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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Happy 20th birthday to one of WPZ’s least known residents

Posted by: Peggy Farr, Zookeeper

Do you know Cinnamon? Photo: Rachel Gray/Woodland Park Zoo.

One of the zoo's lowest profile residents just celebrated a milestone birthday: Cinnamon, our springhaas (Pedetes capensis), turned 20. Springhaas in human care are expected to live for typically 13 to 14 years, but our little energizer bunny—as she’s lovingly known by her keepers—is still going!

Though she has lived here for 10+ years, Cinnamon and her species are little known. Springhaas are native to southern Africa where there is dry, sandy soil for them to dig burrows. They spend most of the daytime in these burrows and forage for stems, roots and sprouts at night. Springhaas are a type of rodent and resemble rabbits or even tiny kangaroos yet are most closely related to squirrels. They are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to loss of habitat and hunting that stems from the perception that they are pests and damage crops.

Cinnamon has some challenges due to her advanced age, so we monitor her daily to assure her best welfare. Like many of our geriatric residents, she receives anti-inflammatories. Cinnamon takes her medication enthusiastically first thing every morning on a piece of corn on the cob, one of her favorite foods. (Her absolute favorite thing to eat is whole peanuts which she shells herself.) Once she leaves her den and starts exploring, we get a chance to see how she’s moving and getting around. Springhaas are nocturnal, meaning she is most active at night, so we also review overnight video of her if we need to keep a closer eye or have questions about her health. Even after 20 years, she’s still moving around and doing well.

You may have first seen Cinnamon back when she was a resident of the former Night Exhibit. Since then she’s taken up residence in our Adaptations Building where she lives with a colony of flying fox fruit bats. You’ve no doubt spent plenty of time looking up to see the bats in action, but on your next visit, look down and you might just spot our Cinnamon. If you do, be sure to wish her a happy birthday.

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