Few animals have such tell-tale features as the Texas Longhorn. Known for their distinctive horns, which can reach up to 7 feet long at the tip, the Longhorn is a large cattle species used in the beef and dairy industry. These guys can grow up to 2,200 pounds and are very hardy. They are grazers and since they aren’t picky, they will eat a wide variety of greenery, causing less damage than breeds that feed primarily off of a single food source.
The Texas Longhorn has diverse colorations and are known for being an intelligent breed. They are also known for being quite gentle, in spite of their imposing size. In fact, due to their largely calm nature, they are popular as riding steers. You can see just how large these guys are in person at our park!
Lizards are interesting guys and Tegu is no exception. Coming from South American, the Tegu has a few variations in the species, separated mostly by their various colorations. Some types of Tegu are very popular as pets, such as the Black and Red varieties. One species, the Gold Tegu, comes from Panama and are also popular among pets due to their unique coloration.
Tegus are omnivorous, eating plants, fruit, animals and even eggs. They can reach up to 4 feet long and live up to 15 years in optimal conditions. They actually hibernate for about 5 months a years. In the wild they are sometimes considered a pest, eating eggs and disturbing domesticated animals in rural areas. You can see a Tegu any day of the week by visiting us here at the park.
Few animals are as easy to love as the giraffe. These guys are beautiful, unique and generally friendly and eager to interact. The scientific name of the giraffe is Giraffa camelopardalis largely because they have characteristic of both the camel and the leopard. They are also the tallest land animal, growing up to 20 feet tall!
The giraffe comes from Africa but in they are thought to have once also resided in parts of Asia. The male can weigh up to 2,628 lb and consume up to 75 lb of foliage each day. They eat twigs, leaves and other types of vegetation. They are not very vocal animals but they can make sounds, especially when they are calling their young back to them.
You can feed our giraffe and see just how amazing they are when you visit us in person!
Sheep have been part of our society for thousand of years, being kept for a number of purposes that range from fleece to a food source. One such breed is the Jacob Sheep, a small breed which dates all the way back to Syria nearly 3,000 years ago. At some point in time, the Jacob Sheep moved to England, where the majority now reside. It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that they made their way to the United States.
One unique feature of the Jacob Sheep are their horns. They typically have two or four horns, and in some cases, even six! Their horns are generally thick and can curl, giving them a distinctive look. Not all of their horns curl, however, especially those with more than one set. Have you ever fed one of our Jacob Sheep in the walkabout?
What does an Oreo and a cow have in common? Apart from the fact that milk goes well with cookies, nothing really… unless you’re talking about the Belted Galloway. This animal is sometimes called the Oreo Cow due to their coloration, which is black with a white belt-like stripe down the center!
Interestingly enough, it is uncertain where this special coloration came from, but like most traits, it is likely something that was bred-into the Galloway over time. The current theory is that they were bred with the Dutch Belted Cow, leading to the tell-tale white belt we see today!
Besides their belts, Belted Galloways are also well-known for having the ability to eat even the roughest grasses and grains, including the types of grass other cattle won’t touch. This makes them popular since they are so adaptable and easy to please.
It’s that time of year again, animals are starting to shed their fur. Depending upon the weather, animals shed their extra warm layer in preparation for the summer season. Have you ever wondered how this happens? This occurs largely due to hormonal changes which trigger it to reflect the season. When the weather grows colder, the hormonal changes causes the fur coat to grow thicker. This helps keep the animal warm during the frigid winter months. When the weather turns warmer, like it is doing now, their fur tarts to fall from the animal’s skin. This thin coat helps the animal adapt to the higher temperatures.
You can see the fur shedding when you visit any park or zoo, and this can sometimes be worrisome. Don’t worry, this is a normal part of nature and it helps our animals stay more comfortable in the hot temperatures. In this picture featuring one of our park’s animals. Around its neck, you can see a thin coat. Along the rest of the body, you can see patches of heavier fur. This is fur that simply hasn’t been completely shed yet. Soon, this heavy fur will be gone and the animal will have a thin coat of fur that is perfect for these hot months! In a few months when fall and winter roll back around, the fur will return!
Everyone is familiar with the standard pig found on farms across America, but did you know that the Vietnamese potbelly pig belongs to the same species? These guys, however, have been bred to have certain characteristics, giving them their trademark look. The average between 100 to 200 pounds and they stand just 16 to 20 inches tall. Native to Vietnam, these guys are popular as pets because they tend to be smart, easy to train and clean.
Like all pigs, they lack sweat glands and have to find ways to stay cool in the heat, such as rolling in cool mud. This also protects their skin from the sun. They also like to eat, which, combined with their height, makes obesity a problem for the breed. If you’d like to see what a Vietnamese potbelly pig looks like in person just come visit us!
Ostriches are unique looking flightless birds that come all the way from Africa. They are large in size with long powerful legs and extra long necks, making them very tall. They also have unusual faces and beaks, giving them a memorable appearance! They are the largest species of bird living today and they also lay the largest eggs, which can weigh over 3 pounds each!
If an ostrich feels they are in danger they sometimes lay close to the ground in order to hide or they run away. Fortunately, they have very strong legs that allow them to run fast or kick if they need to defend themselves. In captivity an ostrich can live up to 60 years! Come see this special animal here at our park!
Matching the color of the surrounding area is a good way to camouflage!
Camouflage is an important survival tool in the animal world. It helps animals hide from danger and get close to prey. So for those doing the hiding, it can make it harder for predators to find them. For those that hunt, it can help them sneak up close to their prey and improve their ability to survive.
As you can imagine, there is a lot of diversity in the animal kingdom when it comes to using camouflage. The type of camouflage needed depends on the type of animal, the prey that hunts them and the type of habitat they come from. This week we’re going to look at some of the clever ways animals stay hidden!
1. Color matching is one method of camouflage: This prevents the animal from standing out too much from the surrounding environment. Deers use this to blend into the trees around them. This makes it harder to see them when you’re just glancing out across the landscape. Check out the deer and other grazing animals as you drive through the park to see this in action!
2. Strips and other types of disruptive coloration: This is a way of visually breaking up their outline so that is harder to really know where the animal’s body starts and stops. Everything from insects to large mammals use this type of camouflage. This is why a tiger’s stripes make him hard to see!You can see this in person here at our park.
3. Mimicking and Mimesis: This is seen more in insects and reptiles. Mimicking refers to an animal that looks like something else. The Dead Leaf Butterfly looks like a dead leaf and that helps him stay hidden. Mimesis refers to an animal that looks like something their predators are not interested in, so that those that would hunt them are less likely to pay attention to them! Stick insects are a great example of this!
Here at the park you can challenge yourself to notice the different ways our animals have to camouflage themselves! Feel free to email or commen below on the different adaptations you’ve noticed!
Père David’s deer is named after a French missionary who was working in China and sent back several samples of the previously unknown deer in 1866. This species of deer is currently extinct in the wild but was indigenous to the subtropical areas of Asia.
Père David’s deer can grow up to 3.9 feet at the shoulder and stretch out to about 7 feet long. They can weigh up to 441 depending on gender, with the mail weighing more than the females. They have unique branched antlers which have tines what point back and times which point directly up. In China there is folklore and history surrounding this special deer, which was once owned by the emperor himself!