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 distinguished appearance of this species.
The Horned guan is an impressive, unmistakable bird that is named for the unusual red “horn” of bare skin at the tip of its head. Adults sport a horn that averages between 1.6 – 2.4 inches (4 – 6 cm) in height. This large cracid is glossy black above, with a blue-green sheen. The foreneck, breast and upper belly are mostly white, with black flecks. The lower belly and flanks are brown. A striking, white band is near the base of the tail. Horned guans also have a small red dewlap (loose skin hanging under the neck). The legs are red, iris is white and the bill is yellow. Sexes are alike, however it has been reported that the lengths of tarsus, wing, tail and horn are somewhat longer in males. Vocalizations and behavior can be used more accurately for the identification of males and females.
Actually a toad, it is known only from Panama, where it has been protected by a Decree of the National Legislation since 1967. It was originally threatened by habitat destruction and over-collecting by animal dealers, but the much-publicized outbreak of a chytrid fungus in amphibian populations has had a far worse effect. Since 2007, none have been seen in the wild. They breed well in captivity. Over a thousand are distributed among many US zoos and more are maintained in Panama. Though venomous, it is not related to dart frogs.
A top-of-the-food chain predator, this enormous bird is not abundant anywhere in its vast range from the Mexican States of Veracruz and Oaxaca south to Argentina, Bolivia, and Southern Brazil. A specialist in eating sloths and monkeys, it depends on extensive forest, so is considered Near-Threatened due to habitat loss. Females may exceed 20 pounds in weight. Probably kept by Montezuma, it was displayed in Europe as early as 1778. The first successful captive breeding did not occur until 1981. The female displayed at the DWA hatched at the San Diego Zoo.
Among the seven species of sea turtles, this one is unique for feeding heavily on sponges. Many sponges contain toxins, which does not affect the turtle, but may render its flesh deadly. While Hawksbills are not as prized for food as the plant-eating Green sea turtle, they are exploited for the keratin from the shell, long prized as jewelry and ornaments. Though found in all tropical and temperate seas, it is now classified as Critically Endangered. The two at The DWA were found on Texas beaches with damaged flippers, making them nonreleasable.
Visitors at the DWA often refer to our resident Jaguars, as “cheetahs” or “leopards”. 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.
Unknown to science until 1912, this gorgeous starling was first bred in captivity in 1931. Since the 1960s, thousands have been bred in zoos around the world (including the DWA), resulting in a self-sustaining genetically healthy population. On its native island of Bali, in Indonesia, its population fell to a dozen by 1999, due to illegal trapping. Recent attempts to reintroduce it to the wild have been encouraging.
Described to science in 1844, it was thought there was only a single species of Asian arowana until 2003, when a team of three ichthyologists determined that there were actually four species. These had previously been considered color phases (like black leopards or jaguars, or white tigers). This classification is controversial. All populations of the Asian arowana are considered endangered, primarily due to habitat destruction. In the past, they were considered threatened by the commercial aquarium trade, but farm-raised specimens, sold micro-chipped, with “birth certificates” now supply the demand for these “Dragon Fishes”, which, in some Asian traditions, are considered to bring luck to businesses where they are kept.
This beautiful tortoise was listed as an endangered species by the US Government in 1973. In the last decade, its status has deteriorated from being classified as vulnerable to extinction, to critically endangered. People who traditionally live in its dry spiny forest habitat have a taboo against harming them. Recently, people from other parts of Madagascar have collected tens of thousands each year to eat or sell, and much habitat has been destroyed. A captive breeding program was established in the 1970s, and more than 400 live in US collections.
Forty years ago, this magnificent monkey appeared on its way to extinction, both in its native Atlantic Coastal Forest of Brazil and in zoos as well. The wild population fell to less than 600, and in zoos, the number of deaths exceeded births. Over the next decade, improvements were made in zoo management, so that from a low of around 75, a self-sustaining population, today numbering nearly 500 world-wide, has been established. Through the reintroduction of captive-bred animals and habitat preservation, there are more than 1,000 in the wild.