Animal Factsheet content

European white stork

Latin Name: 
Ciconia ciconia
Order: 
Ciconiiformes
Class: 
Birds

A large bird, the European white stork can reach up to 40 inches in height and has a wingspan of more than five feet. The white feathers covering the bird's body and head are offset by black feathers coating the wings. Long, thin legs enable the bird to wade easily through wetland habitats.

Range: 

Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia

Habitat: 

Wetlands, savannas, meadows and fields

Status: 

Common. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the European Stork Species Survival Plan®, a shared management effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Niche: 

The European white stork's long, pointed bill is well-adapted to spearing prey. The birds enjoy a diverse diet, feeding on insects, frogs, rodents, lizards, snakes and small birds.

Life History: 

The European white stork often lives and nests near humans, favoring tall trees, chimneys or rooftops for nesting sites. The species is monogamous, meaning breeding pairs mate for life. They return to the same nest site every year, with the male arriving a few days before the female to repair and enlarge the structure. Nests can reach up to seven feet across and are constructed from sticks, grass, paper and other found items.

Hamerkop

Latin Name: 
Scopus umbretta
Order: 
Ciconiiformes
Class: 
Birds

The hamerkop is named for its distinctive head, which combines a thick bill with a pointed wedge of feathers on the back of the head, making it resemble a hammer. The species can reach nearly two feet in length, and both genders display brown feathers.

Range: 

Sub-Saharan Africa

Habitat: 

Wetland habitats, including the shores of lakes and rivers

Status: 

Common. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Hamerkop Stork Species Survival Plan®, a shared management effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Niche: 

The hamerkop uses its sturdy bill to catch fish, frogs, rodents and other small animals.

Life History: 

The hamerkop is known for its large nest, made from sticks, which can reach up to eight feet in size. Built in the treetops of the savanna, the nest is re-used every year, becoming larger as the hamerkop makes annual additions.

Parma wallaby

Latin Name: 
Macropus parma
Order: 
Marsupialia
Class: 
Mammals

As marsupials, parma wallabies carry young in pouches until they are developed. Though related to the kangaroo and similar in appearance, parma wallabies are much smaller.

Range: 

Eastern coast of Australia

Habitat: 

Forests (commonly with high precipitation) with thick underbrush

Status: 

In 1965 a population of parma wallabies, thought to be extinct, was discovered in Australia. They are currently considered near threatened. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Parma Wallaby Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Niche: 

Widely dispersed throughout their habitats, parma wallabies hide within bushes before emerging to feed in the evening.

Life History: 

There is little social organization—different ages and genders interact. Promiscuous by nature, the male will vocalize during breeding.

Special Adaptations: 
  • Also known as the white-throated wallaby do to their coloration.
  • Parma wallabies communicate with visual clues. For example, aggression is exhibited by tail wagging and foot stomping.

Red kangaroo

Latin Name: 
Macropus rufus
Order: 
Marsupialia
Class: 
Mammals

The largest marsupial, red kangaroos can reach up to four feet tall and weight up to 120 pounds. The species is bipedal and moves by hopping on its large lower legs, using its thick tail for balance. Its head is long and narrow, with large ears, and the marsupial's small arms are used for grasping food and grooming.

Range: 

Australia

Habitat: 

Plains, grasslands, woods and desert

Status: 

Common. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Red Kangaroo Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Niche: 

Red kangaroos feed by grazing on grasses and plants. Accustomed to dry conditions, they can go for long periods without drinking, gaining moisture from the plants they consume.

Life History: 

In the wild, red kangaroos live in large groups, called mobs. Like all marsupials, female red kangaroos give birth to relatively undeveloped offspring. The young, called joeys, weigh less than an ounce at birth, remaining exclusively in the mother's pouch for several months as they continue to grow. Once they've developed sufficiently to leave the pouch, joeys continue to return for feedings and security until they're nearly a year in age.

Special Adaptations: 
  • Powerful muscles in the kangaroo's legs enable it to jump as far as 30 feet in one leap. Over short distances, the species can move as fast as 35 miles per hour.
  • Males compete physically for the opportunity to breed females, striking each other with their arms and feet.

Brush-tailed bettong

Latin Name: 
Bettongia penicillata
Order: 
Marsupialia
Class: 
Mammals

Stretching a foot and a half long with a one-foot tail, the brush-tailed bettong can weigh up to three pounds. The upper parts of bettong's coat is grayish-brown; the underparts are lighter. The tip of the muzzle is naked and flesh colored. Females have a well-developed pouch.

Range: 

Southwestern Australia to central New South Wales

Habitat: 

Grasslands and wooded areas

Status: 

Endangered. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Brush-Tailed Bettong Species Survival Plan®, a shared conservation effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Niche: 

Nocturnal, terrestrial and herbivorous. Bettongs feed mainly on roots, tubers and legume pods, but there are reports of them feeding on carrion, meat and marine refuse.

Life History: 

The bettong constructs a nest of grass or sticks and bark. The nests are usually located at the base of an overhanging bush. The length of undelayed gestation is 21 days after which one or two young are born. Just after the first young is born the female mates again, but because of embryonic dispause, development is delayed and partruition of the second young does not take place for 4 months.

Special Adaptations: 
  • The females can sexually mature at 200 days, giving the animal a high reproductive rate.
  • Also known as the rat kangaroo, the brush-tailed bettong's tail is partially prehensile, enabling the animal to use it to carry nesting material.

Blue-gray tanager

Latin Name: 
Thraupis episcopus
Order: 
Passeriformes
Class: 
Birds

The blue-gray tanager is named for its two-toned coloration, which is gray or light blue on the head and chest and deepens to a brighter blue along the wings and tail. Adults average 6 inches in length from head to tail.

Range: 

The species can be found from Mexico to northern South America.

Habitat: 

Forests and woodlands. The blue-gray tanager can also be found in some developed areas.

Status: 

The blue-gray tanager is considered a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Its population is sizable and stable over a large area. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Blue-Gray Tanager Species Survival Plan®, a shared management effort by zoos throughout the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Niche: 

The blue-gray tanager feeds primarily on fruit, although it will also eat insects and nectar.

Life History: 

After breeding, the female lays one-three eggs in a cup-shaped nest. She incubates the eggs for 14 days before they hatch, after which both parents gather food for their young.

Dyeing poison arrow frog

Latin Name: 
Dendrobates tinctorius
Order: 
Anura
Class: 
Amphibians

A small, brightly colored frog, the dyeing poison arrow frog can reach up to 2 inches in length. It has a patterned black-and-white back; the legs are blue with black spots. The species' bright colors warn potential predators of the frog's toxic skin.

Range: 

The dyeing poison arrow frog is found in French Guinea and northeastern Brazil.

Habitat: 

The dyeing poison arrow frog lives in South American rain forests. The frogs spend much of their time in trees or the moist leaf litter of the rain forest floor.

Status: 

This species can be found widely throughout its range. However, amphibians around the world are facing crisis due to habitat loss and disease.

Niche: 

Like many frogs, this species feeds primarily on insects, favoring ants, termites and small spiders. Few predators prey on the dyeing poison arrow frog, as the frog's bright coloration warns of a toxic meal.

Life History: 

Male frogs compete to establish breeding territories during mating season. Afterward, they attract females with elaborate vocalizations. After breeding, eggs are laid on the ground or on leaves. The male is responsible for maintaining eggs until they hatch, a process that typically takes 12–14 days. He then carries the tadpoles to a body of water, where they mature.

Special Adaptations: 
  • In the wild, dyeing poison arrow frogs gain their toxicity through the insects they eat. Because the frogs at the zoo are fed a different diet—crickets and fruit flies—they are no longer toxic, although they still maintain the bright coloration of their wild cousins.
  • Adhesive pads on the frogs’ fingers and toes facilitate climbing.

Solomon Island leaf frog

Latin Name: 
Ceratobatrachus guentheri
Order: 
Anura
Class: 
Amphibians

As their name indicates, these small, frogs resemble leaves. Coloration varies from brown to gold to green.

Range: 

The Solomon Island leaf frog resides on its titular collection of land masses near Australia. They are also found in Papua New Guinea.

Habitat: 

This frog resides in tropical lowland forests and in regions of rural or urban areas that are conducive to its lifestyle.

Status: 

The Solomon Island leaf frog is considered a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Niche: 

Nocturnal animals, Solomon Island leaf frogs hunt insects under moonlight.

Life History: 

Unlike most frogs that experience a tadpole stage, Solomon Island leaf frogs hatch from eggs as fully developed (if small) frogs. Eggs are laid in shallow nests dug into the ground.

Special Adaptations: 

A loud call-almost like a dog's bark-helps Solomon Island leaf frogs mark territory and find mates.

Oriental fire-bellied toad

Latin Name: 
Bombina orientalis
Order: 
Anura
Class: 
Amphibians

As their name implies, Oriental fire-bellied toads have flame-colored tummies that juxtapose their brownish/green legs and backs. Their skin is covered in bumps. Females are larger than males, though during breeding season males develop pads on their fingers and grow larger forearms.

Range: 

Oriental fire-bellied toads are primarily found in northeast China, though they occupy Korea, Thailand and parts of Japan and Russia.

Habitat: 

They prefer high elevations in a wide range of habitats, from forests to river valleys, swamps to open meadows. They can occupy stagnant or running water. In late summer they are capable of living short distances from water.

Status: 

Oriental fire-bellied toads are not a threatened species.

Niche: 

Like most frogs and toads, these animals detect prey through movement, lying in wait until worms or insects scamper or slither up to them. Birds and larger aquatic animals prey on these toads, though they are poisonous. When threatened, fire-bellied toads flip onto their backs and arch their spines, displaying their colorful tummies to warn predators that they'd make a nasty meal.

Life History: 

Clutches of up to 45 eggs are laid for as many as 10 consecutive days on submerged plants near the water's edge. Within a week and a half, eggs hatch. After about 12 weeks, tadpoles begin to metamorphose, losing their tales and developing limbs. The process takes about five months. Once mature, males court females by calling to them with a bark. When a pair connects, males cling to females and fertilize the eggs as she lays them. There is no parental care other than selecting a proper place to lay eggs. During colder months, adult fire-bellied toads hibernate in groups of as many as six individuals, often inside rotten trees, stone piles or leave litter. These toads can live about 20 years.

Special Adaptations: 

Oriental fire-bellied toad vocalizations vary, from the croaky mating bark to a softer, cooing sound.

American toad

Latin Name: 
Bufo americanus
Order: 
Anura
Class: 
Amphibians

Averaging 3 inches in length, American toads have brownish-gray skin with a white or yellow belly. The skin is covered in warts, and black spots on the back help distinguish the species from other toads.

American toads are sexually dimorphic, meaning males and females differ in appearance. Females are larger than males, and females have lighter-colored throats while males' throats are black or brown.

Range: 

This species is found widely throughout the eastern half of the United States and Canada, ranging from Quebec to Alabama.

Habitat: 

American toads occupy a wide range of habitats, including forests, farms and even backyards. Eggs and tadpoles require freshwater ponds and pools in which to grow.

Status: 

American toads are common in their range.

Niche: 

Tadpoles feed on aquatic algae, and adults use their long, sticky tongues to snare insect prey. The species is nocturnal and spends much of the day hiding under rocks, logs and leaves. American toads are most active during warm weather; in cold climates, they will hibernate through winter in burrows.

Life History: 

American toads are solitary, coming together to breed. Males establish territories near ponds and attract mates with long, frequent calls. Breeding occurs with the male gripping the female tightly and fertilizing her eggs as she releases them into the water. Tadpoles hatch within 3–12 days, spending 40–70 days in the water before transforming into adults and moving to land.

Special Adaptations: 
  • American toads defend themselves against predators, such as snakes, by excreting a toxic, milky substance from the skin. They will also urinate on themselves if threatened. As a last resort, the toads can inflate their bodies to prevent being swallowed.
  • American toads periodically shed their skin as they grow. The old skin is gathered at the mouth as it sheds and is swallowed to retain nutrients!
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