November 5, 2016
By Lindsey Holden
The Charles Paddock Zoo on Saturday welcomed a new group of animals to Atascadero, part of a planned series of exhibits featuring endangered species from around the world.
Visitors can now visit animals from the island of Madagascar, the first of five displays with creatures from “biodiversity hotspots,” which contain a variety of endangered species.
Future exhibits will feature animals from California, Indo-Burma, the Guinea Plains of Africa and South America.
“These are areas where you have a large number of different species existing,” said Katie Mulder, a zookeeper.
Although the regions are concentrated with species, “they’re under fire for some reason,” Mulder noted. The zoo’s hotspot exhibits are meant to educate visitors about the animals and promote conservation efforts.
Animals displayed at the Madagascar exhibit include radiated and spider tortoises, big-headed turtles, black parrots, tomato frogs, pardalis chameleons, phelsuma geckos and collared iguanas. Crested couas, a Madagascar bird species, will arrive in a few months.
Lemurs and the fossa, a catlike carnivorous animal, are already on display at the zoo but will join the Madagascar exhibit.
The display was funded by a $20,000 donation from the Atascadero Wine Festival Committee.