Abyssinian ground hornbill (Bucorvus leadbeateri)
Range: Abyssinian Ground hornbills span the width of north-central Africa from Senegal and Guinea on the western coast to Ethiopia on the eastern coast. Primarily a terrestrial bird, Abyssinian ground hornbills live across the savanna, in grasslands and sub-desert scrub, as well as rocky areas. They have to have a tree in their habitat to nest.
Description: They have bright red bare skin around their eyes and forming a throat pouch under their bill. Some Hornbills have blue on their throat pouch, which is thought to be an indication that the bird is female. As protection, they have long feathers around their eyes and large scales on their legs.
Diet: Although its diet sometimes includes fruits and seeds, this hornbill is more likely to eat insects, toads, lizards, snakes, and tortoises. It also preys on mammals, such as hares, rats, squirrels, and even small monkeys.
Lifespan: Abyssinian Ground hornbills have lived up to 70 years in captivity. This makes them one of the world's longest-lived birds, on par with albatrosses. Since traditional African cultures saw ground hornbills as harbingers of rain, killing them was taboo.
African lion (Panthera leo)
Range: African lions live in Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. They wander a 100 square mile territory of scrub, grasslands or open woodlands.
Description: Lions are very social cats and live in groups called prides. The typical African lion prides consist of up to three males, around a dozen females, and their offspring (cubs).
Diet: African lions are carnivores (meat eaters) concentrating on antelopes, zebras and wildebeest. Female lions are the main hunters of the pride.
Lifespan: Healthy African lions live 10-14 years in the wild. In captivity, they can live up to 20 years old.
Blue duiker (Philantomba monticola)
Range: Blue duikers live throughout central, eastern, and southern Africa. They inhabit a wide variety of forest and woodlands, including lowland rainforest, gallery forest, coastal scrub farmland, dense thicket, and montane forest.
Description: The Blue Duiker is the smallest antelope in Southern Africa. Measures 12 inches at the shoulders and females weighs 9-10 pounds, while males are slightly smaller at 8-9 pounds. The coat is blue-grey. Both sexes carry short sharp horns, which are often concealed by a tuft of hair.
Diet: Common duikers are omnivores, they typically eat the leaves and shoots of bushes, and fruits and flowers that feeding birds have dropped to the ground. They also dig up tubers and roots with their hooves. Common duikers may also eat insects and even lizards, frogs, rodents and nestling birds, but will also consume insects and eggs.
Lifespan: In captivity, blue duikers typically live for 10-15 years. Their lifespan is shorter in the wild with the oldest known individual surviving to age 12.
Bongo (Tragelaphus eurycerus)
Range: They are only found in rainforests with dense undergrowth across tropical Africa. Specifically, they are found in the lowland rainforests of West Africa and the Congo Basin to the Central African Republic and southern Sudan.
Description: They are the largest forest-dwelling antelope species and one of the most distinctive, with a chestnut colored coat and long horns that spiral as high as 36 inches in males. Mountain bongos have chestnut brown fur with vertical white stripes along their sides. Their face is quite distinct with a dark muzzle, white stripe between the eyes and white spots on their cheeks.
Diet: Like many forest ungulates, bongos are herbivorous browsers and feed on leaves, bushes, vines, bark and pith of rotting trees, grasses/herbs, roots, cereals, and fruits. Bongos require salt in their diets, and are known to regularly visit natural salt licks.
Lifespan: The eastern bongo have been observed to live up to 19 years in the wild, and up to 21 years in captivity.
Bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus)
Range: The Bontebok inhabits the open savanna with coastal grasslands plains and tall shrub-like vegetation called fynbos. Historically, this species wandered the coastal plain of the southwestern Cape, South Africa. But now it persists in Bontebok National Park and a few reserves and private farms in the region.
Description: The Bontebok is a medium-sized, generally dark brown antelope with a prominent, wide white blaze on its face, with a pure white rump, belly and hocks, and black-tipped tail. Both sexes have horns, although the horns of rams are heavier and longer than those of ewes.
Diet: Bontebok are herbivores and their diet consists of various short grasses and plants. They are considered to be diurnal grazers, which means they will graze during the morning and evening and rest during the heat of the day.
Lifespan: Females mature in about two years, and the species can live for up to 17 years, but you can add 2-3 years to their life if living in captivity.
Cheetha (Acinonyx jubatus)
Range: Cheetahs historically live throughout Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Asia. However, most of the remaining wild cheetah populations are located in sub-Saharan Africa (south of the Saharan Desert) with some smaller populations in Northern Africa and one isolated population still living in Iran.
Description: The cheetah is built for speed. It has long, slim, muscular legs, a small, rounded head set on a long neck, a flexible spine, a deep chest, nonretractable claws, special pads on its feet for traction and a long, tail for balance. Average height: 30 inches at the shoulder. Average weight: 110 to 140 pounds.
Diet: Cheetahs eat small to medium-size animals, such as hares, impalas, wildebeest calves, and gazelles. Lone adults may hunt every two to five days, compared to a female with cubs that may make a kill daily. An adult cheetah eats about 6.2 lb. (2.8 kg) of meat per day. Cheetahs rarely drink — seldom do they drink more than once every four days and sometimes only once every 10 days.
Lifespan: The lifespan of a cheetah is approximately 10 to 12 years in the wild, or up to 20 years or longer in captivity. Mating usually doesn't take place until the age of 3 years. Females give birth to an average litter of 3 to 5 cubs after a gestation period of 3 months.
Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes)
Range: Typical chimpanzee habitat is tropical rainforest (see video below), but chimpanzees are also found in forest-savanna mosaic and in montane rainforest up to about 3,000 meters. Chimps have the widest geographic distribution of any great ape, with a range of more than 1.75 million miles (2.6 million kilometers). They can be found discontinuously from southern Senegal across the forested belt north of the Congo River to western Uganda and western Tanzania.
Description: The chimpanzee has a thickset body with long arms, short legs and no tail. Much of the body is covered with long black hair, but the face, ears, fingers and toes are bare. They have hands that can grip firmly, allowing them to pick up objects. Size: 3 to 4.5 feet tall standing bipedal, weighing 55 to 110 pounds.
Diet: Chimpanzees eat a wide variety of food. Observers have recorded about 80 different items wild chimps eat, including seeds, fruit, leaves, bark, honey, flowers, and insects. This makes up most of their diet. However, chimpanzees also hunt other animals, like monkeys or small antelope, for meat.
Lifespan: The life span for chimpanzees is 40 to 50 years in the wild and for those in captivity it is 50 to 60 years, according to the Center for Great Apes.
East African Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum)
Range: Found in the grassland and wetland areas of the eastern and southern regions of Africa and standing at over 3-4 feet tall, there's no mistaking these giants of the bird world. Africa is the native home of the grey crowned crane. They can be found in Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Description: They have a wingspan of six and a half feet. They have slate grey feathers on their body. Wings are white with black and chestnut coloring. These birds are named for the distinctive, bristle-like, golden feathers on top of their black head. Crowned cranes are famous for their courtship, especially the mating dance between the male and female. The dance consists of bobbing, flapping wings, and swinging circles around each other. A successful pair of mated crowned cranes keeps its family group together for almost a year.
Diet: Crowned cranes are omnivorous feeding on plants, worms, insects, lizards, and small mammals.
Lifespan: East African crowned cranes are fully mature by two to three years of age; these birds can live 20-40 years; approximately the same amount of years in captivity.
Dama gazelle (Nanger dama)
Range: Gazelles are small members of the antelope family, found primarily in Africa where they live in grasslands and savanna woodlands and feed on plants and grasses. The wild population of the dama gazelle is found in the Sahel, a vast arid grassland region associated with the Sahara desert.
Description: The dama gazelle is white with a reddish-brown head and neck. Both sexes usually have medium-length ringed horns curved like an "S". Males' horns are about 14 inches long, while females' horns are much shorter. The head is small with a narrow muzzle, and the eyes are relatively large. The dama gazelle, also called the mhorr or addra gazelle, is the largest of the gazelles and was once common and widespread in arid and semi-arid regions of the Sahara.
Diet: Dama gazelles obtain most of their water from the plants they consume. Their diet includes various desert shrubs and acacias, along with rough desert grasses. At the Montgomery Zoo, they eat orchard grass hay and alfalfa hay; about a flake each per day.
Lifespan: The largest gazelle species, the critically endangered dama gazelle is also one of the rarest. Fewer than 400 individuals remain in the wild, mainly in Chad and Sudan. The life span of the dama gazelle is unknown in the wild. In human care, individual males have lived up to 15 years and individual females have lived up to 19 years.
African elephant (Loxodonta)
The African elephant is a genus comprising two living elephant species, the African bush elephant and the smaller African forest elephant. Both are herbivores and live in groups. They have grey skin and differ in the size of their ears and tusks, and in the shape and size of their skulls.
African elephants are the largest land animals on Earth. African elephants have two fingerlike features on the end of their trunk that they can use to grab small items. (Asian elephants only have one.) Both male and female African elephants have tusks they use to dig for food and water and strip bark from trees.
Cool little fact: An elephant never forgets. It is not easy to measure with precision the memory span of an elephant; many working elephants can learn and remember a large number of commands. They also appear to recognize many humans, as well as individuals of their own species – even when separated from them for decades.
Range: African savannah elephants live in the grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa while forest elephants live in the Congo River Basin in western central Africa. Botswana has the highest population. According to the latest analysis from counts all over Africa, Botswana has 118,736 wild elephants. On the other hand, Kenya (the safest safari destination) has only 26,427 wild elephants.
Description: They are the world's largest land animals. The biggest can be up to 25ft, 11ft high at the shoulder, and 10-12,000lbs in weight. The trunk is an extension of the upper lip and nose and is used for communication and handling objects, including food.
Diet: Elephants eat roots, grasses, fruit, and bark, and they eat a lot of these things. An adult elephant can consume up to 300 pounds of food in a single day.
Lifespan: Elephants median age in the wild is 57 years; while in captivity, they can live up to their late 60-70s. The gestation period for an African elephant to give birth is 22-24 months.
Egyptian geese (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
The Egyptian goose, also known as the Nil goose, is named for its place of origin (being the Nile Valley in Africa) and is a large, very distinctive waterbird with conspicuous eye patches of dark chocolate-brown. The female resembles the male, though is smaller, often with darker markings on her beak.
Range: A member of the duck, goose, and swan family Anatidae. It is native to Africa south of the Sahara and the Nile Valley. Egyptian geese were considered sacred by the Ancient Egyptians, and appeared in much of their artwork. These water birds are excellent swimmers, but are mostly terrestrial and can be seen perching on trees and buildings. They also favor a habitat that offers plenty of water, as well as some dry spots. So, they can usually be found in inland regions (even open plains) that have wetlands, lagoons or lakes nearby. They are also partial to ornamental water features (like ponds).
Description: Egyptian geese have long necks, long pink legs, a pink bill and brown eye patches encircling each eye. They are distinguished from closely related species by a brown patch in the middle of the chest. The upper wings and the head are brown, while the rest of the body is light brown.
Diet: This is a largely terrestrial species, which will also perch readily on trees and buildings. Egyptian geese typically eat seeds, leaves, grasses, and plant stems. Occasionally, they will eat locusts, worms, or other small animals.
Lifespan: Their maximum recorded lifespan in captivity is 25 years. In wild, their lifespan is unknown.
Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata)
Reticulated giraffe coats consists of large, polygonal liver-colored spots outlined by a network of bright white lines. The blocks may sometimes appear deep red and may also cover the legs. The pattern is unique to each giraffe, much like a human fingerprint. Male Reticulated giraffes reach a towering 18 feet tall and can weigh between 2400 and 4250 pounds.
Range: Reticulated giraffes are native to the Horn of Africa; populating mostly in Somalia, southern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya.
Description: Reticulated giraffes have long necks, tongues and legs, along with two bony, fur-covered horns on their heads. Adults measure between 14 and 19 feet in height and weigh between 1,750 and 2,800 pounds. Their pattern is unique to the individual giraffe, much like a human's fingerprint.
Diet: Reticulated giraffes are herbivorous, eating a staple of Acacia, Commiphora, and Terminalia leaves. At the Zoo, our giraffes eat mostly alfalfa hay and grain.
Lifespan: Healthy giraffes can live about 20 to 25 years in the wild. In captivity, 28 years or longer._______________
Fun facts: On the top of their heads, Reticulated Giraffes have horns made of solid bone and covered with skin. These are used for sparring between males.
Reticulated Giraffes are also fast and are able to gallop up to 35 miles per hour.
A giraffe has four stomachs? That makes them a ruminant — like cows, sheep, goats, and other animals with four stomachs that require multiple chewing sessions to fully digest food.
Grant's Zebra (Equus quagga boehmi)
Grant's zebra are part of the equidae family along with horse and donkeys. Every zebra has a unique pattern of black and white stripes. There are a number of different theories which attempt to explain zebra's unique stripes with most relating to camouflage.
Range: Live in eastern and southern Africa sustained by the grasslands, savannas, and some woodlands. The word savanna comes from the 16th-century word zavanna, meaning “treeless plain.”
Description: Grant's zebras have long noses and their eyes are on the sides of their head which gives them a wider field of vision. If they see a predator approaching, Grant's zebras will gather together so that the predator can only see a maze of stripes.
Diet: Primarily eat eats grasses, leaves, and twigs.
Lifespan: In captivity, the average lifespan is 20 to 25 years. They normally live about 8 to 9 years in the wild. Currently, they are considered a near threatened species.
Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros)
Range: Greater kudus are found in woodlands and bushlands throughout eastern and southern Africa. Greater kudu are not territorial; they have home areas instead. Maternal herds have home ranges of approximately 4 square kilometers and these home ranges can overlap with other maternal herds. Home ranges of adult males are about 11 square kilometers and generally encompass the ranges of two or three female groups.
Description: Part of the Bovidae family, Greater kudus have a narrow body with long legs, and their coats can range from brown/bluish grey to reddish brown. They possess between 4 and 12 vertical white stripes along their torso. The ears of the greater kudu are large and round. Adult males hit the scales at 420 – 600 pounds, while females tend to be a little smaller weighing 260 – 460 pounds. Lesser Kudus, physically share the same features; however, are smaller in size than Greater Kudu.
Diet: Kudus are browsers and eat leaves and shoots. In dry seasons, they eat wild watermelons and other fruit for their liquid content and the natural sugars that they provide. The lesser kudu is less dependent on water sources than the greater kudu.
Lifespan: Greater kudus have a lifespan of 7 to 8 years in the wild, and up to 23 years in captivity. They may be active throughout the 24 hour day. Herds disperse during the rainy season when food is plentiful.
Marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumenifer)
Range: These storks have an extremely large range and can be found throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. These birds inhabit open dry savannas, grasslands, swamps, riverbanks, lake shores, and receding pools where fish are concentrated. The total population size is very large with at least 10,000 mature individuals. The marabou stork is a large wading bird in the stork family Ciconiidae. It breeds in Africa south of the Sahara, in both wet and arid habitats, often near human habitation, especially landfill sites.
Description: The marabou stork is a massive bird: large specimens are thought to reach a height of 60 inches and a weight of 20 pounds. It has a huge bill, a pink gular sac at its throat (crumenifer(us) means "carrier of a pouch for money"), a neck ruff, and black legs and wings. Marabou storks nest in groups with other marabous and other species of stork. They may nest in colonies which may vary in size from 20 to thousands of pairs. They usually build their nests about 60 to 100 feet high in trees, but also on cliffs and on buildings in towns.
Diet: Marabou storks are opportunistic feeders and eat a wide variety of foods including carrion and food waste left by people. They are often seen foraging at rubbish dumps and abattoirs. They also prey on a broad range of animals including fish, insects, frogs, lizards, snakes, rats, mice and birds.
Lifespan: The marabou stork breeds in colonies, starting during the dry season. The female lays two to three eggs in a small nest made of sticks; eggs hatch after an incubation period of 30 days. Their young reach sexual maturity at 4 years of age. Lifespan is 41 years in captivity and 25 years in wild.
Ostrich (Struthio camelus)
Range: Wild ostriches live in the dry, hot savannas and woodlands of Africa. They once roamed all over Asia, Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, but because they have been hunted so extensively, wild ostriches' range has been reduced to sub-Saharan Africa. These towering birds live in sandy and arid habitats, particularly in open country. Common environments for these birds include savannas, woodlands, desert, plains, semidesert, dry grasslands, and scrubs.
Description: The ostrich is a unique looking animal. It has long skinny legs, a big body with small wings, a long neck, and a dangerous long beak. The ostrich usually weighs between 200 and 300 pounds and can grow to 9 feet tall. Its large body is covered with feathers. Ostriches are ratites, flightless birds that have a flat breastbone rather than a keeled or curved breastbone like birds of flight. They have a simple wing bone structure, strong legs, and no feather vanes, making it unnecessary to oil the feathers. Despite not being able to fly, these birds are very fast land animals, running at speeds upwards of 43 miles per hour. Males, females and young ostriches have different colors. Males can be recognized by black and white color. Females and young are usually grayish, brownish and white.
Diet: Their diet consists mainly of roots, leaves, and seeds, but ostriches will eat whatever is available. Sometimes they consume insects, snakes, lizards, and rodents. They also swallow sand and pebbles which help them grind up their food in their gizzard, a specialized, muscular stomach.
Lifespan: At one year of age, common ostriches weigh approximately 100 pounds. Their lifespan is up to 40-45 years. In captivity, an ostrich can live up to 50-60 years old.
Pygmy Hippopotamus (Choeropsis liberiensis)
Range: Pygmy hippos have a small range, and are only found in the interior portions (away from the coast) of West Africa. They are more common in Liberia than anywhere else. This species prefers forested areas, and they live near streams, rivers, or swamps. They are native to the forests and swamps of West Africa, primarily in Liberia, with small populations in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Ivory Coast. The pygmy hippo is reclusive and nocturnal.
Description: They stand 2.5 feet tall and measure 5 feet from head to tail. The pygmy hippopotamus displays many terrestrial adaptations, however, like its larger cousin, it is semi-aquatic and relies on to water to keep its skin moisturized and its body temperature cool. Its nose and ears close underwater just like a hippo's do, but its head is rounder and narrower, its neck is proportionally longer, and its eyes are not on the top of its head. The top layer of the pygmy hippo's greenish-black skin is smooth and thin to help the animal stay cool in the humid rain forest.
Diet: Pygmy hippos are herbivorous. They do not eat aquatic vegetation to a significant extent and rarely eat grass because it is uncommon in the thick forests they inhabit. The bulk of a pygmy hippo's diet consists of ferns, broad-leaved plants and fruits that have fallen to the forest floor.
Lifespan: The survival of the species in zoos is more certain than the survival of the species in the wild. In captivity, the pygmy hippo lives from 42 to 55 years, though it is unlikely that they live this long in the wild. Since 1919, only 41 percent of pygmy hippos born in zoos have been male.
Siamang (Symphalangus syndactylus)
Range: The siamang is native to the forests of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Siamangs live in the mountains of the Malay Peninsula and Sumatra in rainforests and monsoon forests. They have relatively small ranges, about 60 acres. Siamangs are intelligent, each having their own distinct character and personality. Living in small family groups, Siamangs fiercely defend their territory and family members. Pairs generally mate for life.
Description: The siamang has long, dense, shaggy hair which is the darkest shade of all gibbons. Siamangs are considered part of the lesser ape family featuring long, gangling arms that are longer than its legs. The average length of a siamang is three feet, but the largest they have ever grown is five feet. The face of this large gibbon is mostly hairless apart from a thin mustache. The siamang, unlike other gibbons, has an inflatable throat sac. This sac can be inflated to be as big as the siamang's head. It acts a resonating chamber for the vocal cords, making the sounds even louder. Their hooting can be heard up to 2 miles away through the dense rain forest.
Diet: Siamangs eat fruit and new leaves and include a larger proportion of leafy matter in their diet than most other gibbons. Siamangs also eat a small amount of insects, bird eggs and small vertebrates.
Lifespan: The siamang can live to around 40 years in captivity. While the illegal pet trade takes a toll on wild populations, the principal threat to the siamang is habitat loss in both Indonesia and Malaysia.