‘Soft and Prickly – Invasion of the Land Animals’ Previews Aquarium of the Bay’s First Mammals: African Pygmy Hedgehogs and Chinchillas

March 16, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO, March 16 /PRNewswire/ — Aquarium of the Bay is introducing its first mammals – African Pygmy Hedgehogs and Chinchillas — at “Soft and Prickly: Invasion of the Land Animals” on Saturday, March 21, 2009. Led by the Aquarium’s husbandry and conservation departments, “Soft and Prickly” is the final hands-on animal preview event leading up to the April 4, 2009 grand opening of the Aquarium’s new land animal, octopus and jellies exhibits. With the new exhibits under design, the Aquarium is offering half-price admission to residents of all nine Bay Area counties for the entire month of March.

Both Chinchillas and African Pygmy Hedgehogs are home bodies, preferring to stay close to their selected habitats. The African Pygmy Hedgehog, Atelerix albiventris, is found in the deserts of Southern Africa. It is omnivorous, but has a hankering for offerings in the insectivorous category, ranging from spiders to scorpions, and small poisonous snakes. The hedgehog’s high tolerance for toxins enables it to eat such otherwise dangerous creatures without any negative repercussions. The African Pygmy Hedgehog has an average of 5,000 – 7,000 quills on its back. Each quill is filled with a network of air chambers, making it lightweight as well as strong and resilient to breaks. When threatened, the animal contracts its muscles, rolls into a ball and forces out its quills in all directions. The animals are spontaneous ovulators and prefer to mate during rainy, warm periods where temperatures range between 75 and 85 degrees. Changes in climate could adversely affect the animal’s ability to mate and reproduce.

The Chinchilla, Chinchilla lanigera, is a rodent found only in the mountains of northern Chile, in elevations ranging from 3,000 – 5,000 meters. Their large eyes come in handy, as they are primarily nocturnal animals. As many as 60 hairs can grow out of one hair follicle, providing the animal with their famed soft fur and helping to keep the animal warm in its cold natural habitat. Climate change could adversely affect Chinchillas, as warmer temperatures would force the animal to seek out higher ground in their mountainside homes, where food and resources are less readily available.

The “Invasion of the Land Animals” preview series includes live animal presentations and interaction, hands-on activities and more. The events are free with Aquarium admission.

The African Pygmy Hedgehog and Chinchilla will be part of PG&E Bay Lab, a unique interactive climate change exhibit sponsored by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The exhibit features land-dwelling animals as nature’s ambassadors, promoting energy conservation to protect their habitats from the potential impact of climate change.

About Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay is a unique nature center dedicated to creating experiences that inspire conservation of the San Francisco Bay and all marine environments. It is the only aquarium featuring exhibits focused specifically on the rich and diverse aquatic life and distinctive ecosystems of the Bay and its neighboring waters. The Aquarium is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and certified as a Green Business by the city of San Francisco. Additional information is available at www.aquariumofthebay.com.

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SOURCE Aquarium of the Bay

Source: newswire

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