Birth of first gorilla at Como Zoo quickly turns to sadness

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC_12_14_ComoZooThe joy of a new birth at Como Zoo, turned from elation to sadness within a matter of days. The baby male gorilla who was born in the early hours of Nov. 19 to mother Alice, sadly died on Nov. 23.

This was the first gorilla birth for Alice and the first gorilla birth in Como’s 55 year history of being a leader in gorilla care and conservation.

At approximately four pounds at birth, the baby gorilla appeared healthy, strong and was bonding with Alice. After the birth, he and Alice were under zookeeper watch and care around the clock. The baby had appeared as if he was doing well through Saturday evening. He had a strong grip and was vocal. Alice was showing positive signs of maternal instinct, had been observed nursing and cradling the baby.

Despite best efforts to monitor and record the baby’s food intake, many times Alice would cradle her baby to her chest with her back towards the observing zookeepers making it difficult to determine when, and if, nursing was indeed taking place. To prevent undo stress on new mothers, and allow them the necessary time to bond with their baby, it is imperative that zoo staff and veterinarians not intervene unless absolutely necessary.

On Sunday morning it was apparent that the baby was weak and his health failing. While the intervention process was happening the baby was set down by Alice and the zookeepers were able to retrieve him without the need to immobilize Alice. Resuscitation efforts on the infant were quickly preformed but were unsuccessful. Preliminary hypothesis is that the death might have been caused due to complications with food intake.

A gorilla gestation is approximately eight months. At birth, baby gorillas weigh between 4 and 5 pounds. It is extremely important for mom and baby to bond shortly after birth and for the baby to begin nursing. Typically Zoo staff will not intervene unless the health of the infant is compromised or the mother shows no motherly instinct. In cases such as that, zookeepers would step in and with veterinary staff determine next steps for reintroduction, hand rearing or even a surrogate type situation. Each animal at Como Zoo has its own Birth Management Plan.

Gorilla mothers are very protective of their babies. A gorilla mother will carry the baby on her chest for the first three months. At about 6-months-old the baby will move to ride on the mother’s back and begin playing and moving around on the ground close to mother. “Gorillas are very family oriented,” said Jo Kelly, Senior Zookeeper.

“The entire Gorilla SSP shares the Como Zoo’s heartbreak over this sad event,” stated Dr. Kristen Lukas, Director of Conservation & Science at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and the Chair of the Gorilla Species Survival Plan. “It is always difficult to lose a young one but we fully understand the significance of this particular birth for Como Zoo and are very sorry for your loss.”

Out of 437 gorilla births at Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions since 1980, 26% of males and 20% of females did not make it to their first birthday. In wild-living western gorilla populations, mortality rates in the first year of life have been reported up to 42% and in mountain gorillas, first-time mothers have 50% higher infant mortality rates than second-time mothers.

Another gorilla in the group, Dara, is also pregnant and due soon.

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Korean immersion school opens in St. Paul

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66


Sejong Academy balances the immersion needs of students depending on their skill level. “Some parents want more Korean instruction while some other parents are concerned about their students getting grade level instruction in English,” remarked Sejong Academy Executive Director Brad Tipka. “I believe this is a challenge that will continue and we will work to make sure students are learning content in English and Korean.”


Sixty-two students in grades kindergarten to sixth are immersed in Korean language and culture at the new Sejong Academy at 1330 Blair Ave. N.

Executive Director Brad Tipka, who was hired in September, knows that not all of the students at Sejong Academy will use Korean language professionally, “but I believe immersion education goes well beyond the potential use of the target language.”

He added, “I dream that our students will be responsible and culturally understanding global citizens. We have a very diverse student body and staff, and I believe being able to work in a diverse environment is a critical life skill for all students.”

Tipka grew up in a small Minnesota farming town and then headed overseas for eight years. He met and married his wife in Indonesia. “Without a desire to understand people from diverse backgrounds, none of this would have been possible for me,” observed Tipka.

During his time overseas, Tipka lived and taught in Korea for five years and developed a strong love for the language and culture. He said, “I believe that Korea as a country and Korean as a language represent strong opportunities for students in Minnesota.

“What I saw in Korea and what stands out for me about Korean people is a dedication to family, education, hard work and persistence – these are all great qualities to instill in our students!”



Sejong Academy Executive Director Brad Tipka

A public, tuition-free, Korean immersion charter school, Sejong Academy plans to add seventh grade classes in next year and eighth grade classes in 2016.

After opening in September 2014, Sejong scaled back its immersion program from full to partial. “As a startup immersion school, our upper grade level students do not have the Korean language fluency to comprehend grade level content in Korean,” Tipka noted. “Ideally, as we mature we will have large groups of students whose Korean language proficiency will allow them to study higher level grade level content in Korean.” He added that this is a common problem with immersion programs.

“Some parents want more Korean instruction while some other parents are concerned about their students getting grade level instruction in English,” remarked Tipka. “I believe this is a challenge that will continue and we will work to make sure students are learning content in English and Korean.”

Through the Sejong Home Connect program, staff works to make sure all families have home access to the internet and online school programs, including break or gap programs that offer extended learning time.


The school did receive some criticism in September for the large number of Karen students enrolled there. The Karen (pronounced Ka-REN) are an ethnic group from the mountainous border regions of Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand, where they are the second largest ethnic group in each country. There are approximately 6,500 Karen living in Minnesota with an additional 500 refugees from other ethnic groups in Burma. St. Paul currently has the largest and fastest-growing Karen populations in the U.S. The Karen people speak a variety of languages, none of which include Korean.

Tipka noted that the Karen immigrants are being taught intensive English at the school along with Korean language classes.

Sejong Academy is also offering Saturday enrichment courses, and has provided home-based instruction because the need for more English is strong, according to Tipka. “While we do have a few new-to-country Karen students who speak very little English, many of our Karen students are approaching fluency in English, as well,” Tipka pointed out. “There is a huge range and differentiation in the classroom is one of our critical professional development topics this academic year.”


Overall, Tipka says that comments from parents about what their children are learning at Sejong has been extremely positive. The school hosted a Chuseok Festival (a Korean holiday similar to Thanksgiving) after only being open for three weeks. Students gave short speeches in Korean and sang Korean songs, impressing their parents.

Grace Lee, a second-generation Korean American born and raised in Texas, serves as Sejong Academy board chair. Her third grader and sixth grader attend Sejong. “They enjoy the close school community, because they get to make friends with everyone,” Lee observed. “They also enjoy learning Korean. Lastly, through some of the blended learning opportunities, they are able to progress at an accelerated rate.”


A local police officer visited the third and fourth grade class as they learned about people in the community.

She added, “My dream is that this school will partner with the community and families to provide our students with a top-notch education, exposing them to the beautiful diversity and opportunities in our world; so that each student would dream big – not only for his/herself, but for his/her family, community and the world.  I hope that our school would equip each student to realize these dreams and that each student would become socially responsible global citizens in the process.”

Lee pointed out that South Korea is Minnesota’s sixth-largest export market, up from 14th just one decade ago. South Korea, which offers economic opportunities for Minnesota manufactured goods and for agriculture and service exporters, is a source of growing demand and was the location of the first trade mission of Governor Dayton’s in 2011. South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“I know firsthand how many opportunities there are for students who can speak Korean to work professionally with Korea,” noted Tipka. “Also, there are many opportunities in Minnesota, such as studying Korean at the U of M, or even testing out of having to take a foreign language in university, that will benefit our students.”
The school recently started a Futsal League (a version of soccer) with the Friends School.

“We are committed to doing whatever it takes to help our students, and their families, achieve their dreams,” said Tipka. “Whether that includes visiting homes to show families how to access the local library, providing home computers for families, adding Saturday school enrichment programs and maximizing our daily classroom instruction, we are confident that the school is moving forward with a great educational program and building solid connections to the community.”

Learn more at http://www.sejongacademy.org.

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Theatre Unbound tests the limits of the art Jan. 10 at Hamline University

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC_12_14_ExtremeTheatreOn Sat., Jan. 10, Theatre Unbound will unleash its annual “24:00:00 Xtreme Theatre Smackdown,” a raucous evening of chance, challenge, wins and wipeouts. Central to the Smackdown are the more than 40 Twin Cities theatre artists who create and perform 6 new short plays in the span of 24 hours.

“The Smackdown has turned into its own category of theatre,” says Stacey Poirier, Theatre Unbound Artistic Director. “There’s really nothing else like it. The energy and excitement of the crowd is palpable – screaming, cheering, waving foam fan fingers. It feels more like a wrestling match or monster truck rally. It inspires some truly intense and amazing performances by the actors. Sometimes it’s brilliant and sometimes it’s a disaster of devastating proportion. The Smackdown is like the Xtreme Sport of theatre.”

“Everyone jumps in with both feet,” says comedienne Ahna Brandvik, past participant. “They make broader, braver choices. And the audience – oh, they’re along for the ride!”

Audiences will experience a (lighthearted) competitive atmosphere, including referees equipped with whistles, impromptu challenge matches between playwrights and directors, and audience participation wars.

How it works

In November, the general public suggested script ingredients via the Theatre Unbound Facebook page. In December, they are invited visit the website www.theatreunbound.com and vote among 50 finalists in the categories of: a line of dialog, an emotion, a prop, or something random. The winning ingredients must be included in each Smackdown script. On the evening of Fri., Jan. 9, the winning ingredients will be revealed to six teams of two playwrights,who will write through the evening. At 5am on Sat., Jan. 10, all the scripts are gathered up – ready or not! – and assigned to a director and a cast. Rehearsals are conducted throughout the day, with technical rehearsals skidding to a halt just in time for the performance at 8pm.

Crushinator the Corset Buster, the madcap Smackdown-Champion host, retired in the middle of last year’s event. Will she pull a “Brett Favre move” and find her way back to the Smackdown arena? Or will the new mystery host make a bigger splash with audiences? It’s anyone’s guess….

In keeping with Theatre Unbound’s mission, 24:00:00 Xtreme Theatre Smackdown offers opportunities to dozens of women theatre artists. Theatre Unbound is one of a dozen or so women’s theatre companies across the nation working to shrink the gender gap on America’s stages.

“24:00:00 Xtreme Theatre Smackdown” will take the stage at the Hamline University Anne Simley Theatre, 1536 Hewitt Ave., for one night only on Jan. 10, 8pm. General admission ticket prices are $18-$20, and reservations can be made by calling 612-721-1186 or ordering online at www.theatreunbound.com.

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St. Paul Hockey Club now in fifth year

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC_12_14_Hockey1Boys and girls born in 2002 or later who are interested in learning and playing hockey with little cost and time commitment are invited to join the Saint Paul Hockey Club at the North Dale Rec Center. The Club is now in its fifth year providing a program for girls and boys in St. Paul to learn hockey skills and safety. Kids learn skills with qualified coaches and divide into small teams to play games. There is a $50 USA Hockey registration fee and players will need skates, a stick, and a helmet with mask. The USA Hockey registration is free for kids born in 2008 or later, and some equipment available for borrowing. Players may join at any time throughout the season.

The club skates two evenings per week and Saturday mornings during the outdoor ice season. Special events are planned for 2015 on Jan. 17 at the St. Paul Winter Classic; on Jan. 24 at the downtown WinterSkate rink; and to end the season in March.

Details, schedule, and registration information are available at stpaulhockey.com.

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Bethel Lutheran sponsors living nativity Dec. 20

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC12_14Nativity_4Bethel Lutheran Church, 670 W. Wheelock Pkwy., will host a living nativity (a re-enactment of the Christmas story) on Sat., Dec. 20, beginning at 6pm. The event will blend scripture reading, actors portraying the biblical account, and live farm animals (cow, sheep, goats). Live shows will last 15-minutes beginning at 6pm, 6:30pm, 7pm, and 7:30pm. Following the enactment, children are welcome to approach the animals as part of a petting zoo, and all guests are welcome to enjoy hot coffee, cocoa and cider, as well as cookies and treats. The event is free and open to the public (no tickets required). 670 W. Wheelock Pkwy. is on the corner of Maywood and Wheelock, with the parking lot on St. Albans St. (on west side of church).

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HM Elders plan monthly activities

HM Elders plan monthly activities

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

April2014IOC_HmalineMidwayEldersThe popular “Chair Yoga” class led by Nancy Giguere returns for an 8 week series on Thursday mornings beginning Jan. 8 from 10:30-11:30am. This free class is moving to a new location–the auditorium at the Hamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave. Chair yoga focuses on range of movement, alignment, stretching, strengthening, awareness, breathing and relaxation. All movement is done while seated or standing using the chair for balance.

The Caregiver Support Group is open to anyone caring for older adults or persons of any age with special needs. This group is facilitated by Monica Gallagher and trained volunteers. The group will meet on Thur., Jan. 8 from 6:30-8 pm (and meets regularly on the second Thursday of each month) at Hamline United Methodist Church, 1514 Englewood Ave. There is no cost and new attendees are always welcome.

Dr. Steve Vincent, from People’s Center Health Services in Minneapolis, will make a presentation on “Elder Health Care” at the Hamline Midway Elders monthly luncheon on Tues., Jan. 13, from 11:30am to 1pm. Free blood pressure checks will be provided and transportation for neighborhood seniors can be arranged with advance notice. Second Tuesday monthly luncheons are held at Hamline United Methodist Church, 1514 Englewood Ave.

HME are excited to be partnering with the Hamline Midway Library again for the upcoming winter series that will be held at the library and feature guest speakers on a wide variety of topics. Programs will be held on Wednesdays, 1-3pm. New York Times bestselling author William Kent Krueger kicks off the series on Jan. 14 – and folks of all ages are invited to attend any/all programs. Refreshments will be provided.

For more information on any of the above programs, please contact Hamline Midway Elders at 651-209-6542 or info@hmelders.org.

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Winter at the Hamline Midway Library offers plenty of reasons not to hibernate, with activities for all ages and all interests

Winter at the Hamline Midway Library offers plenty of reasons not to hibernate, with activities for all ages and all interests

Posted on 10 December 2014 by robwas66

IOC10_14LibraryGraphicHamline Midway Library, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave., will feature Toddler and Preschool Storytimes on Fridays from 10:30-11am on Dec. 12, 19, 26 and Jan. 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30.

On Sat., Dec. 13, from 1:30-3pm, the Saturday Club theme is Lego Tiny Town. Participants can view a miniature city made of LEGO pieces and learn advanced LEGO construction techniques, as well as making a paper cityscape to take home. The activity is free and available on a drop-in basis.

The Friends of the St. Paul Public Library present the silent comedy “Spite Marriage” on Wed., Dec. 17, 7-8:30pm. Starring Buster Keaton and featuring a live, original score by local duo Dreamland Faces, the comedy finds Keaton so smitten by a stage actress that he accidentally joins the cast of her latest production. The fun really begins when she marries Keaton on a whim to get even with an old flame.

All St. Paul library locations will be closed for the holidays on Dec. 24 and 25. Most libraries close at 5:30pm on Dec. 31, with Dayton’s Bluff closing at 4pm. All locations will be closed on New Year’s Day and Martin Luther King Day on Mon., Jan. 19.

Sat., Jan. 3 is a busy day for book lovers of all ages. The Saints and Sinners Mystery Book Club meets that day from 1-3pm to discuss good mysteries. The title for January is “The Chocolate Snowman Murders” by JoAnna Carl. Contact Geraldine Balter for more information at gerribalter@gmail.com or 651-224-5570.

Also on Jan. 3 is Kids Book Club for book fans ages 8-12, meeting 1:30-2:30pm, and Teen Book Club for readers ages 12-18, meeting 2:30-3:30pm.

Mon., Jan. 5, 7-9pm, the library launches a new three-part series for adults, Maker Monday Incubator, featuring the theme Gizmos and Gadgets. How do we encourage children to see themselves as creative problem solvers and engaged learners? Adults can start by doing it themselves. Participants will use LEGO gears, pulleys, and levers to make whimsical mechanical gadgets that spin, whir, and wiggle. Pre-registration encouraged. The series is led by Peter Hoh, a science instructor based in St. Paul. The series continues on Mon., Jan. 12 with Paper Engineering and Mon., Jan. 26 with At Home and At School.

Thur., Jan. 8, 10:30-11:30am, the Hamline Midway Elders present a class on Chair Yoga with Nancy Giguere, with gentle exercises focusing on range of movement, alignment, stretching, strengthening, and relaxation—all while seated or using a chair for balance. The class will continue on Jan. 15, 22, and 29.

The Second Saturday Science Club for Kids on Sat., Jan. 10 meets in the auditorium 1:30-3pm for experiments and art projects with ice. Led by Peter Hoh and Jackie Lannin, the activities are designed for kids ages 6 and up and their families. Pre-registration encouraged.

The Wednesdays at 1:00 @ Hamline series re-launches in 2015 with renowned local author William Kent Krueger on “Why Books Matter.”

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Head to the library for fun activities

Head to the library for fun activities

Posted on 12 November 2014 by robwas66

IOC10_14LibraryGraphicAs we head into the holiday season this November and early December, the Hamline Midway Library offers a place to recharge your batteries, gather inspiration, and learn something new to enrich your life.

Toddlers, preschoolers, and their caregivers can enjoy Toddler-Preschooler Storytimes on Fridays, 10:30-11am, on Nov. 14, 21, 28, and Dec. 5.

On Sat., Nov. 15, 1-2pm, the library is offering “Life with Fido: The Family Dog,” a crash course in living and working with kids and dogs. Presenter Kate Anders owns Pretty Good Dog, a consulting business geared toward finding positive solutions for the family pet and has many years of experience as a dog trainer.

The Wednesdays @ 1:00 series continues on Nov. 19, 1-3pm, when Harriet Mednick presents “Traditions of Thanksgiving Foods.”

On Thur., Nov. 27, all St. Paul libraries will be closed for Thanksgiving.

Sat., Dec. 6 offers a chance for young book lovers to meet up with other readers to talk books and share some tasty treats. The Kids’ Book Club for ages 8 to 12 meets 1:30-2:30pm. The Teen Book Club for ages 12-18 will meet 2:30-3:30pm the same day to discuss “Every Day” by David Levithan.

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Annual holiday tea planned at Como

Posted on 12 November 2014 by robwas66

IOC11_14_HolidayTeaComo Park Zoo and Conservatory invites guests to a holiday tea like no other that includes a behind-the-scenes tour in the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory. This long-standing tradition takes place on Dec. 11 with tea at 11am and 2pm.

Guests will enjoy a three-course tea service in the Conservatory’s North Garden – a space known for its lush and tropical collection of exotic trees and plants including fig, papaya, pomegranate, and chocolate. The tea service courses include savory petite sandwiches, oven-hot scones, and an assortment of delectable sweets.

Following the tea service, guests will be treated to a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the Conservatory. This tour, lead by a member of the Conservatory’s horticulture staff, includes an inside look at the building’s expansive production greenhouse space and Sunken Garden. See thousands of plants being cultivated for the upcoming Winter Flower Show, as well as several off-exhibit botanical collections of orchids, bromeliads, bonsai, and ferns. Learn what goes into creating the five spectacular annual flower shows in the Sunken Garden and how the Conservatory production greenhouses nurture plants for Como Education programs, the Edible Garden, and select gardens for the City of Saint Paul.

Tickets for the Holiday Tea cost $35 per person if reserved before Thanksgiving and $40 per person after Thanksgiving. Space is limited and reservations are required by calling 651-487-8250.

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Keystone Offers Winter Programs

Posted on 12 November 2014 by robwas66

IOC11_14_KeystoneKeystone Senior Program winter exercise opportunities are taking place at the Merriam Park Community Center, 2000 St. Anthony Ave.  Although the Yoga for Older Adults class (Mondays) is currently full, make sure to call to sign up for another class which will be held at the beginning of next year. Strength and Flexibility classes are M-W-F from 10–11am, and gym walking is available from 11am–noon   on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  Arthritis exercise group meets on Thursdays, Nov. 13, 20, Dec. 4 and 11 from noon–1pm, and again on Thursdays, Jan 8,15 and 22 from noon–1pm. The cost is $1 per session.

Keystone Seniors will hold their senior Christmas Holiday Party on Wed., Dec. 3 from noon–2pm.  It will include a holiday meal with holiday entertainment by Jim Berner, whose name you may recognize from the Minnesota State Fair, where he has entertained for many years. The cost is $7.

The next AARP Smart Driver Refresher classes will be held Feb. 4, Mar. 3 and Apr. 15.  A  Smart Driver Initial 8 Hour Class will be held on Mon., Apr. 20 and 27.
On Wed., Dec. 17 the Better Business Bureau and Allianz Life has partnered to provide the seminar “Safeguarding Our Seniors – Be Empowered to Take Action”  to raise awareness and empower seniors and caregivers to take action against senior fraud and financial abuse.  It will be held from 11am-noon at Merriam Park Community Center.
AARP free tax assistance will be held on Mondays and Wednesdays beginning Feb. 4 from 9am–2pm by appointment only. Sign-up begins on Dec. 8 by calling 651-645-7424.

Other daily activities Monday through Friday include Bridge, Cribbage, Mexican Train, Scrabble and Keystone Krafters.

All of the above programs are held at the at Merriam Park Community Center,  2000 St. Anthony Ave. For further information, to register for any of the above programs  or to receive a copy of Keystone “Senior Hi-Lites” please call Keystone Senior Program at 651-645-7424.

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