Three New Species of Tarantula Identified in Belize

Steve Reichling, Ph.D., Assistant Curator of Reptiles at the Memphis Zoo, has identified three new species of tarantulas since 1994. All three new species are found in Belize, Central America. One of the newly identified spiders (Acanthopelma annae) is fingernail-sized and the smallest tarantula known to exist. Even more exciting, was the identification of a "thick-shinned" spider (known as the antelope spider to locals), co-discovered and described by Reichling and Canadian arachnologist Rick C. West. This spider is so unique it has been given its own genus (Crassicrus lamanai). A third spider (Crypsidromus gutzkei), which has a red abdomen and metallic gold legs, is known by a single specimen.

American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) Offers Accreditation to Five North American Facilities

Recently, the AZA Accreditation Commission granted accreditation to five North American zoological facilities, bringing the total number of accredited members to 180. The new members include Brevard, Zoo, Melbourne, FL; Chehaw Wild Animal Park, Albany, GA; Dallas World Aquarium, Dallas, TX; The Florida Aquarium, Tampa, FL; and the Rainforest at Moody Gardens, Galveston, TX. For a zoo or aquarium to become an AZA member, they must undergo an extensive peer review which includes an initial application and a two day on-site visit by a team of zoo and aquarium professionals. The visiting team observes all aspects of the facility operation including keeper training, safety procedures for both animals and humans, education programs, veterinary programs, and a financial review. The team prepares a report, which is reviewed by the Accreditation Commission. After top officials are interviewed by the Commission, a vote is taken and accreditation is either granted or denied. Any facility that is denied may re-apply at a later date after the concerns of the Commission have been addressed.

Philippine Crocodiles Arrive at Fort Worth Zoo

Fort Worth Zoo recently received a pair of Philippine crocodiles (Crocodylus mindorensis) from the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas. Philippine crocodiles are the rarest and most endangered of all crocodilians. Once found on at least eight islands in the Philippine Archipelago, over-hunting and habitat loss has confined them to small isolated pockets with approximately 100 remaining in swampy sections of a few islands. This has lead the IUCN to rank their status in the wild as "critical." The AZA Crocodilian Advisory Group has designated the Philippine crocodile as their highest priority and recommended a Species Survival Plan© if new blood lines can be obtained. Currently, a working relationship between the IUCN/SSC Crocodile Specialist Group, the AZA Crocodilian Advisory Group, CFI personnel and the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources is being developed, and it is hoped that new crocodiles will soon be added to the breeding population in the United States.

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