San-Diego Zoo


      We humans have had a long association with wild animals. For  all  but
the last few thousand years of our two million years, we  have  depended  on
them for our very existence. We were hunters in  our  early  days,  drifting
along with the game herds, dipping into that seemingly  inexhaustible  river
of life for our food and clothing. When the herds prospered,  we  are  well;
when hard times  came  on  them,  our  bellies  shrank.  So  close  was  our
relationship with wild animals, we called them our brothers.
      The Chinese and Egyptians were the first to establish  collections  of
wild animals. About five thousand years  ago,  Chinese  emperors  maintained
animal parks for their private use, usually hunting. The Pharaohs  of  Egypt
sent expeditions into the interior of Africa to collect  animals  for  royal
menageries. Later, Roman legions sent back wild animals,  along  with  human
slaves, from their conquests. Often these two  animals and humans    ended
up pitted against each other in  gladiatorial  battles  for  their  captors
      The first true zoo was built in France by Louis XIV, but it was modern
only in comparison with what had existed before. Louis  wild  animals  were
housed in champed, dirty cages, often by  themselves,  and  fed  food  which
rarely approximated their natural  diet.  Mortality  rates  were  high,  but
little attention was given to this; dead animals could  be  replaced  easily
from the rivers of wildlife still flowing in the wilderness.
      At the turn of the 20th century the first modern zoo was designed  and
built at Stellingen, near Hamburg, Germany. It had a minimum  of  cages  and
barred enclosures; animals were exhibited in large,  natural  surroundings
of artificial mountains, plains and caves,  usually  with  others  of  their


      And now I want to tell you about the most famous zoo in  the  world  
The San-Diego Zoo.

In Began with a Roar

      The San Diego Zoo, established in 1916, was far different from today's
grand; exotic, zoological garden. For the most part, it grew from a small
collection of animals held in traditional circus like cages that formed a
portion of the city's 1915-1916 Panama-California International Exposition
held in Balboa Park. After the close of the Exposition, a San Diego
physician, Dr. Harry Wegeforth, rescued these animals and started the
present Zoo. He would later recall how it all began:
      On September 16, 1916, as I was returning to my office after
performing an operation at St. Joseph Hospital, I drove down Sixth Avenue
and heard the roaring of the lions in the cages at the Exposition then
being held in Balboa Park.
      I turned to my brother,  Paul,  who  was  riding  with  me,  and  half
jokingly, half wishfully, said, "Wouldn't it be splendid if San Diego had  a
zoo! You know ...I think I'll start one."
      Wegeforth's idea, with the help of other interested San Diegans, would
take shape and prosper over the years. Even as a child, growing up in
Baltimore, Maryland, he was fascinated by animals. He regularly staged
"circuses" in his backyard, using toy animals and stitched-together flour
sacks for a "big top" tent. This interest went far beyond normal childish
play, because young Harry had done extensive research on the real-life
behavior and characteristics of his animal menagerie and enthusiastically
explained all of this to visitors at his "performances."
      Later on, as an adult, Wegeforth obtained a medical degree and moved
to San Diego in 1908 to set up his practice. The work of building the Zoo,
however, was soon to consume almost all of his time. It was a gamble and a
dream that he lived daily, but a task he relished.
      Together with four other menDr. Paul Wegeforth, Dr. Fred Baker, Dr.
Joseph H. Thompson, and Frank StephensWegeforth founded the Zoological
Society of San Diego on October 2,1916. In 1921, the City of San Diego
granted the Society its present home in Balboa Park, and, by 1922,
Wegeforth, a few staff members, and a small collection of animals had begun
moving in.
      Even at this early date,  Wegeforth  was  promoting  a  zoo  that  was
different from most in existence  at  that  time,  including  demerits  that
would, as years passed, result in its being  called  the  "world's  greatest
zoo." For example, he envisioned a zoological garden where animals could  be
integrated with plants in pleasing settings  with  no  bars  or  traditional
cages to obstruct a visitor's view. He promoted the idea of grotto and  moat
enclosuressomething just being tried in European zoos  and  almost  unknown
in America.
      While riding around the Zoo grounds on his Arabian stallion, Wegeforth
would map out in his mind the location of exhibits. Mesas would hold  hoofed
mammals, reptiles, and birds; the canyons would be reserved  for  bears  and
cats. In Johnny Appleseed fashion, he scattered and planted  seeds  for  the
new plants he desired. Roads that were laid out for the first bus tours  are
still used today.
      To supplement the initial group of animals gathered  from  the  Balboa
Park Exposition, Wegeforth made collecting  trips  to  other  countries  and
other zoos, both here and abroad. His aggressive style of  exchanging  local
animals, such as rattlesnakes and California  sea  lions,  for  more  exotic
species soon earned him the title of "Trader Wegeforth." Other animals  were
donated to the Zoo from private individuals or Navy  ships  that  docked  in
San Diego and brought "gifts" to Dr. Harry's Zoo.
      Through   personal   vision,   determination,   his   own    financial
contributions, and those of others, Harry Wegeforth created  the  San  Diego
Zoo. To the uninformed observer of the time, it might have  seemed  that  he
realized his dream from almost nothing. Indeed, some of the  early  exhibits
were built from castoffs and discards from  other  construction  projects  
things that he could acquire for  free4  much  as  he  had  built  his  play
menageries as a child. He cajoled local wealthy  citizens  to  help  him  by
arousing their' concern for the animals and their city  pride.  One  of  his
greatest benefactors was newspaper heiress Ellen Browning Scripps,  who,  by
the time of her death, had donated some quarter of a million dollars to  the
      Wegeforth's concern about animal nutrition and health is  additionally
noteworthy. While not trained as a veterinarian, he nonetheless applied  his
medical knowledge to the care of Zoo animals and brought in  others  trained
to assist him in this work. This care was reflected in the Zoo's low  animal
mortality figures.
      One day a tiger, writhing in pain with what his keepers  suspected  to
be intestinal problems, needed immediate  treatment.  As  a  result  of  his
condition, they considered him too  dangerous  to  rope  and  tie  down  for
examination (this was an era before the  tranquilizer  dan  gun).  Wegeforth
sized up the situation and entered the animal's enclosure with a handful  of
beneficial tablets. The animal crouched, made ready to leap, and opened  his
gaping jaws to unleash a ferocious roar. At that  instant  Wegeforth  tossed
several of the pills into his mouth. Surprised at  this  action,  the  tiger
backed off momentarily, swallowing the medicine. Not one to back  down,  the
tiger again gathered himself in a crouch, opened his  cavernous  mouth,  and
prepared to pounce. Once more Wegeforth administered the medicine, and  this
time the animal retired to his water  basin  to  wash  down  the  irritating
pills. Such examples of Wegeforth's "make do" philosophy of animal  medicine
made for popular conversation among early Zoo employees.
      In April of 1927, just over ten years after  the  Zoo's  founding,  he
succeeded  in  opening  the  Zoological  Hospital  and  Biological  Research
Institute, a major contribution to  the  further  achievements  of  the  San
Diego Zoo. This facility was yet another gift from Miss Scripps.

The Zoo Lady

      Also in  1927,  the  Zoological  Society  hired  its  first  executive
secretary, Mrs. Belle Benchley, an individual who  would  share  Wegeforth's
dream and assist him  with  his  goals  and  plans.  She  had  come  to  the
organization as a  bookkeeper  in  1925,  but  soon  proved  so  adept  that
Wegeforth began using her as his primary assistant. Among other  things,  he
encouraged her to be the Zoo's public relations  spokesperson,  speaking  at
civic luncheonsa job she did reluctantly at first but  soon  mastered.  Her
work earned her high praise over the years, and following Wegeforth's  death
in 1941, she took over management of the Zoo.
      It was in large part due to Mrs. Benchley that the San Diego Zoo began
to achieve a national, even worldwide, prominence. Her books about  life  at
the Zoo,  published  during  the  1940s,  made  many  new  friends  for  the
organization. They included My Life in a Man-made Jungle (1940), My  Friends
the Apes (1942), My  Animal  Babies  (1945),  and  Shirley  Visits  the  Zoo
(1946). Mrs. Benchley's continued care and  concern  for  the  Zoo  animals'
welfare prompted one zoo expert to remark that the San Diego  Zoo  was  "the
only zoo in the world that is run for the animals."
      Among Mrs. Benchley's more famous accomplishments was the  arrival  at
the Zoo in 1949 of Albert, Bata, and Bouba, a male and  two  female  western
lowland gorillas from French West Africa. All less than a  year  old,  these
gorilla babies captured the hearts of San  Diegans,  who  lined  up  by  the
hundreds to see them. Their first day on exhibit  a  crowd  of  some  10,000
arrived, setting a new Zoo attendance record.

The Schroeder Years

      Following the  retirement  of  Mrs.  Benchley  in  1953,  Dr.  Charles
Schroeder became director of the Zoological Society in January of  1954.  He
was the Zoo's first leader with a scientific background in animal care.  Dr.
Schroeder received his doctor of veterinary medicine degree from  Washington
State University in 1929 and had initially  been  hired  at  the  Zoo  as  a
veterinarian/ pathologist in 1932. But, as he often recalled,  he  performed
many other duties as well, such as taking photographs to  sell  to  visitors
as postcards.
      It was through Dr. Schroeder's vision and  persistence  that  the  San
Diego Zoo's sister facility, the San  Diego  Wild  Animal  Park,  came  into
existence and later opened to the public in 1972. As  director  of  the  Zoo
until 1972, he was also  responsible  for  many  other  now  well-known  Zoo
attractions, including the Skyfari aerial tramway, the Children's  Zoo,  and
the moving sidewalk or escalator. He further increased the Zoo's  commitment
to research and remodeled its hospital.
      It was  also  during  this  period  that  the  local  television  show
"Zoorama" was  created,  with  its  first  airing  in  January  1955.  Later
syndicated nationally, the program brought the San Diego Zoo into the  homes
of millions of viewers across the nation.

Into the Present

      The history of the San Diego Zoo in recent years has been one of a new
awareness of the role of zoos in our world. Under  the  able  leadership  of
new directors and members of the board  of  trustees,  the  Zoo  has  become
increasingly  concerned  with  captive  breeding  and  the  conservation  of
wildlife.  Consequently,  a  number  of  conservation  projects  have   been
established, both at the Zoo and Wild  Animal  Park  as  well  as  elsewhere
around the world. The first international conference on the role of zoos  in
conservation  was  hosted  by  the  San  Diego  Zoo  in  1966,  during   the
celebration of the Zoo's 50th birthday. In addition, the Zoological  Society
presented its first conservation awards that year.
      Perhaps the most outstanding of the Zoo's  conservation  projects  has
been the Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES).  Launched  in
1975 as an intensive research effort to  improve  the  health  and  breeding
success of exotic animals, CRES is dedicated to its primary goal of  helping
endangered species of animals reproduce and survive, both in  captivity  and
in the wild.
      Some  of  the  achievements  CRES  is  most  proud  of  have  included
gratifying reproductive successes with cheetahs, Indian and  southern  white
rhinoceroses, and Przewalski's wild horses.


      Eurasia is the largest land mass on earth, stretching  halfway  around
the globe from the British Isles to the Pacific Ocean, and from  the  Bering
Sea south to the  tip  of  Malaysia,  an  area  of  54  million  sq  km  (21
million:sq - few of its animal species, especially those in  the  north,
are closely related to, and in some instances are  the  same  as,  those  of
North America.
      Relatively recently, as earth time is measured, Eurasia was linked  to
America by a land bridge which spanned what is now the Bering Straits.  This
causeway existed for thousands of years during the Ice Ages,  when  much  of
the earth's water was locked  up  in  glaciers,  thus  lowering  sea  level.
Animals crossed back and forth  between  the  two  continents  on  the  land
bridge, and the first human settlers in America probably  arrived  via  this
      About ten thousand years ago, the latest in a series of ice ages  came
to an end. The ice melted; the seas rose, and the  Bering  land  bridge  was
submerged. Animal species which had wandered west into Eurasia  or  east  to
America were isolated from their native homelands. But because ten  thousand
years is a mere eye wink in evolutionary timekeeping, very few changes  have
had time to take place in these exiles. For example, the largest  member  of
the deer family lives in the taiga of both Eurasia and America.  In  Eurasia
it is called an elk, in America, a  moose.  But  it  is  one  and  the  same
animal. This is also true of another deer, the  caribou,  or  reindeer.  The
former is a wild animal of America; the latter  has  been  domesticated  for
centuries by the Lapps of northern Europe.
      The Bering land bridge was probably responsible for the survival of at
least one species   the  horse.  This  animal  originated  in  the  western
hemisphere, where it developed from a  tiny,  three-toed  creature,  to  the
form very much like the one we know today. During the Ice Ages, it  migrated
across the land bridge into Asia, where it thrived.  In  America  the  horse
became extinct and didn't reappear here until the Spaniards brought it  back
as a domesticated animal in the 16th century.
      The Spanish horses, as are all domestic breeds,  were  descendants  of
the wild horses which migrated  from  America.  That  original  breed  still
exists. It is called Przewalski's horse, named for the naturalist who  first
brought specimens to Europe from the grasslands of  Mongolia.  This  is  the
only true wild horse left in the world. All other  so-called  "wild"  horses
are feral animals, that is, horses descended  from  domestic  animals  which
escaped from or were released by  their  owners.  Przewalski's  horses  once
existed in large herds, but human intrusion into their habitat  pushed  them
farther and farther back into a harsh environment  where  even  these  tough
animals could not survive.
      They were last seen in the wilderness in  1967.  Fortunately  breeding
groups existed  in  zoos  and  reserves.  Captive  propagation  brought  the
population up to about 700 by 1985, and four dozen Przewalski's horses  have
been born at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal  Park.  Several
of the Zoological Society's Przewalski's horses are  on  breeding  loans  to
other zoos.
      The Eurasian bison,  called  a  wisent,  is  closely  related  to  the
American bison. Although never so numerous as the  American  member  of  the
species, wisent used to roam  the  forests  which  covered  western  Europe.
Centuries of cutting destroyed all but a small remnant of these forests  and
came within 17 animals of  exterminating  the  wisent.  A  captive  breeding
program saved them and today a few hundred live in the Bialowieza Forest  in
eastern Poland. The San Diego Zoo has produced 25 calves.
      If the felling of Europe's forests meant the destruction of many  wild
animal species, it worked to the advantage of others.  Deer,  for  instance,
have thrived and live from the British Isles eastward. Red, roe  and  fallow
deer live in  western  Europe,  sika  deer  in  Japan.  Pere  David's  deer,
formerly a native of marshy areas in central China, is extinct in the  wild.
It exists only in zoos and reserves.
      The hedgerows of western Europe house many small animal species. There
are foxes, rabbits, hares, badgers, ferrets, squirrels and birds. These  and
other animals  have  adapted  to  life  in  a  human-dominated  environment.
Starlings and sparrows, for example, do so well  that  they  are  considered
"pest" birds. Until recently, one  of  Europe's  largest  birds,  the  white
stork, even  nested  in  the  smaller  towns  and  villages.  The  bird  was
considered a symbol  of  good  luck,  and  home-owners  built  platforms  on
rooftops for its nests. This practice is no  longer  common  and  the  stork
avoids the towns.
      The most regal of Eurasia's raptors is the golden eagle, and the  bird
has figured in history  for  centuries.  Its  image  was  carried  by  Roman
legions as they conquered much of the continent.  During  the  Middle  Ages,
lesser members of royalty were free to use other raptors for  falconry,  but
the eagle was reserved for the king. Today, in more remote  parts  of  Asia,
the golden eagle is used to hunt wild goats, gazelles,  foxes,  and  wolves.
The bird occurs in the United States, where it is under federal  protection.
It can be seen in San Diego's back country and  often  is  observed  soaring
over the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
      Several other northern Eurasia predators are found in North America  
falcons, hawks and owls; mammals including wolves, wolverines and  foxes.  a
   However, two mammalian  predators  are  unique  to  I  the  Old  World  
leopards and tigers. Leopards  range  i  from  northern  Asia  into  Africa;
tigers live  only  in  Asia  I  from  Manchuria  southward  into  India  and
Malaysia. There  are  five  races  of  this  great  cat;  all  of  them  are
endangered.  The  Zoo  enjoys  considerable  success  breeding  and  raising
Siberian tigers, of which the total  world  population  is  only  about  750
individuals. More than two dozen cubs have been born and raised at the Zoo.
      South of the taiga, Eurasian biomes become less clearly defined.  Much
of the area is flat and treeless. In the west, where rainfall  is  adequate,
grass grows thickly. But deep in the continent's interior, the land  becomes
a desert. Here, thousands of  miles  from  the  moderating  effects  of  the
ocean, temperatures can  climb  well  above  38C  (100F)  in  summer,  and
plummet far below freezing in winter.
      Animals must make drastic adjustments to these climatic extremes.  One
of the most common is migration.  Herders  move  their  domestic  herds  and
flocks, following the seasons, and  many  of  the  wild  grazers  also  make
similar journeys, with predators following along.
      The animals which are permanent residents have adapted  to  the  heat,
cold and aridity of this area.  The  saiga,  an  antelope-like  animal,  has
nostrils pointing downward to  help  keep  out  dust.  Inside  each  of  its
nostrils the saiga has a sac which is believed to warm and moisten the air.
      The  Bactrian  camel  of  Mongolia  and  China  has  adapted  to   its
environment by growing a thick, shaggy, winter coat; broad, split hooves  to
keep from sinking into  the  sand;  and  two  humps  for  storing  fat  when
foraging is poor.
      Several species of wild asses are native to the  interior  of  central
Asia. Among these are the Mongolian kulan  and  Iranian  onager.  Asses  are
smaller than true horses and  characterized  by  long  ears,  deep-set  eyes
coarse, wiry manes, small feet and tails tipped with long  hairs.  They  can
survive longer without water than other members of the horse family and  are
able to get along on  a  small  amount  of  food.  Because  of  their  sure-
footedness and endurance they are valuable beasts of burden  and  have  been
domesticated for centuries.
      The Eurasian grassland is home to the heaviest of  all  flying  birds,
the 20 kg (45 lb)  great  bustard.  And  the  world's  smallest  crane,  the
demoiselle which stands just 1 m (39 in) tall,  breeds  on  grasslands  from
southeastern Europe into central Asia.
      Several species of wild sheep and goats live  on  the  grasslands  and
adjacent mountains. Markhors and turs,  both  goats,  range  from  Spain  to
India and northward into Mongolia and Siberia. The tahr, a goatlike  animal,
is found in the high Himalayas. Goats differ from sheep in  that  they  have
beards, feet with scent glands, convex foreheads, and a definite odor  among
the males.
      Some of the world's most unusual mammals live in the  mountains  which
separate central Asia from India. One of the best known is the giant  panda,
once considered a member of  the  raccoon  family  and  now  thought  to  be
related to bears. This animal lives on a diet consisting  mainly  of  bamboo
shoots. For unknown  reasons  the  bamboo  is  dying,  which  threatens  the
pandas'  future.  The  Chinese  government  has  commissioned  a   team   of
biologists to  study  the  situation.  Although  giant  pandas  have  rarely
reproduced in western zoos, a  number  of  babies  have  been  born  in  the
Beijing zoo through natural  conception,  and  artificial  insemination  has
recently been successful.
      The giant panda shares its bamboo forest with the lesser  panda.  This
animal looks like a raccoon but is related to the giant panda.
      Central Asia is isolated from India and Burma by the Himalaya mountain
range, the highest mountains on earth. The area is so remote that little  is
known about the behavior of many of its animals. It is the home of a collie-
sized gazelle, several species of wild  sheep,  and  a  member  of  the  cow
family, the yak. The yak is also  domesticated  and  has  been  a  beast  of
burden and supplier of milk, wool and fuel for many centuries.
      One of the most  beautiful  of  all  Himalayan  animals  is  the  snow
leopard, or ounce. Its fur is in great demand and poaching has placed it  in
grave danger of extinction.
      The snow leopard's main prey is the bharal, or blue sheep, which lives
in the Himalayas and other high mountains in eastern Asia.
      As one moves south from the high country, the character  of  the  land
and its animals change. Rugged mountains give  way  to  forested  foothills.
This country is the northern edge of  the  sloth  bear's  range  which  also
includes other parts of India and Sri Lanka (Ceylon). Termites  are  a  part
of the sloth bear's diet, and it sucks them in  by  a  "vacuuming"  process.
The bear rips open the termites' nest with its claws, then  blows  away  the
dirt and dust, and starts sucking. Its lips protrude; its nostrils close  to
keep out dirt.
      Beyond the foothills, seasonal forests give way  to  semi-arid  plains
and desert in India.  Axis  deer,  nilgai  (India's  largest  antelope)  and
blackbuck live here. In the Gir Forest is the  last  remnant  population  of
the lions which once roamed from the Atlantic  through  the  Near  East  and
into Asia. But lions have been  gone  from  most  of  this  range  for  many
centuries and exist today only in  a  protected  reserve  in  the  tiny  Gir
Forest in western India, where a few hundred individuals survive.
      Where one finds lions and other predators,  scavengers  will  also  be
found. In India they include striped hyenas, foxes, dholes (wild dogs),  and
Indian white-backed vultures. These animals perform a vital function in  the
balance of nature, cleaning up carrion left by the hunters, thus helping  to
prevent the spread of disease.
      Still farther south lies India's tropical forest, actually two of them
 a rain forest and a seasonally deciduous forest. They are home to a  large
variety of monkeys, mainly of two groups   the  short-tailed,  stout-bodied
macaques, which are primarily terrestrial,  and  the  long-tailed,  slender-
bodied arboreal langurs.
      The macaques include the rhesus monkey of India, sacred to the Hindus,
and critical to science. The existence of the  Rh  blood  factor  was  first
demonstrated in rhesus monkeys, and a rhesus  was  the  first  living  being
shot into space in the United States' space program.  In  Europe,  the  only
wild monkeys are the Barbary apes, actually macaques, of  Gibraltar.  Legend
has it that when these animals disappear  there  are  approximately  30  of
them  Britain's reign over the Rock will come to an end.
      The second large group of Asian monkeys, the lan-gurs, are also called
leaf-eating monkeys. There are more than a dozen species,  among  which  the
douc langur is considered to be one of the most beautiful  of  all  monkeys.
The word "douc" means "monkey" in Vietnamese.
      Three  of  the  surviving  five  species  of  rhinoceroses   live   in
southeastern Asia. Two, the Sumatran and Javan rhinos, could be  extinct  in
the wild. The third, the Indian rhino, exists in  small  numbers  in  Assam.
Because of the heavy folds of skin and the bumps, called tubercules, on  its
hips and shoulders, this rhino appears to be wearing a suit of armor.
      The Chinese believe that rhino blood, urine, and horn (which is not  a
true horn at all, but is composed of hair-like material) have medicinal  and
aphrodisiacal powers. This superstition has resulted in  heavy  poaching  of
rhinos, placing them in grave danger.
      Among the better-known snakes of southeastern Asia are the Indian  and
king cobras and the pythons. A king cobra can  measure  3.5  m  (12  ft)  or
more. It feeds mainly on  other  snakes.  The  closely  related  Indian,  or
Asian,  cobra  is  appreciably  smaller.  The   pythons   are   non-venomous
constrictors. Contrary to popular belief they do not crush their victims  to
death but, through constriction, cause death through suffocation.
      Southeastern Asia is the home of some of the showiest of all  birds  
the pheasants. Although native to Asia, they have been introduced  elsewhere
and now are among the most widely distributed of  birds.  One  of  the  most
widespread is the ringneck pheasant. An old  legend  claims  that  ringnecks
were introduced into Greece by Jason, famous for his  quest  of  the  golden
fleece. Ringnecks were brought to the United States in  the  mid-1800's  and
are now game birds. Several species of pheasants are exhibited at  the  Zoo,
two of them roaming freely on the grounds.
      The first is the blue peafowl. The male,  called  a  peacock,  is  the
traditional symbol of vanity and false pride because of its almost  constant
displaying and strutting. The peafowl has been semi-domesticated  for  ages.
A Greek myth relates how the bird got the eye-like spots on  its  tail.  The
peacock was a favored pet of Juno, wife of Jupiter. She became angry at  her
one-hundred-eyed servant, Argus, because  of  a  misdeed  on  his  part.  To
punish him and to make sure the world remembered his offense,  she  snatched
out his hundred eyes and scattered them on the  tail  of  her  pet  peacock.
There they remain to this day.
      The other pheasant that wanders the Zoo grounds is the junglefowl.  It
looks much like  a  domestic  chicken    understandably  since  it  is  the
chicken's ancestor.
      Anthropologists think the chicken was first  domesticated  about  4000
B.C. as a fighting bird. Evidence suggests that the first  chickens  in  the
New World came with Polynesian sailors. The most ornamental of all  domestic
chickens are the long-tailed birds bred by the Japanese,  some  having  tail
feathers 6 m (20 ft) long.
      The hot, humid rain forests of southeastern Asia hold a  profusion  of
wildlife, much of it arboreal. Among these tree  dwellers,  primates  reign,
and within this group, the anthropoid  manlike  apes are royalty.  Two  of
earth's four kinds of manlike apes live in southeastern Asia.
      The smallest and most agile of these are  the  gibbons  and  siamangs.
These apes are light-bodied, long-armed and have long, slender hands.  Their
generic name, Hylobates, means  "tree  dweller."  They  are  truly  champion
acrobats, swinging hand over hand and leaping more than 9  m  (30  ft)  from
one branch to the  next.  On  large  branches  they  usually  walk  upright,
holding their arms aloft for balance. Gibbons live in family groups  of  two
to six animals within well  defined  territories.  Their  morning  whooping,
often heard at the Zoo, is a territorial call to  warn  off  other  gibbons.
The second anthropoid of southeastern Asia is the slow, retiring  orangutan.
Its name means "old man of the forest," and the orang  does  seem  the  most
human of the apes. Unlike the gibbon, it is a loner. The species used to  be
widespread throughout the islands of southeastern Asia but  extinction  came
early on all but Borneo and Sumatra. If  we  read  the  evidence  correctly,
prehistoric man hunted orangutans  for  food  and  could  have  been  partly
responsible for their disappearance from most  of  the  range.  Today  fewer
than 5,000 individuals remain, and despite strenuous efforts to  save  them,
their numbers continue to drop. The forests they need  are  falling  to  the
ax, so if the species survives, it will be in zoos and wildlife reserves.
      Among the rain forest's arboreal creatures,  there  are  a  number  of
interesting "flying" animals  snakes, frogs  and  lizards.  None  of  these
animals actually flies. They  glide  with  varying  degrees  of  aerodynamic
facility. The snake spreads its ribs and arches its body to produce a  crude
airfoil that allows it to glide at a steep angle.  The  other  animals  have
folds and strips of skin which, when stretched, produce taut membranes  that
slow descent.
      The second largest of all land animals, the Asian elephant,  lives  in
the tropical forest. A bull can weigh 5,000 kg (11,000 Ib) and stand 2.5  to
3 m (8  to  10  ft)  tall  at  the  shoulders.  Asian  elephants  have  been
domesticated for centuries  for riding, war, and as beasts of burden.
      The Asian elephant's only natural enemy is the  tiger.  Although  this
cat attacks elephants, especially  calves,  it  also  preys  on  just  about
anything it can catch, including the crocodiles that live  in  the  forest's
sluggish rivers. One of its chief prey is the Malay tapir.
      Tapirs originated in the New World, crossed on the  land  bridge  into
Asia and now exist on both continents. The obvious  difference  between  Old
World and New World tapirs is the large, white saddle-shaped patch  of  hair
on the Malay tapir's body. American tapirs are a solid brown color.
      Of the many species of birds in the tropical forest,  among  the  most
bizarre are the hornbills. There  are  45  species,  distributed  throughout
tropical  and  subtropical  Africa  and  Asia.  One  of  the   bird's   more
fascinating behavioral habits is the manner of nesting. In most  species  of
hornbills, when the female is pregnant  and  ready  to  lay,  she  enters  a
natural cavity in a tree.  She  and  the  male  plaster  over  the  cavity's
opening with a mixture of droppings, mud and regurgitated food.  They  leave
a narrow opening just wide enough for the female to poke her  beak  through,
but too small for predators to enter. The plastered wall  hardens,  and  the
female, her eggs, and later the chicks, are safe. The male spends  the  time
feeding his mate. When the nestlings are half-grown, both parents chip  away
the wall and the female emerges. She then  helps  her  mate  feed  the  baby
birds, which remain in the nest until they are fledged. During the time  the
nest is  occupied,  it  is  kept  clean  and  disease-free  by  insects  and
microscopic scavengers.


      North and South America comprise the only continuous  land  mass  that
reaches from the north to south polar  regions,  a  distance  of  more  than
14,500 km (9,000 mi). The combined  area  of  the  two  continents  is  41.4
million sq km (16 million  sq  mi),  in  which  are  found  all  terrestrial
      The two continents have been joined for the past two or three  million
years. Earlier South America was an island,  set  apart  from  the  northern
land mass for at least 60 million years. This gave time for  animal  species
unique to the continent to evolve. After  the  Isthmus  of  Panama  emerged,
there was an interchange of animals between North and  South  America,  much
as that experienced by Eurasia and America during the Ice Ages. One  of  the
animals found in both Eurasia and America is the polar bear. Its habitat  is
along the entire Arctic coast. It has even been  sighted  hunting  seals  on
ice floes hundreds of miles at sea. The polar bear's  heavy  coat  insulates
it from the icy water and air. Thick hair growing between its toes  keep  it
from slipping on the ice. The thick, white pelt made  the  animal  a  prized
trophy and reduced its population. The bear is now protected throughout  its
      The musk ox, resident of the far north, also has had to  be  protected
from excessive hunting. At one time it came  very  close  to  extinction.  A
member of the cow family, the musk ox has adapted  to  the  bitter  cold  by
developing a heavy, shaggy coat consisting of two parts    a  coarse  outer
covering of long guard hairs and a soft inner coat  so  dense  that  neither
cold nor moisture can penetrate.
      Musk oxen form a defensive ring when threatened.  Adults  stand  along
the perimeter,  heads  and  horns  pointing  out,  and  the  calves  cluster
together inside. This defensive posture works well against  the  ox's  chief
enemy, wolves, but is of little  avail  when  high-powered  rifles  are  the
      Wolves prey on many species in the north  musk  ox,  caribou,  moose,
deer, hares, and even rodents. These carnivores are among the most  maligned
of all animals, victims of false myths and legends and  systematic  programs
of extermination. They  are  accused  of  attacking  humans  and  destroying
entire herds of domestic animals. But their depredations  of  livestock  are
less severe than often claimed. And unprovoked attacks by healthy wolves  in
North America on humans are unknown. Those  recorded  from  Europe's  Middle
Ages are thought to have been made by rabid animals or hybrids.
      The world will be a far lonelier place  if  the  last  wolf  dies.  As
biologist Ernest P. Walker wrote in his book, Mammals  of  the  World,  "The
howl of the wolf and coyote, which  to  some  people  is  of  more  enduring
significance than superhighways and  skyscrapers,  should  always  remain  a
part of our heritage."
      Some Arctic wolves remain snow white year round, an adoption to  their
environment. Three other predators of the far north the snowy  owl,  Arctic
fox, and weasel are white at least part of the year.
      The life cycle of the snowy owl demonstrates  the  close  relationship
which can exist  between  predator  and  prey.  This  owl  hunts  hares  and
lemmings. When these mammals are plentiful,  female  owls  lay  clutches  of
seven to ten eggs. When the food supply drops, only one to  three  eggs  are
      Lemmings are among the most plentiful animals of the far north.  These
tiny rodents,  found  throughout  the  Arctic,  are  characterized  by  wide
fluctuations in population. When  vegetation  is  plentiful,  the  lemmings'
numbers skyrocket. This population density  seems  to  trigger  a  drive  to
migrate. Hordes  of  lemmings  move  out.  Nothing  deters  them    swamps,
forests, lakes, rivers. Eventually some reach the sea, which seems just  one
more obstacle. They plunge in, swim out, and drown.
      Each summer the far north comes alive with the millions of birds which
have migrated from the south to mate, build nests  and  raise  their  young.
Waterfowl make up the majority  of  these  migrants.  Shore  birds,  pelagic
birds, geese and ducks abound in the short Arctic  summer.  Some  have  come
thousands of miles. The champion migrant is the Arctic tern, which  flies  
16,000 km (10,000 mi) from the Antarctic, and in autumn flies back again.
      When the birds leave the Arctic at the  end  of  summer,  they  follow
ancient flyways south. One of the  flyways  follows  the  Pacific  coastline
from Alaska to  California.  Small  ponds  and  estuaries  along  the  coast
resound to the gabbling of hundreds of ducks.
      The southern edge of North America's tundra borders on the taiga. Here
wildlife tends to stay on the forest's edge, in meadows, along  streams,  on
lakes and in old burns. Grass, sedges, and willows grow  most  profusely  in
these openings.
      The lakes of Wood Buffalo  Park  in  Canada's  taiga  are  the  summer
nesting sites of the whooping crane,  the  rarest  of  all  cranes  and  the
object of a decades-long conservation effort. In 1949  there  were  only  21
left out of a population which once ranged from the East Coast to the  Rocky
Mountains. With complete protection, the population rose  to  109  birds  by
1979. Eighty-three lived in the wilderness; the others were captives.
      Twice a year the wild birds migrate a hazardous 4,000  km  (2,500  mi)
from their nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo  Park  to  the  Aransas  Wildlife
Refuge on the Texas coast. The possibility of a major storm  or  devastating
disease striking this flock is a threat which makes biologists shudder.  One
of the basic rules in the management of an endangered species is  to  spread
the risk. A daring experiment was undertaken with the whooping cranes.  Eggs
were removed from nests in Wood Buffalo Park for artificial  incubation  and
placement under setting sandhill cranes, a related, more plentiful  species.
The artificially incubated eggs are hatching and producing  birds  that  are
raised in captivity. Several whooping  cranes  have  been  hatched  and  are
being raised by their foster parent sandhills in Idaho.  If  the  experiment
succeeds, a new flock of whooping cranes will have been produced, one  which
migrates a much smaller distance, over a different route, than the  original
group. A fringe benefit of taking eggs is  that  it  stimulates  the  female
bird to continue laying, thus generating  more  than  the  usual  number  of
clutches  per  year.  The  most  common  grazing  animal  of  the   American
coniferous and deciduous forests is the white-tailed deer. In the far  West,
it is replaced by the mule deer. There are actually more deer now  in  North
America than when Europeans  first  arrived,  because  of  the  clearing  of
forest land, plus game management.
      Bears once occurred throughout the forests of America north of Mexico.
The world's largest is a brown bear, the Alaskan  or  Kodiak.  The  grizzly,
also a brown bear, has been  known  to  launch  unprovoked  attacks  against
      American black bears are  quite  common  in  much  of  their  range  
practically all the wooded areas of North America north of  central  Mexico.
They usually occur in their familiar black color phase, but also  have  been
known to be a cinnamon color,  brown,  and  even  blue.  The  rare  blue  or
glacier bear occurs only in southeastern Alaska, where there are  about  500
      South of North America's taiga is the immense grassland known  as  the
Great Plains. This covers most of the  continent's  interior  and  stretches
3,900 km (2,400 mi) from southern Canada deep into  Mexico.  It  is  prairie
country, a seemingly flat land, devoid of trees excepting  along  the  river
courses. Almost all of the  original  grasses  were  plowed  under  for  the
raising of crops, and of the tremendous number of wild  animals  which  once
lived there, practically nothing  remains.  As  the  naturalist  Peter  Farb
wrote, "Not even the eastern  forests  have  suffered  the  almost  complete
destruction that European man has brought to the grassland."
      The story of the American pronghorn, the only "antelope" native to the
New World, illustrates his  point.  When  Europeans  first  settled  in  the
Western Hemisphere, there were an estimated 50 to 100 million  pronghorn  on
the plains. Four centuries later by the  turn  of  the  20th  century,  only
20,000 were left. Today, through strenuous conservation efforts, the  prong-
horn is safe, although consigned to a small fraction of its former range.
      Another example of what happened to the plains'  wildlife  concerns  a
"dog." Before the Europeans came, hundreds of millions  of  rodents,  called
prairie dogs because of their dog-like call, lived  in  underground  "towns"
from southern Canada to Mexico. One such system of burrows in Texas  covered
more than 65,000 sq km  (25,000  sq  mi)  and  contained  approximately  400
million animals. With the coming of civilization, the  burrows  were  plowed
under and the animals poisoned. Few prairie dog towns still exist.
      As the prairie dogs disappear, they are taking with them at least  one
of their predators, the black-footed  ferret.  This  member  of  the  weasel
family has prairie dogs as its prime food.  It  has  become  overspecialized
and is caught in an evolutionary trap.
      North America's arid areas occur in the southwestern United States and
parts of Mexico. Large grazers and  browsers  include  bighorn  sheep,  mule
deer and javelinas, also called peccaries. Hawks, foxes, owls, coyotes,  and
several species of reptiles  are  among  the  carnivores.  Among  them,  the
coyote is one of the few which has thrived in the face  of  human  intrusion
into its habitat. Not only has  it  maintained  its  former  range;  it  has
expanded it.
      One of the resident birds of  the  North  American  southwest  is  the
roadrunner, a member of the cuckoo family. Primarily a ground bird,  it  can
run at speeds of up to 24 kmph (15 mph). Its diet consists  of  lizards  and
other reptiles which it kills by repeated blows  from  its  heavy  beak.  If
prey proves too large to swallow, the roadrunner ingests a bit  at  a  time.
The birds can be seen dashing  along  the  desert  with  snakes  or  lizards
hanging from their mouths.
      The world's smallest owl, the 14 cm (5 1/2 in) high elf owl, also is a
resident of the American desert. This tiny predator  uses  the  hollowed-out
nests of woodpeckers, located in cactuses, as its home.
      The desert also has its reptiles, including many species  of  lizards,
plus two of the four poisonous snakes of North  America    the  rattlesnake
and coral snake.
      Rattlesnakes are pit vipers, a group of reptiles which  also  includes
the fer-de-lance, bushmaster, water moccasin, and the copperhead The pit  is
an opening below the snake's eyes which contains a heat-sensing organ.
      Only two of North America's lizards are poisonous  the  gila  monster
and Mexican beaded lizard. Unlike poisonous snakes which inject their  venom
through hollow fangs, these lizards bite their victims, hold on,  and  allow
poison to flow into the open wound from  fangs  which  are  grooved  at  the
      The coastlands and adjacent lands of the United States are the habitat
of a wide variety of  reptiles,  birds  and  mammals.  Water  moccasins  and
copperheads are found in the warmer portions, and the largest of  all  North
American reptiles, the alligator, lives in the  rivers  and  bayous  of  the
      Alligators can be distinguished from the closely related crocodiles by
their broader heads and the lower teeth which are  out  of  sight  when  the
mouth is closed. A crocodile's teeth are visible at all times.
      There are no authenticated cases of wild alligators attacking  humans.
Crocodiles, on the other hand, can attack people.
      Many species of shorebirds live in North America.  One  of  them,  the
brown pelican, came close to extinction on the  continent  because  of  DOT.
The pesticide was sprayed and dusted on croplands, then percolated into  the
ground water and was carried to  sea  where  it  entered  the  ocean's  food
chain. The pelicans, being ultimate consumers,  got  heavy  doses.  Although
the chemical didn't kill them, it did weaken the shells of their  eggs.  The
result was  few  pelican  hatchlings.  After  DDT  was  banned  the  pelican
population began to grow  again.  In  1979,  1,200  nests  were  counted  in
California, a remarkable comeback.
      Marine mammals of the U.S.  Pacific  coast  include  four  species  of
pinnipeds  members of the seal  group.  They  are  elephant  seals,  harbor
seals, Steller sea lions and California sea lions.
      South of the United States and northern Mexico, the character  of  the
land and its wildlife changes. Desert, chaparral, and  plains  give  way  to
tropical forest. In places rainfall exceeds 500 cm (200 in) annually, and  a
mild average temperature of 27C (81F) prevails.
      As in most rain forests, primates dominate. In America they consist of
dozens of species of monkeys and  marmosets.  New  World  monkeys  are  only
distantly related to those of the Old World. Many  species  have  prehensile
tails, a feaure lacking in the Old  World  monkeys.  This  "fifth  hand"  is
especially well developed in the spider monkey.
      Not all of the rain forest's primates have prehensile tails. Marmosets
of the forests of Panama and the Amazon basin lack it. And the uakari has  a
mere stub of a tail, making it the only short-tailed New World monkey.
      South America is home to  approximately  40  percent  of  the  world's
birds, and most of them live in its rain forest. Two groups of  rain  forest
birds are among the most colorful  in  the  world    the  hummingbirds  and
      Known as "living jewels," hummingbirds  are  found  only  in  the  New
World, where they live from southern Alaska to Tierra  del  Fuego.  However,
they are primarily tropical birds. There are 319 known species  which  range
in size from the world's smallest bird, the 57 mm (2 1/2 in) long Cuban  bee
hummer, to the giant hummingbird of the high Andes, measuring 216 mm (8  1/2
in) in length.
      A second group  of  colorful  rain  forest  birds,  the  parrots,  are
distributed worldwide in the tropics  and  on  all  lands  in  the  southern
hemisphere excepting the southern tip of Africa and some of the more  remote
Pacific islands. In the  New  World,  they  reach  northward  into  southern
Arizona and New Mexico, where they are represented by occasional  visits  of
the endangered thick-billed parrot.
      The only parrot native to the United States is  now  extinct.  In  the
early 19th century, the Carolina  parakeet  ranged  from  North  Dakota  and
central New York south to eastern  Texas  and  Florida.  It  was  especially
abundant in the Mississippi River bottoms and along  the  Atlantic  seaboard
The little bird was slaughtered for sport and to  control  its  depredations
on fruit crops The last one was sighted  m  the  Florida  Everglades  m  the
early 1920 s
      In addition to its wealth of birds, the South Amen can rain forest  is
the home of a wide variety of other animals The world s slowest mammal,  the
sloth which spends long periods hanging upside down from tree  branches,  is
a forest dweller So  are  opossums,  anteaters,  poisonous  frogs,  jaguars,
tapirs, and several snakes, among them the anaconda, the world s largest  An
anaconda can measure more than 9 m (30 ft) in length Its prev  includes  the
world s largest rodent, the  hog  sized  capybara,  and  the  caiman,  South
America s counterpart of the alligator
      To the west, the rain forest terminates at  the  Andes,  the  mountain
ranges stretching the length of South America    The  highest  point  m  the
western hemi sphere, 7,000 m (22,834 ft) tall Mt Aconcagua, is m the Andes
      America s smallest deer, the pudu, and one  of  the  world  s  largest
flying birds, the Andean condor, live in these mountains Probably  the  best
known of Andean animals are the guanacos, vicunas, llamas, and alpacas,  New
World relatives of camels, which are found at high elevations.  Llamas  have
been domesticated as beasts of burden  since  pre-Columbian  times;  vicunas
and alpacas are prized for their high-quality wool.
      The cold water off South America's west coast is rich with plankton, a
link in a food chain which  reaches  up  through  fish  and  ends  with  the
millions of sea  birds  living  on  the  South  American  coast  and  nearby
islands. Among them,  the  guanay  cormorant  breeds  in  enormous  numbers.
Cormorant rookeries are not particularly pleasant places  for  humans.  They
reek of droppings, dead birds and regurgitated food,  and  there  are  flies
everywhere. The droppings, called guano, make a superb  fertilizer  and  are
harvested commercially in Peru and Chile.
      South America's grassland is called the pampas.  Although  similar  to
the Great Plains of North America, the pampas never was  home  to  the  vast
herds of wild animals which once roamed North America.
      One of the world's large, nonflying birds, the common rhea,  lives  on
the pampas. It was once hunted by gauchos on horseback for its tail  plumes,
which were used as dusters. A  second  species,  Darwin's  rhea,  roams  the
Andean foothills from Peru to Bolivia and south to the Straits of  Magellan.
It is an endangered species.
      The pampas' predators include foxes, skunks, rattlesnakes, hawks,  and
one which is found only in South America, the rare maned wolf.  This  mammal
looks more like a fox than like a wolf. It is solitary, nocturnal, and wide-
ranging. It hunts small mammals, birds, and reptiles and  also  eats  fruits
and other plant material.

"San-Diego Zoo"