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Spotlight: Black-Necked Swans

Tucked away in a quiet corner along the South American pathway of Reid Park Zoo are two of the most serene birds in Tucson: the lovely, black-necked swans, Delilah and Barbara. These two female companions share a tranquil grotto-type space just past the Andean Bear habitat near the entrance to the Pacu Fish and Diorama Cave where you can take a peek at some South American animal habitats in miniature, another delightful surprise in this area.

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Animal Spotlight: Black and White Ruffed Lemurs

Come to the Reid Park Zoo and you will get to see something very special – a pair of Black and White Ruffed Lemurs, as well as their cousins the Ring Tailed Lemurs.  Our Zoo is especially important to these furry primates.   The Black and White Ruffed variety are nearly extinct in their home territory, so you are lucky to be able to see them right here, protected in a safe environment!   Their natural habitat is in a lot of trouble.

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Spotlight: Chilean Flamingos

The first thing you’ll notice when you enter the Reid Park Zoo is the new Flamingo Lagoon.  It’s the most recently completed habitat of the Reid Park Zoo expansion, and it’s right up front next to the carousel.  There you’ll find a lovely “flamboyance” of Chilean Flamingos, numbering around 27. Something always seems to be going on with this group.      You’ll see them dunking their heads in the water, flapping their wings, standing perfectly still on one leg and dozing,  preening, stiffly walking through the pools or on the grass, and even sometimes marching with great precision in mini-troops.  

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Mini Spotlight: East African Crowned Crane

The Rhinos at the Reid Park Zoo are amiable enough to share their large habitat – first with a bachelor herd of tiny Speke’s Gazelle, and now with a pair of beautiful  East African Crowned Cranes. In the wild, these endangered creatures live beside larger animals in wetlands and grasslands in Uganda, Kenya, Zambia, and South Africa.  In neighboring Rwanda, Dr. Olivier Nsengimana,  who has loved this species since childhood,  founded the Rwanda Wildlife Conservation  Association, which is particularly active in protecting and repopulating Crowned Cranes.     These distinctive birds with their unmistakable golden crowns are the national bird of Uganda, and their image even graces the Ugandan flag. 

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Spotlight: Aldabra Tortoise

Imagine checking out at the grocery store, and as you politely socially distance from the customer in front of you, your eyes land upon a new tabloid.  It’s a special edition, The Aldabra Enquirer!   The shocking headlines include, “Both Males AND Females promiscuous, expert says!”   “Truth revealed – Esmeralda is actually a MALE!”   “I ran for my life when I saw them NOSING!”  “Heartless parenting, scientists declare”  “It must have weighed 600 pounds, and it was coming right for me!”  and finally, “Vacation in the Seychelles? Think again…what about the Aldabra CREEP? ” Like most tabloids, The Aldabra Enquirer includes a grain of truth in each headline, so read on to learn about these amazing, ancient giants!

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Spotlight: Grevy’s Zebra

The zebra: A kind of “horse,” yes, but a horse of a very different stripe!

Zebras are hooved mammals, members of the greater equine family that also includes horses and donkeys. They resemble horses, but they are stockier, closer to donkeys. And of course, unlike horses or donkeys, zebras are covered with those dazzling black and white stripes.

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Spotlight: Reid Park Zoo Primates

As the heat and monsoon rains of the desert southwest force us indoors, I thought it might be a good time to dust off that old black and white Composition notebook (you know the one) and reminisce about your early school days. I’d like you to revisit Biology class, when you were first introduced to some of the longest lists in the world, those of the animal, vegetable, and mineral variety. To keep it manageable, let’s just focus on the animals and one Order in particular, the Primates. 

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Spotlight: Wings of Wonder Aviary

The Wings of Wonder Aviary in the Reid Park Zoo expansion has big plans – plans to bring us an array of interesting and beautiful birds in all sizes, in shady, tree-filled habitats with opportunities to just sit, meander, de-stress,  and observe, or if you’re in the mood, to feed some of the species!

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Animal Spotlight: Green Tree Python

A Green Tree Python! These arboreal snakes are born yellow or brick-red and turn bright green as they mature. Their vivid color, with a pattern of spots and stripes, provides a perfect camouflage. They can be virtually invisible in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea, eastern Indonesia and the northeast Cape York Peninsula of Australia. They have a prehensile tail (capable of grasping) that helps them climb trees and also plays a devilishly clever role in hunting.

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Visiting the Zoo: Connect With Conservation

If you’re somebody who likes to visit the Reid Park Zoo, or other reputable zoos and aquariums, chances are you are a little bit more concerned about environmental matters than the average person.   That’s great – but why is it happening?   Psychologists point out that those positive memories you’re getting by watching the animals in a beautiful environment may be a result of a few things:  the experience of seeing a baby elephant imitating her big sister, a pack of wild dogs joyfully running around and jostling one another, or even a rhino enjoying a mud bath can be quite enjoyable and vivid . These sights may even seem familiar and evoke emotions if you imitated your own big sister, jockeyed for position with siblings or friends, or just remember the pleasure of lolling in a cool spot on a hot day.   You’re forming pleasant psychological connections with creatures you would probably never encounter in your lifetime, if not for the Zoo.     

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