March 21, 2006 - Dont be embarrassed
for Knoxville Zoo's newest nude residents. They are naturally-naked
and they like it that way. Naked mole-rats are burrowing into the
Pilot Traveling Exhibit Center for a new exhibit opening March 31.
mole-rats get their name for having little or no hair on their body.
They are very unusual burrowing rodents native to parts of East
Africa. They are three to four inches long and weigh between 25
and 40 grams. A naked mole-rats teeth are outside of its mouth
and can grow ten inches in one year.
Naked mole-rat colonies are made up of a queen and her court. They
are the only mammal with a eusocial colony, much like honeybees
and ants. A eusocial animal is one that lives in a large family
group in which only a few members produce all the offspring. The
queen is in charge of assigning jobs and ensuring they are done
Their special exhibit will have a museum feel featuring these secretive
and nocturnal creatures. Kids will be able to burrow like naked
mole-rats through tunnels in the Pilot Traveling Exhibit Center;
play dress-a mole-rat; and even dress up themselves as royal court
members for a photo opportunity. There will also be scheduled feedings
and zoo chats so visitors can get an up-close and personal experience.
A bit more modest than their close relatives, chinchillas, guinea
pigs and a prehensile-tailed porcupine will be unveiled as part
of nature's cutest works of art. This is the first time the zoo
has ever exhibited naked mole-rats and a prehensile-tailed porcupine
in its history. Come discover them for yourselves.
Knoxville Zoo is located off exit 392 from Interstate 40 and is
open every day except Christmas Day. The zoo is nationally accredited
by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is committed to the
highest standards in animal care and well-being, ethics, conservation,
and education. Currently, the zoo is open weekdays from 9:30 a.m.
to 4:30 p.m. and on weekends from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission
and ticket sales stop one hour before the zoo closes. Next-day admission
is free after 3 p.m. For more information, please call 865.637.5331
Naked mole-rats are coming March 31