The ostrich is the largest bird in the world, weighing on average 140-340 lbs and standing at 6-9 feet tall. The female ostrich lays her eggs in a single communal nest, a simple pit that is scraped out in the ground by the male. The dominant female lays her eggs first, and when it is time to cover them for incubation she discards extra eggs from the weaker females. A female ostrich can distinguish her own eggs from the others in a communal nest. Ostrich eggs are the largest of all eggs although though they are actually the smallest eggs relative to the size of the adult bird — on average they weigh 3 lbs. The females incubate the eggs by day and by the males by night. This uses the coloration of the two sexes to escape detection of the nest, as the drab female blends in with the sand, while the black male is nearly undetectable in the night.
Llamas are in the same family as camels and they do not have top teeth. Noah's Ark is home to 25 llamas, who were either personal pets or farmed for their fiber (hair). When bottle raised, llamas and other livestock can become dangerous, seeing humans as members of their own species and treating them as such as they age. Many of our llamas were "bottle babies" that became aggressive, some were in need of a home after losing their farm, and others were no longer producing quality fiber as they aged so farmers surrendered them to us. They share the 80 acre pasture with the other livestock but tend to stay to themselves in tight knit groups.
White handed gibbons (Hylobates lar) are found in Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand. Gibbons are true brachiators, propelling themselves through the forest by swinging under the branches using their arms. Reflecting this mode of locomotion, the white-handed gibbon has curved fingers, elongated hands, extremely long arms, and relatively short legs. In the wild, they will eat a large variety of foods, including figs and other small, sweet fruits, as well as young leaves, buds, insects, and even birds' eggs. White handed gibbons are threatened in various ways: they are sometimes hunted for their meat, sometimes a parent is killed to capture young animals for pets, but the loss of habitat is the most serious threat to wild populations. They are very territorial primates and ward off intruders by singing loudly with their mate.
Did you know that Noah's Ark is home to over 50 reptiles, from tiny snakes to massive alligators? Although certain species of reptile can be good companions for the right person, many species of reptile should not be kept as pets. Those animals include giant pythons, venomous snakes, giant tortoises, and large lizards such as monitors and crocodilians. Our rule of thumb at Noah's Ark is "if you can't buy a cage it can live in forever, or if it will outlive you, then you probably shouldn't own it". We have to turn so many reptiles away each year simply because we don't have the resources to care for them and although some people don't love our cold-blooded friends as much as we do, all animals need respect, compassion, and protection!
Kinkajous are small (roughly 5-10 lbs) mammals native to parts of Mexico and Central and South America where they live in tropical forests. They have a conservation status of “least concerned” but deforestation is becoming a growing threat to the future of this species. Although kinkajous are cute and usually docile animals, they are strictly nocturnal, which makes them a difficult animal to have as a pet. They have sharp teeth and claws, consume a specialized diet, and can carry roundworm, which can be transferred to the uneducated owner causing extreme illness. Still, kinkajous continue to be one of the most popular exotic pets in the United States and more and more sanctuaries are trying to find room to house them after they didn’t live up to their owner’s expectations of being a good “pet”.
Wolf-dog hybrids are a mixture of genetic traits, which results in less predictable behavioral patterns compared to either the wolf or dog. A wolf’s behavior is typically more socially shy and timid toward humans than that of a dog and sadly, wolfdogs are perhaps the most misunderstood and mismanaged animals in America. Wolfdogs also pose significant behavioral challenges for owners, many of whom are unable or unwilling to meet them, which is creating a large population of unwanted animals who wind up abandoned or chained in backyards. Wolfdogs may display any or all of these behaviors to one degree or another, including high-level curiosity, a drive to roam, a propensity toward den-building, territory marking and digging, and a strong predatory instinct. For these reasons, they do not make good family pets and are illegal in many states.
All white tigers are inbred to some degree, and can suffer terribly from genetic deformities including visual impairment, misshapen skeletal structures, missing teeth, misplaced and bulging eyes, autoimmune diseases, skin sensitivities, and mental retardation. It takes generations of breeding and hundreds, if not thousands, of cats to get that one perfect white tiger, and the deformed or orange ones created along the way suffer terrible fates from euthanasia, life in circuses or as backyard pets, or in canned hunting facilities. Although it is inhumane and irresponsible to create unhealthy animals solely for human profit and entertainment, people continue to be fascinated with white tigers until they discover the price these animals pay to meet the public's desire for something different and rare.
Black bears are native to many parts of North America and are skilled at foraging, hunting, climbing, and swimming. Despite habitat loss and the increasing number of human/bear conflicts, they continue to have a conservation status of “least concerned”. They are omnivores and although they are named “black” bears, they can sometimes have brown or blonde coats. American black bears have a lot of variability in their sizes, ranging from 150-800 lbs depending on their geographic location and the availability of food sources. The average adult weights are 250-400 lbs for females and 400-550 lbs for males. Their claws are shorter than most bear species, but are extremely sharp and perfectly designed for climbing trees.
Baloo the American black bear (Ursus americanus), Leo the African lion (Panthera leo), and Shere Khan the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris); known as "The BLT" came to Noah's Ark in 2001 after they were discovered by police officers in a basement of an Atlanta home during a drug raid. At only a few months old, all three cubs were frightened, malnourished, and infected with internal and external parasites when the Georgia Department of Natural Resources brought them to Noah’s Ark.
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