ZooAmerica Hosts Virtual Tours to Bring the Zoo to You
Families Can Watch Fun and Educational Facebook Live Weekdays at 11 a.m.
Parents and their children (or those young at heart!) are invited to visit the ZooAmerica Facebook page weekdays at 11 a.m. EDT to watch, learn and ask questions about specific animals. The team will also post the recordings and some information about the featured animals below at the conclusion of each Facebook Live.
Virtual Visit with Canada Lynx
Zoo naturalists were live at the Canada Lynx habitat for a virtual visit with Woody (14 years old) and Wren (6 years old). These two medium-sized cats have shared the space since October 2019 and have been getting along quite well!
Canada Lynx are found in the high elevations and mountainous regions of the northern United States and Canada. Their distribution mirrors that of its main prey, the snowshoe hare. Lynx are carnivores and eat chicken, beef and rodents at ZooAmerica.
Lynx have many unique physical features, including their big paws that act as snowshoes so they can easily walk on top of the snow in the wild. They also have short tails, just like bobcats. Tails are needed to balance animals when they climb. Lynx and bobcats have short tails because they mostly hunt on the ground or in fields.
Virtual Visit with Stella the Skunk
In this Facebook Live, Stella the skunk will paint on a canvas using nontoxic paint as part of the Zoo's enrichment and training program. Stella enjoys painting, especially because she receives snacks like mealworms and peanuts. Some of her paintings are available for sale in the ZooAmerica gift shop when it's open.
Stella is one of four striped skunks in the Education Department at ZooAmerica. She is 6 years old and weighs about three pounds. Skunks are omnivores and eat pretty much everything. Stella is fed a healthy mixture of fruits, vegetables, meat and bugs.
Stella does not spray, as she was descented when she arrived at ZooAmerica. In the wild, skunks can accurately spray about 10 feet. People can smell a skunk from up to one and a half miles away!
BONUS ACTIVITY: As a fun activity, ask your kids to paint their own pictures and post a photo to the ZooAmerica Facebook page.
Virtual Visit with River Otters
ZooAmerica is home to two river otters named Link and Iris. They live in a special habitat in the Eastern Woodlands region of the Zoo. In this video, viewers will meet Iris, a 7-year-old river otter who arrived at ZooAmerica in November 2019 from another zoo in Indiana.
River otters span a wide range. They can be found throughout Canada and most of the United States except for the arid desert of the Great Southwest. They are carnivores and eat mainly aquatic animals, such as fish, crayfish, crabs and other invertebrates. Their favorite snack at ZooAmerica is a fish called capelin.
In their natural habitat, otters can live anywhere from about 8-10 years old. Under human care, they can live to be as old as 20. Otters are excellent swimmers. They have a long, muscular tail that helps propel them through the water up to 8 mph. They can open their eyes underwater to see but close their nostrils and ears to prevent water buildup.
Virtual Visit with Reptiles
Three reptile species are the stars of the show in this next Facebook Live. Viewers will be introduced to Houdini the Iguana (6 years old), Zorro the Arizona Mountain Kingsnake (5 years old), and Huey, Dewey and Lewey the Desert Tortoises (2 years old).
Iguanas like Houdini are found in places where it is very warm like South America, Central America or Florida. They spend the majority of their time in trees, especially in canopies. Iguanas are herbivores just like the desert tortoise. They will eat leaves, flowers and fruit in the wild.
Green iguanas can come in all different types of colors - red, green, blue, purple. They are not like chameleons where they can change colors whenever they want. However, it is common when they are babies to be a different color than when they are adults.
Houdini has some spines on the top of his body to protect against predators like hawks in the wild. He also has a very strong tail used for swimming and protection.
Desert tortoises are native to the southwest United States and parts of Mexico. Huey, Dewey and Lewey were born at ZooAmerica. They can live up live upwards of 60-80 years under human care.
Desert tortoises are herbivores. In the wild, they eat cactus, grass and other low growing plants. They are fed a varied diet at ZooAmerica that includes collards, sweet potato, colored peppers and squash. Desert tortoises are also excellent diggers. In fact, they dig burrows to help regulate temperature.
Arizona Mountain Kingsnake
As their name implies, Arizona Mountain Kingsnakes are typically found in rocky areas with nearby water. They range from central to southeastern Arizona down into Mexico, and parts of Utah and Nevada. Zoro arrived at ZooAmerica in 1999 after hatching at the Phoenix Zoo.
Zoro is non-venomous, but his color mimics the venomous Arizona coral snake as a way to deter predators. Arizona Mountain Kingsnakes kill their food by constricting it. In the wild, they eat various lizards and their eggs, rodents, birds, and other snakes.
Virtual Visit to the Desert Garden
Zoo naturalists went live from the open Desert Garden area with roadrunners, burrowing owls and tortoises. The burrowing owls were hiding in their burrows during the video, but viewers can see roadrunners and tortoises.
There are five burrowing owls in the Desert Garden at ZooAmerica. As indicated by their name, these small owls nest in burrows abandoned by prairie dogs, tortoises and rodents. The habitat at ZooAmerica features man-made burrows and tubes for the owls.
Burrowing owls are found in southern Canada, the western United States, Florida, and south through Central and South America. They differ from other owl species in that they are active during the day. Their diet consists of large insects, snakes, lizards and birds in the wild.
Two roadrunners can be seen in the Desert Garden of the Great Southwest building. Amarilla (yellow) is the female who hatched at ZooAmerica in May 2011. Dash is the male and he hatched in May 2017 at the Hutchinson Zoo.
Both roadrunners are able to fly but can run a lot faster. These birds eat mostly meat in the wild, including lizards, snakes and small rodents. On quiet days at ZooAmerica, they will occasionally visit the public area in the lobby. When a visitor walks in, they usually dart back to the garden.
Virtual Visit with Snowy Owls
Any Harry Potter fans out there might recognize the type of owl seen in this Facebook Live.
ZooAmerica is home to two snowy owls. Rinna, the female owl, hatched in captivity in Estonia in 2007. She arrived at ZooAmerica in 2009. Nash, the male owl, arrived at ZooAmerica in March of 2019 from the Nashville Zoo, hence his name.
The snowy owl is the heaviest of all North American owls and well-adapted for life in the open tundra. This owl species has very thick plumage and heavily feathered legs and feet that insulate against extreme conditions.
Lemmings are the primary food source of snowy owls. When the lemming population declines, the owls may be forced to migrate as far south as Pennsylvania in search of winter prey.
Virtual Visit with Bobcats
Another cat species featured on Facebook Live is the bobcat. ZooAmerica is home to a family of three bobcats - Keira, the mom, Fuzzy and Boy.
The bobcat is named for its short "bobbed" tail. Bobcats have the widest distribution of the seven cat species found in North America. They are found throughout the United States, including as close as 20 minutes from Hershey, Pa. where ZooAmerica is located.
Bobcats are excellent climbers and hunters due to their great eyesight, hearing and sense of smell. At the zoo, they eat chicken, mice, rats and quail.
Virtual Visit with a Porcupine
There are three porcupines on habitat at ZooAmerica. Zoo naturalist Alicia was joined by Penny the Porcupine for this Facebook Live. Viewers will also get a look at Juniper and Carmine relaxing in their tree in the porcupine habitat.
Penny will be turning 8 years old on April 4. Juniper is going to be 4 on April 1. Carmine will be 7 in May.
Porcupines have about 30,000 quills on their bodies, as well as fur and guard hairs. They cannot shoot their quills but will make them stand up when scared.
Porcupines are herbivores, so they eat lots of greens. Penny likes kale, green beans, sweet potatoes and apples. In the summer, the porcupines at ZooAmerica like to climb trees and nap high up in them in their habitat.