Zoos Victoria

Q & A


The Fast and the Furriest: Baby Wombat play timeYour Questions

1. How long does the Growling Grass Frog live for?
Growling Grass Frogs can live for up to 15 years in the wild and closer to 20 in captivity.

2. What colours are the Growling Grass Frog exactly?
The colors range but often they are green with brown or gold mottling. Sometimes they are quite glandular and appear "warty" looking. In captivity they are often (totally) brown.

3. How long are the Growling Grass Frog’s jumps?
The Growling Grass Frog has quite a big jump for its size. We would expect a frog like to this to be able to jump at least 2 metres.

4. How much Oran-utans are believed to be remaining in the wild? Brilee
Answer: This is really hard to say. A least 50 die each week due to palm oil production and the latest estimates are that there are around 12,000 Borneo orang-utans left and just 4,000 Sumatran orang-utans. Both species could be extinct in the wild within the next 10 years. Find out how you can help them here: http://www.zoo.org.au/PalmOil

5. What is the worse disease a wombat can get? Brilee
Answer: Wombats are very prone to Mange which is a skin condition they can develop from bites from mites. Mange causes them to become quite run down and more prone to other diseases. It lowers their immunity and often results in death for wombats in the wild.

6. How many lions elephants and zebras are left in the wild? Brilee
Answer: Grevy’s Zebras are endangered with fewer than 2,000 left in the wild. Mountain Zebra's are classed as vulnerable and the Plains Zebra's are still common. Lions and African elephants are still in large numbers so don’t know exactly how many there are in the wild but they are not threatened. Asian Elephants are listed as ‘endangered’ with numbers estimated at around 40,000

7. How long can hippo stay under water? Shane
Answer: Around 15 minutes but probably less than this for our pygmy hippos here at Melbourne Zoo.
This makes life tricky for those canoeing along rivers with hippos around as they can suddenly pop up out of nowhere.

8. How many wombat are there in the wild? Shane
Answer: There are 3 species of Wombat:
Common Wombat- lot’s of them in the wild
Southern hairy nosed Wombat- less common but still up to 100,000 left
Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat- critically endangered <100 left in wild

9. How do zebras get their stripes? Shane
Answer: They’re born with their stripes and each one has a unique pattern. Their skin is actually black underneath with white and black striped hair over the top.

10. How do turtles get their shells? Shane
Answer: Shells are part of their body and grows with them. It’s made of keratin which is just like our fingernails but much tougher. Their shell is part of their skeleton so there’s no way they could leave their shell and wander off without it.

11. How do turtles breathe? Shane
Answer: They have lungs like other reptiles so have to breathe air, but they can stay submerged for a long time (several hours for some species). They can even breathe through their butts! That’s right they have the ability to absorb oxygen through air bubbles trapped in their bum or directly from the water.

12. How many zebras are there in the world? Shane
Answer: Grevy’s Zebras are endangered with fewer than 2,000 left in the wild.
Mountain Zebras are also threatened with around 2,700 left in African mountains.
Plains Zebra is doing fine with huge numbers still in the wild.

13. Do animals that live in the sea can they also live in fresh water? Shane
Answer: Most animals can only live in either fresh or salt water habitats but some can travel between both. Estuarine Crocodiles are one example that is happy in fresh or salt water. Some fish will travel from the sea far up fresh water streams to breed. These include salmon and eels.

14. Is whale fat used to make soap? Chucky
Answer: No not anymore as far as I know but it was used in a wide range of products including soap in the old days.
There is, however, an ingredient in many soaps and foods today that is driving orang-utans and Tigers towards extinction. It’s called Palm Oil and is often a hidden ingredient that is labelled as ‘vegetable oil’ or ‘vegetable fat’ and is also used to produced chemicals such as ‘Sodium Laureth Sulphate & Stearic Acid which are found in many soaps and shampoos. The problem with Palm Oil is that rainforest habitat is being destroyed to produce it which means orang-utans and other wildlife have nowhere left to live. If you want to help then choose products that use either ‘certified sustainable palm oil’ or are palm oil free. Find out more here

15. How many Gorillas are left in the world? Tigers8791
Answer: There are 2 species of Gorillas each with 2 sub-species. All are classed as either ‘endangered’ or ‘critically endangered’
Western Lowland Gorillas are the main species found in zoos and have around 150,000 left in the wild.
Eastern Gorillas are far more endangered and include Mountain Gorillas (around 400 left in the wild) and Grauer’s Gorilla (hard to estimate numbers. Probably less than 5,000 all living in the Democratic Republic of Congo). Grauer’s are the species we are helping through our ‘They’re Calling on You’ phone recycling program. Find out more here

16. What would the effect be on humans if tigers went extinct? Tigers8791
Answer: This is really hard to say. When a top carnivore is taken out of an ecosystem it can throw things out of balance so that there are too many herbivores. This could impact humans through deer and other herbivores raiding human crops. In areas Tigers already have become extinct it has generally involved habitat loss so lots of species have been impacted, and humans have taken over much of the former tiger habitat. If you’re a human that lives on the edge of tiger habitat it would probably make life much safer if the tiger went extinct because you won’t be at risk of a tiger mauling.
Longer term there could be many effects that are difficult to predict of tigers becoming extinct. Many humans like me would be saddened by the loss of one of the planet’s most majestic animals.

17. If snakes went extinct why wouldn't we be able to eat toast? Tigers8791
Answer: My guess to this one is if there were no snakes then there would be a lot more mice and rats (favourite food for many snakes). Rodents love seeds especially wheat and other grains so it would be hard for us to prevent them eating much of our grain crops which we need to make bread for our toast! Bam!

18. How do you communicate with monkeys? Brax567
Answer: There are lots of ways. Being primates like us their ways of communicating our very similar to ours. They respond to vocalisation and get to recognise a lot of words used by our keepers. Facial gestures are very important too. Things we naturally do when we look at monkeys like smiling or raising our eye brows are actually a sign of aggression to most monkeys. Other body language like looking down and turning your back to a monkey is a way to communicate submission which is important in larger groups to re-enforce the hierarchy and who’s in charge. Grooming is another way to communicate submission and a way of strengthening the social bonds in a group.

19. What are baby elephants called? Brax567
Answer: A baby elephant is called a Calf (just like a baby cow). Our elephant calves here at Melbourne Zoo are named Mali (almost 5 year old girl), Ongard (3 year old boy) and Man Jai, our youngest boy who has just turned 1.
Mali means ‘Jasmine’ which is a beautiful flower found across Asia. Ongard means ‘Bold’ in Thai language and Man Jai means 'Confident'.

20. What do the gorillas eat and how is it prepared? Abza14
Answer: Gorillas are almost exclusively vegetarians and eat around 5kg of vegies and fruit every day! This has to be prepared daily by our keepers in our large gorilla kitchen. We try to give them variety in their foods so they get a balanced diet and don’t get bored with the same old food every day. The keepers chop up their food and then scatter it around their enclosure which means all our gorillas will get a fair share and not just our dominant male. This also encourages their natural foraging behaviour.
We also like to give them occasional treats like sultanas, nuts and popcorn but will hide these in bamboo tubes or in other challenging objects so that our gorillas have to use their great problem solving skills to get their reward. This is known as animal enrichment. When we do health checks and other training with our gorillas they get dried fruit as a reward for letting us give them a check up. They also love raison bread with peanut butter!

21. Is a koala a bear? Pasqualini
Answer: Koalas are definitely not Bears even though they look similar in some ways. They are marsupials which means they have a pouch and give birth to tiny babies (jelly bean size) who do most of their growing in the pouch (on mum’s milk). When they’re adults they feed exclusively on eucalyptus leaves. These are toxic to most animals but Koalas have special bacteria in their guts which helps them break down the leaves. Even so the eucalyptus oil does have a sedative affect which is why they spend so much time sleeping. Oh and one gross thing they do as youngsters is they eat their mum’s poo to get the bacteria into their own tummies so they can handle the adult diet. You can find out more here

22. How long can an elephant live for? Steffy-weffy
Answer: There are 2 species of Elephant- African and Asian, and both can live for 60-70 years! They also have the longest pregnancy of any mammal at 22 months! You can find out more about Asian Elephants here

23. What animals do you have? Steffy-weffy
Answer: Across our 3 zoos (Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary & Werribee Open Range Zoo) we have over 300 species of animals. These include Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds and Fish. Our total number of individual animals is over 3,500! You can find out about some of them here

24.  How long can tigers live up to? Steffy-weffy
Answer: Like most big cats they can live up to 15 years in the wild but tend to live longer in captivity. Usually around 20 years in zoos.
Hopefully if we can reduce some of the human threats to Tigers they will be allowed to live a happy 15 years in the wild!

25. What does the platypus use its bill for?
Answer: Their bill is super sensitive and is used to mainly find crustaceans to eat. They actually have electro-receptors in their bill to detect the faint electrical signals given off by yabbies and other creatures under the water. They use their bill to sweep away the sand and pebbles to find them too. They don’t have teeth but instead have rough plates in the mouths to grind up the yabbies.

26. What does the platypus use its tail for?
Answer: Their large beaver-like tail is used as storage for fat reserves and used to help them steer whilst swimming

27. How long can a platypus swim underwater (holding its breath)?
Answer: Normally only around 30 seconds but can go for 40 seconds comfortably. They are very active so need to return to the surface to breath regularly

28. How heavy are elephants?
Answer: Our adult female elephants weigh 2- 3 tonnes and our adult male Bong-Su weighs 5 tonnes!

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Are Zebras black with white stripes?
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