Thursday, March 15th 2007
The Guyana Zoological Park said it recently received one Giant River Turtle, three Cougar cubs and one Tapir to add to its population.
The Zoo, in a press release, said the juvenile Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) was obtained from the Essequibo Coast where it was living in a domesticated habitat. The nine-month-old, female tapir weighs about 41kgs and is adapting very well to her new home which has been specially furnished to cater to her needs. The tapir is currently on exhibit.
The Zoo said the South American Cougars (Puma Concolor) are endangered species and as such it is “proud to welcome them to our collection, for the enrichment and edification of our visitors.” The large Cougar exhibit “is once again alive with the exuberant presence of three brightly spotted Puma cubs.” The five-week old cubs spend most of their time familiarising themselves with their new habitat and their dedicated keepers are ensuring that their needs are met.
The Giant River Turtle (Podocnemis expansa) was given to the Zoo after four men in the Rupununi rescued it from death. The turtle, which weighs about 36kgs, had approached the Rupununi’s sandy roadway to nest when the men rescued her from a group of individuals they believe would have slaughtered her. The turtle was transported by truck to Georgetown in the company of her guardians and the Zoo received her on February 8.
The Zoo said the World Conservation Union (IUCN) has listed this species of turtle as Lower Risk/Conservation Dependent. However, in the Guianas it is considered an endangered species. Exploitation by humans has virtually eliminated it from most of the upper Amazon River Basin and populations across the range are much reduced.
The Zoo said it has a special mandate in promoting wildlife awareness/conservation and appreciation and this turtle “carries with it a tale that our efforts and those of many in spreading the need for conservation has reached the Rupununi.” It also said as part of its objective to continuously enrich its exhibits it expects, in “the very near future” to add a Giant River Otter and a Giant Anteater to the park. The Zoo said too, that visitors interested in seeing the new arrivals need only contact the nearest zookeeper, zoo education volunteer or on-duty staff who can explain the characteristics and the regimes of the new additions.