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Reticulated GiraffeGiraffa camelopardalis reticulata

With an average height of 14 to 18 feet, giraffes are the tallest mammals. Even their tongues are long! They use their 18-inch long tongue to wrap around branches and strip off the leaves.

Don’t let that long neck fool you. Giraffes have seven vertebrae in their necks, just like humans. They’re just a lot bigger!

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Herbivore
Status in Wild
Stable

Grevy's ZebraEquus grevyi

Grevy’s Zebras have black stripes that cover their whole body, except for their belly, which is white.  Stripes confuse predators by making it difficult to single out an individual when they’re gathered in a group.  

Each zebra has a unique stripe pattern, like a person’s fingerprint.

The species has undergone one of the most significant reductions of range of any African mammal.  Competition with domestic grazing animals, habitat destruction, and human disturbance at critical water holes have added to their decline.

Near the end of the 1970s, the Grevy’s Zebra population throughout Africa was about 15,000.  Now, just 30 years later, about 2,500 Grevy’s Zebra survive in the wild.  That’s an 80% decline in population. 

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Herbivore
Status in Wild
Endangered

Eastern BongoAntelope tragelaphus eurycerus

Bongos rely heavily on their sense of hearing, rather than sight or smell.  They have large ears which allow them to hear approaching predators.

Unlike antlers, horns are not shed every year.  Bongos will keep their horns their entire life.

Eastern Bongo Antelope numbers have declined dramatically due to poaching and habitat destruction. Only an estimated 75 – 140 adult Eastern Bongos survive now in the wild.

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Herbivore
Status in Wild
Critically Endangered

Eastern Black RhinocerosDiceros bicornis

The way rhinos are designed suits them well for life in the wilds of Africa. Their tank-like body and tough skin help them pass through dense thickets and thorny bushes to get to needed water. Their keen sense of smell is their primary way to detect danger, and makes up for their poor eyesight.

Do you wear sunscreen? Rhinos do. It’s true! Rhinos slather themselves with mud to protect their skin from the sun and from biting insects.

They have few natural enemies, the biggest threat they face is poaching.They are poached for their horns, as it is used for medicinal purposes in Hong Kong, China, Taiwan and Singapore. It actually has no medicinal value. Rhino horn is composed of keratin, the same substance that makes up our fingernails and hair.

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Herbivore
Status in Wild
Critically Endangered

African Wild DogsLycaon pictus

African Wild Dogs live in packs of two individuals all the way up to 20 individuals, and the pack is led by an alpha pair. Typically, only the alpha pair breeds; however, the entire pack will assist in raising the pups.

They also work in packs with cooperative hunting behavior. The larger the pack, the larger the prey that the pack can hunt. The Dogs will hunt anything from small antelope to larger prey such as buffalo.

African Wild Dogs are also commonly referred to as African Painted Dogs due to spots on their bodies that resemble paint splotches.

African Wild Dogs are considered to be an endangered species, due to habitat loss, disease and poaching.

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Carnivore
Status in Wild
Endangered

African Savannah

Some of Africa’s most notable animals can be found at the Great Plains Zoo. See Giraffe, Zebras, and Ostrich roam together on our African Savannah exhibit. Next door, you’ll watch our pair of African Painted Dogs run and play in a lush yard. Three Eastern Black Rhinos can be found at our state-of-the-art Rare Rhinos of Africa exhibit, which features two outdoor yards and a Day Room for training and year-round Rhino viewing. 

  • Love this zoo! Great place to get a walk in and the animals are everywhere! The museum/indoor part is very educational too. Has a lot of shade for when it's hot out. Very clean. Friendly staff.

    Taylor FSioux Falls
  • We love to visit the zoo. They have great outdoor exhibits and lots to do inside as well. Great for kids and adults.

    Robin A
  • Lots of great exhibits and animals to see! Fun gift shop and learning center.

    Stephanie N
  • A really great zoo featuring some exotic species and I liked the focus on conservancy/breeding to preserve species for the rhinos. The safari area's cheetah was awesome to see. During a week day going, it was quite open to walk around and enjoy without too much crowding.

    Joseph H
  • The museum gives you a break from the sun on hot summer days and has a great selection of animal exhibits from around the world.  The zoo keeps growing and adding new animal habitats or improving existing ones.  Membership offers reciprocal benefits to other zoos around the country.

    Bill T
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