Alpine Goat

Physical Description

Alpine goats average 30-40 inches at the withers, or shoulders, and weigh 135-170 lbs. Males often have long hair along their spine and more pronounced beards. Colors can vary considerably and can include white, fawn, gray, black, red, etc. They have tall, slightly curved horns and erect ears.


Predators

Predators they may encounter include wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, and other carnivores.


Lifespan

Their live an average of 15-18 years.


Reproduction

After a gestation period of about 155 days, females will give birth to 1-2 kids.


Fun Facts

  • Alpine goats, also known as French-Alpine, is a breed of goat that originated in the Alps.
  • This species produces the most common type of goat milk used for cheese, milk, and other dairy products.

Conservation Messaging

Goats as well as barnyard animals are commonly kept as pets on farms and ranches. It is always best to do your research before moving forward with purchasing any livestock. These animals require different needs from say your dog or cat.

For instance, most livestock animals are herd animals so having one is not an acceptable option. As always, every animal has individual needs that must be met in order to provide the best possible welfare which means you will need a veterinarian that specializes in hoofstock.

La Mancha Goat

Physical Description

La Mancha goats average 28-30 inches at the withers, or shoulders, and 130-160 lbs. Their fur is short and glossy and can vary widely in color from white or cream to brown, gray, or black with stripes or other markings.


Predators

Predators they may encounter include coyotes, mountain lions, wolves, and other large carnivores.


Lifespan

They live an average of 7-10 years.


Reproduction

Breeding season is seasonal but can last from September to March in the US. Females will give birth to 1-3 kids.


Fun Facts

  • La Mancha goats are known for their short ears and have 2 different ear types. “Gopher ears” are almost non-existent but may be up to 1 inch in length, while the “elf ears” have a maximum length of 2 inches.
  • This breed is thought to have been descended from Spanish goats that were brought by early settlers to California.

Conservation Messaging

Goats as well as barnyard animals are commonly kept as pets on farms and ranches. It is always best to do your research before moving forward with purchasing any livestock. These animals require different needs from say your dog or cat.

For instance, most livestock animals are herd animals so having one is not an acceptable option. As always, every animal has individual needs that must be met in order to provide the best possible welfare which means you will need a veterinarian that specializes in hoofstock.

Nine-Banded Armadillo

NOTE: Education Animals are “behind-the-scenes” animals & only appear to the public during Educational events. This includes scheduled events or programs such as daily animal mingles, private onsite programs, and zoo reaches. For more information, please reach out to edureservations@lvzoo.org.


Program and General Information

Nine banded armadillos can be found in Northern Argentina through Southern United States and are the only species of armadillo found in the United States. They can get in length up to 2.5 feet long (from nose to tip of tail) and weigh up to 15 pounds. Males are generally larger than females. Nine-banded armadillos are blackish-brown to grey in coloration with yellowish white hair on its underside.

Armadillos are the only mammals covered by an outer body of armor made up of bony plates. Although named the “nine-banded”, these armadillos can have anywhere from 7-11 bands. Their primary diet consists of 75% insects and the other 25% consists of small reptiles, amphibians, and even plant matter (fruits, seeds, fungi). Breeding occurs once a year in the summer months. Gestation lasts 4 months after which the female will almost always give birth to 4 identical quadruplets. The young will nurse up to 60 days before the mother weans it, however, they young may remain with the mother for several months. They are considered mature at 1 year.


Diet

Nine-banded armadillos are generalist feeders and use their sense of smell to track down almost 500 different foods, most of which are invertebrates. Insects make up 75% of an armadillo’s diet, while the other 25% consists of of small reptiles, amphibians, and even plant matter (fruits, seeds, fungi).

Their sense of smell is their best sense, being able to smell invertebrates that are 8 inches below the surface. They can even stand on their hind legs to get a better vantage point for smelling. The armadillos’ long, curved claws help them to dig up prey, and like most insect eating mammals, their tongues are very long and sticky to slurp up insects quickly. The wiry hairs on an armadillo’s sides and belly, similar to “curb feelers” on a car, can help it sense prey underneath it.

Nine-banded armadillos are nocturnal and spend their waking time burrowing or feeding.


Habitat and Range

The nine-banded armadillo is the most widespread armadillo species, and the only armadillo native to the United States. Their range covers Southern North America through Argentina.
These armadillos prefer warm, wet climates and live in forested, grassland, wetland, and woodland habitats. Small streams are no obstacle for these amazing animals. The nine-banded armadillo can hold its breath for up to six minutes and can swim or “walk” along the bottom of rivers.


Common Physical Features

Nine-banded armadillos are a medium sized armadillo reaching lengths of 2.5 feet and weighing up to 15 pounds. Armadillos are the only mammals covered by an outer body of armor. Although called the nine banded, these armadillos can have anywhere from 7-11 bands. They are blackish-brown to grey in coloration with yellowish white hair on its underside. Males tend to be bigger than females. Their limbs are short with four toes on the front feet and five toes on the back feet. All digits have strong claws, however, the middle digits having the longest claws. These claws are very powerful and are used to dig to find insects.

Adaptations: The armadillo’s “armor” or carapace is made out of tough leathery skin and dermal plates (called osteoderms) which are divided into three sections: a scapular shield, a pelvic shield, and a series “bands” around the mid-section.

The dermal plates provide a tough yet flexible covering accounting for 16% of the armadillo’s total body weight. The armadillo’s head is also covered in keratinous scales, the same material that makes up our fingernails and hair, but their ears and underside lack any protective armor.

They have a long and tapered snout used to project their tongues in and out in order to forage for insects. Like most insect eating mammals, their tongues are very long and sticky to slurp up insects quickly. Insects are captured by digging up underground nests and/or tearing the bark off of rotting trees and turning over rotting leaf piles. Armadillos also have wiry hairs on their sides and bellies that act like feelers to help the armadillos sense any prey beneath them.

Unlike the three-banded armadillo that can actually rolls up in a ball for protection, the nine-banded armadillos, along with the other 18 species, must run, dig or press themselves in the dirt to keep from getting flipped over when threatened.

The nine-banded armadillos’ abandoned burrows are utilized by other animals, such as pine snakes, rabbits, opossums, mink, cotton rats, striped skunks, burrowing owls, and eastern indigo snakes.


Behavior and Life Cycle

Armadillos will often be solitary, only getting together in order to breed. Breeding occurs once a year in the summer months, and mature adults will breed every year for the rest of their life. Once breeding is successful, the gestation period lasts about 4 months, after which the female will almost always give birth to 4 identical young.

Right at birth their eyes are open and within a few hours they are up and walking around. At birth, the carapace of the offspring has not yet hardened and the unprotected young are extremely vulnerable to predation.

The young will nurse up to 60 days before the mother weans it, however, they young may remain with the mother for several months. Young armadillos are considered mature at one year. A baby armadillo is called a pup!


Conservation Messaging

Together with Nature
While not currently threated, nine-banded armadillos are are considered to be pests by many since they will burrow and destroy crops in order to eat insects.

This has led to many armadillos being killed by farmers and gardeners. They also can fall victim to cars. Nine-banded armadillos have a tendency to jump straight up into the air when they are startled, which often leads to their demise on highways. They are small enough that cars can pass right over them, but they leap up and hit the undercarriage of vehicles. And in some places, armadillos are even killed for their shell and eaten.

What can we do?: Although they are considered pests by some, armadillos are an important predator to many insect agricultural pests. In addition, these mammals are used for many medical research for leprosy due to their low body temperature to host the disease. Planting natural areas around your house or community encourages wildlife into the area by providing food and shelter for those species and can help keep them away from important crops.

Never remove an animal from the wild! Some well-meaning people will trap and relocate “pest” animals but the truth is, trapping rarely ends well for wildlife and is not a long term solution. While you might be thinking you are helping that animal, most people don’t realize the amount of care and time that goes in to caring for these animals, and removing them from their natural environment can be detrimental to the wild populations. If wild animals are not causing damage or posing danger, the best solution is to coexist! If you come across injured wildlife please call your local wildlife rehabilitation center as they are better equipped to handle and care for that animal.

The most important thing that we can do to help sustain their habitats is to “Leave No Trace”. Once you leave nature, no one should know that you’ve been there. This means bringing out anything that you’ve brought in. Additionally, leaving the environment unaltered is equally important.


Fun Facts

  • Armadillo means “little armored one” in Spanish. They are closely related to sloths and anteaters.
  • Armadillos’ teeth are single-rooted and peglike, ranging from 30-32 teeth. Armadillos are excellent swimmers because they can hold large amounts of air in their digestive tracts.
  • Armadillos will switch their activity level based on the season. In the summer, they are more active during the cooler nights whereas the winter they are more active during the warmest time of the day.
  • Their shell is considered to be modified skin (unlike a turtle who’s shell is made of bone) and has small hairs on its plates.
  • The largest armadillo species, the giant armadillo, can get up to 5 feet!

Bibliography

Masai Giraffe

Physical Description

Male Masai giraffe, known as bulls, can reach heights of 17-19ft and weigh between 2000 and 3000lbs. Females, known as cows, are a bit smaller at 16-18ft in height and weigh 1300-2000lbs. They are known for their “maple leaf” like spots. Each spot pattern is unique to that particular giraffe. These spots not only aid in camouflage but also with thermoregulation.


Predators

Because of their size and their powerful kick, not many animals hunt giraffes, but some predators that may prey on young, old, or weak giraffes include lions and crocodiles.


Lifespan

In the wild they can live an average of 10-15 years, but under human care they can live 20-25 years and possibly even longer.


Reproduction

Giraffe gestation is about 15 months, and mothers give birth standing up. The calf is about 6ft tall, weighs about 200lbs, and is able to walk within the first half hour!


Fun Facts

  • Giraffes are herd animals and will live in either a family herd or a bachelor herd.
  • Masai are the tallest and darkest of all the giraffe species (there are 4 species and several subspecies of giraffe).

Conservation Messaging

Like many other animals in Africa, giraffes are facing habitat loss. Agriculture, infrastructure, and resource extraction are just a few of the contributions to the destruction of wildlife habitats in Africa.

One thing that we can do is support sustainable agriculture practices. By purchasing products that are certified by organizations such as Bird Friendly, you are helping in the conservation of forests and habitats around the world.

Toggenburg Goat

The Toggenburg Goat is named after the region in Switzerland where the breed originated from, the Toggenburg Valley. They are credited as being the oldest known dairy goat breed. This goat was brought into England in 1884. In 1893, William A Shafer of Ohio imported 4 Toggenburg goats into the United States. By 1921 there were enough Toggenburg goats in the United States to establish a foundation stock. They were the first breed of goat to be registered in the U.S. They are very friendly goats and are generally quiet and gentle.

Hampshire Sheep

Hampshire Sheep are a species of hornless sheep. Their wool is very strong and desirable for manufacturing purposes. This species originated from Hampshire in Southern England and was later brought into the United States in 1860. The breed disappeared during the Civil War and was reintroduced in the 1880s.

Dorset Sheep

The Dorest Sheep originated from a similar looking species in England and was then later brought to the United States in 1885. There are two types of Dorest Sheep, the Polled and Horned Dorset. Besides the absence of horns in the Polled strain, they are identical. They will lay down in pastures or fields and chew cud, helping in the digestion process due to the fact that they have a 4-chambered stomach, also known as ruminants.

Alpaca

The alpaca is a domesticated species of South American camelid. They resemble a small llama in appearance. They are too small to be used as pack animals and are bred exclusively for their fiber and meat. Alpaca fiber is used for making knitted and woven items, such as wool. Alpacas are kept in herds that graze on the level heights of the Andes Mountains. The adult alpaca reached about 3 feet in height and 154 pounds in weight. There are no known wild alpacas, though its closest living relative, the vicuna, are believed to be the wild ancestor of the alpaca.

Llama

Llamas are a subspecies domesticated from the guanaco. They are related to camels, alpacas, and vicunas. Llamas are used heavily in the Andes instead of horses or mules because they do not suffer from mountain sickness at high altitudes. They are able to carry about 20% of their body weight (roughly 50 – 80 pounds). Llamas are a common domestic animal with nearly 7 million individuals living in South America and over 100,000 living in the US and Canada.

Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig

Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs originated from Southeast Asia.

Pigs’ skin is sparsely covered in hair, making them very sensitive to the sun. They often wallow in the mud to stay cool and protect their skin from sunburn and insects.

Pigs have poor vision but have excellent senses of smell and hearing. They use their sense of smell to seek out food in the soil and then use their snout for rutting and foraging.

While smaller than many other species of domestic pigs, pot-bellied pigs often weigh over 100 pounds when fully grown.

Escaped domestic pigs can revert to wild boars in looks and behavior within three generations. They become a destructive invasive species in many areas of the world.

Pigs are omnivores. They eat vegetation including roots and tubers, produce, eggs, grasses, frogs, snakes, and other small vertebrates.

Our pigs’ names are Penelope and Helga!