- West African Guinea Hog
- Miniature Zebu Cattle
- Prairie Dog
- Mediterranean Miniature Donkey
- Caspian Horse
- Nigerian Dwarf Goat
- Harlequin Sheep
We have many types of chickens at the Memphis Zoo: Plymouth Rock, barred rock, Buff ropington, and Rhode Island Reds. Plymouth Rock Chickens are one of Americas oldest chicken breeds known for their docile manner and plentiful egg production. Buff Orpingtons were introduced from England in the late 1800’s. Frequently bred for show. Rhode Island Red: the state bird of Rhode Island! A good hen can lay 200-300 eggs each year, although other people put the egg laying at a more modest 150-250 eggs. In general, a Rhode Island hen will lay around 5-6 eggs/week. These eggs are medium to large and light brown in color. Eggs will increase in size over the years, as with all hens.
West African Guinea HogAlbert is our West African Guinea Hog. He is extremely mild mannered and loves a good belly scratch or scratch behind his ears. He loves a sun nap and can been seen frequently digging out the area around his wallow! Guinea Hogs were expected to forage for their own food, eat rodents and other small animals, grass, roots, and nuts, and clean out garden beds. The hogs were also kept in the yard where they would eat snakes and thus create a safe zone around the house. Guineas were hardy and efficient, gaining well on the roughest of forage and producing the hams, bacon, and lard essential for subsistence farming. The Guinea Hog is a small, black breed of swine that is unique to the United States. Also known as the Pineywoods Guinea, Guinea Forest Hog, Acorn Eater, and Yard Pig, the breed was once the most numerous pig breed found on homesteads in the Southeast. The difference between a pig and a hog is simply size! Once a pig reaches a certain size it is then classified as a hog! Pig, hog and boar essentially describe the same animal, but there are some distinctions. A boar is an uncastrated male domestic pig, but it also means a wild pig of any gender. A hog often means a domestic pig that weighs more than 120 lbs. ... Pigs are also called swine. Guinea Hog became rare as the habitat of the homestead hog disappeared, and it survived only in the most isolated parts of the Southeast. During the 1980s, new herds of Guinea Hogs were established, and the breed has enjoyed a new resurgence on small farms and modern homesteads.
Miniature Zebu CattleHere at the Memphis Zoo, we have 3 Minature Zebus: Dandy, Anna Belle, and Pepper. Dandy is our more rambunctious cow, often being the boldest of the herd. Anna Belle is a little more stand-offish but keepers would say she’s the sweetest. Pepper is a sucker for a good scratch and will sometimes lay by the fence in the hopes of convincing guests to scratch his back. They are “known” for their unique characteristic of a hump on its upper back, located right behind their head and neck. Zebu are some very hardy and healthy cattle, being both parasite and disease resistant which is another reason they are sought after. The Miniature Zebu, or Nadudana, is of the Bos indicus species. The name "Nadudana" is a Hindi word for "small cattle", as the breed was originally discovered in southern India. Due to this tropical origin, the Miniature Zebu handles high temperatures well. These cattle are said to be historically kept and bred on temple grounds, because of their small stature. This is a very rare breed, and critically endangered. Because of this rarity, they are often sought out as zoo animals: some were imported to the USA's zoological gardens in 1920s, nineteen were imported into Australia in 1995, and four went into New Zealand in 2009. Their most notable characteristic is their small size; Miniature Zebus have a height range of 90 cm to 107 cm. Mature cows weigh 300 to 500 lbs, and mature bulls weigh 400 to 600 lbs. This makes them ideal for junior rodeos, FFA, and 4H activities, as they are easier for children to handle. Where some breeds might be bred to be smaller with each passing generation, or mutated into their size, the Miniature Zebu's small frame is naturally occurring.
Prairie DogPrairie dogs are small rodents that inhabit American prairies in underground tunnels. These burrows are extensive and complex, featuring chambers with designated functions such as nurseries and sleeping quarters.
Mediterranean Miniature DonkeyWe are home to two Minature Jackass females here at the Memphis Zoo, Jolie and Peggy Sue. Jolie is white and Peggy Sue is dark brown, but both girls love a good scratching with Jolie being the more personable of the two. Peggy Sue takes a bit to warm up to you but once she does she's a sucker for some rubbing. Unlike many other miniature breeds (such as toy poodles), the miniature donkey is not a bred down version of a larger donkey with their small size being natural. Miniature donkeys are native to the Mediterranean islands of Sicily and Sardinia and were first imported into the United States in 1929 by Robert Green. The current U.S. population is estimated to be from 10,000 to 20,000. Today, imports of miniature donkeys are difficult as they are reported to be near extinction in their native area. Miniature donkeys are very popular as companion animals and for show. The term "donkey" comes from dun (the usual grayish-brown color) and the suffix "ky" meaning small. Male donkeys are called "jacks," and females are “jennets.”
- The Memphis Zoo is home to two Caspian horses: 1 male named “Thunder” who is 23 years old and 1 female named “Hisan” who is 30 years old. The Caspian horse breed height can be between 9 to 11.2 hands tall or 36-46 inches. Even for it is small size Caspian are considered horses and not ponies due to their similar conformation, gaits, and personalities. The Caspian horse is considered one of the oldest breeds of horses, descending from Mesopotamian equines from the 7th century A.D. The Caspian horse was rediscovered in 1965 by Louise Firouz in northern Iran near the Caspian Sea, thus sparking the idea for its name. Caspian’s are one of the rarest horse breeds, making it a heritage breed and considered an endangered species.
Nigerian Dwarf Goat
The Nigerian Dwarf goat is an American breed of dwarf goat. Like the Pygmy Goat, it derives from the West African Dwarf group of breeds of West Africa. These little goats were first brought over to the United States in the 1950s. These little goats were primarily used as food and were brought over on ships as a meat source for the large cats that were being delivered to local Zoos. Some of the goats arrived unharmed and ended up staying at the Zoos as an added attraction. After a few years there were some distinct differences developing within the herd. Some stayed stocky much like the meats goats they were used for, and others were developing more dairy characteristics. The goats showing the most dairy character were used by a handful of dedicated breeders to develop a new breed: The Pygmy Goat.
These goats are known for their even tempers and gentle, playful personalities. Due to these qualities and their small size, they have made a name for themselves as a great family pet. They are hardy animals that thrive in almost any climate and due to their size, require less space to graze and play than full-size dairy goats. They are also very adaptable, able to live comfortably with other livestock such as cattle, horses, llamas, and donkeys.
Angela, Pamela, Belle, Ginger and Daisy are the names of our 5 Nigerian Dwarf Goats. They are super curious and are known for nibbling everything from grass to garments! Onlookers beware of stray hair or shoestrings becoming targets of our curious little girls. Goats are browsers, eating tips of woody shrubs and trees. They often improve a pasture by removing blackberry, weedy undergrowth and ivy (even poison ivy and poison oak) that other livestock won't eat. Nigerian dwarf goats are raised for milk production but also as pets. They are gregarious, friendly and hardy and can thrive in almost any climate. Their gentle, calm and playful nature makes them good companion pets for children and disabled and elderly people. Their small size means they do not require as much space or feed as larger dairy goat breeds.
The Memphis Zoo has 4 Harlequin Sheep: 1 male named Batman and 3 females named Elektra, Vixen and Xena. If you can’t tell, all of our sheep are named after superheroes! This miniature sheep has ewes (females) weighing 80-120lbs while rams (males) can weigh about 90-150lbs at maturity. The Harlequin sheep as we know it today was developed by Kathleen Sterling, owner of Black Sheep Farm East in VA about 35 years ago. A variety of breeds were used to develop the Harlequin breed including Karakul, Tunis, Corriedale, Lincoln, Border Leicester, Romney, Montadale rams. Harlequins are known for their fine, medium staple length wool, similar to the wool from Babydoll sheep. Harlequin sheep are known for easy handling and docile dispositions. They are nurturing mothers often having multiple lambs over many years. This sheep was made to have the small size of south down breed with the varied color fleece, which is the main use of the breed.