Elephants aren't the only attraction at the Toledo Zoo's new Tembo Trail, opening on Friday, May 18. Returning to public view after four years off exhibit is a colony of naked mole rats that will be housed within the elephants' indoor quarters.
Despite the name, naked mole rats are neither moles nor rats. With a nearly hairless, buck-toothed appearance that few people forget, they are more closely related to porcupines and guinea pigs than to moles or rats. Naked mole rats have a eusocial group structure that is unusual among mammals. A single queen rules the colony, breeding with a few select males, while the rest of the colony defends and serves her.
Moving these burrowing animals into an exhibit in the elephants' indoor quarters offers visitors a chance to see two remarkable African species in one dynamic space. It's part of a whole new look and feel to the area visitors have known as the African Savanna, including rhinos, lions, meerkats, otters, crocodile and the beloved hippos of the zoo's world-renowned Hippoquarium.
The $15 million Tembo Trail project was made possible by Lucas Countyâ??s voters who supported the Zoo's 2006 capital levy and by generous capital campaign donors, including The Kresge Foundation, Jonathan F. Orser in memory of his mother Grace Ford Orser, and the Landman-Goldman Foundation. Major sponsor for Grand Opening Weekend (May 18 â?? 20) is The Andersons.
As the grand opening approaches, ongoing updates will be shared at www.toledozoo.org/tembotrail.