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ZooAmerica has welcomed another new animal this month: A one-year old female bald eagle. She is currently residing in our first-ever Bald Eagle exhibit. As a juvenile, she does not yet have all of her white feathers. By the time she is about 5 years old, she will have the full white head and tail. For now, she has some white feathers, but is mostly brown.
This massive bird can be found next to the Timber Treats patio where she likes to perch high in the trees. I have already heard her squawking on several occasions as I walk by. We’re still discovering all of the quirks in her personality! While she stays here at the zoo, she will be on a diet primarily of large rodents and fresh fish.
She was unfortunately injured in the wild, and can no longer fly well enough to survive. Therefore, the federal government was able to transfer her from the local rehabilitator to us. After being examined by our veterinary staff and the local rehabilitator, they determined that the end joint in her wing had been burnt by an electrical shock. The shock most likely came from an electrical wire. She was originally found walking on the ground in Juniata County, PA.
We recently added Texas Banded Geckos to the Great Southwest Building. They are still young and quite small, but will eventually reach about 4 inches in length. Right now, they only need a small aquarium to suit their needs and each day they munch on crickets, mealworms or waxworms. With their translucent and silky skin, they appear to be amphibians but are actually lizards. The people of New Mexico and Texas will often refer to them as the ghosts of the southwest because that’s what they look like in car light reflections at night.
We also moved our Great Plains Toad, Jaba, back to the Great Southwest Building, after a temporary visit to our education department.
Be sure to come back and visit all of our new little animals!
The spotted skunk that lives in our Great Southwest Building (Lola) recently had a PhD student come visit her from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The student is using track plates to detect the presence of spotted skunks in Louisiana. She needed a spotted skunk to test out her track plate so she came to our zoo. While the student was here, she was looking for the skunk’s optimal food choice, what size hole the skunk was willing to enter for food, and what the footprints would look like.
The test run went very well since Lola our skunk is always curious about food! The bait of choice was ground meat and baby mice. Lola ran right into the tube, over the toner, and then over contact paper. The PhD student sent us the pictures she got from Lola:
- scampering footprints to the food
Sigmund was one of the first animals that you would see as you walked into the Southern Swamps building. He was a big Florida softshell turtle, weighing in at 55 pounds. He was a lazy turtle sometimes, as he would lay on the bottom of the aquarium and extend his neck all the way to the top to take a breath–over a foot away! Guests in the zoo would often do a double-take as they realized how long his neck could stretch!
If you’ve ever visited YouTube and typed in ZooAmerica, you would see Sigmund in a video taken by a guest. In this video he is busy staring at himself in the mirror. We would often give him a mirror on a string for enrichment because he liked to check himself out! He was also very spoiled when it came to food. Sometimes finicky, when he wouldn’t eat his shrimp, young mice, or minnows, we would go to Giant and pick him up some beef cubes.
He would occasionally eat minnows, but only if there were at least 10-20 in there with him. Once the number got down to 3 or 4, he would just accept them as exhibit friends. They would eat some of the algae off his shell and he never seemed to mind.
We were surprised and saddened when we came in two weeks ago to find that he had passed overnight. He was 35 years old, and softshell turtles only typically live 30 years. Like many of our animals, he lived much longer than expected. He originally came to the zoo one year after the zoo re-opened as ZooAmerica. Sigmund was a favorite among some of the zoo employees and will be missed.