Ever dreamt of owning a monkey, tiger or giant elephant?
Admit it…we all have.
There is one way to fulfil your dream in Belfast. By adopting one of the animals at Belfast City Zoo.
While the upside is that you can tell your friends you are an adoptive parent of an awesome animal, the downside is you won’t be able to take them home.
It’s a small compromise for doing your bit.
Here are 10 awesome animals all available for adoption at the zoo:
1. The Western Lowland Gorilla
Western lowland gorillas are from western central Africa. They are quiet, peaceful and non-aggressive.
They are most active in the morning and spend most of their days eating and sleeping. Despite what people may think they never attack unless they are provoked.
However, to protect their groups, adult males will attempt to scare off intruders by standing upright, slapping their chests and roaring and screaming.
2. Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo
Although they prefer mountainous rainforests in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia the Goodfellow’s Tree Kangaroo family in Belfast welcomed a new addition to the family recently.
All kangaroos are quite clumsy at walking, putting down their front legs and swinging the back legs forward. Kangaroos that live on the ground have enormous back legs and are excellent at hopping. A tree kangaroo’s back legs, however, are almost the same length as the front legs and hopping is awkward for them.
3. Tina the Asian Elephant
Asian elephants are found in scrub forest or on the edge of dense forest in India and parts of south-east Asia, smaller than their African cousins and are the rarer of the two species.
Tina has been with the zoo for as long as I can remember, in fact I remember my family trying to convince me I was named after her.
They have smaller ears and tusks and their heads, not their shoulders, are the highest part of their bodies. Unlike African elephants, Asian elephants have a single finger-like projection at the end of their trunks, rather than two.
4. Colombian Spider Monkey
Found in the tropical forests of western Colombia, in the wild, the Colombian spider monkey almost never comes down from the trees but spends its days climbing and swinging through the upper levels of the canopy.
It has long, slender arms and hands with very long fingers which hook onto branches. It has no thumbs. The tail is prehensile – this means it has adapted for grasping or holding. It can act as another limb and hang on to branches. The tail lacks hair at the end to give it better grip.
5. Blue-Throated Macaw
Blue-throated macaws live in the savannah of the Beni Department in the north of Bolivia.
When born the chicks hatch out pink and with no feathers. Their eyes are black but it changes with age. By three the eye will be grey. By eight years old, it will be yellow and from ten years old the eyes will be golden. Older macaws get a grey ring around the pupil. It is possible to tell a macaw’s age by looking at its eyes.
6. Sumatran Tiger
With fewer than 500 left in the wild the Sumatran tiger is the smallest of the tiger species still existing today.
It has narrower stripes than other tiger species and has a hairier head. It is a very good swimmer, aided by its webbed toes.
They are found in any kind of habitat with dense vegetative cover, an adequate supply of prey and a reliable source of water.
Sumatran tigers are found in a variety of habitats, mostly forested ones, on the islands of Sumatra in Indonesia.
7. Malayan Sun Bear
Malayan sun bears live in the dense lowland tropical forests of south-east Asia.
They are the smallest members of the bear family, their paws have naked soles, large claws and are very agile climbers.
Their biggest threat comes from the trade in bear products.
In traditional Asian medicine, bear fat, gall, meat, paws, spinal cord, blood and bones are all used to cure a wide range of illnesses.
8. Ring-Tailed Lemurs
The ring-tailed lemur usually lives in arid, open areas and forests in southwest Madagascar.
The ringed tail of these lemurs has lots of uses. It is used for balance as they climb through the trees. When out foraging for food ring-tailed lemurs hold their tails aloft. This helps keep the group together.
The tail is also used as a warning and waved at any rival group. Rival groups of ring-tailed lemurs will also have ‘stink fights’. They rub their tails on special scent glands and flick the smells towards their rivals.
9. Bearded Dragon
The bearded dragon is found in eastern and central Australia in a range of habitats from deserts to dry forests and scrublands.
Both male and female bearded dragons have beards which are expandable areas of spiky, loose skin at the side of the head. The beards are inflated and turn a dark colour during displays of aggression or in courtship.
The bearded dragon will often open its mouth to look even more intimidating or attractive. A male will often also bob his head. To submit to a head-bobbing male, a female will raise one of her front legs and wave it in a circle.
10. Gentoo Penguin
The gentoo penguin is found in the open sea. It breeds on coastal plains on temperate and Antarctic islands.
At sea, killer whales, sea lions and leopard seals will prey on the gentoo penguin.
On land, birds such as skuas and gulls, will steal eggs. Birds of prey, such as caracara falcons, will take small chicks.
The number of gentoo penguins has declined, mostly because of pollution and other human interference.
Gentoo skin and feathers are also sought after to be made into various items of clothing.