'Cincinnati Zoo Tales' Podcast Gives a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Zoo Life

Animals make everything better, even the "Indoor Times."

click to enlarge Jenna Wingate and baby Fiona - Photo: blog.cincinnatizoo.org
Photo: blog.cincinnatizoo.org
Jenna Wingate and baby Fiona

To help keep readers plugged into Cincinnati life even as we continue to physically distance from each other due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, CityBeat is highlighting a series of local podcasts and their creators every week. Read previous installments about "When Pigs Fly" and "West End Stories."

Animals make everything better, even the "Indoor Times." Luckily, the Cincinnati Zoo Tales podcast comes to our rescue.

In Cincinnati Zoo Tales, listeners can learn more about the zoo’s famous residents like Fiona the hippo as well as how the average person can make a big difference in animal welfare. Co-hosts Jenna Wingate and Sam Kornau interview zoo staff and wildlife professionals to reveal in-depth information related to the zoo and local animal conservation.

Wingate tells CityBeat that the podcast, which launched in January, enables listeners to hear “behind the scenes” aspects of Cincinnati Zoo by getting to know more about the employees that care for these animals. The conversation is both easygoing and nuanced as they tackle topics such as habitat creation and maintenance, an animal’s life story and a professional’s work with animal conservation.

“I hope that this kind of shows exactly how passionate and caring the people that work at zoos are. We're not keeping these animals here for entertainment. It's for education and getting people close enough to care,” Wingate explains. 

One highlight is how impactful Fiona’s birth was to zoo employees. In Fiona’s episode, Wingate and Kornau discuss how critical those initial conversations were when Fiona was born. 

“It was a big conversation to have. It was a critical moment when you didn't know if this baby hippo was going to be able to make it through or not,” Kornau says.

Each Cincinnati Zoo Tales episode also includes ways the listener can implement small changes that can have a big impact on local animal welfare. 

“Conservation can sometimes be a big word. It can be daunting to people because people think of conservation as, ‘Hey, I'm going to go over to Tanzania and save the elephants,’ right? Realistically, that's not realistic for most people. They don't have the capacity to go over there, but what do they have the capacity to do?” Kornau says. 

For example, one actionable item for citizens is to leave their porch and house lights off when they aren’t home, which benefits migrating birds. 

“If you turn the lights off, it helps them migrate more safely through large cities,” Wingate says. 

An upcoming episode centers around a look into Cincinnati Zoo’s new Australian-themed Roo Valley, the habitat for kangaroos and little blue penguins. 

“It's a beautiful new space. It's large and green, and horticulture put so much work into it. We're going to hear about what it's like to start a new habitat,” Wingate says.

Kornau and Wingate also interview wildlife professionals outside the zoo about their work in non-profits and animal conservation.

Cincinnati Zoo Tales is released weekly. It can be listened to on Podbean, Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts.

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