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Why Do Camels Have Humps?

Every animal has unique characteristics that make it different from other animals. A giraffe has long legs and a really long neck. A rhinoceros has a large horn on the front of its face. A tiger is a huge cat with stripes, and a zebra looks like a horse with stripes. The camel, however, is known for its large hump. Which brings us to the question, why do camels have humps anyway? What is the function of their hump? Does it really hold water? Keep reading to learn more.

One of the camel’s most distinctive features is its hump. In this post, we’ll study the camel’s hump and explore its role in the camel’s bodily processes. What is the hump’s purpose? Although they’re handy for riders to hang onto as they travel to faraway lands, there must be a better reason for camels to have them.

A Hump is a Camel’s Energy Storage

The camel’s hump is where the camel stores fat. Camels use this fat for energy when and where food is hard to find. People who buy and sell camels even use the size of the camel’s hump to determine how healthy the camel is. The bigger the hump, the healthier the camel. A well-fed camel’s hump won’t droop or look deflated.

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A camel’s hump is filled with incredibly nutritious fat reserves. In fact, one tablespoon of camel fat has three times the oleic acid (a very healthy omega-9 fatty acid) as that of coconut oil. This makes it a very efficient and powerful fuel source for the camel.

Camel Humps Help Regulate Body Temperature

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The temperature in the desert can be extremely hot during the day (up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit) and freezing cold at night (down to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit). The fatty tissue in the camel’s hump provides insulation and protection in these temperature extremes, thereby helping the camel to regulate its own body temperature.

Water is Stored in a Camel’s Hump

Some people believe water is stored in the camel’s hump, making it possible for camels to travel so far without drinking water. Although camels do have a few tricks to make the most of the water they drink, storing it in their humps is not one of them.

Camels have been convenient pack animals, carrying heavy loads across the Gobi Desert and the expansive Sahara Desert. This has earned them the title of “ships of the desert.” It has also led to certain cultures and legends explaining that the camel’s hump contained water because the camel could survive without water in very harsh conditions.

How Do Camels Survive Without Water?

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So, if camels don’t store water in their humps, how do they cope so well when water is scarce? They can, in fact, walk for days on end in the hot, arid desert weather without any food and go for a week or more without water. This is possible because the camel has adapted so well to its environment.

A thirsty camel can drink as much as 32 gallons of water in as little as 15 minutes. The Wild Bactrian camel can even survive on saltwater!

A camel’s body has evolved to efficiently use its water stores and make them last as long as possible. It does this by:

  • Managing its body temperature. Their fat stores and thick shaggy coats act as insulators. A camel has more hair on its hump than the rest of its body, protecting its body cavity from heat. This traps the water in the body, preventing evaporation.
  • Their kidneys have evolved to efficiently remove toxins from their bodies to retain as much water as possible. Their urine is not even liquid. It comes out as solid crystals! Ouch!
  • Excreting dry feces to retain water.
  • Catching moisture from each breath they exhale through their nose and reabsorb it into their bodies.
  • Sweating infrequently.
  • Dropping their body temperatures to extremely low levels at night, taking them longer in the day to heat up.
  • The fat in the hump can be broken down to produce water – ten pounds of fat can be broken down into ten pounds of water.
  • Camels have big, thick lips that allow camels to breathe, even in a sandstorm. Their slit upper lip prevents sand from entering their lungs.
  • When camels drink, their red blood cells swell into an oval shape which is more efficient at keeping the camel’s body hydrated. Camels are essentially storing water in their blood!

Did you know that the word “camel” means “beauty” in Arabic? Their long, elegant eyelashes do give camels amazingly beautiful eyes; however, they use their eyelashes, their thick eyebrows and their eyelids to help keep sand out of their eyes. A camel has three eyelids, two of which have eyelashes. The third eyelid moves from side to side rather than up and down like the other two. It is also clear. So, when the sand is blowing, the third lid remains closed to protect the camel’s eyes and allow it to see.

As you can see, the camel has many ways to conserve water which means that it doesn’t need to store it in its hump.

One Hump or Two?

There are three species of camel. The Arabian camel or the Dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius) is the most common type and has only one hump. Wild camels or the Wild Bactrian camel (Camelus ferus) and the domesticated Bactrian camel (Camelus bactrianus) have two humps. Despite having two humps, both species of Bactrian camels cannot go any longer without food than the Dromedary.

Dromedary camels are generally found in arid regions of the Middle East, Africa and northern India, particularly in the Sahara Desert. The Australian deserts are home to a large feral population of Dromedaries.

The main habitat of the critically endangered Wild Bactrian camel is southern Mongolia and northern China. Domesticated Bactrians, also known as Mongolian camels, are located in Central Asia.

Although there aren’t any camels in South America, there are camelids – a species of animals closely related to camels. Camelids in South America include the llama, alpaca, vicuña and guanaco.

What is in a Camel’s Hump?

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During the last part of the ice age, evidence shows that early camels originally lived in most of North America, including the western United States, southwestern Canada and central Mexico.  After making their way to the Yukon and Alaska, camels continued their migration to Eurasia over the Bering Strait. Today the native habitat of camels is the Middle East and some parts of Central Asia.

Camels gradually developed a hump and thick fur to help them survive the icy Arctic winters. Modern scientists believe the camel’s hump and shaggy coat help it regulate its body temperature. You see, a camel’s hump is used for fat storage. Most animals store fat around their stomachs and sides, just like us humans. Camels, however, pack on the pounds vertically in their humps.

A camel’s typical diet consists of dry grasses, foliage and desert vegetation. Their thick lips allow them to eat thorny plants found in deserts. When food is widely available, camels eat a lot. A hump develops as fat accumulates. A “full” hump can weigh as much as 80 pounds. That’s a lot of fat, but it helps them go for long periods of time without food – even up to four or five months. As they use up these fat stores, the hump begins to deflate like a balloon that’s losing air until it becomes limp and floppy.

Baby camels aren’t born with humps. In fact, they don’t begin to develop humps until they’re ten to twelve months old after they’re weaned and have started eating solid food. It’s important for young camels to develop a hump during the first twelve months of life so that they have the stores needed to make it through their first dry season.

There are a couple of theories as to why camels store fat in humps rather than around their middles. Belly fat would make it more difficult for them to lie down directly on their stomachs, which is how they lie down. Another theory is that the fat stored on top of the camel’s body insulates it and protects it from the heat of sunlight.

Camels are not the only animals with humps. Other animals that have humps include bison, moose, rhinoceros, llamas and giraffes. Many of these animals have humps because they need extra vertebrae and muscles to assist them in holding up their massive heads, whereas the purpose of a camel’s hump is to store fat.

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People living in the desert depend on the camels for many purposes including:

  • Travel
  • Production of a milk alternative
  • A source of meat
  • Camel dung is used as a fuel source
  • Hide and fur used in textiles

Camels are powerful and capable animals. Without them, people would have found it very difficult, if not impossible, to travel and carry goods across the harsh terrains of the desert.

Fortunately, you don’t have to travel to the desert to see a camel. You can visit one of our parks in Pine Mountain, Georgia; Stafford, Missouri; and Bryan-College Station, Texas, and judge for yourself how healthy our camels are by looking at their humps.

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What Sound Does a Zebra Make?

Sounds a Zebra Makes

If you had to explain what a zebra sounds like, what would you say? Would you say a horse? After all, it looks like a horse with stripes. Or maybe a donkey?

If you said either of these, you’d be partly right but not entirely because a zebra can sound like quite a few different animals. When asked to describe the sounds a zebra makes, people who work with animals for a living describe a lot of different sounds, such as that of a:

  • Braying donkey
  • Yapping dog
  • Snorting horse
  • Squealing pig
  • Growling cat

That’s a lot of very different animal sounds, isn’t it?

Zebras do, in fact, make a few unique sounds that often sound like other animals. Zebras use these sounds, as well as body postures and facial expressions, to communicate with each other.

When wildlife park workers were recently asked to describe the sounds a zebra makes, they had a lot of interesting responses.

Different Zebra Sounds

Zebras

After studying the three zebra species in Ngorongoro Crater, German zoologist and zebra behaviorist, Hans Klingel attributes six distinct sounds to the zebra.

1. Nicker or Whinny

The nicker or whinny is a breathy, drawn-out grunt indicating satisfaction.

2. Neigh

The neigh is an alarm call to warn the herd of predators.

3. Snort

The snort is produced when a zebra finds itself walking into possibly dangerous underbrush or tall grasses where predators may be hiding.

4. Bray or Bark

The bray or bark sounds like the drawing in and then releasing of air. The zebra makes this sound when encountering other zebras in the herd.

5. Squeal

The squeal is a short, high-pitched sound that an injured zebra makes. It’s often heard when male zebras are aggressive towards each other as they fight to be the dominant stallion in the herd.

6. Wail

The wail is a long and lingering cry made by young zebras in distress.

Zebra Sounds in a Herd

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Whenever you see a herd of zebras you’re sure to hear them as well because they’re very talkative.

Although they have a lot to say, zebras use a simple repertoire of sounds. In fact, researchers and modern wildlife experts have recently broken their calls into four main sounds:

  • Bark
  • Bray
  • Snort
  • Nicker

Let’s listen to each of these distinct sounds.

Bark

The zebra bark sounds a lot like the high-pitched yappy bark of a little dog – a mixture of a bark and a whimper.

Bray

A zebra’s bray is very similar to a donkey’s bray. It starts as a low growling sound and builds into something that sounds like a high squeal.

Snort

A zebra’s snort is very similar to a pig’s snort with a grunting sound with a short, sudden burst of air through its nostrils.

Nicker

The zebra’s nicker is like the snort, but much softer. It’s best described as a very soft horse neigh or snort.

What Does a Baby Zebra Sound Like?

Mother and Child Zebra

Baby zebras sound a lot like their parents except their calls are more high-pitched. Just like a human baby, a zebra foal appears to have a limited vocabulary and makes a small set of zebra noises and sounds. They communicate mostly with very high-pitched barks – which are usually aimed at their mothers.

Each zebra has its own distinct “zebra sound.” This is one of the reasons why a mother zebra keeps her newborn foal away from other zebras until it’s a few days old. She wants the foal to be able to recognize her scent, her call (bray) and her appearance, that is, her stripes.

What Do Zebra Sounds Mean?

zebra-braying

Now that we know what they sound like, let’s find out what zebras are actually saying to each other with all this zebra noise.

Bark

The zebra bark is a friendly greeting between zebras. It can also be a way one zebra gets the attention of another zebra. It could be referred to as “What’s up?” in zebra talk!

Bray

According to The Behavior Guide to African Mammals, “Braying advertises territorial status,” and is often used to express anger or frustration. Additionally, a male zebra uses a loud bray to demonstrate dominance and as part of his courtship behavior towards a female.

Each zebra’s bray has a different pitch, some higher and some lower, so that other members of the herd can recognize each member’s specific call.

Snort

The zebra’s snort has several meanings. It can be a way of saying “hello” to another zebra or as a warning of danger or aggression. The best way to tell the zebra’s meaning when it snorts is to look at its body language.

Nicker

It’s the most special of all the zebra vocalizations because it’s the sound of affection reserved for other members of the herd. Mother zebras can often be heard nickering to their foals.

5 Other Zebra Fun Facts

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There are three main species of zebra. Two live on the African plains, one lives in the mountains. Let’s look at several fun facts about these beautiful creatures.

1. What Makes Up a Zebra Family? And a Herd?

Zebra herds, also known as a dazzle of zebras or a zeal of zebras, are usually made up of many smaller family groups who tend to stick together within the herd. A typical family group is made up of five to 20 zebras consisting of a male zebra, several female zebras and their young.

A female zebra is known as a mare and the male, a stallion. Baby zebras are typically called foals, although they are sometimes referred to as cubs. A young female zebra is called a filly and a young male, a colt.

Herds can contain thousands of zebras, especially during their migration to better feeding grounds. They are constantly on the move, foraging for food. Other grazers and browsers often intermingle with the zebra herds, forming mixed herds that travel together.

When families of zebra travel together, they form hierarchies, with one dominant stallion in the lead.

2. What is a Zebroid?

Zebras, horses and donkeys all belong to the Equidae family. Although zebras have never been domesticated, they can be cross-bred with the domesticated members of the horse family creating “zebroids.” Zebroids can be quite beautiful but are almost always sterile.

You probably wonder what the cross between a horse or donkey and a zebra is called. We’ve done a little research and found some interesting names such as zorse, zonkey, zebrass, zedonk, zebradonk, zedonk, zebrinny, and others. Making combinations of your own just might make you a little “zebonkey”. Yep, that’s one too!

3. Are Zebras Colorblind?

Zebras have very good eyesight. It’s thought they can see in color, although some scientists believe they cannot see orange. Because the zebra’s eyes are on the side of their head, they have a wider field of vision than humans.

4. Are All Zebra Stripe Patterns the Same? Are Their Stripes White or Black?

No, each zebra has a unique set of stripes. Just like human fingerprints and snowflakes, no two are alike!

Each species of zebra also exhibits its own general stripe pattern. The plains zebra, for example, has broad stripes. Grevy’s Zebra, also known as the Imperial Zebra, is the largest of the zebra species and has bold, narrow stripes that are vertical on its torso and neck, and horizontal on its legs. The mountain zebra also has vertical stripes on its torso and neck, and horizontal stripes on its legs.

Zebra stripes are used as camouflage as they roam the African plains. From a distance, their stripes cause a herd of zebras to look like grass swaying in the breeze to some predators who often see few colors.

Does a zebra have black stripes or white? Zebras are black with white stripes. Their main skin color is black.

5. How do Zebras Protect Themselves?

To defend themselves, zebras form a semicircle facing their attacker. They nip, bite and kick at any predators that come too close. If a family member is injured, they’ll surround the injured zebra, protecting it from further attack. A zebra’s kick is a very useful weapon. Their powerful kick contains almost nearly 3,000 pounds of force – enough to kill a fully grown lion with just one blow to the body.

Come See and Hear the Uniqueness of Zebra Stripes and Sounds for Yourself

Two of the three zebra species are in trouble. Because there are only about 2,000 Grevy’s zebra left, the International Union for Conservation of Nature labels them as threatened. The mountain zebras are listed as vulnerable with only around 9,000 remaining. Fortunately, various organizations such as Wild Animal Safari are working to preserve this beautiful creature.

If you didn’t know that zebra stripes were as different as fingerprints, you need to come see them for yourself at one of our parks in Pine Mountain, Georgia; Stafford, Missouri; and Bryan-College Station, Texas.

And when asked what a zebra sounds like…you can decide for yourself whether it sounds like a horse, donkey, pig or yappy dog. Maybe when asked, you’ll remember to tell them, a zebra sounds like…well, a zebra.

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Strawberry Pacman Frog Quick Facts

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What is the Strawberry Pacman Frog? It’s a type of horned frog native to South America. Because of its round shape, large triangular mouth, and resemblance to the Pac-Man video arcade character, this colorful amphibian is aptly nicknamed the Pacman frog.

Although they’re not poisonous, the Pacman frog is a hands-off creature because it has:

  • A largemouth that can latch onto a finger, especially that of a child
  • Dozens of specialized teeth that hold its prey in place, which can make it difficult for it to release something it has latched on
  • A tendency to bite anything that moves
  • Sensitive skin that’s permeable to toxins – lotions, soaps, perfumes and other residues left on a person’s hands can cause harm

If you’re looking to see this colorful, eye-catching, exotic friend, check one out at the MO safari park.

Types of Pacman Frogs

There are eight species of Pacman frogs, all in the genus Ceratophrys and all native to South America.

  • C. cranwelli
  • C. aurita
  • C. cornuta
  • C. calcarata
  • C. ornate
  • C. joazeirensis
  • C. testudo
  • C. stolxmanni

The most popular Pacman frogs kept in captivity are C. cranwelli, C. ornata and C. cornuta, plus a captive-bred hybrid called the “fantasy frog,” a cross between C. cranwelli and C. cornuta.

7 Quick Facts about Strawberry Pacman Frogs

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Appearance of Strawberry Pacman Frogs

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The Pacman has a round and squat body, with jaws as wide as its head and species-specific blotchy patterns across their backs, usually in brown, tan, green, red, and/or yellow combinations. Males are typically more colorful than females; however, females are larger.

The Pacman frog comes in more than 18 different color morphs. The strawberry morph is named for its resemblance to the colors of a strawberry: red and orange with orange to red spots and a creamy white underbelly.

The frog does not have actual horns. Flaps of skin sticking out over its eyes give the appearance of horns on top of the frog’s head.

Different types of Pacman frogs are categorized and named per their skin and color patterns, some of which include:

  • Apricot Pacman frog
  • Purple Pacman frog
  • Strawberry Pineapple Pacman frog
  • Translucent Pacman frog
  • Albino Pacman frog
  • Sunburst Pacman frog

Social Behavior of Strawberry Pacman Frogs

Pacman frogs are loners and eat other frogs, including other Pacmans; therefore, they are kept separately. In the wild, they mark their territories to warn other frogs of their presence.

Strawberry Pacman frogs are docile and inactive, except when feeding. They’re bold in their attacks and have a voracious appetite. When hungry, they bite anything that moves. Dozens of specialized teeth help them hold their prey until they can pull it into their oversized mouth, consuming it whole.

Strawberry Pacman Frog Communication and Vocalizations

Strawberry Pacman frogs communicate through various vocalizations. Male frogs are much more vocal than females. Croaking begins around six months after birth. They croak and vocalize for various reasons, including:

Males also croak, chirp and scream to get the female’s attention during mating season.

Habitat & Tank Conditions of Strawberry Pacman Frogs

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Pacman frogs thrive in warm, humid environments. In the wild, they spend a lot of time hiding underneath damp leaf litter, typically in tropical swamp and rainforest environments. Although they’re strictly terrestrial and poor swimmers, they journey to swamplands and marshes to breed and lay eggs. A female frog can lay between 1500 and 2000 eggs at a time. That’s a lot of eggs, and it explains why female frogs are so much larger than their male counterparts.

1. Tank or Enclosure

The tank/enclosure should replicate their natural environment and include live plants, clean water, hiding places, and damp substrate material, such as coco coir (ground coconut fiber), allowing the frog to burrow into it. The tank will also need a shallow bowl of water that can be easily removed and placed back in the tank.

2. Lighting

A Pacman frog thrives with 12 hours on and 12 hours off lighting schedule. Natural lighting may work, but using a fluorescent light is recommended.

3. Heating

Pacman frogs thrive in temperatures ranging between 75- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit during the day and between 65- and 75-degrees Fahrenheit at night. Based on this, room temperatures are often adequate.

Avoid radiant heat because it will dry out their skin. Unlike some reptiles, Pacman frogs don’t require a temperature gradient. Pacman’s enjoy constant temperatures throughout their enclosure.

4. Estivation

If temps get too high or the environment too dry, Pacman frogs enter a period of estivation. They cover themselves with a thick, protective layer of skin, creating a cocoon-like structure to trap moisture and aid respiration. They remain motionless and reduce their metabolism substantially. It often appears to be dead. When conditions are more favorable, however, it sheds this outer layer. Then the frog goes on as if nothing has happened, although its appetite is even more voracious than usual. Fingers beware!

5. Humidity

The Pacman requires high humidity levels between 60 and 80 percent. Proper humidity levels are important to:

  • Keep their skin moist
  • Ensure adequate hydration
  • Assist with respiration

Glass and plastic reptile enclosures help hold in moisture and maintain humidity levels.

6. Enclosure Cover

Most reptile enclosures are covered with a screen or a plastic slotted top. These covers allow airflow and boost ventilation which is important for the Pacman frog to breathe. Without proper ventilation, the Pacman may develop skin infections as well.

Lifespan of Strawberry Pacman Frogs

A Strawberry Pacman frog may live between 1 and 4 years in the wild. In captivity, Strawberry Pacman frogs typically live between 6 and 10 years. They can live as long as 15 years with the right diet and proper care.

Size of Strawberry Pacman Frogs

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Full-grown adult Strawberry Pacman frogs may weigh over a pound; however, they’re more likely to weigh only half of a pound. The female frog is much larger than the male frog. Female frogs can reach 5 to 7 inches, whereas males generally only reach 3 to 4 inches.

Strawberry Pacman Frog Diet

Pacman frogs are ambush predators, sometimes called lazy predators. They’d rather stay comfortably burrowed in the substrate and wait for their meals to come to them.

Strawberry Pacman frogs are insectivores and carnivores and have a voracious appetite. Their diet typically consists of insects and small mammals (such as mice), frogs, small reptiles, and small fish in the wild.

They are also cannibalistic. Larger Pacmans, at all stages of growth, will eat smaller Pacmans. Females have even been known to eat their smaller mates.
The Strawberry Pacman frog has a sticky tongue that catches prey and pulls it into its mouth. The Pacman frog’s mouth is so large it can swallow an animal half its size.

Vomerine Teeth and Maxillary Teeth

Pacman frogs are the only type of frogs with vomerine teeth and maxillary teeth.

A pair of vomerine teeth grow from the roof of the Pacman’s mouth and approximately 40 cone-shaped maxillary teeth are on each side of its jaw. These specialized teeth, located only in the upper jaw, make it difficult for prey to escape as the frog works to swallow it whole.

When a Pacman takes in prey too large for it to swallow, the frog often chokes to death because its specialized teeth prevent it from releasing its catch.

Pacman frogs are known to bite when hungry or threatened. Although a Pacman frog bite can draw blood and cause discomfort, the frog doesn’t have fangs or venom; therefore, they’re not poisonous.

Although a Pacman frog can be fed dead insects and animals using tongs, providing them with live animals and insects encourages their natural hunting instincts.

Brumation

Pacman frogs go into brumation (hibernation) to escape harsh winter weather in the wild. They remain in brumation until conditions become more favorable such as warmer springtime temperatures.

A Pacman can hibernate and go without eating for up to one month in captivity. Baby Pacman frogs less than a year old should never be allowed to go into hibernation. Their little bodies don’t have enough fat stores to make it through an extended brumation period.

Blink While Eating

Pacman frogs rarely close their eyes. They sleep during the day with their eyelids open. They do, however, appear to blink while eating. However, instead of an actual blink, it’s an eye retraction towards the esophagus, which helps the frog swallow its food.

Calcium Powder

A Strawberry Pacman frog needs calcium to develop and maintain strong bones. In the wild, frogs extract calcium from the bones of the animals they consume. In captivity, they need calcium supplementation. Calcium powder is either dusted on the insects before they are fed to the Pacman or fed to the insects before they eat them. Either way, the Pacman frog gets the calcium it requires.

Threats to Strawberry Pacman Frogs

The exact number of Pacman frogs that exist around the world is unknown. Although not endangered (they’re classified as Least Concern), their numbers decrease due to environmental factors such as deforestation and climate change. Their status may soon become Near Threatened.

Visit a Strawberry Pacman Frog at Wild Animal Safari Missouri

In fairy tales, the princess had to kiss a lot of frogs until she found her prince. We bet most of those frogs were not nearly as attractive as the Strawberry Pacman frog. Of course, after admiring the frog’s beauty, she may have chosen not to kiss the Strawberry Pacman frog and keep him just as he was.

See its beauty for yourself at our Wild Animal Safari Park in Strafford. No kissing allowed, of course. In the meantime, print out this coloring page and create your very own color morph of the Pacman frog.

9 Types of Tigers: 6 Endangered, 3 Extinct

Zahara, Tiger

Meet Zahara at the Missouri Park

There is actually only one tiger species, but each type of tiger is considered a subspecies. A subspecies is a group within a species that is either physically or genetically different from the rest. There are nine subspecies or types of tigers, three of which are now extinct. The remaining six subspecies include the Bengal, Indo-Chinese, South China, Amur, and Sumatran tigers.

Tigers are one of the most awe-inspiring, courageous wild animals living today. The world’s largest cat species can be found in far east Russia, parts of North Korea, China, India, Southwest Asia and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. However, the human population has grown and encroached on tiger habitats, causing their territory to decrease. Pressure from habitat loss, illegal killing and shrinking food supply have pushed all species of tigers on to the endangered list.

Although no tigers are native to the United States, a few of these subspecies of tigers call Wild Animal Safari in Georgia and Missouri their home. Maybe that’s what makes it so special to see them up close. (Note: There are no tigers at the Texas safari park.)

While tigers can be identified by their signature stripes and powerful stature, not all of these big cats are the same. In fact, tiger stripe patterns are all as unique as a human fingerprint, no two are the same. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.

1. Bengal Tiger

bengal-tiger

The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), also called the Indian tiger or the Royal Bengal tiger is native to the Indian subcontinent. Although it once roamed a much larger area, the Bengal is currently found in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

The Bengal tiger is on the endangered list. It’s the most well-known breed of tiger and the largest tiger found in the wild. A male Bengal weighs between 397 and 569 pounds. The female is smaller, weighing between 220 and 350 pounds.

White Tiger

white-tiger

Meet me at the Georgia safari park!

If you’re lucky enough to see a white tiger, it may be an albino or the result of a genetic mutation. If it’s white with black stripes and has blue eyes, this coloration is caused by a genetic mutation called leucism and is specific to the Bengal tiger. Both parents must have the gene for a white cub to occur. It’s rare, however, only resulting in one out of 10,000 births.

An albino tiger, on the other hand, would be entirely white (no black stripes or very, very faint stripes) and have pink eyes.

Few white tigers survive in the wild because their white fur doesn’t provide any camouflage protection for the tiger.

2. Siberian Tiger

Tiger in Snow

The Siberian tiger (Panthera tigris altaica), also known as the Manchurian tiger, Korean tiger, Amur tiger or Ussurian tiger, is an endangered species that lives in Northern Asia (China, Russia and Korea), although its territory was once much larger. Even though the Bengal tiger is larger in the wild, the Siberian tiger often grows to be larger than the Bengal in captivity, making it the largest purebred cat in the world.

Crossbreeds such as the liger, a mix between a female tiger and a male lion, get much larger than their parents, however. A full-grown male liger can weigh as much as 1600 pounds! That’s three times the size of a Bengal or Siberian tiger. When Bengals and Siberians are crossbred, they also become larger than their parents.

Although the heaviest Siberian tiger has a record of weighing 660 pounds, it’s typically smaller than the Bengal. Male Siberian tigers generally weigh between 389 and 475 pounds. Females typically weigh between 260 and 303 pounds.

The Siberian has a broad chest and large skull. Its thick fur, which protects it from the harsh winters of Northern Asia, tends to be a less vibrant color of orange than other tiger subspecies.

3. Sumatran Tiger

Sumatran Tiger, panthera tigris sumatrae, Male laying

The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is the smallest tiger subspecies and lives on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Because it lives only on an island, it has been isolated from other tigers. This has resulted in genetics that are different from its “mainland” cousins. The Sumatran is a critically endangered species. Two other tiger subspecies, the Bali tiger and the Javan tiger, once occupied the same area but are now extinct.

The Sumatran tiger weighs approximately half that of the Bengal or Siberian. A male Sumatran tiger weighs between 220 and 310 pounds, whereas a female weighs between 165 and 243 pounds. Since the Sumatran is only slightly shorter than the Bengal or Siberian and weighs significantly less, it has a slight build compared to its bulkier cousins.

The stripes of the Sumatran are very dark and well-defined. They cover the tiger’s entire body, including its forelegs. Not all tigers have stripes on their front legs.

4. Indochinese Tiger

Indochinese Tiger

The Indochinese tiger (Panthera tigris corbetti), also known as Corbett’s tiger, is named in honor of the famous British hunter Jim Corbett who was often enlisted to hunt down man-eating tigers and leopards early in the 20th century.

The near critically endangered Indochinese tiger is native to Southeast Asia (China, Thailand, Laos, Burma and Vietnam). The illegal trade of tiger parts which are in high demand is the main reason for a quickly dwindling Indochinese tiger population. There are only around 300-400 Indochinese tigers left in the world today. Tiger parts are used in rituals, for meat (internal organs), and to make jewelry, medicines, clothes and wines. Very little of the tiger remains unused.

The Indochinese tiger has narrow, single stripes. The male Indochinese generally weighs between 331 and 430 pounds, whereas the female weighs between 220 and 290 pounds.

5. Malayan Tiger

Malayan tiger is walking towards viewer lookig straight

The Malayan tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni and occasionally Panthera tigris malayensis) is also known as the Southern Indochinese tiger. Its native range is Southeastern Asia (Burma, Thailand and Malaysia).

The Malayan Tiger is very similar in appearance to the Indochinese tiger except that it’s slightly smaller. It wasn’t even considered a unique breed separate from the Indochinese tiger until the early 2000s. This is why it has two scientific names. The scientific name jacksoni was chosen to honor Peter Jackson, a British journalist, author and photographer who was interested in tiger conservation. Used less popularly was the scientific name malayensis, to signify the geographic location of Malaysia.

The male Malayan tiger weighs between 220 and 308 pounds and the female between 165 and 245 pounds.

Malayan tiger numbers are shockingly low. There are less than 200 breeding adults in the world, and their numbers are still declining! The Malayan tiger has become critically endangered due to habitat loss and poaching. Like the Indochinese tiger, Malayan tiger parts are used in a variety of ways from cultural rituals to traditional medicines.

6. South China Tiger

portrait of adult Southern China tiger lying on big rock and staring at camera, close up view.

The South China tiger (Panthera tigris amoyensis) is also known as the Chinese tiger, the Xiamen tiger and the Amoy tiger. It’s native to eastern and central China (the Jiangxi, Guangdong, Fukien and Hunan provinces); however, one has not been spotted in the wild for decades.

Although not as small as the Sumatran, the Indochinese and the Malayan tigers, the South China tiger is one of the smaller tiger subspecies. A male South China tiger weighs between 287 and 386 pounds. The female weighs between 220 and 254 pounds.

The South China tiger is critically endangered and facing possible extinction. Only 30 to 40 are known to exist in the world, and all are living in captivity.

In the 1970s, there were more than 4000 South China tigers living in the wild. Now, none exist. What happened?

When the Chinese government was clearing land for development, they had all tigers killed that were displaced. Habitat destruction and eradication measures led to the decimation of the South China tigers in the wild.

Regretting their actions, the Chinese government now works to protect the South China tiger. Currently, zoos in China and South Africa have breeding programs working hard to increase their numbers.

Blue Tiger

There have been sightings of tigers in the mountains of the Fujian province of China that are said to have slate grey or black stripes on a pale grayish-blue body. Just as the Bengal has a genetic mutation that creates white tigers, the South China tiger genetics may create a tiger that has blue fur but the existence of these tigers has not been scientifically proven. Some believe they are just legends! If the blue tiger exists, it’s sometimes referred to as the Maltese tiger.

3 Extinct Species of Tigers

Unfortunately, you won’t have the opportunity to see three extinct tiger species. These include the Caspian tiger (Panthera tigris virgata), the Bali tiger (Pantera tigris balica) and the Javan tiger (Panthera tigris sondaica). These subspecies of tigers have not been spotted in decades and none are known to be in captivity.

Habitat loss and illegal poaching led to the extinction of these three tiger subspecies and continue to plague all tiger species that remain. If these threats aren’t stopped, the remaining tiger subspecies may also become extinct.

1. Caspian Tiger

The Caspian tiger was a large, powerful tiger that lived around the Caspian Sea. Its colors were muted. So much so, in fact, the Caspian tiger was sometimes referred to as the “gray tiger”. However, surviving pelts have rusty orange fur with quite a bit of brown. Perhaps the gray was a mutation such as that which created the white tiger or the blue tiger.

2. Bali Tiger

The Bali tiger, another native of the Indonesian islands, was once the world’s smallest tiger. The male weighed between 200 and 220 pounds and the female, between143 and 176 pounds. It hasn’t been seen since the 1930s. The only remains of the Bali tiger are bones and skulls which have been preserved in museums.

3. Javan Tiger

The Javan tiger was the last of the three tigers that lived in Indonesia, along with the Bali tiger and the Sumatran tiger. The Javan tiger was slightly larger than the Bali. Although it has been listed as extinct since the 1970s, there are still periodic tiger sightings in the area which could be Javan.

Visit Wild Animal Safari GA + MO to See Tigers

Zahara, Tiger

Meet Zahara at the Missouri Park

Unfortunately, all types of tigers are either endangered at some level or extinct. Places like Wild Animal Safari™ that offer protection are so important if we want to preserve the tiger population.

In fact, approximately 7,000 to 10,000 captive tigers can be found in the United States. That’s double the total amount of the less than 4,000 wild tigers found across the globe. It’s a whole lot less than the more than 100,000 that lived in the wild just one hundred years ago. Some of these captive tigers are found in zoos, circuses and safari parks. Most, however, are privately owned. Yes, it’s legal to own a pet tiger in some states!

Are you ready to get a closer look at the tigers? Come check them out for yourself at one of our Wild Animal Safari locations in Pine Mountain, Georgia and Strafford, Missouri.

Animal adaptations for winter weather

Winter in the Ozarks is a serious matter. Not only can it come on quickly, it often lasts for months and comes with plenty of intense cold, snow and icy conditions. For us this can simply mean dressing warmer and cranking up the heat, but have you ever thought about how animals handle the winter?

 

As uncomfortable as the cold can be, animals are very good at learning how to adapt and survive. Today we are going to look at some of the many adaptations animals have for coping with the cold.

 

Season specific adaptations: One of the ways animals endure the cold weather is by adding on fat to act as an insulation. This not only keeps them warmer, it can provide extra calories when food is harder to get. Bears are a great example of this, packing on extra pounds before the winter sets in to help them make it through to spring. Additionally, some animals actually change their coats to become more white in preparation for the snow. This makes it hard for predators to see them in the snow. Hare and weasels are common examples of this, but there are other animals that also turn white for winter.

 

Migration: If you can’t handle the cold, leave it! Migration simply refers to seasonal moving from one area to the other, often in search of less harsh weather and more access to food supplies. When the season changes, they move back and repeat the pattern yearly. This lets them escape the harsh weather and limited food that comes with winter. Many animals, including birds, wildebeests, whales and even some insects!

Hibernating: Hibernation refers to the process in which an animal’s metabolism slows down. This reduces their need for calories, allowing them to survive the winter with limited food and water. This not only protects them when food supplies are low, it means they don’t have to risk harm or expend energy searching for food. There are actually different types of hibernation, and it is important to understand that hibernating is different than just sleeping. Before they hibernate, animals will gain weight, and find a safe place that won’t leave them vulnerable.

Of course, not every animal undergoes a dramatic change for the winter. Some simply prepare by creating caches of food to help them wait out the winter. This protects them from food scarcity, and limits the need to be out in the cold. Beavers and squirrels do this, and it’s an effective tactic. Other animals have simply evolved to be well-suited to survive harsh environments, such as the arctic wolf.

No matter how they do it though, it is pretty amazing that animals can thrive in the winter without the ability to light up a fire or bundle up!

8 Facts you didn’t know about spider monkeys

Each and every time you visit there is a new opportunity to learn about our amazing animal friends. In fact, we bet that every time you drive, walk or ride through you notice something new and learn something new! But you don’t have to wait to visit us to learn cool animal facts! Today we’re going to take a look at the Spider monkey and we are certain you’ll learn something unexpected!

 

  1. The name “spider monkey” might be a bit frightening, but it shouldn’t be! These guys get their name from the way they look when they are hanging from trees by their tails. 
  2. Spider monkeys have very unique tails that are strong enough to easily support their body weight, but that’s not all. Their tails are sensitive and dexterous enough that they can also pick up small objects with it.

 

  1. Spider monkeys spend most of their time in the canopy of rain forests, foraging for food. Because they rarely ever even go to the ground, they have adapted to live perfectly in the trees. This makes them very acrobatic, agile and strong.  
  2. Spider monkeys are social animals. They prefer to live in large groups that can have up to 30 members! These large groups are called troops. 
  3. Spider monkeys are diurnal. This means that they are awake during the day and sleep at night. So they spend their days foraging for food, and sleep through the night.When they look for food, they break into smaller groups, but they sleep in large troops for safety.

    6. Spider monkeys are fairly large, especially when you consider how much of their time they spend swinging around treetops and hanging by their tails. They can reach up to 13 pounds and their tails can support this weight with no problem!

 

  1. Spider monkeys are part of the New World monkeys, and they live in rain forests in Central and South American, occasionally extending into Mexico. 
  2. Spider monkeys have one baby at a time. The mother carries their newborn on her abdomen for around four months as they grow. When they are strong enough, the baby will cling to her back. To do this, they grab on with their arms, and use their tail to grab their mother’s tail. This helps them stay secure as she navigates through the forest canopy.


    Last but not least, spider monkeys have many ways to communicate. They make vocalizations but they also express themselves by making faces! And since they have distinct faces, and may express a range of emotions from curiosity to annoyance, you can imagine how interesting they can be to visit! 

4 reasons to give Wild Animal gift cards

It’s that time of year again! The holidays are here and that means lots of great food, beautiful decor and just a bit of stress as you search for gifts for everyone on your list. The good news is that you have a bit of time between you and Christmas, and you don’t have to search too hard for the perfect gift! This year, why not give the gift of a visit to Wild Animal Safari!

Read on to learn the top four reasons you should give a safari gift this year:

 

Works for all ages: Buying family gifts can be a good way to manage your holiday budget, but shopping for people of different ages can be hard. There also aren’t many places that work for everybody in the family, regardless of age. Fortunately, that’s not a problem with Wild Animal Safari! Everyone loves animals and they can see a large range of them during every visit, from big cats, monkeys, bison, reptiles and much more. Also, you can drive, walk or ride through, so  there is an easy method for everyone to tour the park.

 

Affordable family outing: Trips with the family can add up quickly. That can limit the number of outings you make, and the number of memories you make! Giving the gift of a season pass or pack of tickets takes away the cost factor, allowing your loved ones to simply enjoy themselves. And in reality, a single pass or pack of tickets is an inexpensive family gift when compared to buying individual gifts for everyone.

 

Educational and fun: Do you need to buy gifts for families with children? Parents often struggle to find things to do with their family, especially during winter and summer break. It helps if the activity is engaging and fun. If it is also educational, that’s a big bonus. A trip to our park fits the bill, providing a chance to learn about exotic animals in the most fun way possible. To learn even more, you can take a guided tour and get a lot more insight into the park and the animals.

 

Animals from around the world: Where can you go to see monkeys, ligers, reptiles, tarantulas and other exotic animals?  A single visit to our park puts a world of animals at your feet. This gives the entire family a unique opportunity to get up close to animals they may never be able to see again, except on their next visit!

 

In reality, these are only a few of the many reasons everyone on your Christmas list would love to have a safari in their future. But the animals would love it as well, because your support allows us to continue to do the world we do, which benefits all of our animal friends!


From season passes to gift cards, you can give the gift of adventure to everyone on your list! Learn more about ticket and season pass options here, or just start crossing names off your list by buying some today!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Arctic Wolf

Sure, wintertime brings us the holidays and snowmen, but apart from that most people do their best to escape the cold. Some animals, however, spend most of their lives where it’s winter nearly all year long. The Arctic Wolf, also called the white or polar wolf, lives in areas where the ground is permanently frozen in the Arctic tundra.

 

The Arctic Wolf lives and thrives under some of the most harsh conditions on the planet. Today we are going to learn about this amazing animal.

 

  1. Many wolves dig into the ground to sleep and escape the elements a bit, but the frozen ground makes that impossible for the Arctic Wolf. So they typically live in caves or under rocky outcrops for shelter.  
  2. They have two distinct thick layers of fur to insulate them from the extreme cold.The outside layer gets thicker for winter to provide added protection as winter comes. The inside layer covers the skin closely and acts like a waterproof barrier to keep their skin dry and warmer. 
  3. The Arctic Wolf has physically adapted to surviving harsh weather in several ways, like having small ears. Having smaller ears prevents excess heat loss through the thin skin of their ears, helping them stay warmer.  
  4. They have paws that are densely padded, which not only offers protection from the cold, but improves their grip on icy, frozen surfaces. Their paws also have dense fur between the toes to keep them warmer as they walk through the snow. 
  5. Food can be quite scarce, especially during the dead of winter. So they can eat up to 20 pounds of meat in a single setting. This allows them to eat as much as possible when it’s available, since they never know when they’ll get a chance to eat again. 
  6. Because they live in the Arctic Circle, they not only live in extreme cold, but in darkness for months on end! This is because they make their home in areas where the tilt of the earth creates extreme seasons where the sun doesn’t fully rise during the winter. 
  7. While they can live alone, it is more common for them to live and hunt in small packs. This helps them more effectively hunt prey, and offers them some protection from the environment.  
  8. They communicate through vocalizations as well as body movement and the positioning of their tails. They have a hierarchy in their packs with a leader and less dominate members that help with hunting and protecting kills.

 

As you can tell, the Arctic Wolf is a dynamic animal that is well adapted to the harsh environment it calls home. You never know, you might get to see one of these magnificent fellows for self on your next visit!

Ready to visit the park? Find everything you need to plan your trip here

Surviving Winter: How Animals Adapt To The Cold

Winter weather may be a little inconvenient, but it can also be nice. All we have to do is crank up the heat, put on a sweater and sit back and enjoy. Animals don’t quite have it that easy, and have to find ways to cope with winter weather, no matter how bad it may get. While we are always here helping our animals friends at the park stay safe and warm, animals in the wild aren’t as lucky. They have had to find interesting and effective ways to adapt to the cold and survive the winter. 

Today we’re going to look at some of the ways animals have found to cope with inclimate weather.

Migration: Migration is a simple idea that involves leaving cold environments behind for warmer weather. People do this all the time, going on winter trips to warm destinations. For animals, this can be a survival tactic that not only helps them escape cold, but the harsh conditions that go along with winter, like reduced access to food. When animals migrate they wait out the cold and return seasonally, usually near spring time. Lots of animals do this, including fish and even insects!

Hibernation: Hibernating allows animals to reduce their need for resources during winter months when resources are more scarce. This not only allows them to wait out reductions in food and water sources, but avoid being out in harsh weather conditions looking for food. There are different types of hibernation, but it is not just the same as sleeping through the winter. Hibernation is when the metabolism slows down, which greatly reduces their bodily processes and need for calories. So while animals do tend to find a safe spot to hibernate, like a den, they aren’t simply sleeping away in the winter.

Seasonal adaptations: Animals have a remarkable ability to adapt to their environment, which includes seasonal adaptations for the cold. Sometimes this includes changing their appearance to be more suited to the cold weather, but it could include growing thicker fur or adding fat to act as insulation against the cold. A great example of this are animals that turn white to blend in with snow, like some types of hares and weasels.This makes it a lot harder for predators to find and catch them in the winter.  

Even when an animal has less dramatic adaptations, they usually take precautions for the winter before the cold hits. For example, beavers and squirrels will create food caches to hide winter stores. So while they’re not hibernating or changing colors, they are well aware of the scarcity ahead, and work to protect themselves against it. This awareness and preparedness alone is a fascinating adaptation if you ask us!

 

Which cold-weather adaptation do you find the most amazing? Head over to our https://www.facebook.com/aggielandsafari/Facebook page and tell us about it and why!

The Interesting World of Reptiles

 

There is no doubt about it, reptiles are amazing fellows, but they are also really misunderstood. Many people may even consider reptiles scary, without realizing that lizards and tortoises are actually reptiles! Even though there are a lot of myths, and a little fear about these guys, they are still popular among guests to the park.  So today we are going to take a few minutes to talk about reptiles to learn what they are, what they aren’t and why there is no reason to fear these amazing animals!

What is a reptile?

Reptiles are vertebrates, meaning they have a backbone, and most of them are cold-blooded and have scaly, dry skin. Most lay eggs, but not all. Some of the most common reptiles are snakes, turtles and lizards. Unlike amphibians, which have gills, reptiles have lungs. Many people are surprised to find out that turtles are reptiles, because there is a common perception that snakes and lizards are the only reptiles there are. Turtles are also quite visually different from snakes, and even people who are fearful of snakes like turtles. But all of these creatures are reptiles.

 

Let’s take a closer look at some of these reptiles to understand them better.

 

Snakes

There are over 3,000 species of snake and they can be found just about everywhere, except Antarctica, Iceland, Ireland, Greenland, and New Zealand. They come in all sizes and have a striking array of colors and patterns, going from plain to ornate and colorful. Some snakes are venomous, about 600 types worldwide, while most are not. Those that are not venomous may hunt for eggs, small rodents and insects to eat, and some may use constriction to kill their prey. Snakes live in all types of environments, making their homes in rain forests, plains, mountains and just about everywhere in between.

 

Lizards

 

These critters come in all shapes and sizes and are literally found all over the world. In fact, there are over 4,500 different species of lizards, making them one of the most diverse types of reptiles. Within those different species there is a lot of diversity as well. For example, some lizards give birth to live young, while others lay eggs. Some lizards have no legs, while some have four. You’ll find lizards in all types of climates, terrains and environments. Many people even have lizards as pets.

 

Turtles


Turtles, which includes tortoises ,are reptiles that may live on the land or in the water. Turtles reside on the land, and tortoises live largely in the water. There are around 356 species  living around the world, and they are found everywhere except Antarctica. You can find them in fresh and saltwater. Even though there are fewer variations, there is still a large degree of differences among turtles. Some are quite small, while some species of sea turtles can reach around 1,500 pounds.

 

As you can tell, reptiles are diverse and interesting critters. The next time you visit, pay a little extra time to look at the reptiles up close and we’re sure you’ll also see that there is nothing to be feared, only admired!

Read to meet some reptiles in person? Plan your trip today!