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Giant anteater eating avocado

Any guesses which Zooperlative our giant anteater Abner may have won?

We’ve counted down to the new year with 12 Days of “Zooperlatives!” Each day through Dec. 31, we shared one fun superlative “winner” among our animal residents, as chosen by our staff and volunteers, on social media. Below you’ll find the final list!

Daryll the emu

Best Hairdo: Darryl the emu

The moment Darryl the emu arrived at our Zoo, his hair was a topic of discussion. That curl! We’re not sure what charmed our female emu Lafawnduh away from her previous partner for Darryl – but we might just attribute it to the hair.  

Best at Sleeping Anywhere: The kangaroo mob

We aspire to have the same level of relaxation as our kangaroo mob! Take a walk through the Kangaroo Walkabout during the day, and you will be greeted by kangaroos in all kinds of poses and in all kinds of places doing one thing: Sleeping. ‘Roos are crepuscular, meaning they’re most active at dawn and dusk. Maybe plan that walk through the yard first thing in the morning? 

Osceola turkey chicks

Most Changed: Osceola turkey chicks Cornbread, Sweet Potato and Tater Tot Casseroles

From the moment they hatched, our three Osceola turkey chicks have been on quite the growth spurt. They’ve nearly quadrupled in size now and are very close to being indistinguishable in size from their parents! For Cornbread, Sweet Potato and Tater Tot Casseroles, time has flown right by! 

Most Graceful: Our alligators

Catch a glimpse of our alligators on land, and you might doubt this Zooperlative. Once they hit the water, however, it makes perfect sense – especially if food is involved. Check out this video to see them in action.

A prehensile-tailed porcupine on a branchMost Boopable Nose: Shelley the prehensile-tailed porcupine

While we’d never poke any of our animal residents’ noses, we can’t help admiring a few good-looking snoots. One of the best belongs to Shelley, our prehensile-tailed porcupine! 

That nose isn’t just cute – prehensile-tailed porcupines rely on their sense of smell to communicate with each other and to find food! 

Most Holiday Spirit: Holly the impala, Carol the Mandarin duck and Vixen the meerkat

Naming the animal with the most holiday spirit can be difficult – unless they already have festive names! 

Meet Holly the impala, Carol the Mandarin duck and Vixen the meerkat! They’re an unlikely trio only linked by the spirit of this season. 

  Bolivian Gray Titi MonkeysCutest pair: Bolivian gray titi monkeys, Bellini and Cooper

It’s a good day when you catch our father and son pair of Bolivian gray titi monkeys, Bellini and Cooper, snuggled close with their tails wrapped together. This twining is thought to increase their social bond – making it an even sweeter act.  

Messiest Eater: Abner the giant anteater 

You may not see him out very often, but when you do, boy is it a treat! Abner the giant anteater takes the cake – or should we say guac – for the messiest eater at the Zoo. Watch Abner eat his dinner

Most Likely to Enjoy their Birthday: The Barnyard Crew

Our Barnyard crew is always ready for a party, especially if there’s a good snack spread! Bring in a birthday treat and get ready for the partiers to join: alpaca Rosita; goats Charm, Pebbles, Puff and Trix; African spurred tortoise Sahara; and chickens Jemima Puddleduck, Mrs. Tiggywinkle, Kitty In Boots and Roly Poly Pudding.  

If there was a Zooperlative for animals with the best names, it’s likely someone from the Barnyard would win, too!  

Most Likely to REALLY Enjoy Enrichment: The black-handed spider monkey troop

Enrichment gives animals the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors. While all our animal residents experience enrichment, our black-handed spider monkey troop experiences it at a whole other level! 

Peer into one of their three habitats, and you might see objects to encourage them to forage for their food, use their prehensile tails or do a little problem-solving. The spider monkeys REALLY take to anything new or interesting in their habitats!  

The Subject of the Most Radio Calls: The Trainyard animals

Watusi on the tracks,” is a pretty common sentence heard on the radios all Zoo staff and volunteers carry. It’s followed closely by “camel on the tracks” and “bongo on the tracks.” 

All three of these species call the habitat our train rides through home! And all get a little curious (or forget to move their grazing selves over) when the train comes around. After a quick call from our train conductors, our Expedition Africa keepers are usually able to coax the hitchhiker off the tracks! 

Cutest Baby 2022: Betty the Florida black bear cub, Jerzy and Ziggy the Grévy’s zebra foals and Plum the white-tailed deer fawn

2022 has been a bountiful year for our Zoo! We’ve had 21 babies born at the Zoo (not counting our 40-plus Florida grasshopper sparrow chicks and 20 Perdido Key beach mice pups) AND become a home for eight additional baby animals this year alone. So, we knew the contest for Cutest Baby was going to be tight.  

But even then, we didn’t expect a three-way tie! Let’s hear it for Betty the Florida black bear cub, Jerzy and Ziggy the Grévy’s zebra foals and Plum the white-tailed deer fawn!   

Thank you for joining us as we’ve counted down to the new year with Zooperlatives. We can’t wait to see you in 2023!