As you enter the zoo grounds, rambunctious squirrel monkeys leap through the
tree branches while roseate spoonbills, swans and crested screamers enjoy the
surrounding pond. As you wind your way through South America, you’ll see
beautiful pink Chilean flamingos resting on one leg or wading in the water. You
may hear the noisy macaws before you actually see them perched in their trees.
Continuing on the shaded path, you will find cotton-top and golden lion
tamarins, giant anteaters, capybaras, king vultures and scarlet ibis.
Imagine eating up to 30,000 ants and/or termites each
day. That is exactly what a giant anteater does. Using
their powerful front legs and claws to rip open an ant or
termite mound or nest, the anteater sticks its two foot
long tongue into the mound, putting it in and pulling it
out about 150 times a minute as it gobbles up all those
ants or termites. An interesting fact about anteater
feeding is that the anteater never completely destroys the
ant/termite mound, but always leaves a bit so that the
colony can come back assuring the anteater of dinner
another day. At Caldwell Zoo we do not have enough ants to
feed our anteater family, so they are fed a special diet of
feline diet, dog chow, bananas, vitamin E and water – all
mixed up to the consistency of a milk shake.
Giant anteaters are listed as vulnerable. They face
habitat loss and are hunted as food, trophies or just as a
Looking like giant Guinea pigs, this inhabitant of
Central and South America is the world’s largest living
rodent. Like Guinea pigs, the capybara’s young are very
precocial, able to follow mom and to eat solid food shortly
after birth. Unlike Guinea pigs, the capybara has only one
litter of one to eight babies each year.
When alarmed, the capybara runs like a horse. Often it
will use water for safety as it swims and dives well. The
capybara has partially webbed feet and can actually swim
underwater for quite a distance. When swimming, only the
nostrils, eyes and ears appear above water. But not all
predator-evasion strategies work, since one of the
capybara’s main predators is the jaguar who is equally at
home in the water.
Capybaras are farmed on some ranches in South America.
Some researchers feel that the capybara is more rainforest
friendly than cattle. The capybara is quite common and is
There are six species of flamingos – four species that
live in the Americas and two that live in Africa. Caldwell
Zoo houses the Chilean flamingo from South America and the
smallest of all the flamingo species, the lesser flamingo
from Africa. Although flamingos are divided into six
species, they have some common characteristics – beautiful
pinkish feathers, long legs for wading, a beak designed for
filter-feeding, and the ability to fly and swim well.
Because flamingos are colony breeders, it can sometimes
cause concern within a zoo. Lesser flamingos do not breed
well in captivity, so Caldwell Zoo and other zoos around
the country are testing an innovative technique to try to
stimulate breeding. The lesser flamingo’s indoor housing is
lined with mirrors hoping that the flamingos “think” they
are in a huge colony of birds and will then begin mating
behaviors. In the past two years, Caldwell Zoo has seen
more breeding behaviors in our lesser flamingos.