Meet the Lehigh Valley Zoo’s Ungulates!

      On June 4th of every year ungulates are celebrated with International Ungulate Awareness Day. So, what is an ungulate? The answer is simple; they have hooves! At the zoo we have many ungulates such as sheep, zebras, and giraffes (oh my!), but the list doesn’t end there. These hooves are made of a protein called keratin, which is also found in our hair and nails. Keratin may be widely found in the animal kingdom, but that does not mean all hooves are the same! Our resident ungulates at the Lehigh Valley Zoo include sheep, goats, pigs, alpacas, oryxes, elands, giraffes, aoudad, and palomino horse! Let’s meet a few of our friends.

Photo of two scimitar horned oryx     Hi everyone, welcome to our herd! As oryxes we like to live in groups which is why you can often find us in the same area. Members of our herd include Donnar, Maha, Eclipse, Too Haute, Hasani, and Nadja. We were all born here at the Lehigh Valley Zoo as part of the Species Survival Plan. This means that our genetic information, what makes each of us different, is entered into a big database where scientists decide who might have young. Our keepers and educators often call it a mix of ancestry and, whatever those might be!

Photo of Code, the common Eland     Hello friends, it’s Code here! As the only male in our herd, I am joined by two ladies that came to the Lehigh Valley Zoo just a few months ago. You may see us looking down at the ground to chew on the grass and hay, which is a typical behavior in our natural habitat. The ground can be a bit dusty, but we have long, luscious lashes to stop debris from getting in our eyes. In our natural habitat we eat fruits, greens, and tubers, but here at the zoo we also get crunchy vegetables which are my favorite!

Photo of Tatu and Joshua, the Masai giraffes     Hi friends, we are all the way up here! As the tallest animals in the zoo, we have very long necks that have the same number of bones that you have in your neck! Our long necks are helpful to reach browse high in the trees, which is why you might see us near the tree in the back of our habitat. Some of our favorite snacks include alfalfa hay, forsythia, and sugar maple. In the summer we have giraffe feeds, so make sure to stop by and feed us another favorite, lettuce.

Photo of Yellow, the aoudad     Hi there, it’s Yellow! Aoudads are not often seen in zoos, so make sure to stop by my habitat. Sometimes I may be munching on my favorite snacks such as sugar maple, apples, carrots, and leaf eater biscuit. On a nice, sunny day I’ll probably be soaking up the sun on top of my mountain of rocks, which I can easily climb with my special hooves. You may also see me interacting with a cardboard box with hay inside of it; I love when my keepers give me this as enrichment.

Written by Cassidy Amerman
Education Specialist
Lehigh Valley Zoo | Schnecksville, PA

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