"Arkansas's Favorite Nudist Colony Returns!"
That was the come-on in Little Rock Zoo publicist Susan Altrui's news release about opening of a new exhibit for the zoo's naked mole rats. Who could resist.
ZOO NEWS RELEASE
The Little Rock Zoo is proud to reintroduce its colony of naked mole-rats now on display in the newly-constructed African Outpost exhibit area.
The naked mole-rats initially arrived in spring 2005 courtesy of a donation from the Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke, Virginia and were taken off exhibit in October 2006 to make room for a vampire bat exhibit. The rats were kept on site at the Zoo while their new exhibit was being built but were not on public display. To see a behind-the-scenes look at the new exhibit, follow this link: http://www.vimeo.com/1109626.
Naked mole-rats are hairless African rodents found in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya. They are about 3-4 inches long and weigh 1 to 2.5 ounces. With a life span of up to 20 years, they are the only mammals to live in insect-like colonies of 20-300 with a caste system and a queen-breeding female. There are workers, soldiers and breeding males like ants or bees. But being much larger, they are even more fun to observe.
They are exciting to watch in their forward and backward-scooting motions along the tunnels of the exhibit. Because there is no fat under their skin, naked mole rats’ skin is wrinkled. It can be pink, gray or white/yellow. Naked mole-rats eat roots and tubers in the wild, but in a zoo, they are fed fruit and vegetables. They have no sweat glands and their eyes and ears are tiny. Like all rodents, their two front teeth continue to grow throughout their lives and are used to dig tunnels.
The Little Rock Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. With more than 200 accredited members, AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, visit www.aza.org.