Please note that
not all of the animals are out right now due to the variable nighttime temperatures we are currently experiencing.
Animals of the World is an exhibit that emphasizes the importance of animals in nature. The Heard currently provides a home to twelve types of animals with the intention of creating an exhibit that teaches people about animals and the pertinent role they have in nature worldwide.
Animal Exhibit Mission Statement
The mission of the Heard Museum is to motivate visitors to care enough about the natural world to take interest in restoring and preserving the earth’s ecosystems. By utilizing wild animal “ambassadors” that emotionally connect our visitors to the places these animals live, we can inspire children and adults to take a more proactive role in conserving wild spaces.
Fun Activity for Kids
Animal word search
Animal word search key
Blue and Gold Macaw
Macaws are large, beautiful, extremely
long-tailed parrots with vivid bright colors. Like other parrots,
they eat all kinds of seeds, nuts and fruits. Since many seeds
in the wild are poisonous, macaws are known to eat clay which contains
chemicals that neutralize toxins.
The largest rodents in the world, Capybaras can reach 140 lbs. and 4 ft. in length. An extinct form was 8 times larger! Shaped like a pig, they have a blunt snout, no tail, and thinly spread course hair making them prone to sunburn (which is why they sometimes roll in the mud). Adults can eat 6-8 lbs. of grass each day using their ever-growing front and cheek teeth to cut off and grind the food. Very efficient consumers, they both regurgitate their food (like a cow chewing its cud) and eat their own feces (to completely digest the cellulose and renew the bacteria they need for digestion). They are semi-aquatic animals spending much of their time in and around water. Accomplished swimmers with webbed feet, they can stay underwater for up to 5 minutes. Capybaras are social animals, forming groups of 10 to 30 animals with a dominant male who marks his territory with a scent gland on his nose! An assortment of purrs, barks, whistles, clicks, squeals and grunts make up capybara communication. On average, females give birth to about 4 young, which will nurse from any lactating female in the group until they are weaned after about a month.
Mongooses are weasel-like animals related
to civets and genets. Although many of the 20 species of mongooses
are solitary, the long-nosed Cusimanse, like the meerkat (another
mongoose species), is a social animal. Several Cusimanse families
form a group of 10 to 24 individuals that forage alone or together.
Most mongooses live in open areas or savannahs, but the Cusimanse
is unique by preferring swamplands and high forests, usually found
near water. Native to the jungles of West Africa, they feed
on almost anything that moves. They are famous for killing venomous
snakes but, contrary to popular belief, are not immune the venom.
Northern raccoons (Procyon lotor), are omnivores that take advantage of almost any opportunity for food, which often gets them into trouble with humans. Contrary to popular belief, raccoons do not wash their food but do possess a very sensitive receptors on their front feet.
Roscoe, the Northern raccoon, is a perfect example of why no one should take a wild animal home. Roscoe, like other wild animals held in captivity, lost his ability to independently care for himself. He also lost his natural fear of humans. Roscoe was thrown out of his human home and left to fend for himself deep in the heart of Dallas. Because he was approaching humans looking for food, he was almost destroyed by Dallas Animal Services who at first thought he might be rabid. Fortunately, a smart animal control officer realized that Roscoe was not attacking people; he was just looking for someone to provide for him. Because he is conditioned to expect food and care from humans, Roscoe can never be released into the wild.
Albus is an albino Northern raccoon who ran into trouble with some hunters in South Texas. These hunters trapped Albus so they could destroy him and mount (taxidermy) him. Albus was injured while escaping from the hunters and then ended up in rehabilitation. During rehabilitation, it was discovered that Albus is hearing and vision impaired. Loss of theses senses is not unusual in albino animals. Lack of pigment in their tissues results in damage to sensitive parts of their bodies. Pigment acts as protection, especially in the eyes. Because of his impairments, it was determined that Albus was non-releasable. Rather than euthanize him, his rehabilitator contacted the Heard Museum in her quest to find a permanent home for him. Albus lives in a protected, dimly lighted enclosure because of his albinism and special challenges.
Large rodents up to 35 lbs. and 2 ½ ft long, cavies look like kangaroos with tiny tails and jackrabbit bodies. Related to guinea pigs, they feed on grasses and other plants in the arid grasslands found in the southern tip of Argentina. In this environment, their best defense is speed and cavies can run up to 35 mph. In the spring breeding season (August to November in the southern hemisphere), they gather around a system of burrows. The young, complete with hair and open eyes and ears, are born outside the burrow and enter the burrow on their own. Also called Maras, up to 15 pairs of cavies keep their young in communal burrows called crèches. Although the young are capable of grazing a day after they are born, they remain the crèche for three or four months with the mother returning at least once a day to nurse her babies. They mate for life.
The Ring-tailed Lemur is the most popular lemur, probably because of their entertaining ways and their striking colors. Gray colored with a white face and ears and yellow eyes that are surrounded by black patches and a black & white banded tail longer than their body, they are a sight to behold! Like monkeys, they live in trees and on the ground. They also live in social groups which can appear quite funny as they face the sun in a yoga-like position to warm up in the morning! When competing for dominance, males engage in the bizarre practice of stink fighting in which they coat the tail with a greasy musk produced in the wrist glands and then wave them at their rivals.
Virginia opossums (Didelphis virginiana), are solitary, nocturnal animals. Opossums are North America's only marsupial and as they grow too large for the pouch, opossum younsters often ride on their mother's back during her nighttime search for food. When threatened by a predator, opossums "play dead" until the danger is gone. Opossums do not hang by their prehensile tails but do use them for balance when climbing.
Del, the Virginia opossum, was separated from his mother when he was very small. He was taken to a rehabilitation facility in Plano, Texas where it was determined that he could not survive on his own in the wild. He will stay at the Heard for the rest of his life. Keeping an opossum healthy is problematic because it is difficult to reproduce a wild diet. Because Virginia opossums are prone to Metabolic Bone Disease, they require specialized supplements in their diets.
White-nosed coatimundi (Nasua narica), relatives of raccoons, are Native to the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts of southwestern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico and the area from the the Big Bend to Brownsville in Texas. Coati's are active during the day and forage for food such as insects, fruits, nuts, eggs and small reptiles.
Cora, the White-nosed coatimundi, is quite a challenge for Heard staff and animal care volunteers. Cora was trapped by people who intended to also trap a male coatimundi so they could be bred for the pet trade. Her sharp teeth, long claws and lack of fear of humans make her a dangerous animal; she is not “pet” material.
White-nosed coatimundi are an endangered species in the United States and it is illegal to possess them. Cora was seized in a raid on an animal breeder in South Texas. While living there, she was kept in a very small cage and still prefers a small space to the larger enclosure she has at the Heard. She is an interesting animal who loves to have an old sheet or a couple of pillow cases so she can wrap herself up like a papoose.
Fuzz is a White-tailed deer doe and came from a devoted wildlife rehabilitator. No one knows how Fuzz destroyed her right front knee but it can never be repaired. Because she has unusually friendly nature with people, the rehabilitator contacted the Heard again. Rest assured, Fuzz is not in pain and frolics around the pen. She uses her disabled leg like a crutch and can jump and run and has no problems getting up or down. Unfortunately, the disabled leg does not allow Fuzz to out-run predators, which is why she could not be released.
Thank you to Albertsons
at Eldorado and Medical Center Drive
in McKinney for their support of animals in this exhibit.
The Heard Natural Science Museum does not collect animals from the wild nor does it encourage such activities by others. Most all of the animals that live in captivity here at the Heard Museum are abandoned pets or those that were illegally taken from the wild by people who quickly discovered that no wild animal makes a good pet. Many of these animals were not cared for properly and now have health or behavioral problems that make them unreleasable; they will always have to live in captivity.
It is the mission of the Heard Museum to inspire love and appreciation of nature in our visitors. The animals that we provide homes for are animal ambassadors. It is our hope that these animal ambassadors will motivate our visitors to care deeply enough about the natural world to take steps to restore and preserve ecosystems here in North Texas and around the world.
While our indoor exhibits are wheelchair and stroller accessible, the Heard nature trails are not currently wheelchair nor walker accessible. The trails are not paved and are only accessible to running strollers (not umbrella strollers). The Heard is currently working on plans to make some of our trails accessible to our guests in wheelchairs and regular strollers. Call 972.562.5566 for details.