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African Wild Dogs
The African wild dog, also called Cape hunting dog or painted dog, typically roams the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa.

These long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet. The dog's Latin name means "painted wolf," referring to the animal's irregular, mottled coat, which features patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur. Each animal has its own unique coat pattern, and all have big, rounded ears.

African wild dogs live in packs that are usually dominated by a monogamous breeding pair. The female has a litter of 2 to 20 pups, which are cared for by the entire pack. These dogs are very social, and packs have been known to share food and to assist weak or ill members. Social interactions are common, and the dogs communicate by touch, actions, and vocalizations.

 
Zebras

No animal has a more distinctive coat than the zebra. Each animal's stripes are as unique as fingerprints—no two are exactly alike—although each of the three species has its own general pattern.

Why do zebras have stripes at all? Scientists aren't sure, but many theories center on their utility as some form of camouflage. The patterns may make it difficult for predators to identify a single animal from a running herd and distort distance at dawn and dusk. Or they may dissuade insects that recognize only large areas of single-colored fur or act as a kind of natural sunscreen. Because of their uniqueness, stripes may also help zebras recognize one another.

Zebras are social animals that spend time in herds. They graze together, primarily on grass, and even groom one

 
Komodo Dragon

Komodo dragons have thrived in the harsh climate of Indonesia's Lesser Sunda Islands for millions of years, although amazingly, their existence was unknown to humans until about 100 years ago.

Reaching 10 feet (3 meters) in length and more than 300 pounds (136 kilograms), Komodo dragons are the heaviest lizards on Earth. They have long, flat heads with rounded snouts, scaly skin, bowed legs, and huge, muscular tails.

As the dominant predators on the handful of islands they inhabit, they will eat almost anything, including carrion, deer, pigs, smaller dragons, and even large water buffalo and humans. When hunting, Komodo dragons rely on camouflage and patience, lying in wait for passing prey. When a victim ambles by, the dragon springs, using its powerful legs, sharp claws and serrated, shark-like teeth to eviscerate its prey.

 
The American Crocodile

The American crocodile is considered an endangered species in nearly all parts of its North, Central, and South American range. Survey data, except in the United States, is poor or nonexistent, but conservationists agree that illegal hunting and habitat depletion has reduced populations of this wide-ranging reptile to critical levels.

A small, remnant population lives in southern Florida, but most are found in southern Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. Their habitat of choice is the fresh or brackish water of river estuaries, coastal lagoons, and mangrove swamps.

A prehistoric-looking creature, it is distinguishable from its cousin, the American alligator, by its longer, thinner snout, its lighter color, and two long teeth on the lower jaw that are visible when its mouth is closed.

This species is among the largest of the world's crocodiles, with Central and South American males reaching lengths of up to 20 feet (6.1 meters). Males in the U.S. population rarely exceed 13 feet (4 meters), however.

Their diet consists mainly of small mammals, birds, fish, crabs, insects, snails, frogs, and occasionally carrion. They have been known to attack people.

 
Giant Squid

The giant squid remains largely a mystery to scientists despite being the biggest invertebrate on Earth. The largest of these elusive giants ever found measured 59 feet (18 meters) in length and weighed nearly a ton (900 kg).

However, their inhospitable deep-sea habitat has made them uniquely difficult to study, and almost everything scientists know about them is from carcasses that have washed up on beaches or been hauled in by fishermen. Lately, however, the fortunes of scientists studying these elusive creatures have begun to turn. In 2004 researchers in Japan took the first images ever of a live giant squid. And in late 2006, scientists with Japan's National Science Museum caught and brought to the surface a live 24-foot (7-meter) female giant squid.

 
Bengal Tiger

Tigers are the largest members of the cat family and are renowned for their power and strength.

There were eight tiger subspecies at one time, but three became extinct during the 20th century. Over the last 100 years, hunting and forest destruction have reduced tiger populations from hundreds of thousands of animals to perhaps 5,000 to 7,000. Tigers are hunted as trophies, and also for body parts that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. All five remaining tiger subspecies are endangered, and many protection programs are in place.

Bengal tigers live in India and are sometimes called Indian tigers. They are the most common tiger and number about half of all wild tigers. Over many centuries they have become an important part of Indian tradition and lore.

Tigers live alone and aggressively scent-mark large territories to keep their rivals away. They are powerful nocturnal hunters that travel many miles to find buffalo, deer, wild pigs, and other large mammals.

 
Some interesting zoo facts
* It has been estimated by WAZA that over 600 million people visit zoos each year. This is almost certainly an understatement
* It is estimated (by us) that there are more than 2,800 zoos & aquariums in the world.

* Germany (1.2.2003) has 414 registered zoos and the most in any single country.

* The USA has at least 355 zoos.

* Over 105,656,000 visitors went to the 202 (out of the total of 355 zoos) responding institutions in the USA in 2002.

* 29 zoos & aquariums in the USA have more than 1,000,000 visitors a year.

* Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has the most with about 4,500,000 visitors.

* Average adult entrance price (247 zoos) is $ 9.01 in the USA.

* Most expensive adult entrance fee is $ 58.00 into Safari West in Santa Rosa, California.

* Average child entrance price (247 zoos) $ 5.53 in the USA.

* Most expensive child (age 3 to 9) entrance fee is $ 29.99 (plus tax) into SeaWorld San Diego, California.

* The oldest running zoo in the world is Vienna Zoo in Schonbrunn which dates from 1752.

* Philadelphia Zoo was opened on July 1st, 1874 and is said to be the oldest zoo in the USA.

* Berlin Zoo, Germany, with over 1.500 species has the largest number of species in any zoo in the world.

* The Monterey Bay Aquarium has about 124.000 individual animals and the largest number of animals in any zoo in the world.

* The largest zoo in the US is Red McCombs Wildlife with over 5.000 hectares (12.500 acres).

 

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