Doug Flynn visits the Louisville Zoo in the first of a three-part series. Also featured on the program are beekeeping at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg, Ky.; a profile of Col. Charles Young, a prominent African-American military leader and diplomat; and a visit to the town of Rosine, the home of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and the Rosine Barn Jamboree.
Louisville Zoo, Part 1
If you’ve ever wondered how zookeepers get close enough to wild animals to feed them and take care of them, Jane Anne Franklin has the answers. Franklin is mammal curator and animal training supervisor at the Louisville Zoo.
Zookeepers must train the animals to allow humans to get close to them, she explained.
“These animals need to be trained to let us take the best care of them possible,” she said. “It allows us to get up close and personal to them, check them out, make sure they don’t have any issues. It lets us into their world, so any subtleties in their behavior, behavior changes, we’ll notice right away.”
The relationship is based on trust, she said. The trainers do some of their work with a barrier, like a chain-link fence, between themselves and the animals. The animals must choose to approach the trainer. “I cannot make a 500-pound bear come to me if it doesn’t want to,” she said. “So you either need to be motivating enough, or they need to trust you enough.”
Franklin said trainers use a whistle, the sound of which always means a reward to the animal. It also means the trainers can get the attention of an animal from some distance away.
Bart the sea lion, who has lived at the zoo all of his 23 years, focuses his attention on his trainer and reads body language. He lets his trainer check his eyes, ears, mouth and flippers each morning.
Despite the training, the animals are not tamed and are still wild animals, Franklin said. “Even though Bart was born in captivity, he’s not domesticated. So if he needs to tell you something, he’s pretty honest about it,” she said. “If he decides you’re in his face and he doesn’t care for it, he gives you cues. And we have to learn to read his cues.”
Is it tough to train an older animals?
“It takes a little more patience,” she said. “But honestly, some of these animals have seen so much, and they’ve had to make choices on their own, that they have taught themselves how to learn.”
Shaker Village Bees
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill has 40-60 beehives on the property, in 12,000 acres of restored native prairie with wildflowers. Merin Roseman, sustainability programs specialist, said about 5-10 of those acres are used for educational programs. The rest are used to produce the honey sold at the village and used in the restaurants.
A healthy hive has about 60,000 to 80,000 honeybees in the summer. “A lot of people think honeybees either migrate or all die off during the winter. But really, they are the only insects in Kentucky that stay warm all through the winter.”
Shaker Village offers an introductory beekeeping course in the spring, with an intermediate level course available later in the season. “There’s been a lot of resurgence in backyard beekeeping,” she said.
It takes many bees to make a significant quantity of honey. A single bee, Franklin said, produces one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime.
Col. Charles Young (1864-1922)
The first African-American colonel in the U.S. military, Charles Young was born in Mays Lick, Ky., in 1864.
A leader of the buffalo soldiers on the frontier who later led men in combat in the Philippines and Mexico, he was widely respected in the military and for his diverse talents in diplomacy, writing, and music.
“Charles Young was what we would call a race man, meaning he was looking for the uplift of his race,” said historian Jerry Gore. “He realized if he failed at his task, it was more than just him failing.”
After Young was born, his father left Kentucky and joined the Union Army in Ripley, Ohio. His father came back for his family and moved them all to freedom in Ohio. He was homeschooled by his mother, according to Brian G. Shellum, a historian and biographer of Young.
“In Ripley, Ohio, the schools were segregated, so he attended a black elementary school. And as he attended high school, the black school just didn’t have courses that were hard enough for him. So he went to the white high school,” Shellum said.
From there, Young went to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. After graduation, he joined the 9th Cavalry at Fort Robinson, Neb., an African-American unit. In 1894 he became the first professor of military science and tactics at Wilberforce University in Ohio. From May to October 1903 he was assigned to Sequoia National Park, becoming the first African American to be a national park superintendent.
Then in 1904 he was assigned as the first black military attache to Haiti. From there, he became a military attache in Liberia from 1912-16. While there, Gore said, Young recorded much of the political history of those countries. In 1913, Young’s book, “The Military Morale of Nations and Races,” was published.
Shellum said Young was a talented linguist. “He could speak fluent German, French, Spanish, and then he dabbled in another half a dozen languages,” he said.
Charles Wash, Ph.D., executive director of the National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center in Wilberforce, said Young was a prolific writer. “The extent to which he wrote was also kind of a surprise. It seems to me that the amount of material that we have, every moment that he had free he must have been writing, or formulating some ideas for his poetry, for his music,” he said.
Young was a talented musician, playing organ, piano, and violin. He not only wrote music, he illustrated the covers of his published works.
He served in Mexico, and then in 1917, as the United States was preparing for World War I, Young was up for promotion, Shellum said. During a checkup, doctors found he had high blood pressure. “But because of his ability as an officer – he looked so physically fit – the board recommended that those medical conditions be waived, and that he be promoted so that he could be sent to Europe and assist in the coming war,” Shellum said.
To show his fitness, Gore said, Young even rode horseback from Wilberforce, Ohio, to Washington D.C.
He did not get the promotion, however. “A lot of historians feel that the real reason was that there were a number of senators from Louisiana that did not want their white boys serving under a black officer,” Gore said. “And they went to Woodrow Wilson and convinced him not to let that promotion go through.”
Young remained on active duty and trained African American recruits in Ohio for service overseas. After the war, he was recalled to active duty and offered an assignment as military attache to Liberia. He died while on a trip to Lagos, Nigeria, in January 1922. His body was returned to the United States a year later, and he was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
For many years he was the lone black military officer in the United States, Shellum said.
Gore noted that Young had great responsibilities in each of his posts. “Colonel Young was a man of his time, but he was a man far ahead of his time,” Gore said.
(Note: Jerry Gore, a founding member of the National Underground Railroad Museum, passed away on Aug. 3, 2016. A historian, he was CEO of Freedom Time, a company that organizes tours of Underground Railroad sites.)
Rosine: A Home for Bluegrass
It’s been 20 years since Bill Monroe passed away, and his hometown of Rosine hosts bluegrass music fans from the world over at his boyhood home and at the Rosine Barn Jamboree.
The boyhood home of the father of bluegrass music is open to visitors, and there’s no charge for tours. The home is furnished with period pieces, some of which are the originals.
“Mr. Monroe did not live to see the restoration of the home place. But he did have input on it, wanted it done, and it was being talked about for years,” said David Johnston, judge-executive of Ohio County. Monroe even drew a picture of what he remembered from his boyhood home for the restoration.
People from all 50 states and many foreign countries have visited the home. “If you’re a bluegrass fan, this is the place that you’d want to come,” Johnston said.
The Rosine Barn Jamboree has been hosting musicians on Friday nights, April through mid-December, since 1992.
“We have musicians come from all over the country, all over the world,” said Bill Burden, chairman of the Rosine Association and the Jamboree. “And then we have local musicians…. And they come for one thing, just the love of music, because we don’t pay anything. As I said before, we just run the barn, we don’t charge anybody anything to get through the doors. We take up a donation. And it will be 25 years next year here in the Barn. So far it’s worked just fine for us.”
Monroe himself made two appearances at the Rosine Barn, once with a U.S. Navy band, and a second time playing with local musicians. The spot on stage where Monroe stood for one of his last performances in 1995 is immortalized with shoeprints painted on the stage floor. “People come here, that‘s the first thing they want to do is stand in the footsteps of Bill Monroe,” Burden said.
Monroe loved Rosine, Burden said. “He never failed to mention Rosine on the Grand Ol’ Opry when he was on there, and when he was in different places. He always s knew where he came from,” he said.
Monroe lived to see his music played the world over, Johnston said. “He did get to see that, that it was popular in Japan, and in many places that couldn’t speak English, but they could sing ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky,’ fluently,” Johnston said.
Burden said everybody wanted to copy Monroe’s style. “Now anywhere you go, college kids, all types of people, are playing bluegrass music,” he said.