zookeepertales

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This is an African Serval.

It’s not a “baby cheetah” – which is what everyone seems to think they are.

While Servals do have spots like a Cheetah, they are completely different animals. They are much smaller than cheetahs, reaching only about 21 to 26 inches tall. Their height is mostly leg, making it one of the tallest cats – relative to body size.

They are from Africa  - all over Africa, actually. And all over Africa they can be found running speeds up to 50 mph, and leaping seven to ten feet in the air to catch birds right out of the sky. The fact they can do that – succeeding 50% of the time – it makes them the most successful feline hunter in Africa, far surpassing the hunting success rate of the lions and cheetahs.

These little cuties are nocturnal and - like most other cats -  prefer to work alone. They can live to be about 23 years old. Which means, if I was a Serval, I would have died some time last year – which is sad. Another thing that is sad, is that the Serval population is falling. It’s falling because humans are encroaching on their habitat, which means larger cats – like leopards – have a better opportunity to find them as prey. It’s not all on the larger cats, though – humans are poaching Servals for their pelts, which is basically the number one threat of any animal that is Threatened.

To end this on a happier note, though… Servals can purr.

Which is adorable.

 

[Also, the Serval in the picture with the boots… That’s Chip – the first Serval I ever worked with. Those are also my boots.]

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This is a Kookaburra.

You know the one…

Kookaburra laughs in the old gum tree.

Yep.

This is it.

These, the largest member of kingfisher family, are found in the eucalyptus forests of Australia. If you ever plan on wandering these forests, just wait until about early dawn or dusk, and you’ll be able to hear what has been called a “cackling laugh”. In fact, because of their wonderful cackle at such specific times they have been called the bushman’s clock – letting everyone in Australia know what time it is.

Like I said earlier, the kookaburra is a member of the kingfisher family – which leads to the assumption that it eats fish. That would be correct of kingfishers. With their four-inch long pointed beak, the kookaburra does not carefully crack seeds of peel grapes. No, the kookaburra eats invertebrates and vertebrates – including small snakes and mice. They are so far from seeds and nuts birds, that they have become a nuisance to farmers because the kookaburra preys on the farmers’ fowl.

When kookaburras find love, they keep within their pairs – that is to say, they are monogamous. When it’s time for babies (so exciting!) the female can lay from one to five eggs. And what’s pretty neat, the fledgling kookaburras will actually hang around their parents nest to take care of the following chicks.

Family is important for these chuckle-heads.

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Hello.

Happy Easter.

I thought it only made sense to do a spotlilght on a bun-bun today.

So, this bun-bun is a Giant Flemish Rabbit!

IT’S SO FLUFFY I’M GONNA DIE!

Is the picture just blown up to make it seem this big, you ask. No. This is a for real life giant rabbit.

The Flemish Giant is native to a Flanders in Belgium, a county full of plains and valleys and rivers. This giant rabbit is perfectly suited for the 37° winters and 70° summers with a thick –super, super soft – pelt. Back in the day (the 1860’s, when people realized there was a huge rabbit in Belgium) these gentle giants only came in one color: grey, with sandy colored ears. Which makes sense, if you think about it, because Flanders also has some rocky alcoves and caves… which are grey, because they are made of rocks.

Anyway, these rabbits can reach 20 pounds – some even reach 30 pounds! – and average around 2½ feet long; they’re called Giants for a reason. Why so big, you ask? I see you’re very curious, on this Easter Sunday. Well, these rabbits were bred (again, back in the day) with other large rabbits for meat and fur. And, because we know so much about rabbits – in about a month you could have anywhere from 5 to 12 baby giants. These little giants will become actual giants within 9 months to a year, reaching about 14 pounds. So, it was a good investment to have a bunch of rabbits around in Flanders in the 1800’s, because they were a great source of food and fur.

These rabbits are a bit high maintenance, though. Having since been domesticated (yes, that means you can own them*) it’s been found that they can have a hard time grooming as they get older due to their large size. With that, it is possible that they can develop mats, which are detrimental in the long run. They have a powerful jump, too, so when they are picked up and want to be put down and try to jump away, the force behind that kick can sometimes be so hard, it breaks their spine.

I’m not trying to scare you away from owning this giant if you want one. They are so cute and have great personalities (I know 3 of these rabbits, and they’re all awesome), but rabbits in general are a lot of work. I mention this on Easter because I know sometimes people give little baby bunnies as presents. I would please advise you not to do so. They are small for about a week to two weeks, and then they get huge (all rabbits in general), they have long claws that they love to dig with and they need to gnaw on something always because their teeth are constantly growing. And, overall, they are not a snuggly animal…

They do make great pets, though – if you’ve got the time, the space and the patience… just… not for Easter.