Biodiversity day in Sóstó Zoo
Entertaining tasks, planting and interactive programs waited for adults and children in Sóstó Zoo on the occasion of the International Biodiversity Day.
The attention was driven to the variety of living creatures (biodiversity) and the risks threatening it because biodiversity – the variety of species – is in danger. Everybody heard already about the threats to tropical rain forests or coral reefs but this day the main emphasis was put on to get acquainted with the living world surrounding us. Native plant and animal species of Europe are also seriously endangered due to urbanisation and increasing intensity of agriculture.
The European Association of Zoos and Aquaria initiates awareness raising and fund collection campaigns in the field of nature conservation since 2000.
This year, Sóstó Zoo joins the 2 year long “Let it grow” campaign and therefore its educational activity is focused on animals and plants living in people’s direct vicinity. In the frame of it, visitors could get to know the secrets of native plant and animal kingdom and could get a view of the hidden life of reptiles and amphibians of Hungary and secrets of the birds living next to us.
The techniques of basket and cornhusk doll making could be studied and the meaning of wasp garage was explained.
On this special day, the work of the instructors was helped by the local branch office of the Hungarian Bird and Nature Conservation Association, the Amphibian and Reptile Protection Department, Nyíregyháza Forestry of Nyírerdő Zrt. and the ethnographic Kiss family.
Planting was part of the program and the plants could be taken home while tree species of the Hungarian forests were shown for the people interested.
The bird of the year, the landrail was presented and tree of the year which is Field Elm in 2016 has been planted at the educational trail of the zoo by the children and the foresters together just as it is done every year.
Interested visitors can become familiar even with Australia’s fauna and flora
Bennett kangaroos are kept in our zoo from the very beginning but this is the first time that emblematic animals of the continent could be exhibited in one enclosure according to the usual geographical theme.
Among others, visitors can meet the largest marsupial of the world, the giant red kangaroo which is the largest marsupial living today on the Earth. Its scientific name (Macropos rufus) means red big-footed as it really has large, long hind legs. Males and females of our breeding group can be easily distinguished since males have red coat while females who are smaller in size are grey. They live together with emus who are the second largest running birds in the world. The distinctive drumming sound which can be heard from a long distance in the mating season is produced by their inflated air pouch.
In the opposite enclosure, black swans and strange looking cape barren geese are living who are characteristic species of wet habitats. The black feathered animals are the national birds of Western Australia and prefer to stay in the pond made for them. In the contrary, the cape barren geese living in the same place are not fond of water even though they belong to the Anatidae family.
Next to them, Australian wild dogs, the red-coated dingoes can be seen. Ancestors of the dingoes are probable those domestic dogs who were brought to the island by the Aboriginal Australians settling there 10000 years ago. Dingoes live in family groups in the wild at a centred territory what they protect from the intruders. Being the killer of sheep flocks, farmers hunt them ruthlessly.
The bigger cockatoos, which are characteristic birds of Australia like Major Mitchell’s cockatoo, rose-breasted cockatoo and sulphur-crested cockatoo live in the outside aviaries of the park. In a separate aviary next to the Australian house exhibit, the smaller broad-tail parrot species are displayed.
Beside the colourful parrots, voice of the biggest kingfisher, the laughing kookaburra can be heard from a long distance. The peculiar laughter-like call of the bird gives its name both internationally and in the Hungarian language, the kookaburra, which is an imitative word from the vocabulary of native Australians.
Inside the Australian house, photos are displayed and also characteristic plants species like eucalyptus or tea tree can be seen.
A critically endangered vulture species, Ruppell’s vulture is raising its chick in Nyíregyháza for the first time in the country.
The breeding pair came to Sóstó Zoo 20 years ago. For a long time, they did not show any interest in each other, but this January they made a nest. The chick who hatched from the only one egg after 55 days is already 7 weeks old. The parents defend their offspring so desperately that it was better not to approach them up to now.
The species is called champions of the sky because besides the usual flying altitude at 6000 meters, they were detected even at 11000 meters.
This ability is based on the special type of haemoglobin in their blood which bonds to oxygen more strongly and so ensures the necessary amount of oxygen even at low atmospheric pressure.
The magnificent animals having a wingspan of 220-240 centimetres belong to the group of middle size vultures.
Living in the tropical region of Africa, these birds feed exclusively on larger animals’ carcasses and so their everyday life depends on the migrating route of hoofed animals. They can forage for food even in a distance of 150 kilometres during one day.
Their skill to find carcasses and to gather in huge numbers in a short time was the base of the assumption that vultures have an extremely good sense of smell. In some cultures, they were endowed with telepathic power. In fact, Old World vultures use their eyesight to find food. If one spots a carrion, it starts to circulate above it and flies lower and lower what the others will notice and follow. When flocked in huge numbers, they can clean a large animal’s carcass in twenty minutes by eating first the pluck, than the meat, skin and finally the smaller bones.
The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) listed the species as threatened for the first time in 2007. Between 2012-2014, it was categorized as endangered. Since their population is constantly declining due to habitat loss, illegal trade and deaths caused by poisoned food, they have been listed as critically endangered since 2015.