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Mill Mountain Zoo Celebrates Alma the Tegu and Remodeled Reptile / Python Houses

Mill Mountain Zoo has announced some new changes beginning with the arrival of Alma the Argentine black and white Tegu Alma who has joined her new reptile friends in the remodeled Reptile House. Second, Hoover and Damien, the Burmese pythons, have had some great enhancements on their Python House.

Alma, Hoover, and Damien all came to the Mill Mountain Zoo as owner relinquishments. Alma is estimated to be between 2-3 years old. Hoover and Damien are 36 and 18 years old, respectively. All have been settling in well to their new and seem to enjoy the extra space and additional furniture pieces designed and built just for them.

Tegus and pythons are popular pets, due to their temperament and intelligence but as with most exotic pets, they require special care that is different from traditional cats and dogs. Due to the specialized husbandry care that reptiles require, along with the fact that they are typically long lived, many of Mill Mountain Zoo’s animals were owner relinquished.  Unfortunately, this is a common result of the exotic pet trade.

To prepare for Alma’s herpitarium debut, the Zoo spruced up the Reptile House with a brand-new roof, new paint, and new floors. They’ve also added some new residents to join her in the Reptile House – poisonous dart frogs. Since Alma is new, she also got a new enclosure complete with a bespoke tree for her to relax in and under.

Since Hoover and Damien each are more than 12 feet long, the Zoo created their own Python House. This building was redesigned for them with a new roof, heat and humidifier system, and a new drainage system. The Zoo secured grants to fund all the new renovations.

Special Projects Coordinator, Thomas West, and Animal Department Manager, Kenlee Ngo, also specially designed and handcrafted a Cyprus tree root sculpture to simulate the python’s natural environment.  In addition, local artist Cy Lane created wall murals to mimic the natural foliage of a rainforest transforming her enclosure into a habitat.

“A healthy living environment and superior level of care are paramount for all animals in our guardianship at the Zoo”, said Niki Voudren, Mill Mountain Zoo’s Executive Director.  “This project represents the high-quality standards of animal welfare and ethics we pride ourselves on and ensures the integrity of our conservation efforts.  It is inspirational to see the myriad of talent and passion the staff and volunteers have for the animals – they put their hearts into everything they do at the Zoo.  They always go above and beyond.  Cy Lane has graced the Zoo with her art throughout the Zoo, and we are grateful to her for beautifying this historic destination with a meaningful purpose.”

Roanokers are encouraged to visit Alma, Hoover, and Damien, and all the other reptiles and amphibians at Mill Mountain Zoo before it gets too cold but winter is also a great time to see them, as the Reptile House is always toasty warm.

All monies used for these wonderful projects were generously donated by sponsors and the generous Roanoke community.

Follow Mill Mountain Zoo on Facebook @millmountainzoo and Instagram at @millmountainzoo for more information.

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