Description: The Pied tamarin (Saguinus bicolor) is white on its shoulders and front, with a striking dark brown back, hind part and upper tail. The fur lightens to a rust color on the lower belly, inner thighs and underside of the tail. The bald head has black skin and the large ears add to the […]
In zoos, colonies of this species are like yeast — a few sent to another zoo soon reproduce to the carrying capacity of their exhibit, and more colonies can be established from there. From a few importations more than 30 years ago, there are now more than 6,000 of these fruit-eating bats distributed among more than 30 North American collections. This is a widespread species, found from Mexico to Paraguay. In the Mayan epic, the Popol Vuh, a bat, Zotz, stole the head of the Hero God Hunahpu for the Gods of the Underworld to use in a ballgame.
Visitors at the DWA often refer to “Pintada”, the resident Jaguar, as a “cheetah” or “leopard”. Of these three cats, only Jaguars have spots inside spots. They are also bigger, some weighing over 300 pounds (tigers and lions are the only bigger cats). Jaguars have a much stockier build and are excellent swimmers. They have massive jaws, with twice the biting power of a lion. They live alone, except when a female raises cubs. Found from Arizona to Argentina, they are endangered, due to hunting for their pelts and habitat loss. They often live 20 years in zoos.
One of the world’s more brightly colored mammals, this marsupial is found only in the Huon Peninsula in Eastern New Guinea. It has only occasionally been exported for zoos, so that the North American zoo population of around fifty animals is carefully managed to make sure that, despite a limited gene pool, coming generations continue to be bred. One born at the DWA in 2007, was welcomed as particularly genetically valuable, and is now on breeding loan to the Calgary Zoo.
Reminding some people of guinea pigs, or annoyed teddy bears, these ten pound mammals are considered by zoologists to be related to the ancestors of elephants and manatees. The skull displays similarities to these animals and this is also supported by DNA research. Found in many parts of Africa, as well as Arabia and the Middle East, they live in cliffs, kopjes, and other rocky areas, in groups of up to 80, led by a dominant male.
The two species of two-toed sloths have two toes on their forelimbs, but three on their hindlimbs. While the gentle three-toed sloths eat only leaves of a few species, and are notoriously difficult to maintain in zoos, captive two-toed enthusiastically eat all sorts of common fruits and vegetables, as well as monkey chow, and easily live for decades in captivity. Of the two species of two-toed Sloths, both are found in South America, but only Hoffman’s occurs in Central America as well.
At times, the DWA troop of Red howler monkeys, unique in North America, are heard long before they are seen. The mechanical-sounding, rumbling growl is produced by an enormous larynx (voice box) and can be heard three miles away. The only animal sound that is louder is made by Blue whales. The howlers are often next to the ceiling of their high enclosure. While this South American primate was notorious for being difficult to keep in zoos, it has done well at the DWA, where a number have been born and raised.
Almost all mammals have seven cervical vertebrae (the bones in the neck); manatees have six, two-toed sloths may have six or seven and three-toed sloths have nine. They also have no gall-bladder or appendix, and cannot regulate their body temperature. Their teeth all look like molars. Through their Central and South American range, they live entirely upon leaves. Because the DWA provides a constant supply of Cecropia leaves, our male, “Leno”, has thrived here since 2005, setting the captive age record outside of Tropical America.
The smallest New World primate, also the smallest monkey, weighs less than five ounces (the only smaller primates are several Madagascan lemurs). Pygmy marmosets occupy a rather large range in the forests of Western South America. Formerly rather rare in zoos, its captive population is now well managed with more than 700 world-wide, mostly captive-bred. It is usual for twins to be born. Despite their tiny size, they can live 20 years in captivity. In the wild, they specialize in eating gummy sap. In captivity, they do quite well on the same diets that larger marmosets and tamarins receive: a manufactured primate diet, fresh fruits and vegetables, and insects.
Before the 1970s, this Northern South American monkey was very rare in captivity, but an improved understanding of its diet and health have led to this species being bred frequently, so that it is now one of the most widely-kept New World primates in American zoos. This is one of a relatively small number of primates where the sexes are easily told by their color; males are black with white faces, while females are grayish with a whitish line on either side of the muzzle.