Llama Keeper Talk
We have two llamas at Spring River Zoo, Jamaul and Brown Sugar! Jamail is 10 years old and Brown Sugar is 8 years old. Both were born at Spring River Zoo and the llamas are descended from Alamogordo Zoo llamas 20 years ago.
- They can weigh up to 440 pounds.
- They can grow up to 6 ft tall but on average are 5.5 ft.
- Gestation lasts 11 months.
- Llamas can only have one baby a year.
- Babies are called cria (Spanish for "baby").
- They usually live for 25-30 years.
- They are originally from South America.
Relationship with Humans:
- Llamas are domesticated species.
- Those that live around the Andes are pack animals.
- They can carry loads 50-75 pounds for up to 20 miles a day.
- Their hides are used for leather.
- Wool is used to make ropes, rugs and fabrics.
- When a llama passes some will use the meat.
- Their poop is dried and burned to make fuel in some areas.
- Llamas graze on grass and plants.
- They require little water.
- Llamas are known to regurgitate their food and chew it as cud before swallowing for complete digestion.
- Llamas are related to alpacas, vicunas, guanacos and camels.
- They do not have humps like camels.
- Llamas will only poop in one spot.
- They spit when they are agitated.
- Llamas know their limits and will lie down or refuse to move if it is overloaded.
- They are very smart and can be easy to train.
- They come in a variety of patterns and colors such as black, gray, tan, brown, red and white.
Longhorn Keeper Talk
Meet Geronimo, Poncho and Otis. Geronimo is 18 years old and Poncho and Otis are 2 years old.
- Longhorns genetically date back to the wild Aurochs of the Middle East and descended from the three breeds that the Spanish brought over when they colonized the new world in the1400s.
- They are the only known cattle breed that adapted to North America entirely by nature (no input from humans).
- The breed was almost bred to extinction but was preserved in 1927 by the US Government.
- Coloring varies from individual to individual so much so that no two are alike.
- They are considered full grown between eight and ten years old.
- Longhorns can weigh between 800 and 1500 pounds.
- They be four to five feet tall at the shoulders as adults.
- They are slow to mature but have a reproductive period that is twice as long as other breeds.
- Here are a few facts about horns: most horns grow to be four feet or less. Mature steers can reach lengths of six feet or more. When steers reach approximately 15 years old, their horns can reach lengths of up to nine feet. Both males and females have horns.
- The average lifespan is 20 years old.
- Some longhorns can reach 25-30 years.
- Gestation lasts between 285 to 295 days.
- Their young look like a fawn (baby deer).
- Young can stand within 10 minutes of birth and begin nursing.
- Calves weigh 56-61 pounds at birth.
- Longhorns are grazers.
- They eat plants that are naturally occurring in the environment.
- Eat lots of grass and leaves from trees.
- Longhorn eat a greater variety than most other cattle.
- Due to their body shapes longhorn are about to be more drought and stress tolerant.
- They are gentle giants and do not understand just how big they are.
Meeting Bugsy and Barbie! Bugsy is 5 years old and was brought to use by Game and Fish after his mother was shot right after giving birth, he was covered in lice when we received him. Barbie is also 5 years old and was taken from the wild as a baby to have as a pet. Game and Fish confiscated her and took her to Desert Willow Wildlife Rehabilitation in Carlsbad, NM. She was imprinted and was not releasable and offered to Spring River Zoo. Both were bottle raised together.
- They are native to northern Africa and are the only wild sheep in Africa.
- They have been introduced to southwestern United States, southeastern Europe (mostly Spain) and other parts of Africa.
- They prefer rocky and mountainous areas but also desert areas.
- Can handle extreme cold and hot temperatures well.
Size and Appearance
- Aoudad can be 2-3 feet tall at the shoulder.
- Males can weigh up to 200 pounds and females can weigh up to 100 pounds.
- Horns can reach lengths of 30 inches.
- They have long hair that hangs from the throat and forelimbs that is more pronounced in males.
- Grasses, bushes and lichens (plants that grow on rocks, walls and other trees).
- Get all of their water from their food but if liquid water is availability they will drink and wallow in it.
- Are able to go about 5 days without water.
- In native range their predators are Caracals and humans.
- They used to have Barbary Lions and Barbary Leopards.
- Introduced in ranges is mainly humans and coyotes, mountain lions.
- Aoudad is considered vulnerable in its native range.
- When they are introduced to ranges they have been introduced with the intent to hunt. They have been known to out compete indigenous animals for resources, like the big horn sheep.
- Gestation is about 5 months long.
- They tend to only birth 1 to 2 offspring.
- They give birth during the months of March to May.
- In the wild they live about 10 years.
- In captivity they can live to be about 20 years old.
- They have to be born in captivity or brought in as newborns otherwise they will not survive in a captive environment.
- They are crepuscular meaning they are more active in the morning and in the later part of the evening.
- A group of aoudad is called an "Anger".
- Spend most of their time in small family groups.
- They have rectangular irises like goats and sheep species.
Animal Enrichment Talk
- An animal husbandry principle that seeks to enhance the quality of captive animal care by identifying and providing environmental stimuli necessary for optimal psychological and physiological well-being.
Types of Enrichment
- Behavior based enrichment: Keepers select enrichment based on a particular behavior they would like to elicit from the animals. This enrichment is goal based.
- Item based enrichment: Keepers select items to use as enrichment without a particular goal in mind.
- Social: conspecifics (other individuals of same species) is the animal usually solitary or do they spend their time in groups. They look at interaction with other animals. Do these individuals interact with other individuals from other species? Interaction with people, do they interact with keepers, trainers, veterinarians or visitors? Or we can look at other enrichment through mirrors and stuffed animals that look like the individual can aid in enrichment and give the sense of other individuals when there isn’t really others.
- Cognitive: This enrichment includes mental stimulation and novel experience. Mental stimulation makes an animal think through things that they normally wouldn’t enrichment includes training and puzzle feeders. Novel experience involves a novel item, new food or scent that they are not used to and allows an animal to be curious and investigate in learning what the new thing is.
- Physical Habitat: This can include perching/ climbing structures, nest/den, refuges, climate gradients. With perching/climbing structure there are textures, sizes, resting spots and how much it moves can be changed to change the environment and how an animal may get out. With substrates material and amount can change the environment an animal lives in and changing the way an animal may get water and the amount of it available can be enriching. With nest/den materials are supplied so that they can build their own, places are available to build a nest and amount keepers may make for the animals if they do not build their own. Refuges allow for a place where animals can hide from both other animals and people, can be a physical or visual barrier, do not always have to be enclosed spaces but can be places they get a higher viewpoint, these spaces also allow animals to get out of particular weather. Climate gradients include the amount of sunlight, varying temperatures, amount of wind and humidity.
- Tactile: different textures and things an animal can manipulate with hands, feet, or mouths.
- Olfactory and taste: can be natural scents from other animals pulled from fur, urine and feathers. Also from hidden scents that an animal has to find.
- Auditory: vocalizations from the same species or other species. Noise makers, white noise, and music are also used.
- Visual: sight of prey, mirrors or moving toys. Things can be placed within visual range of the animals but not where they can touch it.
- Novel food items: this includes food items that are not part of the normal diet for that animal. This can be special treats or different prey items for carnivores.
- Food presentation: this includes puzzle feeders, scatter feeding, hidden or buried food.
Choosing and Testing Items
We use the S.P.I.D.E.R model.
- S- Setting goals: first take a look at an animal’s natural behavior. Determine behaviors that should be encouraged and those that should be discouraged. Take into account the amount of time the animal is active and if they live in social groups or are solitary.
- P-Planning: decide which enrichment will be implemented to achieve the behavioral goals, take into consideration the materials needed, how many times it will be used or if it will be reusable and if there are any safety concerns.
- I-Implementing: Execute the planned enrichment. Enrichment can be scheduled in a calendar format. This allows items to be prepared ahead of time and be available.
- D-Documentation: In a calendar format enrichment can be crossed off as it is provided. Take pictures and videos to document these occurrences. Written logs are useful to jot out the animal’s interaction with the item. This allows for racking of enrichment initiatives.
- E-Evaluating: Documentation can help with this step. It determines the effectiveness of an enrichment item and can be helpful in changing an item, determining other possible enrichment items and how the program itself is doing. Questions to ask when evaluating: did the enrichment contribute to reaching the desired goal and did it encourage or discourage the intended behavior?
- R-Readjustment: This step is used when a goal is not met, and is done throughout the entire process and not just the end. It be adjusting the goal, planned initiatives or the documentation process.
Yellow- Naped Parrot Talk
Meet Tiki our Yellow-Naped Parrot. Tiki can make many words and sounds but does not use those words in any real context. She was donated to to zoo.
- Amazona auropalliata
- Population information: their population is vulnerable and decreasing. Threats to them include deforestation and nest poaching for pet trade. They are almost extinct in many former regions.
- Yellow- Naped Parrots are social and tend to be in flocks in the wild.
- They are sedentary and do not migrate.
- They do not make good pets because their personality and mood swings make their behavior difficult to read.
- They live on the Pacific Coast from Mexico south the Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and into northern Costa Rica.
- They prefer forests, woodlands, and tropical zones.
- They eat many different things and are considered to be Herbivorous, Frugivorous and Granivorous.
Age, Size and Behavior
- They have between a 20 to 80 year lifespan.
- These birds can weigh between 480 to 680 g.
- Can reach to be up to 36 cm long.
- They have a 20 cm wingspan.
- Yellow-Naped Parrots have a playful personality and can both sing and talk.
- They have a good sense of pitch which allows them to sound exactly or almost exactly like the sound/person they are trying to mimic.
- They are very smart and can use tools.
- About their feet: they are strong, allow them to swing from branches and hang upside down, can hold on to a branch for a long period of time. Their feet even act like human hands because they can pick up objects up like food and bring it to their mouth, they prefer one foot over the other, and are known to be left/right footed. They are the only parrot species known to be able to do this.
- Displaying: not only done for mating purposes, can be used to express over-excitement and stressed behavior. Will eye pin, this is when the pupil is expanded and contracted frequently in a short amount of time.
- Yellow-Naped Parrots tend to be monogamous. Not in the human sense but instead creating lifelong pair bonds.
- They reach sexual maturity at 2 years and develop yellow nape feathers around the same time.
- Breeding takes place in April and May.
- They can have between 3-4 eggs in a clutch.
- Eggs incubate for 26 to 28 days.
- Chicks are born altricial, meaning they hatch in an undeveloped state requiring care by the parents.
- Males are very protective of nests especially during when mating and when the offspring is still young.
- Females can also be protective but not to the extent of males.
- Young leave the next after 8 to 12 weeks.
- Males do not play a direct role in caring for the young. They do bring back food for the female but otherwise stays away from the nest protecting it.
- A mutation in this bird causes them to be turquoise which is very common in pet trade.
- They can have a distinct odor that comes form the nares. Most birds have few to no receptors for scent.
- With experiments it has been determined they have the logic capabilities of a 4-year-old.
Designing an Enclosure
Groups to Consider
- Animals: They are the most important, does it meet their four basic needs. Is there an environment similar to what they have in their native habitat?
- Visitors: Can they see the animals? Is there information to read about the animals? Can they see inside dens/keeper areas?
- Keepers: The enclosure should be made so that they can safely care for animals. Is there a place to prep and store food/ treats for the animal at the enclosure or somewhere else? Are there ways to move the animals to and from different places to allow for cleaning/maintenance without the keepers and animals being in the same place?
- Size of the enclosure. How much room does the animal need?
- Type of habitat. Look into where the native habitat for this animal is and what is found there.
- How many animals will be in the enclosure. Will this animal live alone or have siblings/ companions? Will this be a multi-species enclosure?
- The four basic needs of animals are: water, food, shelter, well-being.
- Safety: this includes animal to animal, animal to keeper and animal to visitor safety.
Four Basic Needs of Animals
- Water: all animals needs water for drinking. Some animals use water in other ways. What ways does your animal use water?
- Food: what would they eat in their native habitat? What can you feed them at the zoo that would have similar nutrients? How much and how often would you feed them?
- Shelter: this can be from predators or weather. Do not just focus on rain and snow, think about extreme heat and the sun or high winds. Many prey animals like to know they have a safe and secure place to hide when something spooks them.
- Well-Being: how can animal express natural behaviors in the enclosure? What kind of enrichment can you give the animals to increase well-being?
- Information must be correct. Visitors will believe what they read is correct so it is very important to ensure the information is accurate. Double check facts with multiple sources.
- Make signs educational. Make sure that the wording is easy to understand but also use the correct scientific language so that visitors ca learn that terminology.
- Signs should be easy to read! Make sure to use large, spaced out print that is easy to read. Add pictures for reference or when necessary and make sure signs are placed somewhere everyone can read.
Designing an Enclosure Activity
- Colored pencils, crayons, and/or markers
- Start by marking the outer edges of the enclosure.
- If there is an indoor area for the animal and/or a keeper area, outline that space next.
- Mark the side(s) where people will be able to view the animal(s) from.
- Draw where the secondary fence, if you have one, will be.
- While considering the animal’s native landscape, draw what the inside of the enclosure will look like. Don’t forget about the four main requirements of animals.
- Color the enclosure, indoor space and/or keeper area.
- On the back of the paper, draw a design for the informational sign.
- Write out the facts that you want people to learn about the animal on the sign.
Conditions that Require Adapting:
- Climate (temperature, wet/dry)
- Food/plants that are available
- Seasonal changes
- Other animals (predators, competitors for resources)
Types of Adaptations
- an adaptation is a product of evolution
- adaptations occur on the species level and not the individual level
- Physical (side or shape of the body or a body part)
- Behavioral (an animal’s actions)
- Different species have different types of wings, beaks, and feet due to their environment and lifestyles.
- Long wings ending in a point. Gulls and other sea-dwelling birds have these they help with hovering, turning and diving into the water for food.
- Finger-like feathers at end of wings. Vultures and Osprey have these. The shape helps with small changes during gliding, allows birds to stay high in the air for long periods of time, soar with little to no flapping and helpds birds search for food while in the air.
- Pointed wings that appear to bend backwards. Ducks, herons, other migratory birds have these wings. They make it hard to take off from the ground, many get a running start once in the air they must continue to flap their wings to stay up. These allows birds to fly long distances.
- Short and wide wings you can find in pheasants. This allows birds to quickly take off from the ground quickly, do not allow for long distance flight and these birds spend most of their time on the ground.
- Are specialized for the type of food they may eat.
- Allows for an easier time finding food and less competition from other species.
- Adapted for the environment that bird inhabits
- Can be dependent on substrate. Many birds spend majority of their time perched on branches while others spend majority of time on ground.
- Covered in scales
- Ectothermic- Body temperature is dependent on environmental temperature
- Most reptiles spend their time moving from sun to shade throughout the day
- Camouflage: Blend into environment
- Bright colors: Warn predators that they may be poisonous
- Disposable tails: Allows the predator to bite down on tail but the prey can release the tail and run away. Some species can regrow a full tail but many will only grow back a shorter version of what they used to have
- Find places to hide from predators
Although more well-known than other groups of animals, mammals have less diversity than other groups like birds and insects
- Four legs/appendages
- Bodies are covered by hair
- Mammals tend to have a layer of blubber or fur to help stay warm
- Hibernation: Some mammals in the harshest of winter conditions will hibernate. Allows the animals to save energy when little to no food is available
- Rely on kidneys and sweat glands to stay cool
- Will find areas out of the sun or in the shade to cool off
- In harshest climates: mammals will go into estivation which is similar to hibernation and allows them to conserve energy.
Aquatic Mammals – Whales and Dolphins
- Dorsal fin is used for balance
- Side flippers are used for balance and steering
- Tail flukes are used in an up and down movement for propulsion through the water
- Have a streamline shape
- No ears sticking out
- Little to no hair
- Have a layer of blubber that helps with buoyancy
- Are camouflaged with a light underbelly that blends in with water and sky above and a dark top that blends in with the water below
- Dolphins, pilot whales, killer whales, river dolphins
- Have one blow hole
- Live in pods (groups)
- Eat fish, squid, crabs, starfish, small mammals
- Blue whale, humpback whale, gray whale
- Baleen teeth: More fibrous structure than normal teeth
- Prey: Mainly plankton, mall fish, krill, copepods, amphipods
- How they eat: Strain food through the baleen teeth. Some swim with mouths open while other gulp water into their mouths when closing their mouth, the water gets pushed back through the baleen and the food gets stuck in them once all water is gone, they swallow.
- Have two blow holes
- Among the largest species of animals to have ever lived on earth
- Are mostly solitary but can be seen in small groups on occasion
- Pinnipeds = “fin-footed”
- Seals and sea lions
- Spend time on land and in the water
- Walking on land tends to be more difficult than swimming in water
- Eat fish, squid, and other small prey
- Very agile swimmers this allows them to be good hunters and avoid being prey
- Cover a wide variety of climates and landscapes around the world
- Most species evolved from an aquatic species
- Some small mammals go through hibernation and some larger mammals go through torpor
Types of hibernators
- Obligate hibernators meaning they hibernate every winter no matter the weather or any other potential factors.
- Facultative hibernators meaning they enter hibernation due to external conditions. Conditions may allow for no hibernation, shorter hibernation or one that lasts the entire winter
- Animals that live where resources are always scarce
- Bacterian camel
- Live where water and food are hard to come by
- Need the ability to store large amounts of fat
- Have humps for that use
- Fat can be converted into energy and water when needed
- Do not sweat like other mammals so that they can retain water, only sweat when body temperature reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
- Some species hunt alone while others are known to hunt in groups. This is due to sizes of prey that are available and also determined by behavioral adaptations such as some animals that live in groups versus living alone.
- Active foraging predator. This means it moves throughout habitat to find prey and is characterized by frequent wandering movements.
- Sit-and-wait predator. This predator stays in one place when hunting and disguise themselves. They wait for prey to wander close enough and he strike out to catch them
Design an Animal Activity
• Piece of blank white paper
• Colored pencils, crayons, and/or markers
• Pen or pencil
1. Lay the paper horizontal in front of you.
2. Fold the left side and the right side in to the middle until they meet to make two flaps.
3. Cut the left flap and the right flaps in half to make four equal flaps.
4. Starting in with the top left flap and moving clockwise, label the flaps: The animal’s species name (What you are going to call the animal), Habitat, Diet, Survival.
5. Opening the flaps, under the flap with the animal’s name, write a short description of the animal. This can be about what the animal looks like and any cool facts about the animal.
6. Under the habitat flap, write a short description of the type of habitat the animal lives in. Also, identify and explain one adaptation that assists the animal to survive in that habitat.
7. Under the survival flap, write a short description of predators this animal may have. Then, identify and explain an adaptation for how that animal can avoid those predators.
8. Under the diet flap. Write a short description of what that animal eats and how they are able to find their food. If they eat prey, discuss how they hunt for their prey.
9. In the big space in the middle of the paper, draw and color your animal in the habitat that you described.
Red- Tailed Boa Talk
The Zoo’s red tailed boa is named Scarlet.
- Boas can live 20 years in the wild.
- 40 years in captivity.
- Females are between 7 and 9 feet and weigh between 20 to 30 pounds.
- Males are 6 to 8 feet.
- Females are actually larger than the male.
- At birth they are 24 inches long.
- They are constrictors that means when they capture their prey they wrap around it to kill it and digest their prey safely.
- Their diet consists of rodents.
- Females have an egg-like structure that develops inside the body.
- The female then gives birth to the young when ready and they are enclosed by a clear membrane that they have to break out of.
- This is seen only in Boas.
- Females have an average of 30 young at one time.
- Once born, the young have to protect themselves immediately.
- Most young are smaller versions of adults and instinctively know how to survive on their own.
Bird Feet and Wings Talk
- Are adopted for the environment that a bird lives in
- Are dependent on the substrate a bird spends the majority of its time on
- Anisdactyl- this type is most common arrangement in birds. That includes: Robins, Jays, Chickadees.
- Zygodactyl- includes: Birds of Prey, Woodpeckers, Parrots.
- Heterodactyl- includes: Trogons (a Costa Rican bird).
- Syndactyk- includes: Kingfishers, Hornbills.
- Pamprodactyl- includes: Swifts.
- Eagles and other birds of prey can move one of their toes from Zygodactly to Anisodactyl orientations.
- Didactyl- this type means “Two-toed”, is only found in ostriches and the shape is similar to a horse’s hoof.
- Tridactyl- this type means “Three-toed” and is found in: Emus, bustards, quails, Northern three-toed woodpecker.
- Palmate- Toes are completely webbed this allows for greater propulsion in the water. Only the front three toes are connected, the fourth back toe is not. Ducks, geese, swans, gulls, turns and other aquatic birds have palmate webbing.
- Totipalmate- All our toes are connected by webbing. Pelicans, cormorants, boobies, frigate birds, gannets have totipalmate webbing.
- Semipalmate- Similar webbing as palmate but there is less webbing in between toes. Sandpipers, plovers, gerons, grouse have semipalmate webbing.
- Lobate- Each toe has a “lobe” of webbing around it instead of connecting it to other toes. Coots, grebes, phalaropes have lobate webbing.
- Long Wings that End in a Point- Gulls and other sea-dwelling birds have these type of wings. They help with hovering, turning, and diving into water to catch food.
- Finger-like Feathers at End of Wings- These occur in Vultures and Osprey. This allows the birds to soar with little to no flapping, saving energy. The shape helps with small changes during gliding, allows birds to stay at high altitudes for long periods of time. While in the air the birds are able to look for food and not have to use a lot of energy to do it.
- Pointed Wings that Appear to Bend Backwards- Ducks, Herons and other migratory birds have these wings. These wings make it hard for birds to take off from the ground and many require a running start. Once in the air the birds have to continue to flap their wings to stay in the air. They do allow the birds to fly long distances
- Short and Wide Wings- Pheasants have these wings. This type allows birds to take off from the ground quickly but they do not allow birds to fly for long distances. Birds with this style of wings tend to spend the majority of their time on the ground
- Feathers cover wings and assist in flying.
- Feathers are maintained by birds themselves, many birds take baths to stay cool but also to help with feather maintenance
Types of feathers
- Contour- Contour feathers are long and found on wings and tails. They also assist in balance and steering.
- Down- help insulate birds and protect the skin from the sun.
- Primary Feathers- Are located on the outer half of wings.
- Secondary Feathers- Are located on the inner half of wings.
Infographic on Palmate, totipalmate, semipalmate and lobate.
Infographic that demonstrates Anisodactyl, Zygodactyl, Heterodactyl, Syndactyl and Pamprodactyl.
Earth Day Activity
As we discuss bird feet and wings we also would like to celebrate Earth Day! We are a day late but believe our wonderful planet should be celebrated every day! In order to do that we wanted our craft/ activity to be focused on the Earth and not birds!
- If you love Spring time, click here for a fun spring-themed coloring page.
- If you love flowers click here. This activity will take you out in search of spring flowers! Take this sheet with you on a walk and see if you can spot any of the flowers!
- Have you seen critters hopping around? This activity is for you! Click here to download a sheet that will help you spot tadpoles and frogs!
If you’ve completed your activity don’t forget to share it with us on our Facebook page!
Horns and Antlers Talk
- Horns occur in the Bovine family. Bovine includes: bison, antelopes, sheep, goats and domestic cattle.
- Horns are made out of keratin which is the outer portion, and bone is the inner core.
- They continue to grow throughout the life of the animal.
- Horns grow from the base.
- They are found on both male and female animals.
- Horns are used as defense from predators and against others within their species. They can also be used to get more mates.
- There is an exception to growing horns throughout life. Pronghorn actually sheds and regrows outer part of the horns.
- Antlers occur in the Cervidae family. This includes elk, caribou, moose and deer. Some females do not have antlers with the exception of caribou.
- They are made of bone and can grow up to 1 inch a day. The size of antlers does not have anything to do with age but instead with health. Antlers require a lot of resources to be able to carry large antlers around. They can be up to 4 feet long and 20 pounds each.
- Antlers are shed annually usually during the spring time.
- They have a "velvet phase" where growing antlers will be covered in velvet for protection and constant blood supply during growth.
- Males will use their antlers to defend themselves against predators and assert dominance. They will also use antlers to compete for females. Females tend to gravitate toward males with larger antlers. On occasion 5-30 females can be attracted by the antlers, this group is called a harem.
- Animals wait for 2-3 weeks to heal from shedding before new growth will begin.
- Antlers have "growth memory" and will grow in similar patterns each year and are based on individuals.
- Injury to an animal or an antler during the velvet phase can effect the patterns of the antlers.
Horn and Antler Craft
Show us your best horns or antlers! We don’t have a specific set of instructions or materials but want to see what you can create at how and how creative you can be!
Bald Eagle Keeper Talk
Meet our eagles, Lake and Bigaloe. Lake was born February 13, 1990 and is 20 years old. She is a female that came to us from Montana. At a year old Lake received a gunshot in her wing, in order to save her life her wing was amputated meaning she would never be able to fly. In 1992 our zoo had her flown to NM. Bigaloe is a male born February 12, 1986 and is 34 years old. He is from southern New Mexico and was severely injured. A wildlife rehabilitator determined he would never be able to fly distances. The Spring River Zoo has a special permit from the Federal Fish and Wildlife Services which allows us to house them.
- Bald Eagles nest in forested areas near large bodies of water.
- They tend to stay away from areas with large human populations.
- They prefer to perch on the tallest trees available to get a better view of their surroundings.
- Bald Eagles can live between 30-60 years in captivity.
- Around 30 years in the wild.
- The majority of their diet consists of fish when it is available.
- They will eat other birds, amphibians, reptiles, crabs and small mammals.
- They catch their own prey or just eat roadkill.
- Bald Eagles gorge, meaning they eat a lot of food at once and then digest is over multiple days.
- They can also fast for days up to weeks if it is necessary.
- Bald Eagles place their nests high up in trees near where the tallest branch connects with the trunk.
- Both parents provide materials to build the nest but the female actually builds the nest.
- Nests can take up to three months to build.
- Eagles are likely to reuse nests and add to them for many years.
- Bald Eagles will have 1-3 eggs in a clutch.
- Eggs are incubated for a little over a month.
- The young will stay in the nest for up to 3 months.
- When they hatch they have brown feathers.
- Young Bald Eagles will not develop white feathers until they are 4-5 years old or adult age.
- Bald Eagles are powerful fliers and are able to soar, glide and flap over long distances.
- Their courtship takes place in the air. They will fly high up and lock talons then cartwheel down together and let go at the last second to avoid hitting the ground.
- Bald Eagles are able to "swim" over water when it is too deep to walk across.
- They tend to be solitary but when they breed or in winter grounds they can be found in the hundreds.
- Bald Eagles are not the nicest birds and have been seen harassing other eagles and birds and some mammals to steal their food. Sometimes they will get harassed by other birds as well.
- Bald Eagles are the most protected species in the US.
- They were placed on the endangered species list in 1978 . Their populations took a nose dive in the 1900s due to trapping, shooting, and poisoning.
- There was also a decrease in population because of nonviable eggs caused by pesticides.
- In 1980, DDT, the main pesticide causing failure in reproduction was banned. Better treatment from humans has led to a resurgence of their populations.
- In 2007 the bird was removed from the endangered species list but were still under threat from human developments and hunting efforts.
- In 2015 population numbers reached 250,000 individuals with 88% spending some time in the US.
Bald Eagle Craft
- Toilet paper roll
- Crayons, markers, colored pencils
- Print out a template of your choice (which can be found from the link below).
- Color the pieces with the colors you choose and cut the out.
- Glue the large rectangle piece around the toilet paper roll.
- Glue the tail piece onto the back of the toilet paper roll.
- Glue the head onto the front of the toilet paper roll.
- Glue the wings onto the back of the toilet paper roll to make it look like the eagle is flying.
- Fold the feet and glue the tabs to the inside of the tube.
Bobcat Keeper Talk
Meet our Bobcat, Cutter! She was born July 19, 2000 and is 19 years old. She made was found south of Carlsbad and made her way to Spring River Zoo because someone tried to have her as a "pet" and was too imprinted to be rehabilitated and released into the wild. The scientific name for Bobcats is Lynx rufus.
- Bobcats live all over the US.
- They prefer areas with dense vegetation and an abundant food source.
- They live in dens and will build them in/with: tree trunks, caves, brush piles, fallen trees. They also can have multiple dens.
- Males have large ranges of about 30 square miles that can overlap with other male ranges.
- Females have smaller ranges of about 5 square miles that never overlaps with other female ranges.
- They are twice as large as a house cat.
- Females tend to be smaller than their male counterparts.
- Bobcats weigh between 11 to 30 pounds.
- Their tail is 4 to 7 inches long.
- Their back legs are longer than their front legs. This allows their back legs to step in the same spots as their front legs when they running.
- Bobcat fur is typically brown or gray.
- They have a white belly and black spots.
- Large paws.
- They have black pointed ears with white spots in the middle.
- In the wild they are expected to live between 7 to 13 years.
- In captivity they are expected to live up to 30 years.
- Bobcats are carnivores.
- Their prey includes: rabbits, insects, birds, squirrels, deer, other rodents.
- They hunt their prey by stalking it and then pouncing. They'll give their prey a lethal bite typically to the spine or jugular.
- Bobcat offspring are called kittens while they are young.
- Bobcats mate during the late winter.
- Their gestation period is 62 days.
- Bobcats will five birth to their kittens in March or April and their litter size can be anywhere from 1 to 6 kittens.
- Kittens are born with spots and are blind.
- They nurse for 2 months.
- They rely on their mothers to teach them to hunt. Male bobcats have no part in raising their young.
- They will stay with their mother for a total of 8 to 11 months and will leave before the birth of another litter.
- Mountain lions and wolves are considered predators to adult bobcats.
- Coyotes and owls are considered predators to kittens.
- Bobcats are considered a protected species by the government.
- Human cannot hunt bobcats unless they have a special permit.
- They were almost hunted into extinction in some areas because of their fur. Since then their pelts/ fur is not tracked.
- Bobcats will rarely come into contact with humans. They tend to run away but there is a slight chance they may fight.
- Bobcats are very athletic and can jump up to 12 feet and run up to speeds of 34 MPH.
- Bobcats are crepuscular meaning they are active at dawn and dusk.
- They are solitary animals.
- Bobcats are the most abundant wildcat in North America.
- They are often referred to as wildcats.
- They have existed for 1.8 million years.
- They are named "Bobcats" because their tail looks cut or "bobbed"
- They are often confused with lynx. They are considered cousins genetically though Lynx are slightly larger.
Bobcat Craft & Activity
We have two different Bobcat-related activities that can be completed at home! The first activity is a coloring page that can be downloaded here. This page is brought to us courtesy of Education.com. For our older crafters and animal lovers click here for a tutorial on an origami bobcat. Caitlyn, our Education Coordinator will also be filming a tutorial which will be available soon!
Black Bears and Torpor:
Meet our Black Bears, Sierra and Ursula. They are sisters and were born January 12, 2013, which means they are 7 years old now! Sierra loves to swim and Ursula loves to dig in the sandbox to take naps.
- Black Bears are the most commonly found bears in North America.
- They live in forests and like to climb trees.
- They are found in mountains and swamps.
- Black Bears are 5 to 6 feet long.
- They can weigh between 200 and 600 pounds.
- 20 years in the wild.
- About 40 years in captivity.
- Opportunist eaters.
- Most of their diet consists of grasses, roots, berries, and insects.
- Occasionally, they will eat fish and small mammals.
- They can even become used to eating human food out of trash cans located at campsites, cabins, or other human places near their habitat.
- Female Black Bears will give birth in mid-winter to 2-3 baby cubs.
- They will nurse their young in dens until spring when they will all emerge and go searching for food.
- Cubs stay with their mother for up to 2 years.
- From Merriam Webster: a state of lowered physiological activity characterized by a reduced metabolism, heart rate, respiration and body temperature that occurs in varying degrees especially in hibernating and estivating animals.
- Torpor is similar to hibernation but is not considered a true-hibernation.
- Many large mammals are not considered true-hibernators due to different factors. Those factors include: they warm up too slowly and use too much energy to do so for hibernation to be beneficial, they have smaller surface are to volume ratio which allows them to conserve body heat easier compared to smaller mammals, their ability to carry a thicker coat and/or layer of fat to last through winter.
- Animals can be in this state for up to seven months in the wild, most for only about five months.
Black Bear Craft
- Large paper plate
- Small paper bowl (optional)
- Construction paper or cardstock
- Cotton or paper towels (optional)
- White glue
- Googly eyes (optional)
- Yarn (optional)
- Large pompom, craft foam, felt, or paper (optional)
- Paint (optional)
- Paint Brush (optional)
- Prepare a paper plate and a bowl. The paper plat will be for the bear's head and a small paper bowl will serve as the snout.
- Paint the bowl. (This step is optional) Paint the outside of your bowl with the whichever color you like best.
- Make a pair of ears. Cut out a pair or round ears from the cardstock/construction paper.
- Glue the eats. Glue your pair of ears on the top edge of the paper plate.
- Flip the paper plate over.
- Glue the paper bowl. (This step is optional) If you do not have a bowl take this time to draw or paint a nose.
- Cover the entire face with fuzz. (This step is optional.) If you do not have cotton or paper towels for this you can instead color the plate.
- Create the face. Add in eyes (glue googly eyes if you have them), draw a nose or use a short length of yarn to create a crescent shape to create a mouth for your bear.
Mountain Lion Keeper Talk
Meet our mountain lion, Bret. He was born November 1, 2006 and is 13 years old. If you would like to complete our activity, a coloring sheet, click here. Coloring sheet courtesy of Education.com.
- Mountain lions can be found all across the Americas.
- Mountains, forests, deserts and wetlands are all acceptable ecosystems.
- They will go anywhere there is shelter and prey.
- They require large areas of land for territories. They will use pheromones and physical signs to mark territories.
- Mountain lions usually hunt at night.
- They prefer to hunt deer and occasionally will hunt smaller prey when it is necessary.
- They are carnivores but very rarely they will eat vegetation.
- Males will weigh between 115 to 220 pounds.
- Females will weigh between 64 to 141 pounds.
- In the wild mountain lions can expect to live 10 years.
- In captivity mountain lions can expect to live 21 years.
- Mountain Lions can breed year round.
- Females tend to only breed every 2 years.
- Litters can range from 1 to 6 cubs.
- Young cubs will stay with their mother for up to 26 months but typically separate around 15 months.
- Other names for a mountain lion are: cougar, puma, panther, catamount.
- Mountain lions cannot roar instead, they growl, shriek, hiss and purr. Similar to house cats.
- Mountain lions are the largest of the small cats and the fourth largest cat species worldwide.
Corn Snake Lesson
If you missed out on our live stream April 3, 2020 feel free to head to the Spring River Zoo Facebook page. During our stream we met Twitch and Scar! For instructions for a fun at-home activity click here.
About Twitch and Scar:
- Twitch has his name because he is very fast and is hardly ever sitting still.
- Scar is an albino snake.
- Scar has his name because of the scars he has on his body. One scar is from a mouse bite and the other is from scratching on a sharp surface.
- Albino is a condition where the animal does not produce pigments.
- Pigments are the things that give hair and skin their color.
- This condition causes animals to have white skin/scales and red eyes.
- Eastern United States from New Jersey to Florida.
- They are more abundant in the Southeast.
- Some of the Corn Snake population have been introduced in some Caribbean islands.
- Corn snakes will live in wooded groves. rocky hillsides, meadows, barns, and abandoned buildings.
- Corn snakes will swallow their food whole.
- They do not eat every day and instead will eat every few days.
- Young corn snakes will eat lizards and tree frogs.
- Adult corn snakes will eat mice, rats, birds and bats.
- We feed our snakes at least once a week. Their diet with us consists of small rats or mice.
- Up to 23 years in human care. Shorter in the wild.
- Our snakes are 4 to 4 1/2 feet long.
- Our snakes shed about once a month.
- They will shed all in one piece.
- When they are preparing to shed snakes will become opaque.
- Shedding begins when liquid fills the space between the two layers of skin to help remove the old layer.
- Corn snakes will get caps over their eyes and are blind until they shed.
- Corn snakes are most active during the day.
- They can climb trees but will usually spend time in rodent burrows searching for food.
- They hide under rocks, logs, and other debris during the day.
- They are constrictors. Being a constrictor means that they catch prey with their mouth and squeeze the rest of their prey with their body.
Potbelly Pig Talk
Meet Kevin Bacon, a potbelly pig we have at the Spring River Zoo. Kevin is 9 months old and joined the Spring River Zoo in January of 2020.
- Potbelly pigs live in open woodlands.
- They are commonly found in the wild in Southeast Asia.
- They have been domesticated and used as farm animals and pets.
- Potbelly pigs are omnivores.
- They can eat grasses, eggs, frogs, snakes, and fish in the wild.
- In the zoo they receive pig grain, fruits, and veggies.
- Kevin's favorite fruits and veggies are apples, cucumbers and sweet potatoes.
- Potbelly pigs live 10 to 20 years in the wild.
- They can live up to 30 years in captivity.
- They can reach up to 1.5 feet tall at the shoulder.
- Weigh up to 150 pounds.
- Potbelly pigs have black skin and very little hair.
- Their hair is thin and wiry.
- They have saggy bellies with loose skin and it looks like wrinkles.
- True pot-bellied pigs have a straight tail that begins at the top of its back.
- A curled tail can be a sign of cross-breeding.
- Potbelly pigs reach sexual maturity at 5-7 months.
- Gestation lasts 117 days.
- Females can carry and birth up to 6 piglets.
- Potbelly pigs skin is very sensitive to the sun because of their lack or hair.
- They wallow in mud to stay cool and protect their skin.
- Their skin is very thick and touch to resist fleas and parasites.
- Their snouts are used for rutting (digging in dirt) and foraging.
- They have poor vision but excellent senses of smell and hearing.
- They form large herds in the wild and keep their distance from other herds.
- Potbelly pigs can communicate and use squeaks, grunts, gurgles, different sneezes, and other sounds.
- These pigs help turn over soil for new plant growth.
- They can trained to the same extent as a dog and even be house broken.
Pig Snout Activity
- Toilet paper tube
- Piece of pink paper or plain paper
- Crayons, colored pencils, or markers
- Hole punch
- Take a toilet paper tube and cut it in half.
- If you do not have a colored paper, color a rectangle the same width as half the roll. Make sure it is long enough to go all the way around the roll.
- Using glue, place one strip along the side of the tube and place it onto the piece of paper.
- Roll the paper around the tube and place some more glue where the paper will match back-up with itself.
- Cut off any excess and let it dry.
- Using the end of the tube, trace a circle on another piece of paper.
- Color the circle to match the rest of the snout. Draw two circles within the large circle, these will serve as the nostrils.
- Cut out your large circle.
- Place glue around the edge of your paper circle.
- Place the tube, that is already covered in paper, onto the circle to align with the glue, and press down lightly.
- Let it dry.
- Use a hole punch or a pair of scissors and cut two holes on opposite sides of the tube for string.
- Cut a piece of string long enough to tie to the snout and will wrap around your head.
- Tie the string to your snout.
- Wear your snout loud and proud!