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

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

 

 

 

Lama glamaLlama

Family

  • Camelidae

Lifespan

  • Up to 20 years.

Size

  • Length: 5 to 7 feet
  • Weight: 200 to 400 pounds

Habitat

  • Mountains, alpine grassland, plateaus, and shrub lands

Origin

  • Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile.
    • However, there are no true wild llamas.

Diet

  • Wild: Grasses, herbs, shrubs, lichens; chews cud.
    • The llama does not drink much water, getting most of its moisture from the plants it eats.
  • Zoo: Timothy hay, and llama chow.

Reproduction

  • Female llamas are "induced ovulators" which means they mate first and then the egg follows. Usually, it is the other way for most mammals.
  • The gestation period can last approximately 350 days (11 to 11 ½ months).
  • Usually, llamas give birth to a single young or "cria" as they are called in South America.
    • Twins are very rare.
    • Females do not lick the cria clean after birth due to their short, attached tongue which can only stick out around ½ inch.

Unique Characteristics

  • The mouth has a divided upper lip and continually growing teeth, allowing it to graze tough grasses.
  • Llamas are ruminants, meaning they rechew their food after is has passed through some of the chambers of the stomach before digesting it again.
    • This way, they get maximum nutrients from their food.

Special Adaptationsupset Llama

  • The camel families are the only mammals that have oval red blood cells for more efficient oxygen transport.
  • They walk on pads at the end of their toes instead of their hooves so they can travel easily over rocky ground.
  • Wool protects them from harsh climates.
  • When angry or under attack, they spit up a foul smelling liquid from their stomach.

History

  • The Andean Indians used llamas in many ways.
    • They carried goods, produced meat, wool and leather.
    • They used their fatty tissue for candles, made rope and garment with the hair, made sandals from the hide, and even used the dry dung for fuel.
  • The Spanish Conquistadors used nearly 300,000 llamas to haul silver from the Incan mines when they invaded South America in the 1500s.

Conservation Status

  • In the U.S. today, llamas are used as pack animals and for their wool, although, both these uses are becoming obsolete.
  • Llamas are not currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because they are domestic animals.

 Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org
  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org
  3. Lama glama (Linnaeus, 1758). Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed December 2012. www.eol.org/pages/309018
  4. Burnie, Dave and Don E. Wilson. Smithsonian Institution. Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide to the World's Wildlife.New York, New York. DK Publishing, Inc. 2001.

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

Dromaius novaehollandiaeEmu

Family

  • Dromaiidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 10 to 20 years
  • Captivity: 30 to 40 years

Size

  • Length: Up to 6 ½ feet
  • Weight: 65 to 100 pounds

Origin

  • Australia

Habitat

  • Semi-desert to grassland and open woodland

Diet Emu

  • Wild: Seeds, fruit, grasses, insects, rodents, and lizards.
    • They require a large amount of water as well
  • Zoo: Mazuri Emu chow and fresh produce.

Reproduction 

  • The female lays 9 to 12 eggs per clutch, up to 2 times a year in a shallow nest on the ground.
  • The male incubates the eggs and cares for the young.

Special Adaptations

  • The emu is an omnivore (eats animals and plants), eating constantly when food is available and storing the reserves as fat to be used when food is scarce.
    • The male uses these reserves when tending to the eggs and will not eat during this time.
  • To help digestion, the Emu swallows small pebbles that grind its food.

Ratite Facts

  • The emu is a ratite or flightless bird with a flat breastbone lacking a keel for attachment of flight muscles.
    • Other birds included in the ratite family include ostriches, rheas, kiwis, moas, and more.
    • In addition, emu wings are reduced in size and are not capable of enough lift to carry the bird.
    • Emus do not have flight feathers, but have evolved a downy coat.

Unique Characteristics 

  • The emu is the second largest bird in the world and can run up to 30 mph
  • Emus are also excellent swimmers
  • They live socially, sometimes grouping to form herds of several thousand birds
  • Male emus heads have a distinctive blue hue to the skin
  • Emu have 3 toes on their feet, whereas the ostrich only has 2

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concerned
  • CITES: Not Listed
  • However, two species, the Kangaroo Island emu and the King Island emu as well as one subspecies, the Tasmanian emu, became extinct in the 1800s due to hunting by humans.

Emu pecking

 Sources

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