Weird & Wonderful
Choose the trail less traveled and explore the more fascinating characters at the zoo, including arachnids and reptiles.
CollapseAardvarks have large fleshy ears, a long tail, a prominent snout, and a long sticky tongue that can slip inside termite mounds to capture prey. These distinctive mammals have a gray body that is lightly covered in hair. They can reach up to four feet in length and weigh 120 pounds. Nocturnal, they forage for food at night and rest during the day. Solitary and territorial animals, they only come together to breed. Females give birth in their burrow and newborns remain underground for several weeks until they mature.
CollapseBali mynas have striking white plumage, black wing tips, bright blue coloration around their eyes, a yellow-tipped beak, and grayish-blue feet. These Asian songbird often gathers in groups to better locate food and watch for predators. They reside in treetops and nest in tree cavities, where females lay and incubate two to three eggs.
CollapseCinereous vultures can stand up to three feet tall and have a wingspan measuring up to 10 feet across. They have dark brown feathers with a dull blue head, neck, and bill. As scavengers, cinereous vultures feed on carrion, ranging from large mammals to fish and reptiles. They build their nests in trees and on cliffs high above the ground, using sticks and twigs as building materials.
CollapseCrown lemurs were named for the crown-shaped patch of orange fur on their head. They are agile climbers and their slender limbs and a long tail, measuring up to 28 inches, helps with balance when moving through the treetops. These diurnal primates forage during the day for fruits, leaves, and insects.
CollapseEgyptian fruit bats have light-brown bodies, dark brown wings, a long muzzle, and a two-foot wingspan. True to their name, these nocturnal mammals feed almost exclusively on soft fruits, such as dates, apples, and apricots. Female give birth to only one offspring, on average, after a gestation period of 105–120 days. Young bats cling to the female for around three weeks, until they can hang from branches on their own, and begin flying after three months.
CollapseInca terns have a dark gray body and a red beak and legs. Moustache-like tufts of white feathers on each side of their beak signal maturity in males and females. They feed primarily on small fish, such as anchovies, and catch their prey by diving into the water with their pointed beak. Inca terns nest on rocky cliffs, laying their eggs in natural holes and burrows.
CollapseMadagascar hissing cockroaches are large, wingless insects with a dark brown exoskeleton and orange markings on their abdomen. Males have large bumps or horns behind their head, while females have smaller bumps. Like most cockroaches, they are nocturnal insects, hiding under debris or in tree bark during the day. Madagascar hissing cockroaches consume rotting plants, fallen fruit, and decaying animal matter on the forest floor. Females hatch 15–40 baby cockroaches, called nymphs, from eggs stored inside their body. The nymphs undergo approximately six molts before reaching maturity after about seven months..
CollapseMeerkats, small members of the mongoose family, have long and slender profiles that allow them to easily dig and move through intricate underground tunnel networks They have a tan coat and gray face, plus dark ears and eye patches. These carnivorous mammals hunt insects, eggs, and very small animals. Nonbreeding members of each group often help rear young, monitoring dependent offspring as the breeding female forages for food.
CollapseShaped like tubular mice with a gnarly set of choppers, naked mole rats actually have some fur. Whiskers on their face and tail help them navigate their dark, underground tunnels, while hairs between their toes help them sweep soil. Their pink skin is nearly translucent. Almost completely blind, they rely on hearing, smell, and touch to detect vibrations and air currents. One female leads each colony and produces all the offspring. Queens produce five litters each year, with as many as two dozen pups per litter.
CollapseAdult pied tamarins have a bald head with black skin and large ears, giving these primates an unusual and striking appearance. They eat fruit, flowers, and small animals. Pied tamarins live in social family groups with multiple adult males and females. Females usually have two offpsring at a time, and the entire groups helps care for infants, with the father doing most of the carrying.
CollapseSichuan takins are large goat-antelopes that can reach up to four feet in height and weigh an average of 600 pounds. Both males and females have thick, curled horns that extend back over their head. These herbivorous mammals graze on shrubs, grasses, and herbs in herds that range from 200–300 individuals. They migrate to higher elevations during summer and return to lower elevations in winter.
CollapseWest African gaboon vipers have a triangular head and distrinct horn-like scales above their nostrils. The color of their ridged scales vary from brown to purple, and they have an intricate symmetrical design pattern along their body that resembles a line of yellow hourglasses. They primarily eat small mammals, rodents, ground-dwelling birds, frogs, and toads.