Africa Rocks, at a renovation cost of $68 million, opened July 1 2017. It recreates six animal habitats found on the African continent. Africa Rocks is near the Zoo entrance.
* To read my Blog article about the San Diego Zoo, click HERE.
These are the six habitats of Africa Rocks.
Acacia Woodland features a leopard exhibit, a troop of vervet monkeys, and an aviary.
The leopard exhibit includes the critically endangered Amur leopard and a spotted and black Leopard. The Amur Leopard is one of the eight subspecies of leopard. There are about 84 Amur leopards in the wild (in the Russian Far East and North East China) and 170 to 180 in captivity. Amur leopards live 10-15 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.
The vervet is a small, black-faced monkey common in East Africa.
The aviary features two species of Bee Eaters, as well as African Silverbills, African Pygmy Geese, African Jacanas, Amethyst starlings, Beautiful Sunbirds, Blue-naped mousebirds, Collared Pratincoles, Common Waxbills, Emerald-spotted wood doves, Fischer’s Lovebirds, Golden Breasted Starlings, Greater Painted Snipes, Long-tailed paradise whydahs, Magpie Mannikins, Melba Finches, Namaqua Doves, Pin-tailed whydahs, Purple Grenadiers, Red-billed firefinches, Red-cheeked cordon-bleus, Snowy-crowned robin-chats, Stone Partridges, Village Indigobirds, White-bellied go-away-birds, White-headed buffalo weavers, Yellow-crowned bishops, Yellow Necked Francolins, Yellow-mantled widowbirds, and Zebra Waxbills.
Bee Eaters are medium-sized, brightly colored birds with missile like speed. The birds pluck bees and other flying insects out of the air with their strong, downward curved beak.
Cape Fynbos features African penguins and leopard sharks. African penguins are social birds adapted to warmer weather along the southern Africa coast. They feed mostly on fish and squid. The exhibit was designed to mimic the giant granite boulders found on Boulders Beach in South Africa.
Ethiopian Highlands is home to two baboon species: the gelada and the Hamadryas.
Geladas are found in the high grassland of the deep gorges of the central Ethiopian plateau. They live in a multilevel social structure. Adult geladas use a repertoire of complex vocalizations to signify such things as contact, reassurance, appeasement, solicitation, ambivalence, aggression and defense. Grass blades make up to 90% of their diet. The San Diego Zoo is only of two zoos in North America to house geladas.
The Hamadryas baboon habitat extends from the Red Sea in Eritrea to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Like the gelada, they live in a multilevel social structure. Hamadryas baboons often appear in ancient Egyptian art, as they were considered sacred.
Madagascar Forest features the Coquerel sifaka lemur, the ring-tailed lemur, and the fossa.
Coquerel sifaka lemurs reside in altitudes less than 300 ft in the dry deciduous forests of northwestern Madagascar, including the coastal forest. In the trees, the Coquerel sifaka moves by vertical clinging and leaping. It can leap from tree to tree up to 35 feet, and has the extraordinary ability to leap to spiny trees and precisely place its hands and feet so that it will not hurt itself.
The ring-tailed lemur is a relatively large lemur, averaging 4.9 lbs. It is highly social, living in groups of up to 30 individuals. It inhabits deciduous forests, dry scrub, montane humid forests, and gallery forests (forests along riverbanks) in southern and southwestern Madagascar.
The fossa has a doglike face, claws and teeth like a cat, and is related to the mongoose. Its natural habitat is on the African island of Madagascar. The fossa is a skilled predator, and hunts lemurs, wild pigs, reptiles, rodents, and birds. Presumably the Zoo does not let the fossa hunt its lemurs.
Kopje Woodland features meerkats, klipspringers, the rock hyrax, and the dwarf mongoose.
The meerkat is a type of mongoose. “Meerkats are small burrowing animals, living in large underground networks with multiple entrances which they leave only during the day, except to avoid the heat of the afternoon. They are very social creatures and they live in colonies together. . . . There may be up to 30 meerkats in a group.” (quoting Wikipedia).
The klipspringer is a small antelope found in eastern and southern Africa which inhabits rocky terrain with sparse vegetation. It diets on young plants, fruits and flowers.
The rock hyrax, also known as the rock rabbit, is native to Africa and the Middle East. The rock hyrax feeds on plants and dwells in cavities in rocks.
The dwarf mongoose has a large pointed head, small ears, a long tail, short limbs, and long claws. It inhabits dry grassland, open forests, and bush land, up to 2,000 meters in altitude, in eastern to southern Central Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and the Republic of South Africa. The dwarf mongoose diets on insects (mainly beetle larvae, termites, grasshoppers and crickets), spiders, scorpions, small lizards, snakes, small birds, and rodents. It prefers to sleep at night in disused termite mounds.
West African Forest
West African Forest features the dwarf crocodile, Madagascan big-headed turtles, West African mud turtles, and a floating fig tree.
The West African dwarf crocodiles reside in a pond at the base of Rady Falls, a 65-foot tall waterfall in the zoo’s West African Forest. The dwarf crocodile is a timid, mainly solitary nocturnal reptile. It feeds on a range of small animals such as fish, crabs, frogs, gastropods, insects, lizards, water birds, bats and shrews. Dwarf crocodiles attain a medium adult length of 4.9 feet.
The critically endangered Madagascan big-headed turtle is native to the waters of permanent slow-moving rivers and lakes in western Madagascar. The West African mud turtle is carnivorous and feeds mostly on fish and molluscs.