The pair of Malayan Tigers expected to come to Tucson once the Reid Park Zoo expansion is complete will be some of the most stunningly beautiful, most beloved, and most endangered creatures on the planet. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has honored our Zoo by selecting them to receive a breeding pair of these amazing animals. The male and female will live in lush adjoining habitats, with plenty of room to climb, to swim, to hide, to stalk, and loll about. Tigers are solitary in the wild, so the pair will meet only during breeding season, and there are high hopes that they will be able to increase the population of their species. And imagine seeing a litter of 2-5 tiger cubs frolicking right here in Tucson, complete with fearsome itty-bitty growling and amazing mini-pouncing!
When somebody mentions Meerkats, you probably picture something like a fuzzy little humanoid standing at attention in order to guard the mob (which is an apt name for a group of these little guys). Or maybe you’re a Meerkat enthusiast, and you’ve seen some documentaries, so you picture them fearlessly subduing scorpions and gleefully crunching them up. Maybe you’ve experienced great anxiety as you watched a brave little Meerkat confront a cobra – and prevail! Amazing! Don’t worry, this almost never actually happens in the wild. And really, scorpions make up only about 2% of their diets, so the subduing and crunching doesn’t happen often either.
As our group entered the cave-like area from bright summer sunlight, I stumbled slightly, allowing my eyes to adjust to the dimming light. Without any prompting, our laughter dissolved into cautious whispers. The glass panel we faced was slightly obscured by condensation—on our side, a cool summer breeze, on the other, a moist tropical atmosphere. There they were, hanging upside down, like furry brown birds in long trench coats, nibbling on pieces of nectarine and mango: my first glimpse of Rodrigues Fruit Bats, up close and personal. I was mesmerized. No, enraptured.
Though they might not be quite as well known as their larger cousins, the Ostriches, Greater Rheas have their own charms. For example, Flora and Fauna are two female Greater Rheas who live with some Galapagos tortoises in the South America loop of the Reid Park Zoo. They can’t wait for visitors to notice them, usually hurrying right up to look you quizzically in the eye and staying there as long as you do.
Excellence and innovation are hallmarks of the care that the animals at the Reid Park Zoo receive every day from the Zoo’s Animal Care Staff. Whether it’s training a rhinoceros to allow a staff member to draw blood for the animal’s health and veterinary care, inventing a life-saving technique to treat a congenital kidney problem in an African lion, or hundreds of things staff members do to enhance the animals’ lives, the Zoo and its staff are guided by deep care, excellence, and innovation.
There is one species strutting around the Reid Park Zoo, unconcerned about human visitors, and VERY impressed with their own beauty and perfection. They change their look and behavior with the seasons (breeding season, that is) and choose exactly when and where they’d like to visit you.
Imagine you’re Charles Darwin, feeling you have a pretty good handle on the earth’s amazing biodiversity after exploring for four years and filling your ship, The Beagle, with a multitude of live animal specimens for further study. Then, off the coast of Ecuador, you and your crew come upon an archipelago called the Galapagos. You realize then you most certainly haven’t seen it all! And it’s no coincidence that Galapago is an archaic word in Spanish meaning tortoise.
What has a chicken-looking beak, long legs with big toes, and screams like a two year old? A Screamer of course! You’d never guess it by looking at them but these large birds are related to ducks and geese and live near tropical and sub-tropical wetlands in South America.
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