While there’s nothing like going on an adventure into the natural habitats of the Valley, you have the option to visit some of the animals that don’t originate from our landscape but do thrive in it! Take a peek into the Red River Zoo and meet some of the animals who call it home!
Photos by Geneva Nodland
The Zoo’s newest exhibit, the Pride of the Prairie Exhibit, features American Bison, BlackTailed Prairie Dogs, Black-Footed Ferrets, and a Bull Snake. These bison bring an amount of excitement with them, other than the city of the NDSU Bison finally housing the animal!
Working with Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, the Red River Zoo brought three bison that have a long history and are very rare genetically. When the bison population was decimated in the late 1800s, Theodore Roosevelt worked with the director of the Bronx Zoo to bring some bison without cattle genes to help repopulate the park. That park has sustained its bison population, and for the first time, a few of those bison traveled to the Red River Zoo, with the Zoo’s intention of having a breeding program to increase the number of bison in the US. The offspring could go to other national parks, possibly other zoos that have similar conservation efforts, or Native American groups that may be trying to repopulate native lands with bison.
Chinese Red Panda
Photo by Red River Zoo
One of the zoo’s most popular animals, and one that they have much success in breeding, are the Red Pandas! Naturally found in northern China, these furry friends are very well-adapted to the environment of North Dakota, especially with the daily fluctuation of temperature. The zoo is known for its Red Panda conservation efforts nationally and globally. More than 25% of Chinese Red Pandas found in zoos across the country were born at the Red River Zoo!
Want to hear a secret?
The zoo is hoping to greet some Red Panda cubs in the near future, so keep your eyes out for an announcement on their social media facebook.com/redriverzoo !
A pair of feisty feline sisters can be found at the zoo, the Eurasian Lynx! Easy to spot with their tufts of black hairs pointing up from their ears, these cats can be sassy—but the Red River Zoo’s team says they are just like your typical cat. The team tries to keep the Lynx’s exhibit changed up often to keep them entertained.
Did you know?
The Beast character from the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” is rumored to be based on the Sichuan Takin!
With their unmistakable horns and large noses, the Sichuan Takin hail from the Himalayan Mountains, so the two females and one male at the Red River Zoo fit right in. The Takin’s coat is nice and thick in the wintertime, plus it acts like a raincoat as the animal’s skin gives off an oily substance to protect it from fog and snow.
The Takin’s nose isn’t just for show—it actually helps to keep them warm too! They have large nasal cavities full of blood vessels, so when they breathe in cold air in the winter, it heats it up before it gets to their lungs.
Depending on when you visit the Bactrian Camels at the Red River Zoo, they might look a little different. In the wintertime, the camels grow a thick coat of fur, which gets layered in snow. Oftentimes, people might assume since they are covered in snow, they’re cold—but it’s actually their thick fur coat underneath the snow that is insulating them!
Did you know?
You can feed the Bactrian Camels at the Red River Zoo! They offer different experiences with the animals for group rentals, company events, picnics, and more at the zoo! Check out redriverzoo.org/group-educational-experiences to see what the zoo offers.
One thing you’ll notice about the Red River Zoo’s White-Naped Cranes right now is Stanley. Stan is what the zoo calls “a grumpy old man,” as he’s been with the zoo for many years, and this spring, he became a very protective dad! For the first in the Red River Zoo’s history, a White-Naped Crane chick was born, and Stan has made it his mission to protect the little guy. But, it comes naturally, as cranes are fairly territorial.