The first room of the Center intrigues visitors with a variety of wildlife specimens from around the world. Many are alive, many are preserved skins and bones that visitors are encouraged to touch! Here’s more information about the large displays:
This skin was prepared from an old Tiger (Panthera tigress) that died at Zoo Boise in 1994. Tigers are common in captivity but very rare in the wild. Though stunningly bright in this museum, the striped orange coat is well camouflaged in tall grasslands of Asia. Why do you think Tigers wear camouflage even though they have no natural predators?
African Buffalo (Syncerus caffer) are large wild cattle. Unlike antelopes, buffalo have poor eyesight and hearing, but have a keen sense of smell. Just look at this bull’s large nose! Buffalo are nocturnal grazers and browsers that enjoy wallowing in mud. Like several specimens in this room, this buffalo was collected by a trophy hunter about 30 years ago. In Africa, most hunters today use cameras instead of guns. Do you think this will also happen in Idaho?
Elegant and slender, the Greater Kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is perhaps the most magnificent of the 85 types of antelopes. As you might guess from the bull’s large ears, antelopes have keen hearing. They also see well. In fact, “antelope” is from the Greek anthos meaning bright and ops meaning eye. Kudus frequent rocky foothills of east and southern Africa. Why do you think male kudus have such elaborate horns?
This American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) skin was prepared from a bear poached in Idaho in 1995. Black Bears can be legally hunted in the Gem State, but many are taken out of season. Bear parts, especially gall bladders, are sometimes sold to Asian markets as medicines. Black Bears are often black, dark brown or cinnamon, but some are blond or even blue or white! Black Bears are still common in the West, but Brown Bears (U. arctos), also called grizzlies, are rare. Do you think grizzlies should be reintroduced into central Idaho?
Gray Duiker (Sylvicapra grimma) on the left and Oribi (Ourebia ourebi) on the right are similar looking small antelopes from grasslands of central and southern Africa. “Duiker” means diver in Africaans, which describes their behavior of jumping, head-first into thickets when fleeing predators. Oribis flee predators with a bounding gate called “stotting” or “pronking,” characterized by four-legged springing with all four legs held stiff. If you saw these two antelopes in Africa, how could you tell them apart? (Look closely on the sides of the snout and below the ears).
Red Foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are common predators native to North America and Europe. Like American Black Bears, red foxes come in a variety of colors including red, black, and silver. The species has been introduced to new areas for fur trapping and is naturally expanding its range within North America. Some consider this species a pest as it has a taste for domestic fowl and ground nesting wild birds. Wild red foxes are occasionally seen around Zoo Boise!
Moose (Alces alces) are the largest deer in the world. Bull moose have antlers, not horns. Antlers are grown by the males alone and are shed and replaced every year. Growing antlers are covered by a velvety skin layer. You can see from this specimen that the antlers grow out of the skull and are made of bony material. How do you think moose can bite grass without upper teeth in the front of their mouths?