Africa-Okavango Delta

Venture to Africa-Okavango Delta, home to a spectacular collection of scenic landscapes and impressive creatures, big and small. Animals such as rhinos, giraffes, lions, tortoises, cheetahs and many more can be found here all year round. Be sure to travel to the Africa-Okavango Delta on your next visit at the Zoo!


African Lion

Scientific Name: Panthera leo krugeri

Found In: Sub-Saharan Africa excluding the Congo rainforest belt

Size: Male lions weigh between 330-530 lbs and females weigh between 270-400 lbs.

Diet: Carnivore: Diet consists of wildebeest, antelope, zebra, giraffe and warthog

Threat Level: Listed as Vulnerable – The increasing human populations in Africa are reducing and fragmenting the available territory and prey

Facts: The mane helps protect the lion’s face and neck when fighting other males.

Virginia Zoo Lions: males Mramba and young Emery, female Zola

African Pancake Tortoise

Scientific Name: Malacochersus tornieri

Found In: Kenya and United Republic of Tanzania.

Size: Its shell can grow up to 7 inches in length.

Diet: Herbivore: There diet primarily consists of dry grasses and vegetation

Threat Level: Critically endangered – The greatest threats facing the pancake tortoise is overexploitation for the live exotic animal trade.

Facts: Another common name for the pancake tortoise is the softshell tortoise.

Aldabra Tortoise

Scientific Name: Geochelone gigantea

Found In: Madagascar, Seychelles, and United Republic of Tanzania

Size: Males grow up to an average of 47 inches and weigh 110 lbs.

Diet: Omnivore: Occasionally live animals, mostly a grazer of a wide variety of plant material.

Threat Level: Vulnerable – The destruction of habitat and the introduction of mammalian predators such as rats and cats, and competitors such as goats, and historical use of food for humans is slowly depleting the population.

Facts: They will spend up to 16 hours a day lying in fresh water ponds or mud wallows. They do not swim well but may float.

Virginia Zoo Aldabra Tortoises: males AJ and Jackson; females Dotty, Bubbles and Lyn St. James

Cape porcupine

Scientific Name: Hystrix cristata

Found In: Hilly, rocky habitats in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and Italy.

Size: Grow up to 25 to 29 inches long and weigh from 10 to 25 pounds.

Diet: Root vegetables

Threat Level: There are no major threats to this species. Porcupines have benefited from agricultural development and their destructive feeding habitats have led to them being considered as a problem in some farming areas.

Facts: Cape porcupines are the largest rodent in Africa.

Virginia Zoo Porcupine: male Flapjack


Scientific Name: Acinonyx jubatus

Found In: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Chad, Ethiopia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, & other African countries

Size: The cheetah grows to 28-35 inches at the shoulder and weighs 46-159 pounds.

Diet: Carnivore: Feeds on wide variety of prey, principally small- to mid-sized animal such as gazelle, kob and impala as well as ground-dwelling birds and small mammals, such as hares, up to large ungulates such as wildebeest, kudu or eland.

Threat Level: Vulnerable – Due to habitat loss and fragmentation, human-animal conflict over livestock and the illegal pet trade.

Facts: Cheetahs are the fastest land mammals, and have been documented as reaching speeds up to 70 miles per hour.

Virginia Zoo Cheetahs: older female Charo and younger female Lima

Common Ostrich

Scientific Name: Struthio camelus

Found In: Southern Africa, ranging from southern Kenya and Burundi, south-west to Angola and northern Namibia, & south to Botswana and eastern South Africa

Size: Males ostriches can grow up to 8 feet tall with females growing somewhat shorter. They can weigh up to 160 lbs.

Diet: Omnivore

Threat Level: Least Concern – A major threat to the species is loss of nesting habitat due to clearance for small-scale use, agriculture, and because of fires, and perhaps because of the actions of African elephants.

Facts: They live in groups of 2-8 members, rarely 11, and is a co-operative breeder, with the dominant pair assisted by adult and immature helpers to defend a territory.

Virginia Zoo Ostriches: male Jack and female Gobbles

East African White-throated Monitor

Scientific Name: Varanus albigularis microstictus

Found In: South-western, south-central, and eastern Africa

Size: The white-throated monitor can grow to 6 feet in length and can weigh up to 25 lbs

Diet: Carnivore: Its diet consist of small animals and insects such as snakes, birds and eggs, snails, millipedes and grasshoppers

Threat Level: Least Concern – Targeted by humans for food & probably affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, however, still widespread and common

Facts: If confronted by a predator on the ground, it will puff up its throat and body, lash out with its tail, and bite violently.

Virginia Zoo Monitor: male Hank

Eastern Bongo

Scientific Name: Tragelaphus eurycerus isaaci

Found In: Three discontinuous parts of Africa: east, central and west

Size: Bongos can grow 4 to 5 feet tall. The average male weighs 650 lbs and the average female weighs 530 lbs.

Diet: Bongos are herbivorous browsers and feed on tree/bush leaves, bushes, vines, bark and pith of rotting trees, grasses/herbs, and fruits. Bongos require salt in their diet and are known to regularly visit natural salt licks.

Threat Level: Critically Endangered – The major threats to the bongo populations are habitat destruction, poaching and domestic livestock diseases.

Facts: The red pigmentation in the bongo’s coat rubs off quite easily.

Virginia Zoo Bongos: male Bob; females Betty, Juni and Charlie; males Johnny and Boomer

Egyptian Goose

Scientific Name: Alopochen aegyptiaca

Found In: Sub-Saharan Africa countries as well as Northern African countries including Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, and Zimbabwe

Size: Grows up to 2.1 – 2.4 inches in length and weighs 2.4 – 8.8 pounds.

Diet: Predominantly of vegetable matter such as the seeds, leaves and stems of grasses and other plants, crop shoots(e.g. maize and wheat), potato tubers, algae and aquatic weeds  as well as animal matter (worms, locusts and termites)

Threat Level: Least Concern – The species is persecuted by shooting and poisoning in parts of its range as well as being hunted for sport.

Facts: This species is largely sedentary over much of its range, although it may make seasonal nomadic or dispersive movements related to water availability.

Virginia Zoo Geese: male Vincent, female Stella

Egyptian Spiny-tailed Lizard

Scientific Name: Uromastyx aegyptia

Found In: Egypt (east of the Nile), eastwards into the southern half of Israel, south and northeastern Jordan, southern Syria, Iraq and Iran and southwards into the Arabian Peninsula.

Size: Adults weigh 99 – 254 pounds and stand 22 to 31 inches tall, with a length of 39 – 57 inches.

Diet: Forage on low vegetation close to their burrows

Threat Level: Vulnerable – This species has been regularly reported in the international pet and medicinal trade and is also used for food.

Facts: It lays 7-17 (occasionally up to 23) eggs.

Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra

Scientific Name: Equus zebra hartmannae

Found In: Namibia, Angola and South Africa

Size: The Hartmann’s Zebra is considerably large, with a maximum weight of about 750 pounds and a shoulder height of 59 inches.

Diet: Herbivore: Diet primarily consists of grass but also includes leaves and bark

Threat Level: Vulnerable: Primary threats to the mountain zebra include competition with domestic livestock, hunting and persecution, habitat loss due to conversion to agriculture and two subspecies breeding leading to loss in diversity.

Facts: Females produce a single foal every one to three years, after a gestation of approximately one year.

Virginia Zoo Zebras: females Rose, Ruuxa, Abbey and foal Zelda

Masai Giraffe

Scientific Name: Giraffa camelopardalis tippelskirchi

Found In: Tanzania and southern Kenya

Size: Males reach heights of up to 18 feet tall and females grow to 14 feet tall.

Diet: Herbivore: Its diet consist of leaves of acacia, mimosa, and other trees

Threat Level: Endangered – The population is decreasing because of habitat degradation and poaching for skins, meat, bones and tail hairs.

Facts: Giraffe ‘horns’ aren’t actually horns at all – they are called ossicones, which are formed by cartilage and covered in skin.

Virginia Zoo Giraffes: male Billy, females Noelly, Imara and calf Kylie

Meller’s Chameleon

Scientific Name: Trioceros melleri

Found In: Malawi, Mozambique, & United Republic of Tanzania

Size: These chameleons grow up to 24 inches and weigh up to 10-18 oz.

Diet: Carnivore: Primarily eats invertebrates, but adults can eat small lizards and hatchling birds.

Threat Level: Least Concern – There is no urgent threat from habitat deformation. However, thousands of animals are exported annually for the pet trade and eventually local populations may not be able to tolerate these export levels.

Facts: Chameleons have a long muscular tongue that can extend farther than the entire length of their body at incredible speeds to reach insects.

Painted Agame

Scientific Name: Laudakia stellio brachydactyla

Found In: Greece and Cyprus in south-eastern Europe, through Turkey, Syria and Iraq, and into the Middle East, northern Saudi Arabia and northern Egypt

Size: Their average length is 30 cm.

Diet: Insectivore: Range of insects such as ants, beetles, and wasp; some plant matter

Threat Level: Least Concern – Under threat from habitat destruction and extensive collection for the pet trade

Facts: The painted agama shows aggression by bobbing its head.

Radiated Tortoise

Scientific Name: Astrochelys radiata

Found In: Madagascar

Size: Female tortoises range in carapace length from approximately 9.5 – 14 inches and males ranged in from 11 – 16 inches.

Diet: Herbivore: Feed predominantly on grasses and in some areas on the alien invasive Opuntia; On occasion they are also known to ingest animal matter

Threat Level: Critically Endangered – Threats to the tortoise’s survival include collection for the illegal pet trade and habitat loss, including deforestation for use as agricultural land, the grazing of livestock, and the burning of wood for charcoal.

Facts: Historically this species has been quite abundant, often being found along roadways and has served as symbol of Madagascar’s south.

Virginia Zoo tortoises: male Sokatra and female Malila – currently off exhibit for Winter

Red River Hog

Scientific Name: Potamochoerus porcus

Found In: West and Central African rainforest belts, from Senegal in the west, throughout the Guinea-Congo forest to at least west of the Albertine Rift

Size: Can grow to be 2 – 3 feet in height and weigh up to 100 – 270 pounds.

Diet: Red River Hogs are mixed feeders, consuming fruits and seeds, and have been seen scavenging carcasses.

Threat Level: Least Concern – Although considered a common and abundant species, the Red River Hog is one of the preferred species for subsistence hunters across its range in Africa.

Facts: Red River Hogs are fond of company and are often seen in groups of 7 to 10 individuals.

Virginia Zoo Hogs: male Oboi, females Mrembo and Tikiti

Rock Hyrax

Scientific Name: Procavia capensis

Found In: Sub-Saharan Africa and northeast Africa, being discontinuously distributed from Senegal through southern Algeria, Libya and Egypt to central and southern Africa

Size: Weighs 4 to 11 lbs

Diet: The Rock Hyrax diet comprises of a variety of grasses, forbs and shrubs, with a predilection for new shoots, buds, fruits and berries

Threat Level: Least Concern – There are no major threats to this species. However, it is hunted locally, and may have been eradicated in some smaller localities.

Facts: Hyraxes live in colonies of up to 50 members.

Slender-tailed Meerkat

Scientific Name: Suricata suricatta

Found In: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, & South Africa

Size: Average head and body length is 10 to 12 inches and the tail is 8 to 9.5 inches. They weigh between 22 and 34 ounces.

Diet: Carnivore: Insects, mainly beetles and beetle larvae and butterfly larvae. Rarely spiders, mice, reptiles

Threat Level: Least Concern – Though listed as least concern, the population is suspected to be undergoing slow declines owing to deforestation of its primary forest habitat

Facts: The young meerkats are cared for by a babysitter who plays with them and feeds them, remaining alert to danger.

Virginia Zoo Meerkats: males Hardy, Nub and Tim

Southern Ground Hornbill

Scientific Name: Bucorvus leadbeateri

Found In: Southern Africa, ranging from southern Kenya and Burundi, south-west to Angola and northern Namibia, & south to Botswana and eastern South Africa

Size: Can weigh 4.8 – 13.4 pounds and have a length of up to 40 inches.

Diet: Carnivore: Diet is mainly made up of arthropods, and, especially during the dry season, snails, frogs and toads, and sometimes larger prey such as snakes, lizards, rats, hares, squirrels or tortoises.

Threat Level: Vulnerable – A major threat to the species is loss of nesting habitat due to clearance for small-scale use and agriculture.

Facts: They live in groups of 2-8 members, rarely 11, and are co-operative breeders, with the dominant pair assisted by adult and immature helpers to defend a territory.

Virginia Zoo Ground Hornbills: male Jim; females Jane and juvenile Jezebel

White Rhinoceros

Scientific Name: Ceratotherium simum

Found In: Southern Africa and Democratic Republic of the Congo

Size: Adult males weight between 4409-7937 lbs. and females weigh between 3086-3748 lbs.

Diet: Herbivore: White rhinos are grazers, feeding on large quantities of grasses.

Threat Level: Near Threatened – The southern white has fallen victim to poachers who sell its horn for medicinal or ornamental purposes.

Facts: White rhinos aren’t white. The ‘white’ is taken from the Afrikaans word ‘weit’ meaning ‘wide’ – they were describing the rhino’s mouth.

Virginia Zoo Rhinos: half-sisters Bora and Zina, male Sibindi

Stanley Crane

Name: Anthropoides paradiseus

Found In: Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, & Zimbabwe

Size: Stanley cranes can grow up to 3.5 feet and weigh 7.9 – 14 pounds.

Diet: Omnivore: Feeds primarily seeds of sedges and grasses, roots, tubers and small bulbs and also feed on a variety of animals including locusts and their eggs, termites, caterpillars, worms, crabs, fish, frogs, reptiles and small mammals.

Threat Level: Vulnerable – The main factors behind its drastic population decline since the 1970s were widespread poisoning on agricultural land.

Facts: This species is a partial migrant which makes local, seasonal movements across elevational gradients.

Taveta Golden Weaver

Scientific Name: Ploceus castaneiceps

Found In: Kenya and United Republic of Tanzania


Diet: Herbivore: Seeds

Threat Level: Least Concern – The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Facts: The male Taveta Golden Weaver uses his beak to weave intricate ovoid nests, usually over water. Females pick a mate based on the male’s skill at weaving.

Watusi Cattle

Scientific Name: Bos taurus taurus watusi

Found In: Africa

Size: Males weigh between 1000-1600 lbs and females weigh between 900-1200 lbs.

Diet: Herbivore: mostly grass and leaves

Threat Level: Recovering

Facts: Gestation lasts approximately 9 months with only one offspring per birth.

Virginia Zoo Watusi: males Gamba, Kamau and Khari

White-headed Buffalo Weaver

Scientific Name: Dinemellia dinemelli

Found In: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, United Republic of Tanzania, & Uganda

Size: Length is 9 inches

Diet: Omnivore: Seeds, fruits, insects

Threat Level: Least Concern – The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

Facts: Unlike most birds, the male and female of this species look the same.

Yellow-backed Duiker

Scientific Name: Cephalophus silvicultor

Found In: Savannahs and forest of east and central Africa

Size: Grows to 4.1 – 6.2 feet in length and weighs 99.2 -176.37 pounds.

Diet: Primarily frugivorous (feeding mainly on fruit);however, will eat a variety of other foods in small quantities, including flowers, roots, rotting wood, fungi and some insects (particularly ants).

Threat Level: Near Threatened – It has been reduced to low numbers or eliminated by forest destruction, and encroachment of human settlements, coupled with uncontrolled hunting for bushmeat.

Facts: Their entire back is not yellow, but look for one small patch of yellow just above their tail.

Virginia Zoo Duikers: females Dot and Asterisk

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Contributions from animal adoptions go directly to the Virginia Zoo Keeper Fund. With your gift, we buy treats, toys and supplies for the Zoo’s 500+ animals, as well as provide specialized training for their zookeepers. Our adoption packages also make perfect gifts for people of all ages!

Every animal at the Virginia Zoo is available for adoption at several donation levels, starting at just $25.