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Celebrate Asian species this summer

The Asian Lantern Festival presented by Cleveland Clinic Children’s offers a thrilling experience, with intricate lanterns and sculptures, Asian artwork, food and performances. Your Zoo is also home to many species of animals native to Asia, from big cats to small primates. Here is a primer on not-to-miss animals when you visit for Asian Lanterns.

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Photo by Kyle Lanzer, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo

Asian Highlands

Last year, the Zoo opened the Asian Highlands habitat, featuring four interconnected yards for leopards, cooling caves for cats and red pandas as well as information about conservation partners in the field. This expansive habitat is home to the red pandas, snow leopards, takin and an Amur leopard named Edgar.

In the wild, you can find red pandas living in the temperate forests of the Himalayas and the high mountains of Burma. These small creatures are excellent tree climbers and have a diet primarily consisting of bamboo leaves and shoots. In their habitat, you can find a “cooling log” for them to lounge in and escape the heat during the hot summer days.

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Red pandas relaxing in the trees of their habitat.

The Zoo’s snow leopards bring in quite the crowd at Asian Highlands due to the three young cubs born a year ago. You absolutely need to stop by to witness the cuteness for yourself. Snow leopards inhabit the steep, rocky mountainous terrain of Central Asia and thrive in high elevation areas.When you go to visit these beautiful cats, look up! Asian Highlands features new “moon gates” and overhead tunnels that give the cats a high vantage point to look down on guests.

Living beside the snow leopards is the Zoo’s male Amur leopard, Edgar. Amur leopards once had wide range of inhabitance in Asia. Today, they are confined to a small region of the Russian Far East, just north of Korea.

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Edgar, the Amur leopard.

On your walk down from Asian Highlands, you won’t want to miss the Japanese Red-Crowned Crane. These birds are recognizable from the red marking on their head in contrast with the rest of their black and white body. They prefer to nest in marshes near rivers and a common throughout parts of Asia.

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Red-crowned crane.

Primates and more

Moving out of Asian Highlands, you can visit many other Asian species in our Primate Cat & Aquatics building. Here you will find two species of turtles coming from Asia. The spotted pond turtles inhabit streams, meadows, bogs and ponds. They prefer shallow water and spend their days basking in the sun. Batagur turtles inhabit tidal areas in southeast Asia commonly feed during low tide. Adult Batagur turtles can reach a maximum length of about 23 inches. These turtles are critically endangered with roughly 100 mature individuals remaining in the wild.

Francois Langurs are part of a leaf-eating group of cercopithicines. They have a white stripe between the corners of the mouth and ear and some of them have a pale or even golden-yellow color on the crown and neck. Otherwise they are uniformly black but the fur is fine and silky. A characteristic feature is the tuft of erect hairs on the crown. These monkeys have slender bodies, long tails and long slender hands. They have large stomachs to allow the leaves to ferment and then eventually be digested. These animals are excellent aerialists and commonly inhabit rocky with trees in Southeast Asia.

You can also find crowned lemurs in primate family. Crowned lemurs are commonly described as being covered in a wooly blanket from head to toe. The species’ distinguishing feature is a bright orange crescent on the individual’s forehead. Crowned lemurs commonly inhabit tropical areas of northern Madagascar. Other species of lemurs can also be found in this area:.Red ruffed lemurs and Mongoose lemurs share the space in northern Madagascar. The ring-tailed lemur can be found in the southern parts of Madagascar.

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Ring-tailed lemur watching from above.

Staying with animals from Madagascar, the Zoo is home to one of its largest terrestrial predators. The fossa most closely resembles a cat or a cougar but has a very different make-up. It walks on the soles of its feet rather than its toes, like cats. Fossa’s only inhabit evergreen forests in Madagascar.

The RainForest

Another Asian species can even be found in the RainForest! The small-clawed otter may be the cutest of the animals we’ve discussed here. Unlike most otters, they have very short claws that rarely extend past the digit. The inhabit rivers and creeks in southeastern China and southern India.

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Small-clawed otters in the RainForest.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself further into the Asian culture, be sure to visit some of the Asian species at the Zoo! Asian Lantern Festival presented by Cleveland Clinic Children’s starts June 20 and Zoo members receive a discount. Click here to get your tickets now.

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