Rural System's

The Zoo Group

Shared ideas for the good of the Roanoke Zoo and others of the Roanoke Valley ... then beyond. Rural System is a proposed conglomerate enterprise. Once developed, many of these ideas will seem more reasonable. Most are believed to be feasible now without the existence of Rural System.

Affiliating with an established zoo and its investments and history, Rural System gained and added synergism by providing the equivalent of stock-portfolio diversity. The zoo was somewhat like the Rural System enterprise environments, but each of these is unique. Combined interests ideas, financial resources, the existing physical and staff structures...and the opportunities for grant getting combined with the financial potentials of Rural System and its work throughout over 70 enterprises provided a novel working environment.
exhibit/program concept
Nightime as profound "cover"
Tides, moon phenomena, and animal activity with red-light related exhibits of bats, opossum, raccoon, white-footed mice

There was a sales area for rural system and regional products, promotion and access to Nature Folks, and international tours (often related to "ecotourism") began to provide a stable flow of visitors and related funds, both for entrance fees as well as purchases. Memberships were important and these opened the doors to education for improved behavior on the zoo grounds but throughout all natural areas and all aspects of Rural System. The tourists, bussed in international groups were carefully related to animals from their countries and marketing of the zoo and its functions was made animal- and animal-group specific.
Alpha Units
Unique 10 x 10 yard spots on Earth, the virtual computer map unit seen from deep in the Earth (core drilling) to high in the tree tops...animals and ecological phenomena
The zoo and its grounds were shifted toward being a diverse nature and ecological center with large, interesting, and easily seen animals as a primary way to produce benefits from the faunal resource. Conservation gardens on the grounds (many wild plants gleaned from local logging areas) expanded interests to many visitors. The first Avi course or Bird Golf was created on the grounds with a sister unit in Guatemala and thus, with international display, became a place of worldwide interest. Bird Golf courses were created and the operations expanded from the local center. Birding tours were conducted regularly on site, and these were augmented by bird displays, a bobwhite quail specialty exhibit, and they capitalized on the interest in the large predators and the vultures. The resources of the Rural System Tracts were not ignored and they gave the zoo a regional rather than a place personality.
Appalachian Trail Outpost
Promoting responsible informed use of the AT... introductions, equipment, guided day trips working out from the Outpost, sales of supplies, maps, field guides and using the Trail as an ecological transect. Special guided hikes on Rural System Tracts. See Walkers and the Wildland Crew
Blinds built on these areas gave paid positions to guests to observe local wildlife (e.g., the wild turkey and stream minnows) and to gain new species for their life-lists ...part of a growing zoo-sponsored sport-like contest/game.

Antler
The Antler Project
A small group of white-tailed deer allow the story of antler (vs horn) development to be related to mineral cycling, the white-footed mouse and to soil mycorhizzae
The zoo diversified so that there was "news" monthly and weekly within a blog about changes and new exhibits and special events at the zoo. There were daily tweets about animal behavior and new events at the zoon. There has to be attractions to attract visitors. Local wildlife education was the focus rather than seeing the animal. The area became the center for Nature Seen and for special nature- and region-related poetry, both making a small but positive contribution to the total not-for-profit conglomerate enterprise. It was where people could come to learn about "their" wildlife...the deer, black bear, bobwhite quail, bobcat, groundhog, cottontail, gray squirrel, raccoon, white-footed mouse, and chipmunk. Soil insects were on display, magnified, and ant colonies were well liked (and sales made). Soil fauna emphases were made along with earthworm ecology. The visitors saw opportunities for local contributions to wildlife studies (with related books on sale, special displays, reports of research results (Va Tech, Hollins, Roanoke College, Radford conference posters, etc.) A new message on the need for relevant practical research well reported was common.

Memberships gave access to images of zoo life, several on-going video cameras of animals and the area visitors, access to purchase items and books on nature. With cooperative efforts with local pet stores there is a strong promotion of aquaria with associated memberships and links to the aquaria of the zoo.
The Blarina Project
Toward understanding the common
but unknown short-tailed shrew
As in hotels where "fill the beds" is the mantra for economic success, "fill the isles" is the mantra for zoos. This requires great diversity of efforts, both locally, regionally and internationally...and then seasonally. It requires diversifying products --- more than sightings. It includes uses of alternative spaces such as conference centers, hotels, and Rural System Tracts. The Owls Group activities became operated from the Zoo Group. The zoo became the center of a new-to-Virginia phenology interests. Nearby interest in native Americans may continue and that can be augmented with or built upon in the faunal dimensions, including their trapping, hunting (e.g., the atlatl sport with a demonstration, sales, and practice area) and the role of beavers, wolves, mountain lions, bison and passenger pigeon in shaping the landscape and people of America. (Advertising, on site, of local hunting and outdoor specialty groups, while offensive to some, can provide essential income.)

An interior room showed an intensively "wired" outdoor ecosystem and the digital displays to soil temperatures, wind, air quality, rainfall characteristics, tree growth rates, precipitation, evapotranspiration all GPS and satellite related. All were splendidly displayed with GIS maps related to the site,
A Rabbit and Hare Project
Domestic and wild rabbits and their care and management
then region. GIS work augmented most of the animals displays. This became a special learning area used year around by schools - all grades...with linkages to the energetics of animals and their energy budgets...thus the implications for the human future.
Prevention as Part of
Vertebrate Animal Damage Management
Common pests and humane systems for preventing problems and adjusting systems to reduce costs and improve quality of life

Rural System staff already have strong contacts in India, China, Belize, Senegal, and Nigeria.

Together we can become a center, the capitol of rural Virginia, independently working to solve a host of ecological , natural resource, and related problems of the people of the region, then expanding to engage similar zoo related centers and others, world wide. The U.S. Forest Service claims urban expansion is on the top four threats to forests. The zoo can teach about the changing phenomena in the zone between rural and urban.
The Roanoke Zoological
    ... quite Logical
The Leader in profitable Zoo Blogging and tweeting (Twitter)

Spatial and Observer Diversity

We diversify for

Special Displays

As much museum as zoo, the changing displays include:

Contact Laurie Spangler at [mmzoo.org] former student

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .

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email RHGiles at {RuralSystem} dot com
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November 28, 2005, December 15, 2008.