You Can’t Tame This Fame!
Join us at the 2014 Zoo-cademy Awards:
Honoring some of Phoenix Zoo’s star residents
Not all stars are on the big screen. The Phoenix Zoo is proud to care for more than 1,400 star residents, some of whom will be featured by receiving awards for categories like Best Original Song and Best Visual Effects. Learn more about all the nominations below and be sure to visit the Zoo on Sunday, March 2, 2014 when the awards will be presented!
Congratulations to our winners!
Enrichment Awards Schedule:
10:30 a.m. Siamang – WINNER for Best Original Song
11:30 a.m. Cotton-top Tamarin – WINNER for Best Visual Effects
1:00 p.m. Rhinoceros Hornbill – WINNER for Best Production Design (Nest Building)
(winners were selected by random drawing)
All of our stars receive different enrichment items every day and we’re using this fun event to highlight just a few of them.
Activities included with general Zoo admission.
Best Original Song
Gibbons use their loud voices to defend territories and singing is essential to form/maintain pair-bonds. Younger, lone males sing to find mates. Monogamously paired males and females sing duets early in the morning to assert their territory and reaffirm their relationship. Gibbon calls are species-specific; however, females generally make ascending calls while males use territorial barks and hoots. At the Zoo, Enik calls first in the morning with hoots mentioned above and then China chimes in with a much faster and higher pitch call.
Black howler monkeys are the loudest land animal and the second loudest animal on earth, second only to the blue whale. The males do most of the howling and their sound can carry for miles. They use this form of communication to notify other black howler troops of their location to avoid overlapping. Females can only make short, softer barking sounds. Black howler monkeys are specially designed for making loud whooping noises. The hyoid bone in their throat is modified and forms a bony box called a corniculum. The corniculum is an egg-shaped pouch that acts as an amplifying chamber, enabling these monkeys to out-howl all other land animals.
Siamang couples guard their territory with loud hooting duets. They announce their presence to avoid confrontation with other groups and to increase their natural family bonds.
Elephants trumpet when they are highly stimulated. While most vocalizations are made with the larynx, a trumpet is produced by pushing air through the trunk. Trumpeting elephants may be excited, lost, angry, playful, or surprised.
Low frequency rumbles can be used by elephants to communicate over long distances. They can also be used when greeting, bonding, threatening, soliciting a mate, soothing, or giving reassurance. A roar may be used by an Asian elephant to intimidate or in the response to aggression. High levels of distress or even happy excitement can produce a roar. Chirps and squeaks are unique to Asian elephants, and they may be used to announce news, communicate needs, assemble a group, reassure, and lend support.
Because wild donkeys do not live in herds like wild horses do, they have developed very loud vocalizations, which help them keep in contact with each other over great distances. Donkeys’ ears are larger than those of horses and these large, long ears are able to pick up distant sounds. Their best-known vocalization is called a “bray”, which can be heard for over three kilometers and can last up to 20 seconds.
Best Visual Effects
Cotton-top Tamarins have a crest of long white hair from their foreheads to the nape of their necks that flow over their shoulders. Their backs are brown and their under parts, arms, and legs are whitish to yellow. Their inner thighs and rumps are often reddish orange. They have modified claws instead of nails on all digits and two molars on each side of the jaw. Cotton-top Tamarins are also known for their acute eyesight for hunting and the detection of danger. Long tails that are reddish -orange towards base and blackish towards tip help keep balance during climbing and jumping.
Zebras are probably best known for their black and white striped bodies. The stripes are believed to not only act as camouflage in tall grass, but also to confuse predators when animals stand together in a herd, preventing a predator from picking individuals out of a group. Grevy’s Zebras’ stripe patterns are unique to each individual. Their sleek coats are patterned with black and white vertical stripes that are much narrower than those of the plains zebra and persist until above the hind legs where a chevron pattern occurs. The horizontal stripes on the legs remain distinct all the way down to the hooves, and the tall, upright mane is also striped in a pattern that continues on from the neck. A wide black stripe along the back is very distinctive and is bordered by white on the rump. Grevy’s zebras have tan-colored muzzles with white edges and large rounded ears that have one thick black stripe on the back with white tips. Zebra foals are born with brown and white stripes as opposed to black and white stripes.
Everything about the Cheetah is designed for speed. Like the sports car of the cat world, it is designed to go fast – with a deep chest for large lungs and a large heart, a long flexible spine to allow for extended stride while running 70 mph, and long, lean legs and muscles. Their heads are small to be aerodynamic, although their eyes are very large providing excellent vision for their diurnal (daytime) hunting. The name “cheetah” is derived from a Hindi word meaning “spotted”. Cheetahs have black oval spots on their skin, which is yellow or beige. The spots cover most of the body and their throats and abdomens are white. This spotted coat pattern allows for excellent camouflage in the surrounding brush so they can get as close to prey as possible before starting their chase. Cheetahs have large nostrils and lungs to help him breathe large amounts of air at a time.
Burmese pythons are the largest subspecies of the Indian python and one of the six largest snakes in the world; lengths of up to 15’ fee are common. Because the body is long, the organs are also long. Snakes usually have only one lung, but the python has two, one of which is considerably smaller than the other. Basic body color may be pale tan, yellowish-brown, or gray. They have large, reddish blotches outlined in cream or gold. Pythons are constrictors, so they don’t have fangs. They do have back curving teeth that grab prey and don’t let it escape. Females are the larger of the two sexes and have a smaller head relative to the body. Burmese pythons (and other species of boas and pythons) have vestigial hind legs that show up as small claws on either side of their vents, called spurs. They even have tiny remnants of pelvic and leg bones in them and are usually larger in size in males, which are used by males in courtship. Also they have heat sensing organs in their upper lips that help locate warm blooded prey.
Galapagos Tortoises are the largest living Tortoise. They reach lengths up 4 ft and they weigh over 330 pounds! They have a huge carapace (shell) which is an integral part of their skeleton. When they feel threatened they can draw their head and limbs inside and the shell acts as protection. There is a large amount of variation in the shape and size of their shell as it depends on which island the tortoise originates and the environment it has to adapt to. Tortoises that are found on wetter islands that have an abundance of grass and vegetation near the ground have “dome shaped” shells, while those on dryer islands have a “saddle back” shell where the rim of the shell is raised above the neck allowing them to raise their head and eat from taller vegetation. Some Galapagos Tortoises have aspects of both the above shell types and these are known to have “table top” shells. There is little variation in the brownish color of the shells or legs in any of the subspecies and in all subspecies, males are larger than females. They have strong, toothless jaws which suit their herbivorous lifestyle and they spend most of the day grazing in small herds or basking in mud or pools.
Best Production Design (Nest Building)
Andean bears build nests in trees and on the ground to provide a comfortable place to rest and take shelter. Andean bears are the only bear species found in South America and are a very arboreal bear, spending quite a bit of time climbing in trees looking for the fruit, bromeliads, and other vegetation that makes up the majority of their diet. At the Phoenix Zoo we provide our bears with a variety of nesting materials including hay, shredded paper and fresh palm fronds which the bears will fold into nests. There are also elevated platforms in the dens to encourage natural nesting behaviors.
When orangutans want to take a break from foraging, or rest for the night, they build large, oval nests high up in the rainforest canopy. Researchers think these nests offer a good night’s sleep compared to sleeping on the ground or on branches. The nests might also offer protection from predators. After choosing a suitable location, orangutans bend and break branches then weave and twist them to lock them into the basic structure of the nest. They then add layers of smaller branches on top of this construction to make something similar to a mattress. Some orangutans also fashion themselves a roof or pillow for added comfort. At the Phoenix Zoo we provide our orangutans with palm leaves and other material that the animals can browse for along with pillow cases, sheets, and blankets to build nests.
Golden Eagles are among the champions of nest-builders, in terms of size. They construct a huge platform of sticks that they line with thinner branches and even hair and grass, usually on large ledges or cliff faces. These large birds sometimes build their nests in trees or they may use man-made structures like electricity poles. Golden Eagles tend to use the same nest over many breeding seasons (they are monogamous). Each year, they continue to add new sticks so their nests can become quite massive after several breeding seasons.
Prairie dog nests are located underground in burrows or tunnels and are lined with fine, dried grass. Tunnel depths are typically four to five feet (50–60 inches) deep. Most colonies contain 20-57 burrows/acre.
Rhinoceros Hornbills modify existing cavities in trees by partially sealing the cavity entrances to use as nests to lay eggs. Both the male and female seal the entrance (with the female inside) with a paste made of fruit, mud, and feces. The paste hardens to form an almost impenetrable barrier between the outside world and the family within. The pair leaves only a small slit, through which the male feeds the female (and later the chicks); the female is 100% dependent on the male for food during the ~three months she is inside. She would almost certainly starve if something were to happen to him because while she is in the nest, she sheds and re-grows her primary feathers – so she is temporarily flightless. When the chicks are about three months old, the female breaks herself out — and both parents and offspring collaborate to re-seal the chicks inside for about a month. Both parents continue to care for the chicks until they are old enough to break out of the nest on their own and fly free.