Sunday, March 12, 2017

Philadelphia Zoo, Redux #8

The final stop on my visit to the Philadelphia Zoo is the Herpetarium (a.k.a The Reptile and Amphibian House).  The one at the Philadelphia Zoo is one of the finest I've ever been to, and demonstrates once again their wise use of limited space.  Before my first visit to this one, I don't think I'd ever encountered one at a zoo that had ever impressed me.  Because of the cold their "herd" of Galapagos Tortoises were all inside and I arrived just in time to see half of the large creatures caught in a traffic jam!  They don't move backwards very well at all so when 5 come together facing one another--it's like super slow motion bumper cars!  In this section are also 4 of their five species of Crocodilians. 

One of the things that I enjoy the most about this portion of the zoo is how clean and well displayed all of the animals are.  The original design of this facility was supervised by world renowned herpetologist, and one-time director of the zoo, Dr. Roger Conant.  Dr. Conant is the author of the foremost authoritative,publication, A Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of the Eastern United States, from the Peterson field guide series.  His care and concern for these animals has become part of his enduring legacy.

A new species that I found amazing in every way was the Shingleback Skank from southern Australia.  For all I know they are as common as dirt there, but I had never before even conceived of such a creature.  It reminded me of a living pine cone.

One especially lovely discovery was that of the Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog, which are apparently less endangered than most, but of whom I had never before been aware.  The one in this exhibit was most patient with me and my camera.
The main entrance to the Reptile and Amphibian House at the Philadelphia Zoo comes with this bronze sculpture that the first time I saw it, I thought it was a Komodo Dragon--even though the zoo has never kept a Komodo Dragon.  Come to discover that it is a Hadrosaurus in honor of Industrialist millionaire and one of the co-founders of the zoo, William Parker Foulke, who discovered the first complete fossil in North America near Haddonfield, New Jersey--a.k.a the HadrosaurusHadrosaurus foulkii.
Galapagos Tortoise, Geochelone nigra
Galapagos TortoiseGeochelone nigra
West African Dwarf Crocodile,  Osteolaemus tetraspis 
Nile Crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus
American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis
The interior lighting is subdued so that the animals are not overly aware of the activity of the guests, and there enclosures are clean and well maintained.  There is no sign of neglect here.
Conant's Milk Snake, Lampropeltis triangulum conanti
Blacktail Rattlesnake, Crotalus molossus
Broad-banded Copperhead, Agkistrodon contortrix laticinctus
Red Diamond Rattlesnake, Crotalus ruber
Emerald Tree Boa, Corallus caninus
Demeril's Ground Boa, Acrantophis dumerili
Yellow Rat Snake, Elaphe obsoleta quadrivittata
Shingleback Skink, Tiliqua rugosa
Chinese Crocodile Lizard, Shinisaurus crocodilurus
Dwarf Caiman, Paleosuchus palpebrosus
Dwarf CaimanPaleosuchus palpebrosus
Dwarf CaimanPaleosuchus palpebrosus
Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates leucomelas
Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates leucomelas
Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates leucomelas
Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog, Dendrobates leucomelas
Panther Chameleon, Furcifer pardalis
Panther Chameleon, Furcifer pardalis
Panther Chameleon, Furcifer pardalis, a juvenile pair hatched at the zoo in May of 2016.

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