These wood storks are a special attraction at the Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens.
Every year, the breeding adults return to the same nesting trees to have their babies. They typically stay in the southeastern-most United States, like Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, but occasionally head as far north as North Carolina. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife officials believe there are approximately 16,000 breeding adults remaining. The Endangered Species Act has had an incredible impact on this animal’s numbers considering the population was well below 10,000 only 30 years ago.
I know. An increase of 6,000 breeding adults doesn’t seem like much of population. Considering the wood stork lost the majority of its natural habitat due to massive sprawl in the Everglades region, every single wood stork counts.
This particular group of storks returns each year to the trees located around our zoo’s Africa Loop, just across from the warthogs, the ostriches, and the white rhinoceros. Obviously, as they are free to return to the trees every year, that also means they are free to leave the zoo every year. These wood storks were never part of the Jacksonville Zoo’s permanent or even temporary exhibits. Now they have their own honorary attraction sign. And they’re seasonal, of course.
In honor of these precious, endangered wood stork babies – I present to you MOAR ZOO BABIES!
My anteater baby pictures came out:
Needless to say, baby anteaters are the cutest things ever. This one in particular kept sliding off mom’s back like a poorly fitting saddle on a horse. He quickly learned to hang on for dear life which I found quite unnecessary, especially because mom didn’t seem to be taking too many sharp turns unless it was to avoid her roommate – the capybara. I will admit that I successfully talked a little boy into believing the capybara was really just a ginormous hamster. He called my bluff, though, and ran off to tell his mother that it is, in fact, not a ginormous hamster. It is a ginormous guinea pig.
Here are some more of my favorite photographs from our zooventure: