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    • The Bronx Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the US simply by area - 265 acres - and I think I walked across most of it today! It's also the headquarters of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which may account for the fact that they have such strong representation of the more unique creatures I haven't seen elsewhere. Here are some interesting animals that I saw during my visit.

      The Fly River Turtle is "the last living member of the Carettochelyidae family of turtles...with flipper-like forelegs, webbed hind legs and a shell covered in soft, leathery skin." It's particularly interesting because it's the only freshwater turtle I've seen like this- and the soft leathery skin covering the shell would seem to preclude it from being able to retract into the shell. Fascinating!

      The Philippine Sailfin Lizard was an incredibly beautiful and dramatic lizard that also features "a vestigial eye atop its head. It's called the parietal or pineal eye. Parietal refers to the top of the skull. A pineal eye is also called a third eye. Some reptiles like the sailfin have it. The pineal eye is sensitive to the angle of the sun's rays, and is thought to be a homing mechanism."

      The Maleo bird is the only bird that lays its eggs in a volcano to keep warm. They're only found in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and are a conservation focus.

      The Gold-Breasted Starling is absolutely gorgeous.

      The Resplendent Quetzal is the official bird of Guatemala and was a bird sacred to both the Maya and the Aztecs.

      The Western Capercaillie is absolutely beautiful. You can see the male and the female pictured above.

      An Ibis makes some friends.

      This Sulawesi Hornbill sits atop its roosting box. We didn't see the babies, but what plumage!

      A dramatic Hyacinth Macaw perches atop a treebranch.

      Two baby Fossas sit cuddled next to each other in the Madagascar exhibit.

      Elsewhere, two Fennec Foxes catch some Zzzzzs in the midday heat.

      Flamingos are on display in all their glory 24/7. You can see the Squirrel Monkeys that live in the center of their island habitat as well!

      One of the most elusive of animals, the Okapi, can be seen at the Bronx Zoo .

      All in all, I'd say this is a must-see and worthy of a full day! I'm not including the most well-known animals which are all represented at the Bronx Zoo, but rather some off the beaten path highlights that I think represent a wide variety of species. Definitely worth the trip!

    • I love all of this off-beat animal tour, but you had me at "okapi."

      The okapis were our favorite exhibit at the Columbus Zoo for all the years we lived there. They are such cool creatures!

      Their closest relative is a giraffe (not a zebra), and they always seem like a real-life "whingdingdilly" to us because they look like parts of different animals combined together:

    • One more okapi pic from the Columbus Zoo. They're so shy that outsiders didn't confirm their existence in Africa until the 1900s, and their tongues are so long they can lick their ears and eyelids. What's not to love?