- Kirk's Dik Dik
- Nile Crocodile
Kirk's Dik DikThe Kirk’s Dik-dik is a least concern with a stable population around 970,00. They can be found throughout eastern and southwest Africa and there are probably 6-7 subspecies, with research ongoing. We currently house two: female Milly is 8 years old our male, Mike, is also 8. Their name comes from the alarm calls they make when startled – they make the sound while they run in a zig-zag pattern. Milly is very fond of sweet potato and carrot for snacks and Mike is extremely fast and agile. Male dik-diks are generally smaller than the females. They have two tiny horns on top of their heads and a big tuft of hair. If they are disturbed, the tuft will stand straight up. Females do not have horns and their tuft of hair is smaller. If they are on exhibit, they can often be found hiding under or in grass or bushes. They can be very hard to spot, even for the keepers.
What animal has zebra-like stripes on their legs, a long, giraffe-like neck, and their own secret language? Even though that sounds like it could be the beginning of a children’s joke, we’re talking about the okapi.
In the wild, these animals are only found in a small, northeast region of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Beginning in March 2016, visitors to Memphis Zoo will be able to see them in the Zambezi River Hippo Camp.
“We are very excited to add okapi to our collection,” Matt Thompson, Memphis Zoo CEO, said. “These unusual animals will add an exciting layer to our exhibit.”
Their closest living relative is the giraffe. Like giraffes, they have a long, semi-prehensile tongue which they use to strip leaves off of trees and plants. Their tongue is rough like a cat’s. Most Okapi have purple-black colored tongues. It protects their tongue from sunburn.
Our okapi Miraq has a pink tongue due to a genetic anomaly. We currently house one male: Miraq (6). He is friendly with his keepers and enjoys ear and neck scratches. His favorite treats are carrots and apples. Their stripes provide excellent camouflage in their forest environment. They are so good at blending in that they were not discovered by western scientists until 1901. They are endangered. They only are found in the mountain rainforests of Democratic Republic of Congo between 1,600- and 5,000-feet elevation. Males have ossicones, bony horn-like growths, just above their eyes. Females do not grow ossicones.
“Unlike our giraffes that live in herds, okapi prefer to live in small groups or alone,” Thompson said.
Other unique features of okapi physiology are their large ears. Even though they have
excellent eyesight, they mainly use their large ears to listen for friends and foe. In 2008, researchers from San Diego Zoo discovered that okapis have a secret language made up of whistles, bleats and coughs. In fact, human ears cannot pick up most of the sounds that okapis make. Neither can many of their predators, making it an efficient way to communicate.
The secret language, the extra-long tongue and neck and the zebra-like stripes are just three of the many reasons okapis are so unique.
Like giraffe they have a long, semi-prehensile tongue which they use to strip leaves off of trees and plants.
Nyala are members of the antelope family. Male nyala are somewhat shaggy, have yellow-tipped, long, spiral horns, and can weigh up to 275 lbs. Females do not have horns and have a short-haired coat. The junveile males look like the females. It is thought that this camouflages the young males and protects them from teh jealous eyes of dominant bulls. The young males are therefore allowed to grow up peacefully under the protection of the herd.
These animals are not territorial, and can be found in herds of up to 30 individuals. Generally, males and females live in separate herds, with the males being more transitory.
In fact, nyala have been known to follow some animals while they eat – such as troops of baboons – to pick up leftover fruit that has been dropped to the ground.
The Nile crocodile is the largest crocodile species in Africa and the second largest in the world.
There are 23 species of crocodile-like animals. There are eight alligator species, one gharial species and 14 crocodile species.
Alligators, which include caimans, are distinct from crocodiles; both the snout shape and the “toothy grin” are different. Crocodiles have V-shaped snouts, while alligators have U-shaped snouts. When an alligator has its mouth shut, almost all of its teeth are hidden, because the large upper jaw covers them. Crocodiles, however, have a “toothy grin,” meaning the fourth tooth on each side is visible when the mouth is shut.
The gharial is distinct from both alligators and crocodiles. The biggest difference between crocodiles and gharials is the long, thin snout of the latter.
These reptiles are known for their extreme size. On average, Nile crocodiles range from 10-14 feet, and weigh around 500 pounds. They have been known, however, to get up to 20 feet and reach weights of 1,600 pounds.
It's hard to believe that such massive creatures start so small. Nile crocs, like many other reptiles, lay eggs. They dig holes along sandy riverbanks, and the female deposits 20-80 eggs at a time. The incubation period is about 90 days, and the mother never strays far from her nest. Unlike other reptiles, however, Nile crocodile parents are extremely hands- (or mouth) on. Mother Nile crocodiles gently pick up and roll eggs into their mouths, helping their young break free from the eggs. They also stick around after the babies have hatched – sometimes staying with their young for six weeks.
When Nile crocodiles are young, they eat small insects. As they grow, their appetite increases – along with the size of their prey. While fish are everyday staples to their diets, adult Nile crocodiles have been known to take down extremely large animals, including warthogs, cape bufflaoes, hippos and giraffes. They are even known as man-eaters in some parts of their territory.
We have five Nile crocs here at Memphis Zool. The male, born around 6/1/1979 (estimate), in Zimbabwe. Skebanga is currently the largest Nile Croc in the country. When he came in, he was over 14 long and 800 lbs. All the crocs were born in captivity and came to us from Crocodile Creek (a crocodile farm in South Africa). While there, they all earned their own African names. Skebanga’s name means thief or wife stealer. This is because each group he was put into in South Africa, he became the dominant male and stole all the ladies. Skebanga is the peacekeeper in our group. He likes to flirt with our girls and can be seen blowing bubbles to them off and on throughout the year. He does actively breed all the females. Makhulu Mama Female born around 6/1/1979 (estimate) in Zimbabwe. Makhulu is the largest female of our group. She is close to 700 lbs. and over 12 feet long. She is very large for a female, which is how she earned her name “big mama.” In 2021, she became a mother, laying her first viable eggs, 3 were transported to the herpetarium for hatching in their incubator. Squaba-Squaba Female born around 6/1/1979 (estimate) in Zimbabwe. Squaba Squaba is the most rotund out of our crocs. Her name translates to “fatty fatty.” As such, when she is fed on exhibit, keeper staff station her on land to get her out and walk as exercise, usually in the center of the grass area. N’Tombi Female born around 6/1/1979 (estimate) in Zimbabwe. N’Tombi is the smallest of our Nile Crocs. Her name translates to “girlfriend.” She is very fast, smart and is good at avoiding aggression from the others. She laid her first clutch of eggs on exhibit within 4 months of being here. She laid her second clutch of eggs at the end of March in 2018. She laid 45 eggs inside in the water. Keeper staff were able to collect immediately. Incubated the eggs and hatched out 33 successfully. Again, 2019, one egg survived and the juvenile croc, Petie, is on exhibit in the herpetarium.
Difference between Crocs and Alligators: Crocs have a V shaped snout; Gators have a U-shaped snout. When the mouth is closed, Croc’s teeth are outside the mouth, (the fourth tooth) and alligators are inside.
Mandrills are the largest and most colorful of all Old World monkeys. Males have brighter coloration than females – the brighter the colors, the more dominant the male. These colors show up on their face and on their rump. The coloration of the backside helps keep the group together as they travel through the dense forest they call home.
Mandrills are omnivores, and eat a variety of foods, ranging from nuts and seeds to small animals, including duikers and tortoises. Males forage on the ground, while females, their young and juveniles forage in the trees. As gatherers, they sometimes collect food in pouches inside their cheeks, to eat at a later time.
These monkeys live in small groups, also known as hordes. These hordes are noisy when they travel and forage for food. The average size of a group is around 20 individuals. Each group is led by a single, dominant male. The largest documented horde numbered over 1,300 individuals.
We have 3 mandrill Babu our male, Kimani, and Gerti. Females do most of the raising of the young. Alloparenting does exist, with female relatives providing care for young. Males leave their natal group when they are 6 years old and stay along the boundary of the social group. The young will stay with their mom typically until she has a new baby. The coloration in Mandrills is more pronounced in dominant males. If a male loses dominance, his color will fade. If another male rises in dominance, his colors will become more vibrant. This effect is gradual and takes place over a few years. They have extremely long canine teeth which can be over 2 inches long and can be used for self-defense—though baring them is typically a friendly gesture among mandrills. As human settlements expand, mandrills are losing their habitat to logging and clearing of forests for agricultural use.
Hippopotamus Hippopotamus amphibius
The hippopotamus, a Greek name meaning “river horse,” spends most of its time in shallow bodies of water in central Africa. These large mammals can swim with their eyes and nostrils above water, allowing them to be almost entirely submerged. Hippos can even hold their breath underwater for more than five minutes at a time. Hippos can be very dangerous in the wild as they are extremely territorial.
About Memphis Zoo's Hippos
They are a vulnerable species due to poaching for ivory and bush meat and territorial conflicts with humans. Habitat loss is their biggest threat. We have 4 hippos at Memphis Zoo. Three females: Winnie (4), her mom Binti (23), Splish (32). One male, Uzazi (20). They are relatively easy to identify. Splish has a tusk that pokes out the left side of her mouth. Uzazi has two fighting tusks in his bottom jaw that you can see when his mouth is closed. Binti and Winnie are currently only out together. Winnie is noticeably smaller than her mother. They all have slightly different food preferences. Binti likes everything. Winnie and her dad Uzazi both prefer lettuce and cantaloupe. Splish is a fan of honeydew. They all love watermelon, which they only get a few times a year. Once common throughout sub-Saharan Africa, they are now limited mostly to protected areas. For example, they have disappeared from 95% of their historical range in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Hippos live in large herds of 20-100 animals in a territory held by a dominant bull. They are truly amphibious, spending part of each day in and out of the water.
"Vulnerable", population decreasing
Located in eastern central Africa
These animals are herbivores and graze for miles in the wild.
Hippos’ large, rotund bodies, and their eyes and nose positioned on the top of their head and nostrils makes them perfectly fit for basking in rivers and lakes. Their features are very unique and easy to distinguish.
Hippos can weigh between 5,000 to 8,000 lbs.
The zoo is home to two different species of flamingo, the lesser and Chilean flamingo. The lesser flamingo is a large-bodied bird with a long neck and small head. They have pale pink plumage, legs, and bills. The lesser flamingo is one of the smallest and the brightest of flamingos. The Chilean flamingo is a tall, large-bodied bird with a long neck and small head. They have pale pink plumage and bills. This subspecies of flamingo is larger than the lesser flamingo and has gray legs with pink bands at the joints. Both species lay 1 egg and will incubate the egg for approximately days. Flamingos have few natural predators because they live in remote, inhospitable places. Habitat destruction and exploitation is by far the flamingo's greatest challenge.
up to 250 (banquet seating for 78). “Perfect for” and “pricing” is good. Amenities: add restrooms in building. Includes: 78 chairs, 13 48” round tables, and 6 cabaret tables.