Cynomys ludovicianusBlack-tailed Prairie Dog

Family

  • Sciuridae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 3 to 5 years
  • Captivity: 8 to 10 years

Size

  • Length: 12 to 17 inches
  • Weight: 1 ½ to 3 pounds

Range

  • Great Plains from Canada to Northern Mexico

Diet

  • Wild: Herbs and grasses
  • Zoo: High-fiber alfalfa cubes, yams, carrots, and hay.

Reproduction

  • Litters consist of 1 to 6 pups.
  • The pups remain in the burrows until they are 5 to 6 weeks old.

Prairie Dog pups

Interesting facts

  • The name "prairie dog" comes from its call which sounds like the yap of a small dog.
  • They are actually closest to the squirrel in relations.
  • They live in large colonies called towns, which are composed of small family groups of up to 20 members called coteries.
  • They live in an elaborate system of burrows, where they seek shelter from predators and severe weather.

Special adaptations

  • Prairie dogs communicate and strengthen their bonds through a series of vocalizations, playing, nuzzling, and grooming.
  • The family system helps them deal with predators more effectively too.
  • They will bite off tall plants around the burrows to see better.

Conservation status

  • CITES –Not listed
  • IUCN –Least concern
  • Humans have targeted this rodent with poison campaigns as agriculture and livestock ranching claims habitat previously used by the prairie dog.
  • The main threat, however, is the loss of habitat due to this agricultural expansion.

Sources

  1. Appendices I, II, and III of CITES. (February 5, 2015) Accessed January 2016. http://www.cites.org/eng/app/appendices.php
  2. Encyclopedia of Life. Accessed January 2016. http://www.eol.org/pages/311548/overview
  3. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. (2015) Accessed January 2016. http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/search

Prairie Dogs

Boa constrictor Boa Constrictor

Family

  • Boidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: Around 20 years.
  • Captivity: 25-40 years.

Size

  • Length: 6-13 feet (longest on record is 18 feet)
  • Weight: 40-50 pounds

Origin

  • Central and South America

Habitat

  • Deserts, wet tropical forests, and open savannas

Diet

  • Wild: Reptiles, mammals, and birds
  • Zoo: Frozen thawed rats

Reproduction

  • Boas reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years of age.
  • The female attracts a male with a special scent she emits.
  • Fertilization is internal.
  • Boas are ovoviviparous, meaning they produce eggs that hatch within the body so that the young are born live.
    • 20-60 young are produced in one litter.

Special AdvantagesBoa Constrictor

  • The boa has wonderful camouflage to resemble leaf litter.
  • They are also great swimmers; however, they prefer to remain on land.
  • To hunt, snakes stick out their forked tongue to collect scents.
    • Once collected, the snake will insert the tips of the forked tongue into its Jacobson’s organ, where the data can be analyzed.
    • The Jacobson’s organ interprets the chemicals such as pheromones to aid the snake with finding its next meal, or even a mate.

Boa Facts

  • The boa is an ambush hunter and lies in wait of its prey to come to it.
  • The boa uses its teeth to catch prey, but as it is a constrictor, it squeezes and suffocates its prey before swallowing it whole, usually head first.

Unique Characteristics

  • The boa constrictor can hiss loud enough to be heard 100 feet away.

Conservation Status

  • The number of boas is dropping because of habitat destruction and the skin trade.

Boa Constrictor

 Sources

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

Strix variaowlb port

Family

  • Strigidae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 20 to 25 years

Size

  • Height: 17" to 20" with a 3.5 to 4 foot wing span.
  • Weight: 1 - 2 pounds.

Origin

  • North America

Habitat

  • The barred owl prefers extensive mature deciduous forests, such as river bottomlands, northern hardwoods, and oak-hickory forests, but is also found in mixed conifer-deciduous forests and less commonly in spruce-fir forests.

Diet

  • Wild: Small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. The barred owl is undoubtedly an opportunistic feeder, taking whatever is available.
  • Zoo: Frozen thawed rats

Reproduction

  • Barred owls begin nesting in March. They nest in hollow trees, in abandoned nests of other animals or in nest boxes.
  • The female lays two or three white eggs, which hatch in 28 to 33 days.
  • The newly hatched young are covered with fine white down. Young barred owls leave the nest four to five weeks after hatching.

Special Adaptations:

  • A barred owl's right ear is higher than its left ear. Hearing from two different angles helps it pinpoint the location of prey.
  • The barred owl is very vocal and will call even during the day.
    • It has a loud distinctive eight or nine note call which seems to ask Who-cooks-for-you, who-cooks-for-you-all in addition to other shorter calls, squeaks, and grunts.                

Raptor Facts

  • Raptors are carnivorous birds that hunt and kill other animals.
  • The raptor has talons for seizing prey and a hooked beak for tearing it apart.
  • Raptors have keen eyesight and can pick out prey from miles away.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II

owlb eyeopen 

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org

  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org

  3. Barred Owl – National Geographic

  4. Vermont Critter Curriculum – Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department


Haliaeetus leucocephalus alascanusBald Eagle

Family

  • Accipitridae

Lifespan

  • Wild: 20 to 30 years
  • Captivity: Up to 50 years

Size

  • Length: 2 ½ to 3 ½ feet with a 6 to 8 foot wing span.
    • The female is the larger sex.
  • Weight: 10 to 14 pounds.

Origin

  • North America

Habitat

  • Coastal forests, marshes, lakes, and mountains

Diet

  • Wild: Fish, birds, lizards, small mammals, and carrion
  • Zoo: Lake smelt, frozen thawed rats

ReproductionBald eagle vocalizing

  • Bald eagles mate for life, producing 2 eggs a year.
  • The nest, called an aerie, is a massive platform of sticks and twigs in a tree or cliff ledge.
    • It weighs up to 2 tons, is 6 feet wide, and is the largest of all bird nests.
    • Eagles will return to the same aerie year after year.

Special Adaptations:

  • Eagle wings have deeply slotted tips for soaring and long distance flight.
  • These magnificent birds of prey live close to the water, often flying at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour and diving at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.
  • Their keen sense of vision allows them to spot their prey while soaring high in the air.

Raptor Facts

  • Raptors are carnivorous birds that hunt and kill other animals.
  • The raptor has talons for seizing prey and a hooked beak for tearing it apart.
  • Raptors have keen eyesight and can pick out prey from miles away.

Unique Characteristics

  • The head of this bird appears to be featherless from a distance, hence its name.
  • Bald eagles can swim, too. They use their wings in a "butterfly strokes" fashion.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Least Concern
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • On June 28, 2007, the bald eagle was taken off the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants.
  • They are still protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act which prohibits the take, transport, sale, barter, trade, import and export, and possession of eagles, making it illegal for anyone to collect eagles and eagle parts, nests, or eggs without a permit.
    • The only exception to this is Native Americans who are able to possess these items since they are traditional in their culture.
  • The Children's Zoo is home to two Bald eagles who were permanently injured and unable to be rehabilitated to the wild. 
    • They are owned by the government, and the zoo has special permits to house them here.

Note: On June 20, 1782, the bald eagle was chosen to be our national emblem because of it’s long life, great strength, and majestic looks.

Bald Eagle exhibit 

Sources

  1. CITES Appendices. Accessed December 2012. www.cites.org

  2. IUCN Red List of Endangered Species. Accessed December 2012. www.iucnredlist.org


 

Spheniscus demersusBlack-footed Penguin group

Family

  • Spheniscidae

Lifespan

  • Wild:  Up to 20 years
  • Captivity:  20 to 25 years

Size

  • Length: 18 to 24 inches
  • Weight: 7 to 11 pounds

Range

  • South Africa, in latitudes between 20 and 40 degrees south of the equator

Habitat

  • Coastlines, concentrating on islands and shorelines that are uninhabited and free of predators

Diet

  • Wild: Small swarm-fish such as anchovies and sardines; and squid.
  • Zoo: Smelt, Sardines, and capelin (it’s their favorite).

Reproduction Black-footed Penguin group

  • Generally, male penguins arrive at the rookery (breeding and nesting ground) first to establish their nesting sites.
    • Female penguins arrive several days later to select their mate, usually choosing the same mate from the previous season.
  • Male penguins may perform elaborate displays of arching backward, throwing back his wings, and braying like a donkey.
    • These displays are lively and noisy in an effort to attract attention from the available female penguins.
  • Two to three eggs are laid and both parents participate in incubating the eggs.
    • Parents alternate 1 to 3 day shifts until the eggs hatch at 38 to 41 days.
    • Usually the first-laid egg is larger than the others and hatches first.

Special Adaptations

  • The penguin body is perfect for life in the water.
    • Its streamlined shape causes very little resistance as the penguin moves through the sea.
    • Penguins use their wings and webbed feet to propel and steer as they swim.
  • Unlike many birds which are lightweight allowing them to fly, penguins are heavy, enabling them to swim and dive for food.
  • All penguins are light colored on their chest and dark on their backs. This is an example of "countershading", and serves as camouflage.
    • Swimming in the ocean, the penguin’s dark dorsal (back) side blends in with the dark ocean as seen from above.
    • The light ventral (under) side blends in with the lighter surface of the ocean as seen from below.
    • The coloration helps penguins blend into their environment so predators cannot easily spot them.

Black-footed penguins diving into pool

Penguin Facts

  • While penguins are so well adapted to life in the water, they don’t spend all their time in the sea.
  • Penguins come ashore to nest, lay eggs, and molt.
    • Penguins molt or shed their feathers periodically throughout the year. New feathers are regenerated and replace the old.
  • While at sea, penguins typically form small groups. However, they often gather in groups of thousands when they are on land.

Conservation Status

  • IUCN: Endangered
  • CITES: Appendix II
  • In the early 1900s, guano (excrement of sea birds) was harvested from the breeding locations.
    • Removal of the guano led to a dramatic reduction in nesting sites, which then resulted in a significant drop in population.
  • Egg collection, commercial fishing in feeding areas and oil spills have also contributed to the vulnerability of this species.
  • The South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds has rescued many penguin species from oil spills and have rehabilitated them for return to the wild.
  • Also, known breeding islands have been made into nature reserves or national parks. Fences have been constructed to prevent predatory attacks on eggs and young.
  • However, the black-footed penguin is still considered threatened, with approximately 180,000 individuals left in the wild.

Note: Black-footed penguins are also called "jackass penguins" because of the similarity of the noises they make to those of donkeys.

Black-footed penguin swimming

Sources

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