Due to the variable nighttime temperatures we are currently experiencing, please note that some animal ambassadors may not be in their outdoor enclosures right now.
Animals of the World is an
exhibit that emphasizes the importance of animals in nature. The Heard
currently provides a home to non-releasable native and non-native animals in exhibits that teach 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 Activities 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. This species of macaw is found in forests and swamps of tropical South America, including Panama, Ecuador, Columbia, Venezuela, and Brazil.
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 to 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. Raccoons do not wash their food but do possess 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 animal services, who at first thought he might be rabid. However, 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 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 their tail with a greasy musk produced in their wrist glands and
then wave the tail at their rivals.
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
- 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. Ruby and Agora are former pets.
- 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
Thank you to Albertsons at
Eldorado and Medical Center Drive in McKinney, Local Yocal Farm to Market, Tri-County Veterinary Clinic, and Animal Medical Center for their support of animals in
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.
The Heard Museum’s mission is to
inspire love and appreciation of nature in our visitors. Our hope is 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 or 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.