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Smithsonian Mobile Exhibit Explores the Human–Animal Bond

Animal Connections | 2014

Animal Connections | 2014

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – “Animal Connections: Our Journey Together” is a traveling exhibit that introduces visitors of all ages to the complex bond between humans and animals. Presented by the Smithsonian Institution to mark the 150th anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association in 2013, the project is made possible through support from the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and the generous support of founding sponsor, Zoetis, Inc., a company that discovers, develops and manufactures veterinary vaccines and medicines.

Created to inspire the next generation of veterinarians, the exhibit uses a dynamic combination of interactive learning stations, films and touch screen videos, and three-dimensional settings to explore topics about animals in the home, on the farm, in the wild, at the zoo and in the veterinary clinic. It also highlights the varied roles veterinarians play in the health of animals.

“Animal Connections: Our Journey Together,” a custom-built exhibition housed on an 18-wheel truck that expands into 1,000 square feet of space, will be at the Detroit Zoo, 8450 W. 10 Mile Rd., Royal Oak, MI, Wednesday, June 25, to Friday, June 27. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The free exhibit will be staged in front of the main gate and is open to the public.

Visitors to “Animal Connections” can continue the learning experience online at animalconnections.com. The site includes resources on animal care and careers in veterinary medicine.

Highlights:

  • 1,000 square feet of interior space with interactive displays, video screens, games, and hands-on and minds-on activities.
  • Five main sections: The Home, The Farm, The Zoo, The Wild and The Veterinary Clinic.
  • Featuring a behind-the-scenes look at animal care and research at the National Zoo.

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Warthog Piglets Daphne and Violet Blossom at Detroit Zoo

The Detroit Zoo | Warthogs

The Detroit Zoo | Warthogs

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Flowers aren’t the only things blooming at the Detroit Zoo. Daphne and Violet – female warthogs born April 7, 2013 – are now firmly planted in their African Grasslands habitat near the Africa Train Station.

The birth is the result of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan, a cooperative management program to ensure genetically healthy, diverse and self-sustaining populations of threatened and endangered species. There are currently just over a hundred warthogs in North American zoos.

“We’re excited to have these baby warthogs and to help this small population in zoos grow,” said Robert Lessnau, Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Mammals. “The piglets are very cute and we’re happy to introduce them to zoo visitors.”

Female warthogs give birth to litters of two to six after a gestation period of five to six months. The babies’ mother, 8-year-old Lilith, and her twin sister, Rebecca, are named for characters from the television series “Cheers”. Daphne is named for a character from the sitcom’s spin-off “Frasier”. The father is 3-year-old Linus, whose namesake is a character from the “Peanuts” comic strip, as is Violet’s.

The warthog (Phacochoerus aethiopicus) has a large head with a flat face, high-set eyes and elongated snout. A mature warthog stands about 30 inches tall at the shoulder and can weigh between 125 and 300 pounds. Its stocky, muscular, almost-hairless body features wrinkly, gray skin; a long, coarse mane along its neck and back; and a long, tasseled tail.

Among the warthog’s most noticeable characteristics are the four large tusks protruding from the sides of its snout. The two upper canine teeth curve up and over the snout while the sharp lower canines are short and straight. The warthog also sports protruding facial warts which give the species its name.

Found primarily in the savannah woodland and grasslands of sub-Saharan Africa, the warthog is threatened by drought and hunting, which could result in localized extinctions in the future.

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