Name the Cougar Cubs

Help name the cougar cubs

Two cougar cubs are taking refuge at Alexandria Zoo. This pair was orphaned after their mother was hit by a vehicle in Washington state. We're asking for YOUR help to name our new arrivals! We're taking name suggestions for brother and sister cougar cubs through December 4. Once Zoo staff has picked their favorites, we'll announce their names!

Tigers celebrate first birthday

Tigers celebrate first birthday

Our babies are growing up! Just 12 short months ago, the Malayan tiger cubs weighed in at only about one pound when they were born. At their first birthday, these strong and healthy boys now tip the scales at around 165 pounds each. As full-grown adults, they'll likely weigh between 220 – 350 pounds and average seven to nine feet in length.

So how do tigers celebrate a birthday? With cake and presents, of course! But there's no flour or sugar in this cake batter. No, this tiered frozen cake is filled with some of the boys' favorite goodies – meat drippings, pieces of meat and fish. Yum!

Animal Care staff have been planning the party for weeks. "The brothers won the hearts of our staff and visitors from the moment they were born," said Zoo Director Lee Ann Whitt. "We wanted to make sure the celebration was a special one."

The festivities are part birthday celebration, part going away party. In a few short weeks, the boys will be headed to the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound's Feline Conservation Center (EFBC/FCC) in Rosamond, California. The EFBC/FCC works closely with endangered felines and their Species Survival Plan programs.

"We're always sad to say goodbye to an animal, especially ones we've had the privilege of watching grow up," said General Curator Lisa Laskoski. “But we always know they are going to a good facility, and will play a part in the conservation of their species."

In time, the brothers will eventually be paired with females. "Along with other accredited zoos across the country, Alexandria Zoo participates in the Tiger Species Survival Plan, which works to maintain sustainable, genetically diverse tiger populations," said Whitt. Malayan tigers are now considered critically endangered. There are less than 500 Malayan tigers remaining in the wild.

"Tigers have always been a favorite of zoo guests," said Whitt. "Although we're sad to see them go, the boys are part of the bigger conservation picture – the long-term survival of the species." Accredited zoos and other conservation organizations are working to ensure all tigers, including our boys and their future offspring, will have a chance to show their stripes for generations to come.

Holiday Light Safari

Alexandria Zoo is Lighting up the Holidays

Alexandria Zoo is lighting up the season with Holiday Light Safari. Escape from the holiday hustle and bustle with a casual stroll through the Zoo’s colorful and enchanting environment. See the Zoo sparkle with awe-inspiring lighted animal figures and whimsical animated displays adorned in lights over 12 nights this December.

Hop aboard the Holiday Express train ride to see even more lights and displays.

Get into the holiday spirit with festive live music on select evenings.

Share your wish list with Santa through December 23 and visit with some familiar characters on select evenings.

Stop by Atwood’s Merry Creations station in the Activities Building featuring a model train display, cookies, and crafts. Kids can decorate an Atwood’s Bakery cookie, make an ornament, and build their own creation to add to the animal-themed model train landscape.

Warm up with tasty winter treats from the Palm Café. Hot chocolate, meals and snacks will be available for purchase.

Wrap up the evening with a stop at the Zootique Gift Shop where a variety of wild gift items, perfect for the animal in everyone, await.

‘Tis the season to visit the wildest winter wonderland in town. Catch the magic this December 4-5, 11-12, 18-23, and 26-27 from 5:30 pm – 8 pm. Admission is $7 per person, ages four and up. For the complete Holiday Light Safari schedule, click here.

Alexandria Zoo will close at 4 pm and reopen at 5:30 pm each evening of Holiday Light Safari. FOTAZ Memberships and other Zoo Passes are not valid during Holiday Light Safari. In the event of inclement weather, the decision to cancel an evening of Holiday Light Safari will be announced via the Zoo’s facebook page.

Les Fest

Tribute to the King of Blues

On September 24th the eighth annual LES FEST will be held at the Alexandria Zoo starting at 6:30 pm. This event is to commemorate 34 years of dedicated zoo leadership by former zoo director Leslie "Les" Whitt, remember Les’ dream for the Alexandria Zoo, and of course to celebrate our great zoo that will be 90 years young next year!

In addition to the zoo and wildlife, Les Whitt had another great love – music, especially the blues. This year will be a very special remembrance as the James Boogaloo Bolden Blues Band plays a tribute to the King of the Blues. For over thirty years James Bolden was trumpet player and band leader for the B.B. King Blues Band. James Boogaloo Bolden Blues Band is a powerhouse of fantastic musicians with the dynamic James Bolden leading the group. What enriches this performance for so many of us is the fact that James Bolden was one of Les’ friends.

When Les was in his twenties there was a call for help from Mayor Charles Evers of Fayette, Mississippi, who needed a Hammond B3 organ with Leslie speakers for the B.B. King Blues Band's appearance in Fayette. The B.B. King Mississippi tours included the Medgar Evers Memorial Homecoming celebration with stirring performances by the Mississippi Mass Choir. (Medgar Evers, brother of the Mayor, was a civil rights leader who was assassinated in 1963 in Jackson, MS.)

From this, a long history with the B.B. King Blues Band began for Les Whitt. Traveling with B.B. King and his band each summer in Mississippi was something that Les always looked forward to. He did not plan to play in the band, but rather to be a roadie and stagehand for his friends. Les had done this earlier in his life when he worked for an entertainment booking company.

Each year time was set aside in June for his "real vacation". In the beginning the tours were long, sometimes up to two weeks on the road, but as time passed, the circuit shortened. As Les' children got older the time in June became a Whitt family tradition as well. The last fifteen years (up until Les' passing in 2008) B.B. King and his musicians only spent between 3-7 days on the highways and back roads of Mississippi. The venues were wide-ranging, from very rural stages, backstreet bars, and rodeo arenas to the most elegant theaters and performing arts centers. The venue didn’t matter because B.B.'s unmistakable bluesy voice and unique style of playing his sweet Lucille was the same for all audiences. B.B. King took the music to the people of his home state and Les Whitt absorbed every minute of it!

Almost every year Les invited a friend or two to join him and experience the Homecoming Tour. They usually had to work the gigs with him but they also got to meet and enjoy some incredible talent – Bobby Blue Bland, Little Milton, Bobby Rush, Gregg Allman, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Taylor, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Tyrone Davis, Wolfman Jack, Albert King and many, many others.

What will make LES FEST 2015 spectacular are all the past experiences rolled into one fabulous performance on stage as the James Boogaloo Bolden Blues Band plays a tribute to two friends, B.B. King and Les Whitt.


Meet Angalia

There's a new lioness in town, and she goes by the name of Angalia. This beautiful cat was born at the Oregon Zoo and just celebrated her second birthday on September 7.

She's become right at home in the African Experience, exploring every inch of her enclosure and investigating all of the sights, smells, and sounds around her. And Angalia's just as eager to see her visitors as they are to get their first glimpse of her.

While most lions aren't big fans of water, Angalia doesn't seem to be detered. On her first day in the exhibit, a few strolling peacocks caught her eye in the distance. Although the peacocks were safe outside the enclosure, Angalia made a canon ball into her pool in their pursuit. Making the best of her missed attempt, Angalia splashed around a bit with her paw before heading on to her next adventure.

For now, Angalia and Taj the male lion will be separated from each other. They are going through the "howdy" process. This process slowly introduces new animals to each other and gives them an opportunity to get to know one another. They are able to see, smell and hear each other through a barrier. They have made good progress, so hopefully it won't be too long before they are together.

Next time you're at the Zoo, be sure to stop by and visit Angalia.

Creature Cuisine

At Alexandria Zoo, our staff works hard to make sure the animals eat well, and are receiving the proper nutrients to keep them healthy and fit. Like people, animals eat many different kinds of food. To help keep track of different animals’ diets, each animal can be grouped by the different foods it eats.

Animals that eat meat as part or all of their diet are called carnivores. Adapted for this specialized feeding, all carnivores have canine teeth for tearing flesh, and a pair of carnassial teeth for shearing meat. They also have a very simple digestive tract for dealing with a simple meat-based diet of protein and fat.

In Africa, the preferred prey of the lion is wildebeest, impala, zebras, buffalo and warthogs. Faster and more agile than the males, lionesses do most of the hunting for their family group called a pride. Members of the pride often catch and ambush their prey by herding a prey animal towards other lions hidden in the bush.

Because most prey animals have good defense systems to help them avoid predators, many carnivores in the wild, including lions, usually do not have an opportunity to eat everyday. When they find food, they eat as much as they can, because they may go for many days before eating again. Lions are able to digest their food quickly, which allows them to gorge themselves when they do catch prey.

Herbivores are animals that only eat vegetation. These animals have teeth adapted for chewing plants. Their big molars are designed to help them grind up leaves, seeds and twigs. Unlike carnivores that have to work hard to catch their prey, herbivores often are able to find plants easily. However, these plants are sometimes low in the nutrients the animals need to grow and stay healthy, causing some herbivores to spend a lot of their time grazing and browsing to get the nutrients they need!

Some herbivores have digestive systems to help them get the most out of the plants they eat. Animals like the white-tailed deer have a special stomach called a rumen where microorganisms break down cellulose. The deer swallow their food and then regurgitate it and chew on it again to break down the cellulose in the plant. Once the cellulose is broken down, the food returns to the stomach where it is digested.

An omnivore is a kind of animal that eats both animals and plants. Some omnivores will hunt and eat their food, and others will eat carrion. Omnivores also eat plants, but not all kinds of plants. Unlike herbivores, omnivores can't digest some of the substances in grains or other plants that do not produce fruit, but they can eat fruits and vegetables.

The maned wolf, native to central and eastern South America, is also an omnivore. Easily identified by its long dark legs, reddish-brown hair, and very large ears, this magnificent animal has some interesting habits, including a largely frugivorous diet. The extremes of temperature and frequent drought of its native habitat make availability of prey very unreliable. In addition to eating small to medium-sized mammals and birds, the maned wolf also eats vegetation, including fruit, sugarcane, and other plants.

Whether a carnivore, herbivore or omnivore, each animal helps keep its ecosystem in balance. By catching prey, carnivores help maintain communities by controlling populations, and herbivores deposit the seeds they have consumed and promote future plant growth.

Come out and play!

Come out and play at the Alexandria Zoo on Saturday, August 8th. The school year is fast approaching, and we have a day filled with family fun planned so you can make the most of your last days of summer vacation. It’s Visitor Appreciation Day on Saturday, August 8th, and admission will be free from 9 am to 4 pm.

While you tour the Zoo, catch keeper chats at different exhibits throughout the day, along with two animal presentations on stage. Also, be sure to stop by the Education Building. There are lots of little creatures to see up close.

Make your way to the Festival Plaza for live music by Shreveport’s Matthew Davidson Band. They’ll be performing from 11 am - 12:30 pm and 1 pm - 2 pm. While you’re there, you can grab a bite or a cool treat from the concessions. The Palm Café will be open along with select items from Mi Tierra.

Head out to “Bear Country” (the Activities Building) to visit with costumed characters Brother and Sister Bear from The Berenstain Bears. Then hop on over to see Froggy, the star of the Froggy series of books by Jonathan London. He’ll be waiting to greet visitors in the Education Building.

There are even more activities for kids at the playground. Kids can test their skills on the obstacle course, jump around in the bounce house, and get their face painted. (There is a fee for face painting.)

Several interactive stations will be set up throughout the Zoo. Kids and adults can discover fascinating facts about animals and conservation with some hands on activities.

From animals to live music to costumed characters, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.