Animal Meet & Greet
Saturday & Sunday at 10:30 and 11:15 am
Location: Enchanted Forest Ampitheater
Zippy Hi everyone! My name is Zippy and I'm a White-nosed Coati (Nasua narica). I live here at the Phoenix Zoo but you can find wild White-nosed Coatis in the forested areas of southwestern Arizona and New Mexico, Mexico and Central and South America. Coatis are relatives of the raccoon but we have thinner bodies and longer noses and tails. Unlike our nocturnal raccoon relatives, we coatis are diurnal which means we are awake during the day. We spend most of that time foraging for food. As omnivores, we eat both meat and plant material. This includes a large variety of food, such as rodents, lizards, snakes, eggs, nuts, fruits, and even tarantulas and scorpions. Wild coatis love the fruit of the Manzanita and prickly pear but here at the zoo my favorite food is banana! Although we do spend a significant amount of time on the ground, we are excellent climbers and can often be found up in the trees. Our long claws and long tails assist us in hanging on and balancing while climbing. We usually spend our nights in the trees and can even be found napping in them during the hottest parts of the day.
In the wild male coatis live alone but females and young form social groups. Members of a group forage together and spend time each day grooming each other. Since I'm a male I live alone here at the zoo. But don't worry…I don't get bored or lonely! My keepers make sure to give me lots of fun behavioral enrichment each day and I am a part of the Wild About Animals show so I get to come out and see people almost every day. Make sure to stop by the show next time you're at the zoo to get a closer look at me and the other animals. Hope to see you there!
Kumari I have long quills and ever-growing front teeth and I roam the hills of southwest and central Asia. Can you guess what kind of animal I am? That's right! I'm an Indian Crested Porcupine (Hystrix indica) and my name is Kumari. You can see me up close and personal in the Wild About Animals show here at the Phoenix Zoo. When I'm not in the show I like to spend my time chewing on the bark of branches that my keepers provide for me. Since porcupines are rodents our front teeth never stop growing. That means we have to constantly chew on things to keep them worn down. I also love to dig! I have broad feet with long claws that can be used for digging burrows. In fact, in the wild, Indian Crested Porcupines spend most of the day inside their burrows and come out at night to forage for food. They mostly feed on fruits, grains and roots. Here at the zoo I eat carrots, yams, apples, lettuce and herbivore biscuits. Two of my favorite special treats are nuts and corn. My wild counterparts are very adaptable and are found in a variety of different environments in Asia, including rocky hillsides, grasslands and forests. They are even common in the Himalayas, at elevations up to 8, 000 feet!
My most impressive feature is my large set of quills. The outer ones are long and thin and I can raise them up to make myself look bigger when I'm scared or feel threatened. I can also rattle the hollow quills on my tail to scare predators away. If the threat continues I will run backwards and drive the shorter thicker quills into the animal. All of my quills are made out of keratin, the same material your hair is made out of. In fact, when I was born my quills were soft, much more like normal hair and then they hardened within the first few days of my life.
You can see my close relative, the African Crested Porcupine, on the Children's Trail.
Custer Hi there! My name is Custer and I'm a Double Yellow-headed Amazon parrot (Amazona oratrix). Double Yellow-headed Amazons are native to the forests of Mexico and Central America where they survive on the fruits of native trees and those planted by farmers. Unfortunately, the wild populations of Double Yellow-headed Amazons have decreased by about 90% since the 1970's. There are now only about 7, 000 of us left in the wild! Two of the major threats to my wild relatives are habitat loss due to agriculture and land development and removal of nestling parrots for the pet trade. Luckily, Double Yellow-headed Amazons are on the CITES list Appendix 1, which makes it illegal to import, export or trade wild-caught individuals. Hopefully this protection, along with worldwide efforts to decrease habitat destruction will help the wild populations of Double Yellow-headed Amazons to make a comeback.
As a species, we have great vocal abilities, bested only by the African Grey parrot. I'm a pretty good mimic myself and my keepers often hear me talking away in my enclosure.
CITES: The United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora is an international agreement between governments established in 1973 by the World Conservation Union. It serves to ensure that international trade of wild specimens of animals and plants does not threaten their survival and accords differing degrees of protection to more than 30, 000 species of plants and animals.
Tikal Hello! I'm Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) and my name is Tikal. Spectacled owls are native to the rainforests of South America and are the largest of the tropical owls. We get our name from the white markings around our eyes that make us look like we're wearing glasses, which is kind of silly because we defiantly don't need them! Like all owls, we have very large sensitive eyes that provide us with excellent eyesight, even at night, which is when Spectacled Owls are most active. In the wild, Spectacled Owls spend their nights sitting on tree branches scanning the ground and underlying vegetation for prey, including smaller birds, bats, rodents, large insects and beetles, frogs, crabs and even larger mammals like skunks and opossums. Here at the zoo I eat mice, rats, quail, and a ground meat mixture called carnivore diet. Like all birds, we don't have teeth so we rip our prey into manageable pieces and then swallow those pieces whole. The soft parts of the prey, like the muscles, pass easily through our digestive system but the larger and harder parts such as bones, fur and feathers are spit back up in the form of a compacted pellet. In the wild, scientists use owl pellets to study where owls live and what they eat. Here at the zoo my keepers keep track of our pellets to make sure we are healthy and happy.
Currently spectacled owls are not endangered but they are becoming increasingly threatened by habitat loss, just like other species native to the rainforests. One easy thing you can do at home to help out my wild relatives and other rainforests species is recycling, especially aluminum cans which contain a mineral called bauxite that must be mined from the rainforests.
I was hatched right here at the Phoenix Zoo on March 27, 2000 and my parents still live on the Children's Trail. Make sure to say "Hi!" to them for me next time you head that way!
Machu ¡Hola y olá! That means "hello!" in Spanish and Portuguese, the primary languages spoken in the areas of Central and South America where my species comes from. That's right! I'm a King Vulture and my name is Machu Picchu. Although my wild relatives are from Central and South America, I was hatched right here at the Phoenix Zoo on August 2, 1996. My parents are some of the zoo's original animals and still live on the tropics trail near the orangutans. Make sure to wave to them for me next time you see them.
Like all vultures, King Vultures are scavengers that feed on dead animals, or carrion. We have a wingspan of 4-5.5 feet and we spend much of our time soaring in search of food. We make use of rising columns of air called thermals to keep ourselves in the air for hours at a time without having to expend a lot of energy flapping our wings. Our beaks are so sharp and strong that we can often access meals that other vultures cannot. When we arrive at a carcass, other birds tend to back off and let us eat. Once we have finished eating we like to clean ourselves off. We usually find a nice perch in the sun where we sit and spread out our wings. This is called sunning and allows the UV radiation in the suns rays to kill any bacteria that might have gotten on our feathers while eating. You might think what we eat is kind of gross but we play a very important role in the environment. We are like the garbage collectors of the wild. Imagine what would happen if we weren't around to clean up!
King Vultures belong to the family of New World vultures. Even though they look similar to Old World vultures and fulfill a similar ecological role, New World vultures are actually descendants of storks and are now classified as part of the same order as storks and herons.
Rats Hi everyone! We're Norway Rats (Rattus norvegicus) and our names are Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine, and Nala. Norway Rats were originally introduced into the United States in 1775, unintentionally brought over from Europe on ships carrying North American settlers. Over the years we have spread throughout the all the states except Alaska and Hawaii. We are mostly found where people live and are extremely adaptable. We feel at home anywhere we can make a cozy burrow and will eat almost anything. But if given the choice we like to eat a fresh balanced meal, including grains, meats, nuts and fruits. We also need a good supply of water, especially when eating dry food. We are nocturnal but have poor eyesight. Instead we rely mostly on our hearing and excellent senses of taste, touch, and smell to guide us through our environment. We can even smell the difference between members of our own colony and those of a different one. In the wild, many people consider us to be pests…but we don't have to be! If you do your part to keep your home from looking inviting to us, we will stay away. Some things you can do to rat proof your home and yard include proper storage of possible rodent food (especially pet food), removal of undesirable vegetation (grass, weeds) and rubbish, lumber piles or old equipment. In addition, repairing doors and windows that do not operate properly or shut securely and eliminating all openings larger than ½ inch will help prevent wild rats from entering your home. And don't forget to inspect and repair air vents that may not be in sound working order. These tips will help ensure that you will see us only in the show at the zoo!
Rococo Toad Greetings! My name is Chunk and I'm a Rococo Toad (Bufo schneideri). We are one of the largest toads in the world, able to grow up to almost 10 inches long. We are native to the rainforests of South America where we spend our days looking for food, mostly insects. We have even been seen eating bees at beehives! Like many other toads, we have poison glands located on bony ridges on either side of our head, but we also have them on our back legs as well. We have the ability to secrete poison from these glands when we feel threatened which helps us stay safe from predators.
As you probably know, toads are amphibians. That means we have the ability to absorb oxygen and water through our skin, which allows us to spend significant amounts of time in the water as well as on land. It also means that we are extremely sensitive animals. This has been made obvious in recent years, as scientists have become aware that populations of amphibians around the world are declining rapidly. In fact, the World Conservation Union (IUCN) estimates that at least one third of all amphibian species (approximately 2, 000 species) are threatened with extinction in the near future. What is causing this serious decline in amphibian populations? It seems to be the combination of habitat loss, climate change, water pollution and the spread of infectious diseases. Since amphibians are considered to be indicator species, which means their health is an accurate indicator of the overall health of the surrounding ecosystem, their rapid decline is especially troubling.
As you might know, zoos and aquariums across the country have designated 2008 as the Year of the Frog. They are dedicated to education and conservation efforts to benefit these threatened animals. For more information on the Year of the Frog please visit the Association of Zoos and Aquarium's website: www.aza.org/yearofthefrog.
The Phoenix Zoo is doing their part not only by educating people about this serious trend but also by actively working to help save a local and critically endangered amphibian species, the Chiricahua Leopard Frog. Currently the zoo is involved in a program dedicated to breeding Chiricahua Leopard Frogs and releasing young frogs back into the wild. If you are interested in learning more you can visit the Phoenix Zoo's website: http://www.phoenixzoo.org/learn/conservation_efforts_detail.aspx?ARTICLE_ID=100098
You can also do your part to help out amphibians. One way to ensure that wild amphibians have enough clean water is to reduce the amount of water you use everyday. Here are some tips for conserving water in your homes and yards:
In your home:
- Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth. This can save up to three gallons of water per person per day.
- Shorten the length of your showers by just one or two minutes. Doing so can save up to 700 gallons of water a month.
- Fix leaky faucets or plumbing joints. You can save 20 gallons per day for each leak you fix!
- When cooking and cleaning dishes, use the garbage disposal less and the garbage more. Or even better…compost! This can save up to 150 gallons of water a month.
- Only run full loads in the washing machine and dishwasher. This can save between 300-500 gallons of water a month.
In your yard:
- Use a broom to clean driveways and sidewalks instead of a hose. You can save 150 gallons of water each time.
- Chose plants for your yard that need little water. Since different plants are better adapted to different environments, ask your local nursery which ones would be best.
- Water lawn/plants in the morning when it is cool and there is little wind to reduce the amount of evaporation.
- Install drip or trickle irrigation systems to water your plants. These types of watering systems ensure that the water is delivered right to the base of the plants. This eliminates evaporation of water from the plants leaves (which get soaked when watering with sprinklers or a hose) and ensures that water is delivered to the places where it will do the most good, rather than being sprayed over the entire yard or garden.
In addition to reducing the amount of water you use, you can also help prevent pollutants from entering the water system. Here are some suggestions for minimizing water pollution:
- Dispose of hazardous wastes properly. One quart of oil can contaminate 250, 000 gallons of water! Other hazardous wastes include paint, antifreeze, polishes, prescription medications and household cleaning products. If thrown in the trash, poured down the drain, flushed down the toilet or dumped on the ground, these substances can and will migrate to your water source. This is not only dangerous for the environment but also for your family! Contact your city or county for more details about proper waste disposal options.
- Reduce the amount of harsh cleaning products you use in your home. Baking soda is a highly effective and more natural alternative to such products.
- When shopping for detergents, choose non-phosphate or low phosphate options. High phosphate levels in lakes and streams are very dangerous to fish and other wildlife.
- Try to use natural pesticides and fertilizers, or if not, try to reduce the amount used. These chemicals frequently enter the water system due to runoff from watering lawns and gardens.
For references and more tips on conserving water in your own homes, please visit:
IUCN- The International Union for the Conservation of Nature is the world's oldest and largest global environmental network that is comprised of members from all over the world, including numerous governments, United Nations agencies, companies and local communities. Their mission is to "influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable."
Snakes Ssssssssssalutations! We are the serpentine members of the show at the Phoenix Zoo. Although we are many different species from all over the world we have many things in common. For one, we are all constrictors, which means we dispatch of our prey by squeezing instead of using venom. Most of us eat rodents and other small animals found in our area, including lizards, birds and other snakes. Although we don't have any venom, we do have teeth. In fact we each have about 200 needle sharp teeth that are curved backwards to make sure we hold onto a prey item once we catch it. Once we are done constricting our prey, we swallow it whole! Our specially designed jaws allow us to open our mouths wide enough to swallow something 4-5 times the size of our head.
When you see us in the show, you might notice us sticking our tongues out at you. Don't worry…we're not being rude! We are just smelling to get a better idea of what's going on around us. Our tongues are designed to catch scent molecules out of the air and carry them into a special organ on the roof of our mouths, called the Jacobson's organ. This organ takes in all those scent molecules, and turns them into information that is sent to our brains. Our tongues are even forked so we can tell which direction certain scents are coming from.
Snakes are frequently killed in the wild because people are afraid of us. This often happens when we come near your homes looking for food or shelter. But we are great for pest control and are extremely important for the ecology of the environment. These are some things you can do to help us out by keeping us away from your house and out of danger:
- Eliminate possible food sources for snakes. This includes rodent control; Removal of access to food and hiding places for rodents is often the most effective means of rodent control.
- Eliminate hiding places for snakes in your house and yard:
- Maintain a clear border of at least 1.5 feet between shrubbery and your house.
- Thin dense ground cover.
- Seal off cracks and holes in the foundation and ground level walls.
- Seal off openings around door jams and window frames
- Stack wood or other materials away from the house and above an open or cleared space. Arrange such materials to permit air circulation.
Remember! Snake repellents, including pesticides, ammonia and mothballs are only temporary solutions. In addition, they are likely to poison and possibly kill other plants and animals around your home, including your pets! It's best for both of us to use these natural tips for maintaining a safe distance from snakes in the wild.
(Pictured: Jungle Carpet Python, native to Australia)
Bearded Dragon Hello! We are the Phoenix Zoo's Bearded Dragons (Pogona vitticeps). Our names are Adelaide, Fitz, Maakie and Hoover. Bearded Dragons are native to the arid woodlands and rocky deserts of Australia. Since we live where food may be hard to find, we are not picky eaters. As omnivores, our wild counterparts feed on plant material, insects, spiders, lizards and rodents. Here at the zoo we get a salad topped with crickets to eat. We are excellent climbers and can often be found perched on tree limbs, logs, rocks and even fence posts but also spend a significant amount of time on the ground. In fact, we often spend the hottest part of the day in burrows in order to keep cool.
We are called Bearded Dragons because of the large flap of expandable skin on our throats, called a dewlap. When in competition with another Bearded Dragon or threatened by a predator, we expand our dewlap and open our mouths to make ourselves look bigger. The spikes that cover our dewlaps make us look pretty scary! When confronted with an older more dominant individual, young Bearded Dragons will engage in a behavior called arm waving. They lift up one of their front legs and move it in a circular motion over and over. This behavior is a sign of submission and tells the older Bearded Dragon that the youngster doesn't want any trouble.