Cameron Park Zoo
El Rey de la Montana is one of the local names for the King Vulture. It is also the title of Cameron Park Zoo's 120 long Neotropical Panorama, featuring animals from Mexico, and Central and South America. It was designed to showcase King Vultures, but usually startles visitors with the variety of its residents. Two different breeding colonies of Guyana Squirrel Monkeys roam the exhibit on alternate days, leaving an indoor shelter in the morning, and returning, cued by a cowbell they associate with their evening meal, around the time the zoo closes.
Patagonian Conures and a Yellow-headed Amazon unconcernedly forage on the ground, while Sun Conures are generally up in branches, or on elaborate rockwork, often near the Scarlet Ibises. The Common Iguana is usually found at the base of the waterfowl, at the edge of a pool alternatively visited by a small flock of White-faced whistling Ducks and a pair of Capybaras, the world's largest living rodent. With their relatives, the Patagonian Cavies and St. Vincent Agouties, the Capybaras present a sampling of the great diversity of South American rodents. They also serve as live bean bag chairs for the squirrel monkeys, and even more startlingly, serve as perches for the spectacular Collie's Magpie Jays. All three Magpie Jays were hatched and parent-reared in a forty foot tall Hackberry Tree in this enclosure in 2002 (Lindholm, in litt.). Their male parent's talent at attacking humans servicing the exhibit resulted in both parents' relocation to the St. Louis Zoo, where they have since produced further offspring. Inhabitants that are not always seen are the two-toed Sloth and the Red-footed tortoises.
The namesakes of this exhibit, the pair of King Vultures, have a particularly distinguished history. The female came to Waco in 1967, to the Central Texas Zoo (relocated to a much larger acreage and renamed the Cameron Park Zoo in 1993). The male arrived in 1982, and since 1983, sixteen offspring have been hatched, the most recent in 2000. Eggs were laid in 2001 and 2002, but did not hatch. Copulation has been repeatedly observed this year, so hope remains for further descendents of this remarkable pair.
At present, most of the other birds at the Cameron Park Zoo are African species. Among these are African Open-billed Storks, Marabous, Lesser Flamingos, Cape teal, Kori Bustards, a Senegal Dove, Purple-crested Touracos, Von der Decken's Hornbills, and White-headed Buffalo Weavers.
However, a major collection of North American species will have been assembled by the fall of 2004, when Brazos River Country, an exhibit tracing the course of that Texas river
from the Gulf of Mexico to the New Mexico Border. Along with marine and freshwater aquaria, amphibian exhibits, underwater viewing for alligators and otters, a nocturnal house with dozens of Pallid Bats, Jaguars, Pumas, Black Bears, Bison, and many other species, will be a 300 foot long aviary for birds of the Gulf Coast.
In many ways, Austin, the Texas State Capitol and seat of the University of Texas, is quite different from most Texas cities. One major difference is the lack of a city-chartered zoo. However, in the 1990s two privately-owned collections have been opened to the public. The Austin Zoo began in 1992, when John and Cindy Carroccio began opening their Good Day Ranch to visitors. Renamed the Austin Zoo in 1994, it officially became a nonprofit charitable organization in 2000. Its mission is to "assist animals in need through rescue, rehabilitation and education." At present more than 90% of the collection consists of "ownerreleased" or "rescued" animals. In a state notorious for very liberal policies regarding exotic wildlife ownership, it is not surprising the Carroccios became responsible for several lions and tigers, as well as a number of retired Baylor Black Bear mascots. There is also quite a primate collection, including animals that did not fit into zoo social units, featuring several species that have "gone out of style" in most zoos, such as Patas Monkeys, Black Mangabeys, Bolivian Squirrel Monkeys, and Brown Lemurs. With such a collection philosophy, one would expect quite a collection of parrots, and such is the case. Among the exhibited psittacines are Moluccan and Umbrella Cockatoos, Hyacinth Macaws, Jenday Conures, Quaker Parrots, and Black-capped and Chattering Lorikeets. Other birds include three Emus found wandering the streets of Austin, and a zoo-hatched King Vulture, whose congenital foot deformities called for the devising of special platforms for it to perch on.
Over the last several years J & M Aviaries, Inc., in Austin, has evolved from a...
Adigan. L. (ed.) 2003. The 2003 AZA membership directory. American Zoo & Aquarium Association.
Lindholm. J.H. in liu. AFA Annual Conference Proceedings 2003. •:•