Let's take a quick tour of the Americas and Asia via the animals in the Dallas Zoo.
First up is the cougar. Cougars are native to the Americas and can be found in a variety of habitats throughout both continents. Cougars are typically solitary creatures, but the Dallas Zoo has a mother and daughter pair who seem to be quite content cohabiting. These giant beauties are the largest cats that purr.
Flamingos can be found in the southern United States, Mexico, South America, Caribbean, and the Galapagos. Their coloring comes from a protein found in their food. When flamingo chicks are born they have grey and white feathers and a straight beak. As they age their color will change and their beak will curve. Mating pairs of flamingos build their nest together, take turns sitting on their eggs, and both feed the chicks.
Macaws are social birds found throughout Central and South America. While macaw flocks are not as large as typical flamingo flocks which can include hundreds of birds, macaws will live in groups of 10 to 30. These birds typically mate for life and this partnership extends beyond breeding to grooming and food sharing.
The final animal on our tour of the Americas is the cotton-top tamarin. These primates flip the typical gender roles and the males are the primary caregivers. Found in South America, specifically Columbia, the cotton-top tamarin is listed as critically endangered because the tropical forests that they call home are being destroyed.
Tigers are also critically endangered. These striking cats are native to Asia and though their bright coloring would suggest otherwise, their striped fur helps to camouflage them in the wild. Like the ocelot, tigers are accomplished swimmers and, like both the cougar and the ocelot, they are solitary creatures. The Dallas Zoo has four female tigers, the largest of all cat species, which they rotate in their public viewing area due to their territorial nature.
The otter, specifically the Asian small-clawed otter, is also found in Asia. These aquatic mammals produce highly bonded families. Males and females mate for life and older siblings help to raise the younger pups. They will stay with their parents until one of the parents dies, at which point the family disbands to create new families. While we only saw three otters out at the Zoo, they typically live in groups of 12, though groups can get up to 30.
And we have to finish with the cutest little animal at the Zoo and least likely to bite you for squishing her sweet, little cheeks...up to a point.