As of 1 January 1996, of the 25 largest U.S. zoo bird collections (by species) listed by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association 0996), five were Texan. Two of these. San Antonio and Houston, are in the top ten. Collectively, roughly 600 species and subspecies of birds are held by the nearly 20 zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks in Texas.
Since at least the 1940s, the San Antonio Zoological Gardens has been one of the world's great bird collections, at times exceeding 500 species and subspecies, and, in some years, being the second largest U.S. zoo bird collection, after the San Diego Zoo. On 1 January 1996, San Antonio ranked Number Five, after the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, the Bron,'< Zoo, and Cincinnati Zoo, with 1,014 specimens representing 219 taxa.
San Antonio Zoo
San Antonio Zoo is uniquely endowed with an artesian well supplying numerous canals and pools at a constant warm temperature. so that tropical fishes, such as tilapia, shark catfish, and plecostornus flourish yearround. It is only to he expected that there is a wonderful collection of aquatic birds, including such oddities as Horned Screamers, Straw-necked Ibis, and a Black-necked Stork tEpbtpptorhyncbus asiaticus). African White-hacked Ducks (7halassomis /. leuconotus) are the gems among 44 taxa of ducks, geese and swans. At the beginning of 1977, the two pairs, occupying their own canal-fed enclosure, were the only ones in any American public zoo. Of course the pair of Whooping Cranes stand out among the eight crane taxa, which also include one of the few proven breeding pairs of Hooded Cranes in captivity.
Most zoos today display far fewer parrot species than they used to and it is rare to find more than a dozen or so taxa on display. San Antonio, however, holds more than 40 species. While it is, of course, exciting to see such rarities as Blue-throated (or Caninde), Red-fronted, and Buffon's Macaws, breeding Golden Conures, Red-tailed Black Cockatoos, and Long-hilled Corellas, it is also very satisfying to find serious exhibits of all three species of Polytelis, Senegal Parrots (with Jackson's Hornhills in the walkthrough Rift Valley Forest Aviary), Grey-cheeked Brotogeris, White-hellied Caique, and White-crowned Parrot (Pionus sentlis).
Inside the beautiful Hixon Tropical Bird House can be found the last White-necked Picatbartes in the Western Hemisphere (hatched at San Antonio), the first Woodland Kingfishers (Halcyon senegalensis) to hreed in an American Zoo, Goldenheaded Quetzals, breeding Cinnamon Warbling Finches (Poospiza ornatai, Long-tailed and Lesser Green Broadhills. Golden-headed Manakins, Chinese Bamboo Partridges and many other species. Softbills exhibited out-of doors include breeding Lesser Birds of Paradise, a large flock of Yellowrumped Caciques (in the Amazonia walk-through exhibit), Malay Wreathed Hornhills, and Black-headed Gonoleks.
The limitations of space do not allow me to more than mention such other San Antonio zoo species as African-White-backed Vultures, African Pygmy Falcons, full-winged Secretary Birds, Northern Helmeted and Razorbilled Curassows, Northern Greater Prairie Chickens (Attwater's are held off exhibit), Congo Peafowl, Malay Peacock and Bulwer's Wattled Pheasants, Masked Lapwings, and Salvin's Pigeons ( Columba oenopsreu: the same aviary with Andean Condors.
Sea World of Texas
Sea World Of Texas is located some distance from Downtown San Antonio. Though the acreage is. huge, the seventy or so species of birds are concentrated in several areas. A variety of waterfowl are kept with the colony of Lesser Flamingoes, one of the very few colonies to thus far reproduce in captivity. The rarely seen Argentine Ruddy Duck ( Oxyura vittata) shares a walkthrough aviary with Smew, Australian Bush Stone Curlew, Hammerkops, Scarlet Ibis, Kookaburras, and other species. The Penguin Encounter features large flocks of four species:
Kings, Northern Gentoo, Rockhoppers, and Chinstraps. The Alcid exhibit in the...
American Zoo and Aquarium Association (1996) Zoological Parks and Aquariums in the Americas, 1996-97.