Furry friend Friday

October 2, 2009 4:39:05 PM PDT
Your kids will love these animals from Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

FEATURED ANIMALS:

  • The Oriental Small-clawed Otter (Aonyx cinerea), also known as Asian Small-clawed Otter, is the smallest otter species in the world.

    The Oriental Small-clawed Otter is found in mangrove swamps and freshwater wetlands of Bangladesh, India, southern China, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia the Philippines,Thailand and Vietnam. It prefers to live near water. The Asian small clawed otter lives in shallow rivers and marshes in Asia. The full grown otters measure approximately 0.9m from nose to tail tip, and can weigh up to 5kg. It feeds on fish, frogs, crabs, crayfish and shellfish.

    This otter is especially distinct for its forepaws, as the claws do not extend above the fleshy end pads of its toes and fingers. These attributes give it human-like proficiency and coordination to the point which it can use its paws to feed on mollusks, crabs and other small aquatic animals.

    The Oriental Small-clawed Otter lives in extended family groups with only the alpha pair breeding and previous offspring helping to raise the young.

    Due to ongoing habitat loss, pollution and hunting in some areas, the Oriental Small-clawed Otter is evaluated as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

  • Kookaburras (genus Dacelo) are large to very large (total length 28-42 cm/11-17 in) terrestrial native to Australia and New Guinea the name a loanword from Wiradjuri guuguubarra, which is onomatopoeic of its call.

    Kookaburras are best known for their unmistakable call, which is uncannily like loud, echoing human laughter - good-natured, but rather hysterical, merriment in the case of the well-known Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae); and maniacal cackling in the case of the slightly smaller Blue-winged Kookaburra (D. leachii). They are generally not closely associated with water, and can be found in habitats ranging from humid forest to arid savanna, but also in suburban and residential areas near running water and where food can be searched for easily.

  • Two-Toed Sloth --Although similar to the somewhat smaller and generally slower moving three-toed sloths there is not a close relationship between the two genera. Both types tend to occupy the same forests: in most areas, a particular single species of three-toed sloth and a single species of the larger two-toed type will jointly predominate.

    As the name implies, they have only two toes on their forefeet, although, like other sloths, they have three toes on the hindfeet. They are also larger than three-toed sloths, having a body length of between 58 and 70 centimetres, and weighing 4-8 kilograms. Other distinguishing features include a more prominent snout, longer fur, and the absence of a tail

    Two-toed sloths have a gestation period of between six months and a year, depending on the exact species. The mother gives birth to a single young, while hanging up-side down. The young are born with claws, and are weaned after about a month, although they will remain with the mother for several more months, and do not reach sexual maturity until the age of 3 years, in the case of females, or 4-5 years, in the case of males.

    Two-toed sloths spend most of their life hanging from trees, and are generally nocturnal animals. They are somewhat more active than three-toed sloths. Their body temperature depends at least partially on the ambient temperature; they cannot shiver to keep warm, as other mammals do, because of their unusually low metabolic rates and reduced musculature. Two-toed sloths also differ from three-toed in their climbing behaviors, preferring to descend head first.

    They eat primarily leaves, but also shoots, fruits, nuts, berries, bark, and occasionally small rodents. They have large stomachs, with multiple chambers, which help to ferment the large amount of plant matter that they eat. Food can take up to a month to digest due to their slow metabolism. Depending on when in the excretion cycle a sloth is weighed, urine and feces may account for up to 30 percent of the animal's body weight, which averages about 6 kilograms (about 13 pounds).

  • Galagos, also known as bushbabies, bush babies or nagapies (meaning "little night monkeys" in Afrikaans, are small, nocturnal primates native to continental Africa and make up the family Galagidae (also sometimes called Galagonidae). They are sometimes included as a subfamily within the Lorisidae or Loridae.

    According to some accounts, the name bush baby comes from either the animal's cries or appearance. The South African name nagapie comes from the fact they are almost exclusively seen at night. Galagos have large eyes that give them good night vision, strong hind limbs, acute hearing, and long tails that help them balance. They have nails on most of their digits, except for the second toe of the hindfoot, which bears a 'toilet' claw for grooming. Their diet is a mixture of insects and other small animals, fruit, and tree gums. They have pectinate ("comb-like") incisors.

    Galagos have remarkable jumping abilities, including the ability to jump up to 2 meters vertically. This is thought to be due to elastic energy storage in tendons of the lower leg, allowing far greater jumps than otherwise possible for an animal of their size.

    After a gestation period of 110-133 days, young galagos are born with half-closed eyes and are initially unable to move about independently. After a few days (6-8 days), the mother carries the infant in her mouth, and places it on branches while feeding.

    Females maintain their territory but share them with their offspring. Males leave their mothers' territories after puberty but females remain, forming social groups consisting of closely related females and their young. Adult males maintain separate territories, which overlap with those of the female social groups; generally, one adult male mates with all the females in an area. Males who have not established such territories sometimes form small bachelor groups.

    While their keeping as pets is not advised (like many other non-human primates, they are considered likely sources of zoonoses, diseases that can cross species barriers) it is certainly done. Equally, they're highly likely to attract attention from customs officials on importation into many countries. Reports from veterinary and zoological sources indicate captive lifetimes of 12 to 16.5 years, suggesting a natural lifetime of the order of a decade.

    Galagos communicate both by calling to each other, and by marking their paths with urine. At the end of the night, group members use a special rallying call and gather to sleep in a nest made of leaves, a group of branches, or a hole in a tree.
EVENT INFORMATION:
FRIGHT FEST Halloween theme park event, transforms Six Flags Discovery Kingdom into a shadow land of zombies, ghosts and ghouls starting October 3 and runs Saturdays and Sundays through November 1 (also open Friday, October 23 & 30). During the day, enjoy family-friendly activities including trick or treating, shows and entertainment and at night, brave haunted mazes, themed scare zones and spooky theatrical productions.

SNICKERS® Presents Fright Fest opens on October 3 and runs weekends through November Operating hours vary. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (707) 643-6722 or visit http://www.sixflags.com/discoverykingdom.

About Lee Munro, also known as Captain Lee/Animal Trainer Six Flags Discovery Kingdom
Captain Lee has been an animal trainer for the past 15 years, working with the tigers primarily but in his role as the park ambassador, he is also the face of the park and does all of the in-park announcements and hosts the pre-show for the Shouka the killer whale show, participates in the tiger and dolphin show and can generally be seen all around the park.


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