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Friday, July 25, 2014 - 9:53am

What's new at the zoo: toads and summer camp

El Paso Zoo
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Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 10:46pm

In our May edition of "What's New at the Zoo?" we learned about the Woodhouse's Toad, which is native to our region.

Education Specialist Antonia Alvarado also shared all the details about the zoo's popular summer camps, which are just around the corner.

This year's theme will allow kids to discover the interesting worlds of the Sloth and the Ocelot.

Zoo Summer Camp activities include behind the scenes tours, keeper talks, arts & crafts, songs that illustrate environmental concepts, educational sessions and tons of wild fun! Zoo campers will explore environmental conservation and how they can care for our planet.

"Summer camp at the Zoo is unlike any other camp. Kids get to see the animals up close, have special behind the scenes experiences and they get to learn in a fun environment," said Renee Neuert, Executive Director of the El Paso Zoological Society.

The El Paso Zoo is the perfect environment to explore the wonders of nature and animals. Through self-discovery and active involvement, campers will learn about the important role sloths and ocelots play in the wild.

Zoo Summer Camp is open to children 6 - 10 years old and is held from 9 a.m. - 12 p.m. from Monday through Friday. Camp sessions begin June 9 and run through August 8.

Register early! Zoo Summer Camp class sizes are limited and fill up quickly. Full registration fees must be paid in order to reserve the space. Each camper will receive a Zoo Summer Camp t-shirt, a hat, and healthy daily snack!

Summer camp session dates:
June 9 -August 8, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Week 1: June 9- 13 Sloth
Week 2: June 16- 20 Ocelot (Registration Full)
Week 3: June 23- 27 Sloth
Week 4: June 30- July 4 Ocelots

ZOO CAMP REGISTRATION

Week 5: July 7- 11 Sloth
Week 6: July 14- 18 Ocelot
Week 7: July 21- 25 Sloth
Week 8: July 28- Aug 1 Ocelot
Week 9: Aug. 4- 8 Sloth

Cost Per Session Per Child: $90 Zoo Members, $100 Non-Members

Registration forms can be found at the Zoo Society office at the El Paso Zoo or can be downloaded at www.elpasozoosociety.org <http://www.elpasozoosociety.org> and mailed in with checks to:

El Paso Zoological Society
P.O. Box 10179
El Paso, TX 79995-0179

Alvarado also brought a Woodhouse's Toad on Newschannel 9 at six. Here's what we learned about the interested reptile:

Latin name: Anaxyrus woodhousii

Status: Not listed.

Distribution: Mexico, & USA. Occurs throughout Arizona except for the arid, western deserts (away from rivers and croplands), and the highest montane areas.

Habitat: Grasslands, deserts and semi-desert shrublands, river valleys and floodplains, agricultural areas, usually in areas with deep friable soils. It burrows underground or hides under rocks, plants, or other cover when inactive. Eggs and larvae develop in the shallow water of marshes, rain pools, ponds, lakes, reservoirs, flooded areas, and other bodies of water lacking a strong current.

Diet: They eat sow bugs, scorpions, bees, insect larvae, ants, and spiders.

Length: Up to 5 inches in length

Weight:

Reproduction: breeding occurs as early as February and continues into June. Males gather at the breeding site first, and chorus to attract females. Their call sounds like a hoarse scream, or like a sheep bleating. Females lay up to 25,000 eggs in strings, which are attached to vegetation in shallow water. The eggs hatch in about one week, and the tadpoles develop into adults in 2-3 weeks

Longevity: Up to 13 years.

Behavior: They are Mostly nocturnal, but juveniles are sometimes found active during the day. In the western deserts, Woodhouse's toads stay close to breeding ponds and adjacent wetted habitats. But in central and eastern Arizona, and at higher elevations, they may wander far from water after the breeding season.

General Description: They have a rough, warty skin, a whitish stripe down the middle of the back, and elongated parotoid glands on each side of the back of the head. This is usually a light brown or yellowish-brown toad with dark blotches and prominent cranial crests between and in front of the eyes. Males average a smaller size than females, have smoother skin, and possess a dark throat that is most noticeable during the breeding season. Tadpoles are dark brown, gray, or black, often with light mottling; the underside of the tail is lighter colored.

Did you know? Woodhouse's Toads are very important because of their voracious appetite for insects. Some individuals will consume as much as 2/3 of their body weight in insects each day.

Where can you find them? This species is found in a variety of wetland communities <http://www.reptilesofaz.org/h-habitat.html> from along the Colorado River and in agriculture near Yuma to montane lakes above the Mogollon Rim. It prefers areas in and near ponded permanent water, such as backwaters and slack water of big rivers, lakes, and irrigation ditches and canals; but can also be found at cattle tanks and other seasonal wetlands in central and eastern Arizona. They can be encountered in backyards or foraging under streetlights in rural or urban areas near such habitats.

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