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Archive for September, 2012

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Visitors to Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden can now see a new species of animals, recently added to the Zoo’s animal collection.  For the first time in Zoo history, springbok are now on exhibit and visible from the Zoo’s African Panorama decks.  Two male and three female springbok were shipped from the Pittsburgh Zoo and have been adjusting well to their exhibit in Evansville.  A male calf, conceived and born at Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden, now brings the Zoo’s springbok herd to six animals! 

Springbok are native to the western half of southern Africa.  Their coloration is bright reddish fawn with a dark side-band contrasting with white under parts, a white face with a dark band from eye to muzzle, and a white rump.  They have a line of white erectile hairs in a fold of skin along their lower back, and short horns that curve sharply at the tip.  These animals are typically 38-45 inches in length and reach a height at the shoulder of 30 inches.  Springbok can run at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour, jump 11 1/2 feet vertically, and 50 feet horizontally. 

 Females and bachelor males form separate herds, with breeding males maintaining that separation for females within their territory.  Females reach sexual maturity in a year and will reproduce every two years, typically producing one lamb during summer months.   Springbok graze on young, tender grasses and browse on shrubs and succulents.  The lifespan of these animals is up to 10 years. 

*Photo provided by Bill Palmer

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ImageImageIt is with great excitement that Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden announce a new animal species that has been added to their collection.  Three Coquerel’s sifakas, a father and two sons, are now exhibited in the Zoo’s Lemur Forest.  Dean, the father, was born in 2001 at the Los Angeles Zoo.  His sons Sebastian and Kelyfamata were both born in 2009.  Kelyfamata (meaning “small but mighty” in Malagasy) and Sebastian are easy to tell apart due to Sebastian’s shorter tail.  All three sifakas came to Mesker Park Zoo from the Houston Zoo, where the two sons were born.  Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden is one of only ten institutions with Coquerel’s sifaks.  There are currently only about 57of these animals in the captive population in the United States. 

Sifakas are a species of lemur within the Indriidae family and named after its alarm cry “shi-fak.”  These interesting creatures are native to the island of Madagascar and reside in its northwest deciduous forests and can also be found in secondary growth forest.  Sifaka’s International Union for Conservation of Nature classification is endangered because the population is decreasing due to habitat loss and hunting pressure.  Adult sifaka are similar in coloration with thick coats of white dorsally and on their head and tail with brown and maroon ventrally and on shoulders.   They also have a toothcomb for grooming similar to other lemurs.  The average adult is 100 cm in length with a weight of 4 kg.  This species usually lives in family groups with females being the dominant gender.  One very unique characteristics of the sifaka is the way they move using vertical leaps and they can hop forward when traveling on the ground.  Sifakas are herbivores, surviving in the wild on a diet that includes leaves, flowers, bark, and fruit.  In captivity, a sifaka can live up to 18 years.

Photos taken by Jessica McCauley, Zookeeper

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