CREATURE FEATURE: Golden Silk Orb-Weaver

The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver (Nephila), or Banana Spider, is a large arachnid – a spider. Nephila means fond of spinning. The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver has yellow (gold) silk, which they use to make their webs.

The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver varies in colour from reddish to greenish yellow. They can grow to 4.8–5.1 centimetres (1.5–2 inches). Females are larger than males.

The Golden Silk Orb-Weaver makes a large asymmetric orb web up to one and a half meters in diameter. They stay in their webs permanently.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Serval

The Serval (Leptailurus serval) is a slender, medium-sized wild cat found in southern Africa, similar to a cheetah but much smaller. The Serval can grow to 54–62 centimetres (21–24 inches) tall.

The Serval has golden-yellow fur that has black spots and black stripes. It has a small head, large ears, elongated toes, and a short 30 centimetre (12 inch) long black-tipped tail. It has brown or green eyes, white whiskers, white chin, and white under-belly. Three to four black stripes run from the back of the head onto the shoulders, which become rows of spots.

The Serval has the longest legs of any cat, in comparison with its body size. This may be to allow the Serval cat to walk above muddy ground. Like a domestic cat, it is very flexible and can change direction in mid-air as it leaps.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Gerenuk

The Gerenuk (Litocranius walleri) is an African long-necked gazelle from the antelope family, which is also called Waller’s Gazelle.

Gerenuk means giraffe-necked in Somali. Its neck is not as long as a giraffe’s neck but it is longer than a gazelle’s neck. Its neck is about 60-70 centimetres (23-28 inches) long. It also has very thin legs.

The Gerenuk is 80-105 centimetres (31-41 inches) tall with glossy two-tone fur in buff and reddish colours. Its tail, throat, chin, eye rings, and lips are white. Its head is long and narrow with very large ears.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Secretary Bird

The Secretary Bird (Sagittarius serpentarius) is an African bird of prey, a raptor. It is the only bird of prey that is terrestrial (it hunts for food while walking on land, rather than swooping on their prey).

The Secretary Bird has long-legs, with a slender but powerful body that looks like an eagle with an eagle-like head. It measures 1.2 metres (3.9 feet) long with a 2 metre (7 feet) wingspan. It is longer and taller than other raptors.

The Secretary Bird has 20 black crest feathers that look like quill pens behind its ears. It has a light grey body, black thighs and flight feathers, and white wing linings. Its tail has a pair of long central streamers. Its legs have thick scales to protect the bird from snakebite.

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CREATURE FEATURE: East African Black-Backed Jackal

The East African Black-Backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas schmidti) is a canid of East Africa, including Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Uganda, Tanzania, and Ethiopia.

Canis means dog, and mesomelas means middle black. It looks like a fox or dog, but with large pointed ears, and a pointed snout. It has reddish fur, a white chest, and a distinct black back from neck to bushy tail.

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CREATURE FEATURE: African Pygmy Falcon

The African Pygmy Falcon (Polihierax semitorquatus) is the smallest raptor in Africa. It lives in eastern and southern Africa.

It is only 20 centimetres (8 inches) tall. It is a grey and white bird of prey, with a red eye ring and pink legs. It has short, rounded wings. Torquatus means that it is adorned with a neck collar. Hierax means that it is hawk-like.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroo

Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroo (Dendrolagus goodfellowi buergersi) is one of two sub-species of tree-kangaroos, native to Papua New Guinea.

It is a macropod, and is related to kangaroos and wallabies.

It grows to 55-77 centimetres (22-30 inches).

The tree-kangaroos are arboreal, spending their lives in trees, unlike other kangaroos that are terrestrial (living on the ground).

Goodfellow’s Tree-Kangaroos are short and woolly with chestnut red fur, a brown face, yellowish cheeks and feet, a pale stomach, a long tail, and two golden stripes on its back.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Bengal Tiger

The Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is a carnivorous mammal and the largest of the cat family.

The Bengal Tiger can grow to 1.5-1.8 metres (5-6 feet) tall with a tail of half a metre to one metre (2-3 feet) long.

Bengal Tigers live in the Bengal area of Bangladesh and eastern India.

They are an endangered species because the number of Bengal Tigers is decreasing. In 2014 the estimated population of Bengal tigers was about 3,000 with 2,226 in India, 440 in Bangladesh, 163-243 in Nepal, and 103 in Bhutan.

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CREATURE FEATURE: Tawny Frogmouth

A frogmouth is a grey-feathered bird found in Australia and Asia that has a large beak that looks like a frog’s mouth. The top of the beak has tufts of bristles.

The tawny frogmouth (Podargus strigoides) is native to Australia. Tawny frogmouths are big-headed stocky birds with rounded wings and short legs, often mistaken for owls, because they are both nocturnal (active mainly at night) and they both have front-facing eyes. The word strigoides means owl-form.

One difference between tawny frogmouths and owls is that owls catch their prey (mice) with their feet, but tawny frogmouths catch their prey with their beaks. They are carnivorous and eat moths, spiders, worms, snails, beetles, ants, centipedes, millipedes, scorpions, and sometimes lizards and frogs.

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CREATURE FEATURE: the leucistic peacock (what’s the difference between leucistic and albino?)

At the Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia there are a number of peacocks and peahens, including a white peacock. It is a leucistic peacock.

Leucistic peacocks are white all over. It is a genetic mutation called leucism which causes a reduction of colour pigmentation.

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