. The habitats at Grandfather Mountain will always be named for Mildred the Bear, the nicest bear that has ever been. When Grandfather agreed to obtain two bears to be released in the wild to help rebuild the bear population in the mountains, by mistake the Atlanta Zoo sold Grandfather a young bear that the office staff at the zoo had raised on a bottle. Consequently, when that young bear was released, she did not revert to the wild. She did not know she was a bear. She had none of the hostility sometimes associated with bears; she just wanted to hang out with people. She was given the name Mildred. Faced with the problem of providing a home for a friendly bear that would not turn wild, Grandfather Mountain obtained the expert advice of Bill Hoff, then Director of the North Carolina Zoo at Asheboro, and J. Hyatt Hammond, the architect who had done much of the design work for the state zoo. Taking full advantage of the natural terrain, Hoff and Hammond designed the original habitat that nestles between giant boulders. We have been told time and again that what they designed is the best display for Black Bears in the world. Hammond's architectural firm later designed the building that houses the Grandfather Mountain Nature Museum. Habitats for White-Tailed Deer, Cougars (also known as Panthers and Mountain Lions), Bald Eagles, Golden Eagles, and River Otters followed. A habitat for bear cubs was also needed, because the only animal friend a cub has in the world is its own mother. Laurie Mitchell Jakobsen was given a free hand to select her own staff for the habitats, and that she did her job well was obvious to anyone who viewed the habitats. The area was always neat. The animals were being fed the best known diets for their respective species. If any animal appeared under the weather, it received immediate attention from veterinarians who were always on call. Laurie's book, as well as the immaculately kept habitats, is proof that a remarkable lady loved her job.-Hugh Morton

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2002

    A precious book !!!

    Each short story in this unique, informative book is absolutely adorable.I have visited Grandfather Mountain which is a fabulous place, and this book brought back so many memories of the visits. I felt as if I knew all the animals I read about. This book is interesting for adults and kids alike. A definite 5 star book.

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