See rare creatures from Madagascar at Hogle Zoo May 16

Published: Tuesday, April 28 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

They sneered at you in the animated movie, now you can see fossa and other rare island creatures as part of the upcoming Madagascar! exhibit at Hogle Zoo.

Madagascar, an island once only known as a rest stop for pirate ships, is now one of the most precious examples of natural heritage on the planet as 75 percent of Madagascar's animals are only found on this island, and now this summer they're in Salt Lake City.

For over 150 million years, Madagascar was isolated from Africa so most of the plants and animals found on the island do not exist elsewhere. Due to habitat destruction and hunting, many of Madagascar's unique animals are threatened with extinction. This year's exhibit features strange and unique animals indigenous to this small island like tenrecs, hissing cockroaches, radiated tortoises, tree boas and the mysterious and vicious fossa.

Hogle Zoo will use Madagascar! to promote conservation of this island's delicate ecosystem.

Conceptualized by Hogle Zoo keeper Nate Strong, Madagascar! showcases animals not usually seen in zoos, like the elusive fossa whose diet in the wild consists primarily of lemurs.

Strong says, "It will be particularly fascinating to work with the fossa because they are arboreal [able to climb trees] and will make a one-of-a-kind education opportunity for visitors."

Animal Care Supervisor Jane Larson adds, "Not only are fossa fierce carnivores, since they're climbers, we will provide them with ample branches throughout their space," taking Hogle Zoo's Tropical Garden area from a southern bayou last year to a tropical wonderland in 2009.

Truly a live museum, Madagascar, also known as the "Red Island," is a paradise nearly lost that will be found this summer at Hogle Zoo.

The exhibit opens May 16.

For more information, go to hoglezoo.org

— Lynn Arave

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