Monday, October 29, 2012

National Zoo Redux Part VII: Small Furry Friends New and Old

Circling back towards the main zoo entrance, I stopped by at the Small Mammal House. This is a golden-headed lion tamarin, a species I don't remember seeing on my first trip.

A nice photo I got of a tree shrew, considering that it can seem to an onlooker that these guys almost never stop moving. I heard another visitor dismiss it as a "common squirrel", and felt immense satisfaction when she was immediately berated by her companion, who'd actually bothered to read the damn sign. Tree shrews are neither squirrels nor shrews, but one of our closest non-primate relatives.

The short-eared elephant shrew was out and about that day being adorable. For some reason or another it took a tumble off the rock platform right after it finished doing whatever it was doing, and it was hard to tell if that was a deliberate action on its part or not. Don't worry, it appeared to be unharmed.

It'd just happened to be feeding time in the Small Mammal House when I visited, and I got to see a keeper tending the large tamarin/saki/armadillo/acouchi/sloth/tinamou exhibit. The armadillo was buried in the substrate initially, but the keeper appeared to know exactly where it would be and uncovered it, then scattered crickets nearby so it could feed. I didn't get to see it eat, but it did unroll a few moments later. Incidentally, I'd also managed to see the acouchi (which I hadn't last time), but in the same moment that I started up my camera, it scampered out of sight. Someday...

A Prevost's squirrel gnawing on an ice cube. The exhibits at the Small Mammal House can come across as somewhat repetitive (for example, there are multiple exhibits there housing Prevost's squirrels), but in this case it may be a good thing, as it allows visitors a better chance to see certain species of small mammals, which can be rather secretive. (Granted, Prevost's squirrels are pretty hard to miss.)

A Damaraland mole rat, one of the two known species of eusocial mammals. Though I didn't take any pictures of them, the zoo exhibits the other species, the naked mole rat, as well in parallel (though not interconnected) tubes just below the ones that contain the Damaraland mole rats. Unlike the naked mole rat, the Damaraland mole rat has a full covering of fur.

A banded mongoose.

A meerkat. Funny that I caught it in a similar pose to its fellow mongoose above.

A greater hedgehog tenrec. Sadly this is one of those animals that often get passed by due to its inactivity and resemblance to a more familiar animal, because tenrecs are amazing creatures, an excellent example of adaptive radiation on an insular environment. And like with the case of chameleon forest dragons, some people really need to get their reading comprehension checked. The sign doesn't say it's a hedgehog. It says it's a hedgehog tenrec. Get it right.

Before I wrapped up my trip for good, I took a detour to look at a number of exhibits displaying a motley set of animals near the main zoo entrance, including wallabies, emus, zebras, gazelles, oryxes, vultures, cheetahs, and maned wolves. (Officially this area is known as the African Savanna, but not all of the animals are from Africa, much less from the African savannah.) I'd passed by the maned wolf exhibit on my first trip but hadn't even caught a glimpse of one, so I was pleasantly surprised to see one come out into the open. Almost immediately after snapping this photo, with astonishingly good timing, my camera lost power.

Hey, the poll results have been restored! Whew!


  1. "Incidentally, I'd also managed to see the acouchi (which I hadn't last time), but in the same moment that I started up my camera, it scampered out of sight. Someday..."

    Next time you visit, you should just stake out in front of the acouchi & kiwi exhibits until you see them.

    1. Haha. Not a bad idea. I did manage to see the acouchi again on my latest visit, but those kiwis are as secretive as ever. Perhaps I'll follow your suggestion the next time around.