New Digs and New Faces: Winter News from the Reptile and Amphibian Department
While this time of year may have you reluctant to visit the zoo because of the colder weather, the warm and toasty environments of the Herpetarium, Island life, and Big Rivers buildings will encourage you to learn about and observe all of our cold-blooded and unique animal residents within. You’ve probably seen many changes to both our Herpetarium building and our animal collection over the past few months. We’ve made several changes and additions to our collection in 2016 including the addition of our Nursssery to the Herpetarium, where guests can experience seeing our younger animals, although slowly, grow up. Who doesn’t love a newly hatched or newborn reptile or amphibian?
Most recently, we have added a few new animals to our collection and relocated some of your favorites! Our almost five year old Galapagos tortoises were quickly outgrowing their space in the Herpetarium and in need of more spacious digs and so now they have plenty of room to grow in their new Island Life home. Just at about the same time, our new young male king cobra had grown large enough to safely move him into the exhibit where the tortoises once where. He is very curious and entertaining to watch and can often be seen exploring his new space in the Herpetarium.
In other exciting news, our new year began with the addition of a new species to our collection, the critically endangered Santa Catalina Island rattlesnake, also known as the “rattle-less” rattlesnake. This species is part of a Species Survival Plan whereby zoos and other partners work to build a healthy and sustainable population within zoos. We are one of only a handful of zoos in the world currently working with this species. Additionally, we are also only one of three zoos in North America working with the secretive Gray’s monitor lizard. Two young Gray’s monitors can be seen at the Herpetarium next to the mata mata turtles. Related to the infamous Komodo dragon, the Gray’s monitor is one of only three known species of monitor lizards whose diet is made up of mostly fruit.
Once the outside temperatures begin to warm up, be sure to look for some new wood turtles which will make their home in our pond habitat in front of the Herpetarium. And this summer, get ready for even more amazing additions to our Herpetarium and Island Life collections such as golden frogs and spotted turtles!
– Stacey Sekscienski, zoological curator