Ron Magill, of the Miami Metrozoo, and "Early Show" resident veterinarian Dr. Debbye Turner Bell brought some curious, cuddly, pointy and prickly animals on the broadcast.
The first animal Magill showed was a mona monkey, a fairly common monkey from West Africa.
Magill explained this monkey lives in the trees of the tropical rainforests. The mona monkey, he said, was introduced to the island of Grenada during the slave trade. Mona monkeys, he said, feed primarily on leaves and fruits but will also take insects and other small invertebrates. The mona monkey is a speckled reddish brown in color, with white under parts, and an oval patch of white on each side of the tail. Its face is marked by a pale band across the forehead and a thin black stripe between each eye and ear. They have special cheek pouches in which they can carry their food. The mona monkey is lively and is one of the most widely exhibited members of the guenon group of African monkeys.
However, Magill said, monkeys do not make good pets, and permits are required in most states in order to keep them in captivity.
Magill also brought along an American beaver. Beavers, he said, are specialized rodents that can play a dramatic role in changing a landscape, second only to humans. He said they can weigh over 40 pounds, and are well known for building dams that help create wetlands that provide homes for many endangered species.
Their dams, Magill said, often serve as a "lodge" for several beavers and help provide warmth and food during the cold winter months. Beavers can have up to four kits per litter and will care for them for up to two years. Unlike most mammals, beavers are monogamous, and will find a mate for life at approximately three years old. Magill said beavers use their tails to communicate with others, much like whales do.
Unfortunately, Magill said beavers' thick and soft coats played a major role in the fur trade for many years.
A baby capybara was also featured on "The Early Show." Magill said these are the largest rodents in the world and can weigh over 100 pounds when fully grown. They are found throughout tropical America around bodies of water such as swamps, marshes and rivers. They are a thick, barrel-bodied animal with coarse hair and little or no tail. They are considered a delicacy by many indigenous people of Central and South America.
But do they taste like chicken?
Magill said they taste more like rabbit.
Capybara, Magill said, are vegetarians that can be found in large groups that are managed by a dominant male. They can be very aquatic, and have been known to hold their breath for up to five minutes while remaining submerged in the water. Capybaras pointed out the animal's slightly webbed feet on the show. The capybara has no tail, and 20 teeth. Their back legs, he said, are slightly longer than their front legs and their muzzles are blunt with eyes, nostrils, and ears on top of their head. Females are slightly heavier than males.
The male and female lion cubs shown on the broadcast are only about eight weeks old.
Magill said lions are the largest of the African cats and the second largest cats in the world (tigers are No. 1).
Bell added on "The Early Show" that lions are the only social large cats found in prides that can number more than 20 individuals. Males routinely get over 400 pounds and females are usually around 275 lbs. Males start to develop their mane after about two years with a full mane being attained between four and five years. Lions, he said, are the only cats to have a tufted tail at maturity. And except for a small population of Asiatic lions in India, all lions are found in Africa.
"In the wild, they really have the hardest life," Magill said. "Most cubs never make it to adulthood. The lion social structure is unlike humans' when you want to take care of your kids first. The kids eat last. Any time there's a kill, the first animal that eats is the big male with the big mane. If there's any left over when he's done, he'll let the females eat. If there's any left over when they're done, that's when the kids eat. Most kids never make it in the wild, so they really are an incredible animal."
For more with the animals, click on the video below, and watch as "Early Show" resident veterinarian Debbye Turner Bell gets urinated on by an American beaver.
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