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Amur TigerPanthera tigris

Tigers can eat 100 pounds of meat a night. That’s 400 hamburgers! Tigers need a lot of food because they go days between meals. 

Tigers have white spots on the backs of their ears know as “follow me spots”. These markings help tiger cubs locate their mother in the thick, green forest. 

In the 1940s, Amur Tigers were on the brink of extinction, with fewer than 40 individuals surviving in the wild. Thanks to vigorous anti-poaching and conservation efforts, the population recovered and remained stable. This species isn’t out of the woods yet, as poaching and loss of habitat continue to threaten them.  Fewer than 400 Amur Tigers survive in the wild.

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Carnivore
Status in Wild
Endangered

Snow LeopardPanthera uncia

Snow Leopards are amazing jumpers; they are able to leap up to 30 feet. Native to the mountains of Central Asia, snow leopards jump onto narrow ledges and barrel down steep slopes as part of a day's hunt.  

Snow Leopards use their thick, furry tails to aid in balancing, much like you would stretch out your arms to balance on a log. Their tail is nearly as long as their body.

The main threat to the Snow Leopard’s survival comes from human actions. Snow leopards are poached for their thick fur and internal organs used in traditional Chinese medicine; they also suffer from habitat and prey loss. Fewer than 7,000 Snow Leopards exist in the wild.

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Carnivore
Status in Wild
Endangered

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

Siamang GibbonSymphalangus syndactylus

Siamang Gibbons are apes, not monkeys. One way to distinguish apes from monkeys is that apes do not have tails.

Siamang Gibbon couple “Bull” and “Salem” announce their territory and reaffirm their commitment to each other with daily duets.  Siamang Gibbons are known for their calls, and paired males and females create their own unique “song.” It consists of a series of booms and barks, and is amplified by their inflatable throat sacs.  Even the couple’s kids get involved; each one adds their own sound to the call.  

Siamang Gibbons are endangered animals, but important work is going on right here, in Sioux Falls, to save this species. The Great Plains Zoo is home to highly-rated breeding pair “Bull” and “Salem”. The couple has welcomed three boys into their family since 2008. Not only were these exciting births for our Zoo, they were important to the survival of the entire Siamang Gibbon population. This species’ numbers have declined by at least 50 percent over the past 40 years due primarily to hunting for the pet trade and continued habitat loss. 

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Omnivore
Status in Wild
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

Giant AnteaterMyrmecophaga tridactyla

The Anteater’s long head conceals a 24-inch-long tongue. Their tongues are covered in spines that point backward and extra-sticky saliva. Their tongues can extend and retract at the rate of 150 times per minute. These adaptations help them devour thousands of ants and termites every day.  

Giant Anteaters are threatened by habitat loss, grassland fires, and hunting. This species has undergone a population loss of at least 30% in the last 10 years.      

You can see the Giant Anteater near our Wild Dogs of America exhibit.

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Omnivore
Status in Wild
Endangered

Humboldt PenguinSpheniscus humboldti

Unlike their Antarctic counterparts, Humboldt Penguins live in warm and temperate climates off the coast of Peru and Chile. 
Humboldt Penguins have a gland which enables them to drink salt water in addition to fresh water; the gland concentrates excess salt which then dribbles down their bill.

Habitat loss and competition from the fishing industry are threats to the Humboldt Penguin. They are also vulnerable to the natural weather pattern El Nino. When the water gets too warm, plants in the ocean die which reduces the penguin’s food supply.

 

Animal Class
Bird
Diet
Carnivore
Status in Wild
Endangered

Red PandaAilurus fulgens

Red Pandas were originally grouped in the same family as Raccoons due to similarities in teeth, skulls and ringed tails. Later, they were regrouped in the same family as Bears because of DNA similarities. The Red Panda’s natural habitat is shrinking due to deforestation and encroachment due to agriculture. 

You can find Red Pandas in the Prairie Cabin in the Hy-Vee Face-to-Face Farm. 

Animal Class
Mammal
Diet
Omnivore
Status in Wild
Endangered

Endangered Animals

The Great Plains Zoo is a key player in breeding 24 endangered species, including the very rare Amur Tiger and Eastern Black Rhinoceros, in order to create healthy populations of these precious animals worldwide. This important work is done right here, in Sioux Falls. 

  • 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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