Lontra canadensis North American River Otter                                                                         

Family  

  • Mustelidae                                               

Lifespan

  • Wild: 10 to 15 years
  • Captivity: Up to 25 years

Size

  • Length: 2 to 3.5 feet
  • Tail length: up to 18 inches
  • Weight: 10 to 33 pounds
    • Females are 1/3 smaller than males.

Range

  • Historically found throughout most of the United States and Canada.

Habitat

  • North American River Otters live in lakes, rivers, streams, and coastal areas.

Diet

  • Wild: River otters mainly eat fish and crustaceans, but will also eat birds, eggs, berries, and small mammals.
  • Zoo: Our otters are offered a Zoo carnivore diet, carrot, apple, and lake smelt.

ReproductionNorth American River Otter in den

  • Every other year, otters bear 2 to 4 pups in an abandoned burrow.
  • Otters have delayed implantation, allowing a fertilized egg to suspend development until it is signaled to resume growth.
    • This may be a response to population growth, food supplies or other factors that would affect the ability of young to thrive.
  • Pup’s eyes typically open at 21 to 35 days.
  • Pups become independent between 1 to 1.5 years of age.
  • They need to be taught how to swim.
    • The mother may throw them in the water for their first swimming lesson.

Unique Characteristics

  • As members of the Mustelidae family, otters have specialized glands that secrete musky smelling oil for identification, marking territory, and for protection.

Special Adaptations

  • Otters have adaptations for an aquatic lifestyle.
    • They have four webbed feet, ears and nostrils that close tightly, a propeller-like tail, a waterproof undercoat, and an insulating outer coat.
    • They are also nearsighted, which actually enables them to see better underwater.
    • During a dive, they can even slow their pulse to conserve oxygen.
  • The otter has a keen sense of smell and very sensitive whiskers, too.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • River otters are not endangered, but their numbers are declining due to hunting, habitat loss, and pollution, so they are protected.
  • Over 30,000 pelts are still sold annually in Canada and the U.S.
North American River Otter

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Burnie, David and Don E. Wilson. Smithsonian Institution. Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife. New York, New York. DK Publishing, Inc. 2001.
  4. Lontra canadensis (Schreber, 1777). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed December 2012. www.eol.org/pages/328584

 

 

Pavo cristatusPeacock

Family

  • Phasianidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: Up to 20 years
  • Captivity:  Up to 30 years

Size

  • Length: Males, with ornamental feathers, are 7 to 9 ½ feet while the females are about 3 feet.
    • They are the largest member of the pheasant and turkey family
  • Weight: Males -- 9 to 13 pounds females – 6 to 9 pounds

Habitat

  • Dense, lowland tropical forests near water

Origin

  • India and Sri Lanka

Diet Peahens

  • Wild: Seeds, fruit, plant matter, insects, snakes, and mice
  • Zoo: Game bird feed, greens

Reproduction

  • Peahens lay 4 to 6 eggs once a year in a shallow, hollow nest lined with sticks, leaves, and grass.
  • Incubation time is around 28 days.
  • The female tends the eggs and chicks alone.

Social Grouping/Lifestyle

  • Peafowl live in social groups consisting of 1 male and 3 to 5 females.
  • Peafowl are very routine, sleeping and eating in the same place every day.

Unique Characteristics

  • Like many other bird species, the male, called a "peacock", is more colorful than the female, called a "peahen".
  • The peacock’s long colorful train is made up of about 150 feathers growing from his lower back.
    • He raises his tail feathers in that famous dramatic fanned display to attract a mate or compete with other males for mates.
Peacock displaying

Special Adaptations

  • The peacock struts back and forth during his mating display, not only to attract a female, but also to keep his balance as the wind catches his enormous fan of feathers.
  • In addition, the peacock’s colorful plumage helps protect him from predators, by camouflaging him among the trees.

Humans & Peafowl

  • Peafowl are sacred in some parts of the world as a symbol of the goddess of learning and the god of war.
  • In other places, roast peafowl is considered a delicacy.
  • Peacock feathers are appreciated the world over for their striking colors and pattern.
    • The export of peacock feathers, however, is illegal.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • The Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus) is not under threat of population decline at this time, but the very similar Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) is endangered

 Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Pavo cristatus (Linnaeus, 1758). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed December 2012. www.eol.org/pages/1049264

 

 

Bos indicus

Miniature Zebu

Family

  • Bovidae

Lifespan

  • 16-18 years

Size

  • Length: 34-42 inches high at the withers (highest part of the back at the base of the neck)
  • Weight: Cows (females) weigh 300-500 pounds and bulls (males) weigh 400-600

Origin

  • Southern Asia and IndiaMiniature Zebu

Habitat

  • Deserts and forests

Lifestyle

  • Herbivore

Diet

  • Wild: Fresh and dry grasses and grains
  • Zoo: Timothy hay and grain

Reproduction

  • Zebu reach maturity slowly, and rather late
  • A single offspring is born every year after gestation of 277-290 days
  • Calves are generally 12-20 lbs at birth and are weaned at 50 lbs

Unique Characteristics

  • Zebus have a heavy dewlap (fold of loose skin) and a hump above the withers that is composed of muscle and fat
    • It is actually a functionless, enlarged rhomboid muscle
  • They also have short horns

Special Adaptations

  • They are highly resistant to heat and disease
    • Zebus have built in muscles that allow better twitching of the skin to protect from insect bites
    • They even have a gland beneath the skin that secretes an oily, odorous substance that repels some insects

The Ruminant Way

  • Zebus are ruminants, meaning their digestive system is unique
  • Zebus, and other cattle, have a 4 chambered stomach for digesting food
    • The first three chambers have bacteria that help break down tough plant matter 
    • In the second chamber, the food forms a ball called ‘cud’, which is then chewed again
    • When swallowed again, it passes through the third and fourth chambers
    • This process allows them to absorb maximum nutrients from their food

Zebu &Humans

  • Zebu are the world’s oldest domesticated cattle, dating back to 3000 B.C., and were first introduced to the U.S. in 1849
  • They have fair to poor milk and meat production, but are excellent draft animals
    • This was their original purpose in the cotton plantations of the south
  • In India, the Hindus revere the zebu and protect it from harm

Conservation Status Miniature Zebu

  • IUCN: Not Evaluated
  • CITES:Not Listed
  • Although domestic cattle are not threatened, there are 5 Bovid species which are in need of protections:
    • Bos gaurus (Gaur)
      • IUCN: Vulnerable
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • Found in India, China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia
    • Bos javanicus (Banteng)
      • IUCN: Endangered
      • CITES: Not Listed
      • Found in Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, and sporadically in Indonesia.  Small population introduced to Australia
    • Bos mutus (Wild Yak)
      • IUCN: Vulnerable
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • Found in China.  Historically found in China and India.  Believed to be extinct in all countries except China
    • Bos sauveli (Grey Ox/Kouprey)
      • IUCN: Critically Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix I
      • Found in Cambodia and southern Laos
    • Bubalus arnee (Indian Water Buffalo)
      • IUCN: Endangered
      • CITES: Appendix III
      • Found in India, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia; all extremely fragmented

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org

 

 

 

Equus asinusMiniature Donkey

Family

  • Equidae

Lifespan

  • 25-40 years

Size

  • Length: 33-38 inches at the withers (highest part of the back at the base of the neck)
  • Weight: 200-400 lbs

Origin

  • Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia

Habitat

  • Donkeys evolved in a desert climate and have been domesticated for at least 2000 years.

Diet

  • Wild: Grasses and other vegetation
  • Zoo: Timothy hay and oats

Reproduction

  • Females (jennets) are fertile at one year of age, but there is a risk of the mother abandoning her foal. The typical beginning breeding age is around three years of age.
  • Males (jacks) are also fertile at one year of age or earlier.
  • Gestation can last 11 ½ months to 13 months.

Special AdaptationsMiniature Donkey

  • Large ears help donkeys dissipate heat.
    • They also serve as way to communicate to other donkeys, along with the tail, body language, and verbal cues
  • Donkeys have tough, compact hooves to handle sandy and rocky terrain.

Unique Characteristics

  • Most donkeys have a distinct dark cross along their back and shoulders called a donkey’s cross.

History

  • They were used for grinding stones for grain, carrying water from village wells, and supplies into the mountains for Shepherds.
  • Miniature donkeys were brought to the United States in the 1920’s from the Mediterranean.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Not Evaluated
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • Although they are thriving in the United States, purebred miniature donkeys are nearly extinct in their native land due to breeding with larger breeds.

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices.  Accessed December 2012.  www.cities.org
  2. IUCN Red List.  Accessed December 2012.  www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Equus asinus (Linnaeus, 1758).  Encyclopedia of Life.  Accessed December 2012.  www.eol.org/pages/328647

Miniature Donkeys

Canis lupusGrey Wolf male

Family

  • Canidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 8 to 16 years
  • Captivity: Up to 20 years

Size

  • Length: 4 to 5 ½ feet
  • Weight: 40 to 170 pounds

Habitat

  • Widely varied including forests, deserts, mountains, tundra, and grasslands

Lifestyle 

  • Social, living in packs of 5 to 15 members

Historical Range

  • Throughout North America, Asia, and Europe

Diet

  • Wild: Elk, deer, bison, sheep, small mammals.
    • The pack works together to take down the larger prey.
    • Wolves also will eat fish and carrion
  • Zoo: Ground beef with vitamins mixed in, dog kibble, and knucklebones to help keep their teeth healthy

Reproduction

  • Sexual maturity occurs at 2 years of age.
  • Mating season takes place January through March, usually between the alpha male and the alpha female who normally mate for life.
    • Both attempt to keep others in the pack from mating.
  • After a gestation period of about 9 weeks, a litter of 3 to 9 deaf and blind pups are born.
    • Virtually all pack members contribute to raising pups, often bringing food to the mother while she is nursing.

Unique Characteristics Grey Wolf female

  • Strict domestic hierarchies govern the pack based on relationships with the alpha male.
  • Dens are found in the ground or in rocky crevices and are often used year after year.

Special Adaptations

  • The wolf’s body is built for stamina and endurance.
  • It has powerful jaws and excellent senses of smell, sight, and hearing.
  • The teeth are equipped to strip flesh right off bones.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • The Grey wolf, also called the Timber wolf, was once the most widespread mammal apart from humans.
  • Because of extermination programs based on unreasonable fear and unrestricted hunting, wolves were near extinction throughout the country by the early 1900’s.
  • Due to federal intervention and placing the wolf on the endangered list, wolf populations slowly began to rise.
  • In early 2003, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife changed the status of the Grey wolf from "Endangered" to "Threatened" in most of the lower 48 states.
  • In 2012 Michigan officially took the Grey Wolf off of the Endangered Species list for the state.  It is still protected and is not available for hunting at this time.

 

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. <www.cites.org>
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Canis lupus (Linnaeus, 1758). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed December 2012. www.eol.org/pages/328607

Grey Wolf female