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|Below is some information about the residents of the Australian realm at The Montgomery Zoo. Come visit us to find out more.
The cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is an atypical member of the cat family (Felidae) that is unique in its speed, while lacking strong climbing abilities. The species is the only living member of the genus Acinonyx. It is the fastest land animal, reaching speeds between 112 and 120 km/h (70 and 75 mph) in short bursts covering distances up to 460 m (1,510 ft), and has the ability to accelerate from 0 to 103 km/h (64 mph) in three seconds, faster than most supercars.
Chimpanzee, sometimes colloquially chimp, is the common name for the two extant species of ape in the genus Pan. The Congo River forms the boundary between the native habitat of the two species:
Chimpanzees are members of the Hominidae family, along with gorillas, humans, and orangutans. Chimpanzees split from human evolution about 6 million years ago and the two chimpanzee species are the closest living relatives to humans, all being members of the Hominini tribe (along with extinct species of Hominina subtribe). Chimpanzees are the only known members of the Panina subtribe. The two Pan species split only about one million years ago.
The East African Crowned crane is a tall, majestic looking bird which sports a crown of sorts, made of tall stiff golden feathers that looks for all of the world like a real crown.
He has large white patches of feathers on his cheeks with small red patches at the top of them and a slate gray coloring over most of his wings, with a black bill and legs.
The African Crowned is quite tall for a Crane, at about three feet high when they are fully mature, with the crown making them appear taller still.
They are among the largest of the cranes with a wing span that can reach six and a half or seven feet across when they are in flight.
The East African Crowned Crane is found near rivers and wetlands, usually in marshy grasslands near rivers or lakes in Eastern Zaire, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. The Crowned Crane is also the national bird of Uganda.
They gave a very loud and melodious cry that they give while in flight, which has led to some of the beliefs that are held about them being magical creatures by the local African people who live near them or in their range.
Many people believe that the cranes are able to bring the rains with them and many of them will also incorporate the cranes, or their actions into their own sacred rituals in order to bring about the rainy season.
The cranes’ long legs and necks and excellent peripheral vision help them spot predators in the tall Savannah grasses.
In breeding season which is springtime in this area, the pairs of cranes will build nests which are very large, made of grass and vegetation on the lesser wet parts of the marshy ground or even in shallow water.
Two to three eggs are laid, and both parents take turns incubating them for the thirty days it takes for the chicks to hatch. The chicks can run as soon as they hatch, and within ten weeks can fly.
The cranes remain monogamous, and even after the chicks leave the nest the pair remains together, and will breed each season strictly with each other, remaining paired for life.
All cranes, these as well as most other varieties are famous for the spectacular dances they do when mating, which involves head-bobbing, wing fluttering, leaps and bows. Both sexes dance, and immature birds join the adults. Dancing is an integral part of courtship but also may be done at any time of the year.
An omnivore, the crowned crane eats plants, seeds, grain, insects, frogs, worms, snakes, small fish and eggs of water animals. Stamping their feet as they walk, they flush out insects which are quickly caught and eaten.
See the East African Crowned Crane in the African hoofstock collection at the Montgomery Zoo.
African elephants are the species of elephants in the genus Loxodonta (Greek for 'oblique-sided tooth’), one of the two existing genera in Elephantidae. Although it is commonly believed that the genus was named by Georges Cuvier in 1825, Cuvier spelled it Loxodonte. An anonymous author romanized the spelling to Loxodonta and the ICZN recognizes this as the proper authority.
Fossil members of Loxodonta have only been found in Africa, where they developed in the middle Pliocene.
African elephants are bigger than Asian elephants. Males stand 3.2–4.0 m (10–13 ft) tall at the shoulder and weigh 4,700–6,048 kg (10,000–13,330 lb), while females stand 2.2–2.6 m (7.2–8.5 ft) tall and weigh 2,160–3,232 kg (4,800–7,130 lb).
Elephants have four molars; each weighs about 5 kg (11 lb) and measures about 30 cm (12 in) long. As the front pair wears down and drops out in pieces, the back pair shifts forward, and two new molars emerge in the back of the mouth. Elephants replace their teeth six times. At about 40 to 60 years of age, the elephant no longer has teeth and will likely die of starvation, a common cause of death.
Their tusks are teeth; the second set of incisors become the tusks. They are used for digging for roots and stripping the bark off trees for food, for fighting each other during mating season, and for defending themselves against predators. The tusks weigh from 23–45 kg (51–99 lb) and can be from 1.5–2.4 m (5–8 ft) long. Unlike Asian elephants, both male and female African elephants have tusks. The enamel plates of the molars are fewer in number than in Asian elephants.
Bush and forest elephants were formerly considered subspecies of the same species Loxodonta africana. As described in the entry for the forest elephant in the third edition of Mammal Species of the World (MSW3), there is now evidence they should be considered as separate species, but also some recent evidence to the contrary, and the question remains undecided at present.
Much of the evidence cited in MSW3 is morphological. The African forest elephant has a longer and narrower mandible, rounder ears, a different number of toenails, straighter and downward tusks, and considerably smaller size. With regard to the number of toenails: the African bush elephant normally has four toenails on the front foot and three on the hind feet, the African forest elephant normally has five toenails on the front foot and four on the hind foot (like the Asian elephant), but hybrids between the two species commonly occur.
MSW3 lists the two forms as full species and does not list any subspecies in its entry for Loxodonta africana. However, this approach is not taken by the United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre nor by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), both of which list L.cyclotis as a synonym (not even a subspecies) of L.africana.
A consequence of the IUCN taking this view is that the IUCN Red List makes no independent assessment of the conservation status of the two forms of African elephant. It merely assesses the two forms taken together as a unit as vulnerable.
The African Elephants are located in the African realm at the Montgomery Zoo.
The giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis) is an African even-toed ungulate mammal, the tallest of all land-living animal species, and the largest ruminant. The giraffe's scientific name, which is similar to its antiquated English name of camelopard, refers to its irregular patches of color on a light background, which bear a token resemblance to a leopard's spots. The average mass for an adult male giraffe is 1,200 kilograms (2,600 lb) while the average mass for an adult female is 830 kilograms (1,800 lb). It is approximately 4.3 meters (14 ft) to 5.2 meters (17 ft) tall, although the tallest male recorded stood almost 6 meters (20 ft).
The Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is a woodland antelope found throughout eastern and southern Africa. Despite occupying such widespread territory, they are sparsely populated in most areas, due to a declining habitat, deforestation and hunting.
The African ground hornbill, Bucorvus leadbeateri, inhabits the African savanna south of the equator. Ground hornbills prefer steppes and savannas with a fairly low grass growth, which makes the search for food easier. They have very large territories of about 100 sq. kilometers.
The pygmy hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis or Hexaprotodon liberiensis) is a large mammal native to the forests and swamps of western Africa (the specific name liberiensis means "of Liberia", as this is where the vast majority live). The pygmy hippo is reclusive and nocturnal. It is one of only two extant species in the Hippopotamidae family, the other being its much larger cousin the common hippopotamus.
Vultures long with snakes, spiders, hyenas and sharks, vultures are regarded as the "bad guys" of the animal kingdom. All creatures do, of course, have a role to play in nature and it is only though the subjective and emotive thinking of humans that labels such as "evil", "horrid", "cruel" and "merciless" arise. No animals possess such traits - they are all engaged in a struggle for survival which sees them trying to optimize on feeding and reproductive opportunities within the ecosystems in which they have evolved, and the particular niches that they occupy.
Contrary to popular opinion, vultures are not reliant on the left-overs of predator kills, although they will frequently visit the site of a kill and will certainly take food if it is available. Lion and spotted hyena usually hunt and feed after dark and if they do make a kill by day, they are invariably too imposing for the vultures. In reality, the bulk of vulture food comes from mortalities such as old age, diseased or broken limbed-animals and still-born young. When one realizes that up to 100 000 wildebeest must die each year in the Serengeti-Mara (for a population of one million to be maintained among an animal that lives for a maximum of ten years) it is plain to see that vultures would survive well enough without lions. In Southern Africa - with its denser woodlands and lower biomass - it may be that vultures gain a greater proportion of their meals from predator leftovers although this has yet to be studied in any detail.
Interestingly, the eight species of vulture in African savannahs are not only able to co-exist, but may actually benefit one another through their different foraging techniques and feeding habits. When vultures are feeding together at a carcass, co-operation is perhaps the last word that might come to mind, as they hiss and stomp on each other to try a get a mouthful of flesh, but closer examination raises this interesting prospect.
The White-headed Vulture is the most-lightweight (in relation to its wingspan) of the African vultures and is therefore the most mobile and agile species. Because it is up and about early in the day, it is frequently the first to locate a carcass and often enjoys the first choice soft parts but it seemingly prefers sinew and hide, and cannot reach this until a large flock of griffon vultures have dismembered the body. Interestingly, the White-headed Vulture has striking black and white plumage and its decent to a carcass will be easily noticed by a griffon soaring at a higher altitude (ravens and crows - with their white collars - do likewise in mountainous landscapes).
The white headed vulture can be seen on display in the African realm at the Montgomery Zoo.