Minnesota Zoo Animal Facts

Minnesota Zoo Animal Facts
Share facts about some of the Minnesota Zoo’s animals with your students before your field trip.
81 facts - enough to share 2-3 each day for a month before your field trip.
Read more about the animals at www.mnzoo.org or http://www.mnzoo.com/animals/animals.asp
Minnesota Trail:
Bald Eagle - Eagles re-use nests and add to them each year. Well-established nests may grow as large as 10 feet across,
20 feet deep, and weigh over 2 tons!
Beaver - With their strong jaws and teeth, beavers can chew through a six-inch tree in 15 minutes. A single beaver can
chew down hundreds of trees each year.
Black Bear - A black bear can run at speeds of 25–30 mph.
Coyote - The coyote is able to adapt to many environments – even urban environments. In 1995 a pair was found in New
York City. One was found resting on a seat in a light rail car in Portland, OR.
Fisher - Hind paws that rotate allow fishers to grasp branches and climb down trees head first. Minnesota
Minnesota Herp’s - Three of Minnesota’s frogs, the gray tree frog, wood frog, and spring peeper, spend winters frozen
(frogsicles), then thaw in spring. They replace water in their organs with a natural antifreeze that protects against icy
Lynx - Lynx numbers go up and down with the population of snowshoes hares. So protecting lynx means protecting
River Otter - With eyes specially adapted for underwater vision, river otters are nearsighted above water.
Pileated Woodpecker - A woodpecker’s pointy tongue stretches three times longer than its bill and contains tiny, rearfacing barbs. The barbs prevent insects from escaping when the woodpecker retracts its tongue from the tree.
Porcupine - Porcupines cannot throw their quills. But they can release these hardened, barbed hairs once
they’ve stuck them into an attacker’s skin.
Puma - Linked to speed, strength, and cunning, the names “puma” and “cougar” are popular names for sports teams,
athletic shoes, and cars.
Raccoon- Raccoons are agile climbers. They can come down a tree either head or tail first.
Grey Wolf - Wolves cover large areas in their hunt for food. They can trot 40 miles without resting.
Wolverine - Wolverines’ are the most powerfully built of the weasel family. They're able to bring down an adult caribou,
but prefer to scavenge.
Discovery Bay:
Cobia - Cobia fish are voracious eaters, and often engulf their prey whole.
Coral Reef - Corals and sponges are animals. Most earn their names from something they resemble on land. Elkhorn
coral looks like horns or antlers.
Eels - Green moray eels are really blue. Their bodies are coated with a yellow-colored slime that makes them look green.
Grouper - These fish are daytime hunters and are not built for speed over long distances they prefer to ambush their
prey rather than pursue it in open water.
Jacks - Jacks are fast-swimming fish have large eyes, excellent eyesight, and are one of the largest predators on the reef.
Leopard Shark - The leopard shark is hunted by the great white shark. Sharks as well as rays don’t have bones. Their
skull, spine, and fin supports are made of cartilage, the same lightweight, flexible material found in the bendable parts of
a human’s nose and ears.
Porcupine Fish - These puffers hide in coral and as their name implies, can puff up two to three times their normal size
by sucking air or water into a special chamber in their abdomen.
Sand Tiger Shark - Sand tiger sharks are able to stay nearly motionless in the water by gulping
air. They retain this air in their stomach where it keeps them close to neutrally buoyant. Sand
tigers are the only sharks known to do this.
Seahorse - About 40 different species of seahorses live in a variety of coastal habitats around the world. With seahorses,
the males get pregnant and give birth.
Sea dragons - Sea dragons are extremely delicate. They can be injured even by the simple touch of a
human hand.
Sea Turtle - Green sea turtles can stay under water for as long as five hours. Their heart rate slows down to conserve
Southern Stingray - Southern stingrays are known to visit ‘cleaning stations,’ where fish known as cleaner wrasse will
remove the parasites from their bodies.
Tarpon - These large fish may grow up to 8 feet in length and weight up to 350 pounds.
Triggerfish - Triggerfish can watch for predators from all sides by rolling their eyes independently.
Northern Trail:
Bison: The bison’s hump is a set of powerful muscles that hold up and control the movement of its 50- to
75-pound head.
Bactrian Camel - Camels are close relatives of llamas and evolved in North America. They migrated to Asia about 2
million years ago.
Caribou - In Europe caribou are called reindeer. In the United States a small domesticated type of caribou is called a
Dhole - Dholes sometimes harass much larger predators, even tigers, in efforts to steal their prey.
Asian Wild Horse - All Asian wild horses alive today descended from 14 zoo animals.
Goitered Gazelle - The names comes from a male goitered gazelle that develops an enlarged throat and drop piles of
dung in strategic spots to mark their territory.
Moose - The moose’s huge, spreading feet help keep it from sinking in as it walks on muck or snow.
Musk Ox - When threatened, musk oxen form a protective line or circle around their young with their horns facing out.
Prairie Dog - The barking sound prairie dogs make when communicating with each other earned them their name.
Scientists have identified at least 11 calls, each with a distinct meaning.
Pronghorn - With a top speed of 55 mph, the pronghorn is the second-swiftest animal in the world. Only
the cheetah is faster.
Takin - When takin are alarmed they cough to alert others.
Amur Tiger - No two tigers have the same stripes. The skin as well as the fur shows the animal’s unique striping pattern.
Trumpeter Swan - A trumpeter swan’s neck is as long as its body. It allows the bird to reach plants far beneath the
surface of the water, and provides room for the body parts needed to produce the bird’s signature call.
Russia’s Grizzly Coast:
Brown Bear - A brown bear can easily outrun a person. Its movements may look ponderous and slow, but a single gallop
can cover the distance an adult human travels in four steps.
Amur Leopard - Only 50 Amur leopards exist in the wild. That’s fewer than the number of kids on a full
school bus!
Sea Otter - Sea otters have the thickest fur of any animal. They have 10 times as many hairs in one square inch as you
have on your entire head! Their fur helps them stay warm in chilly water.
Amur Tiger - When Tigers walk, they often place their hind feet in the tracks of their forefeet.
Wild Boar - The hair from the neck of wild boars was commonly used to make toothbrushes before synthetic materials
were invented.
South Entry Area Animals:
Snow Monkeys - Snow monkeys live farther north than any other non-human primate. In Japan, they survive
the cold northern temperatures with long, thick fur and an occasional dip in a volcanic hot spring.
African Penguin - Penguins are birds, feathers and all. Those feathers insulate them against frigid water. Their
specialized wings help them fly efficiently in the ocean. Penguins swim through the water at up to 15 miles per
hour— faster than many fish can swim!
Tropics Trail:
Armadillo - The southern three-banded armadillo can smell worms as deep as 8 inches underground.
Bali Mynah - To catch the attention of a female mate, the male Bali mynah raises his lacy, white crest and bobs his head
up and down while singing to her.
Binturong - Binturongs communicate with each other by scent, through a special gland on their tail. They leave this scent
on branches. Some people think it smells like popcorn or corn chips.
Colobus Monkey - Colobus monkeys have multi-chambered stomachs that allow them to digest leaves and
unripe fruit other monkeys can’t.
Crocodile - West Africa Dwarf Crocodiles lived alongside dinosaurs but survived beyond them, evidence that they were
(and remain) well adapted to their environments.
De Brazza’s Monkey - De Brazza’s monkeys store food in cheek pouches while they forage, then eat it later when they
are in a safe place.
Fruit Bat - Fruit bats are sometimes called “flying foxes” because their long snouts and upright ears give them a foxlike
Gibbon - Gibbons avoid crossing water, and major rivers usually separate each gibbon species in the wild. To drink, they
dip their hands in water or rub their fur against wet leaves, then slurp up the water.
Goral - Baby gorals (“kids”) can stand up an hour after being born. They can follow their mothers over steep, rocky
terrain when they are just one day old.
Tropical Herps - When frogs eat something toxic, they “throw up” their entire stomach! Using muscles in their throat,
they eject their stomach through their mouth, wipe it clean with their front legs, and swallow it back down again.
Hornbill - The banana-shaped casque on the top of a rhinoceros hornbill is thought to make its call louder and easier to
hear through the dense forest.
Hyrax - Sociable creatures, rock hyraxes use more than 20 different sounds to communicate with each
other. The hyrax’s feet have a moist, sticky surface that works like a suction cup to help it cling to
surfaces as it climbs.
Komodo Monitor - Komodos don’t need to eat often, but when they do they can take a lot: up to 80% of
their body weight. What’s 80% of your weight?
Red Ruffed Lemur - Red ruffed lemurs use loud barking calls to announce their territory and avoid unexpected meetings
with neighboring groups. Grunts and gurgles are also common forms of communication.
Ring- tailed Lemur - Ring-tail society is dominated by females. They get first access to the best food items and sleeping
Macaw - Wild macaws flock to riverbanks and cliffs to eat bits of clay soil. These “macaw licks” contain salts and minerals
vital to their diets and make safe any toxins in the fruits and seeds that they eat.
Malay Great Argus - The male argus' wings spread into two enormous fans, revealing hundreds of "eyes".
Asian Small Clawed Otter - Like other members of the weasel family, the strong, musky scent of the Asian small-clawed
otter is used to communicate with other otters.
Red Panda - Like raccoons, red pandas dip their paws in water to get them wet and then lick them off to
Red River Hog - Like other members of the pig family, red river hogs have a flat disk made of cartilage at the end of their
snout. Muscles in the snout allow them to move the disk around as they search for food.
Sloth - Sloths have wiry grooved hairs that encourage the growth of blue-green algae. This gives them a greenish tint
that helps them evade predators.
Tamandua - This southern tamandua can eat 9,000 ants a day. Its long, sticky tongue has tiny backwardpointing spines that keep insects from escaping.
Cotton – top Tamarin - Rather than expose themselves to predators on the forest floor, cotton-top tamarins get water
by licking leaves that are wet with rain or dew.
Golden Lion Tamarin - Golden lion tamarins are one of the few species to be successfully reintroduced to the wild in
their native Brazil.
Tapir - For the first 6-8 months of their life, newborn tapirs resemble 20 lb. watermelons with legs. They are
dark brown to black with alternating bands of yellowish-white stripes and spots.
Toucan - Fruit-eating toucans are important to rain forest health and diversity. They pass seeds from the fruit they eat
through their digestive systems unharmed, “planting” them in other parts of the forest.
Tree Kangaroo - To keep cool on hot days, tree kangaroos pant, rest in the shade, and lick the fur on their arms.
Tropical Reef - The Tropical Reef provide homes to nearly 25% of all marine fish species (an estimated
4,000 coral reef fish species worldwide).
Warty Pig - Adult Visayans Warty Pigs have long hair on the tops of their heads and spines. When threatened, they raise
their spiky manes to make themselves appear larger and more menacing.
Family Farm: (farm open April-November)
Cow - Of all dairy cows, Holsteins produce the most milk. In 2005, Minnesota Holsteins averaged more than 18,000
pounds of milk. That’s about the weight of 5 typical mid-size cars!
Chicken - There are currently more chickens living on Earth than any other type of bird. A rooster’s
morning greeting—cock-a-doodle-doo in English—is chicchirichí in Italian, ko-ke-kok-ko-o in Japanese,
and 'o'o'o in Mandarin Chinese.
Goat - Historians believe domestic goats were aboard the Mayflower on its 1620 voyage bringing Pilgrims to North
Horse - When Columbus came to the Americas, he brought horses back to the New World. Long before, the first horses
lived in the Americas. During the Ice Ages, they migrated to Asia, then Europe and Africa. At the same time, they went
extinct in the Americas. All horses in the Americas today are descended from Eurasian breeds.
Pig - All domestic pigs have curling tails. Their wild relatives (including Eurasian boars and Visayan Warty Pigs) have
straight ones.
Rabbit - A rabbit’s ears can be like air-conditioners. Along with providing an excellent range of hearing, long rabbit ears
also have a large surface area, which helps with body cooling
Sheep - One pound of sheep’s wool can produce as much as 10 miles of yarn!
**These are just a few of the 4,100 animals representing 500 species whose home is at the Minnesota Zoo. All animals
may not visible every day due to animal care needs. Learn more about care and enrichment at