American black bears range from black to brown, grow six feet long, and weigh up to 600 pounds. Solitary animals, they roam huge territories that often overlap. They are classified as carnivores but often eat a more omnivorous diet featuring grasses, berries, insects, fish, mammals, and carrion. In winter, females birth two or three cubs and nurse them until spring. Cubs stay with the female for a couple years before venturing into the world on their own
Big & Furry Tour
See some of the zoo’s most popular animals: nature’s “charismatic megafauna.”
Eastern black rhinoceroses stand up to five feet high at the shoulder, span 12 feet in length, weigh up to 3,000 pounds, and have two fibrous keratin horns. As a herbivorous browser, black rhinos primarily eat leafy plants, branches, shoots, thorny wood bushes, and fruit. Their skin harbors many external parasites, which are eaten by tickbirds and egrets that from a symbiotic relationship with the rhinos. Mating is non-seasonal and gestation lasts 15–16 months, after which a single calf is born. Newborns weigh about 75 pounds and are active soon after birth.
Standing 19 feet tall, giraffes are the tallest ground-dwelling animals in the world. Females are slightly shorter than males, but both genders have tan and brown coats. Their front legs are longer than their back legs, giving their body a sloping appearance. Both males and females have horn-like structureds called ossicornes on the top of their head, although males develop additional bony growths along their skull as they age. Giraffes gather in fluid herds of up to 40 individuals.
Harbor seals can reach up to six feet in length, with males usually slightly larger than females. Specially adapted flippers help these aquatic mammals move quickly through the water while a thick coat of waterproof fur helps them stay warm. Harbor seals range from light gray to dark brown in color, and their fur is accented with colored spots and rings. They primarily feed on fish, mollusks, squid, and crustaceans. After breeding, females give birth to a pup on land. Newborns can swim and dive within hours.
Hoffmann's two-toed sloths are solitary, largely nocturnal, arboreal animals. These sloths spend most of their time in trees, though they may travel across the ground to move to a new tree. Hoffman's two-toed sloths are some of the world's slowest mammals—so slow, in fact, that algae grows on their furry coat. The plant gives them a greenish tint that serves as camouflage in dense rainforests.
Polar bears can grow up to eight feet long and weigh up to 1700 pounds. Their distinctive coat is composed of long, transparent hairs, which reflect light to display a white appearance. Their small ears and short tail help limit heat loss in their icy environment while large paws help them navigate thin ice by spreading out their weight. Polar bears are carnivorous, preying mostly on seals.
Western lowland gorillas, one of the largest living primates, can grow up to six feet tall and over 400 pounds. All gorillas have a black coat but adult males also have a silvery-white "saddle" on their back. Gorillas are herbivorous, primarily feeding on leaves, stems, and fruit. Troops are made up of a dominant silverback, multiple females, and their young. Mating is non-seasonal and offspring are born after nine months. After maturing, males leave to form their own troop or join a bachelor group while females leave to join another established group.